June 7, 2021 7.09 pm This story is over 33 months old

Lincoln taxi firms struggle with surging demand due to drivers shortage

The reason why people face long waiting times

Lincoln taxi firms are desperately searching for more drivers as they’re struggling to keep up with the high levels of demand while lockdown restrictions continue to ease.

Several people contacted The Lincolnite in the past fortnight complaining about long wait times for taxis in the city, for some over four hours at times.

Even national radio star Chris Moyles said how he struggled to book a taxi in Lincoln when visiting this weekend, and described the lack of Uber in the city as ‘weird and unbelievable’ though local taxi firms do have apps.

Direct Cars, Handsome Cabs and A2B Cars all explained how the demand outweighs the supply in Lincoln at the moment and that they are actively trying to recruit more drivers.

Ragan Crow, Manager at Direct Cars, said the firm is in a dire, desperate situation, having lost 45 vehicles and around 70 drivers during the coronavirus pandemic.

More people are now needing to travel again, but taxi wait times can be around two hours at times, which she believes will be even worse now Pelham Bridge is shut for 10 weeks.

The taxi firm has started a recruitment process for new drivers and will pay the cost of badges, which can range from £300-400 depending what needs to be done.

Any interested drivers should contact the licensing department at the City Council to request an application form before contacting Ragan at Direct Cars garage on 01522 535400.

The manager at Direct Cars said the taxi firm is suffering from a driver shortage during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ragan told The Lincolnite: “It has been a lot harder than expected. When lockdown first hit, people were ringing all the time, but applications for drivers have been taking longer with the [city] council, as when lockdown first happened they were unable to do the full test due to restrictions.

“Now things are opening up and people want to travel. There has been an increase in demand for taxis, but we have been unable to cope with it.

“It is a concern, as we are not getting the requests through for new drivers to get their badge, and drivers are being lost and not replaced.

“The industry is booming, but we just haven’t got the people to meet the demand. Calls have gone up by around 60%, but before lockdown we would have around 120 cars out on a Saturday night and now we have 60.

“We are hoping to hire as many drivers as we can get through the door, commission, lease and owner drivers. The advantages are that the drivers are self-employed and as long as they meet the demands of the business they can do hours to suit them.

“We are getting abuse all the time that taxis aren’t available, but people outside the industry don’t really understand the reasons why.”

Handsome Cabs office on Silver Street in Lincoln.

A spokesperson from Handsome Cabs told The Lincolnite: “We lost drivers and customers at the start of the pandemic. It is becoming increasingly difficult now to keep up with the demand.

“We lost around 30% of drivers who have moved on and are now hiring at the moment. The demand outweighs the supply especially in the last few months, as places started to reopen.

“It has been quite difficult. We’re in a situation where we are having to turn work away or give long wait times.

“It seems the drivers have left the industry during the pandemic when everyone was at home, and either happy in their new jobs or not quite ready to return, so we are stuck in that limbo period in between.

“We are in a position where we are almost at a similar level as before the pandemic with demand, but we’ve only got about 70% of the supply.

“A lot of customers have been frustrated at the waits quoted, but there is little we can do about it.

“At some point in the future things will level out, but we are focusing on trying to get through the now.”

Once they obtain a private hire licence, new drivers can apply to join Handsome Cabs by emailing [email protected].

A2B Cars operates in Lincoln with an office in the uphill area of the city.

Vladimir Kubjatko, co-owner at A2B Cars Lincoln, said: “It is the same as all the other local companies, as we have lost a couple of drivers too, but being a small family-run business we have been steady over the pandemic.

“Suddenly demand outweighs supply and there are times when we can’t even answer all the calls, and therefore we receive some negative feedback, however, there is nothing we can do about it.

“The sudden rise in workload creates frustration for both sides, not only customers, and we are also unhappy that as a company we cannot help.

“New applicants we had lined up are waiting for badges so they can be given the role, but the council’s offices were closed so we couldn’t get them licensed yet.

“A lot of applicants lost interest in the role as they couldn’t submit an application for around a year.

“We are doing the best we can to resolve this issue and bring more drivers in to support community in their transport needs.”