Belfast Telegraph

Discount scheme is economic move, says taxi boss

By Symon Ross

The managing director of a Belfast taxi company has defended the introduction of a 25% discount card which will slash fares collected by its drivers.

FonaCab's William McCausland said that while the discount on cash fares would mean less income per journey for its 450 self-employed drivers, they will make more money by receiving more jobs as the company takes business from its competitors.

"Every driver in the fleet that we've had a chance to speak to has agreed that they have lifted more money in the last week than they have in months," said Mr McCausland. "It is a simple economic move. Everyone in business at the moment is struggling for market share and turnover, so we are trying to increase driver revenue by offering a discount."

He admitted around 12 drivers had left since the scheme's introduction, but said three had already come back from other taxi companies. The managing director also dismissed speculation drivers would next week go on strike at peak times to protest against the discount scheme.

"We've had about 100 drivers in talking to management, and the biggest concern is that they weren't told in advance about it," said Mr McCausland. "In business it is all about bringing a product to market with impact - you can't let you're competitors know what you're doing. They feel it was brought on them very suddenly, so this week we're bringing every driver in the fleet in to talk to management to allay any fears or reservations they have."

However, FonaCab is not dropping the depot rents paid by drivers in line with the fare reductions. Its boss said the drop in work over the past three years means it does not want to attract more drivers just as it is getting more jobs.

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