ANOTHER week, and another newspaper story about Glasgow taxis which caught my eye.

The story was in your Glasgow Times, it goes without saying. It was Thursday of last week when Times journalist Jack Haugh published a story: “Glasgow’s lack of taxis, Ubers and private hires put under the spotlight.”

It was refreshing to read an article on this subject which attempted to drill down into the factors causing such great demand versus limited supply at peak times at present.

I’ll run through those factors, as they are worth repeating on here to widen the understanding of the issue.

Before I do, I must stress two things: 1. Lack of taxi availability at peak times right now is not exclusive to Glasgow 2. Lack of available staff in the taxi trade right now is not exclusive to our sector We are suffering similar challenges to many cities and service industries at present, however there are a few unique factors – as explained by the chairman of Glasgow Taxis last week. All of these existed before Covid came along, each and every one of them exacerbated by the pandemic.

Firstly, an ageing workforce, or as the chairman put it: “Our average age is about 56 or 57. For the last three years we have been warning Glasgow City Council of an impending shortage of drivers coming through. Our assertion was that the public hire trade would cease to exist within 10 years.”

Challenge number two, again in the chairman’s words: “The other reasons that lie behind it are a number of pressures on the trade. The gig economy undermined the traditional taxi companies in Glasgow, you then have the low emission zone coming in and for a driver who is nearing their 60s it isn’t the most appealing idea to splash £60,000 on an electric car. This was all happening, then came Covid. It has been the catalyst to the speeding up of these processes.”

Any of those factors, on their own in normal times, would be problematic. Them all happening at the same time – during a pandemic – well it really doesn’t get much more challenging than that. Us drivers on the road are working tirelessly to help meet demand as much as we can.

The irony of the doom and gloom right now is that there is a huge opportunity for new drivers to train to be a taxi driver, come into the trade and make a really good living. It would just be helpful if the authorities could make it as quick and easy for new drivers to come into the trade as it is for serving ones to leave it. Stay safe!