Finding it hard to get a taxi in Great Yarmouth? Here's why
- Credit: Archant
"We just don't have the drivers anymore."
That is the message from two of Great Yarmouth's main taxi firms as they struggle to meet demand from customers due to a lack of cabbies.
Both Albies and Swift Taxis have seen fewer of their drivers on the streets, especially at night time.
Albies has seen an exodus of drivers as they seek jobs elsewhere, such as takeaway delivery drivers, or give up working nights as they do not have a financial incentive to pick up revellers.
The firm has lost 100 drivers during the pandemic and the number working nights has dropped sharply, with waiting times shooting up.
Director Simon Kitchen said: "Before the pandemic we had about 40 drivers out at night, but now it is like 15.
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"Work had dried up during the pandemic totally and drivers left, not coming back - they sought out new lifestyles.
"The driver situation has never been as bad as it is.
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"It is going to end up the survival of the fittest. We are already on pretty low profit margins."
Mr Kitchen said the company was trying to rectify the situation by offering to pay for potential driver's taxi licences, with three currently awaiting their tests.
He added that taxi fare rates had not risen for eight years, which did not help the financial situation.
At Swift Taxis, the company closes its office at 11pm due to a driver shortage.
Catherine Smith, director, said there was no point keeping an office open with two phone operators if there were no taxis available to send out.
She said: "We are in exactly the same situation as Albies.
"More and more drivers don't want to work nights. If I have got no drivers at night why would we pay an operator then?
"We just have to cut our cloth accordingly."
She said drivers earn enough on contract work, such as with the county council and the offshore industry, to tide them over and make them not want to work nights.
She added: "We are just not getting the new blood in."
View from the taxi rank
Taxi driver Neil Anderson was waiting for passing trade on the taxi rank at Theatre Plain.
A veteran of 32 years behind the wheel he said trade had been slow and that on Tuesday he waited two and half hours for his first fare.
He said: "People did stop using taxis. It was horrendous."
He added that drivers had given up on waiting for fares at the town's train station as there was not enough trade from passengers getting off and instead waited for fares in the town centre.
He added that firms like Albies were suffering as its drivers 'left to work for Just Eat' - leaving the way for pick up fare drivers to benefit during the day.
Another taxi driver at a rank, who did not want to be named, said: "It has been a struggle."