Manchester Airport is closing a loophole so that it can control all taxi pick ups - and it could cost passengers more.
Currently, hackney drivers picking up directly from the three terminals must pay for a £27.96 permit. Along with drivers for the airport’s official Arrow Cars service, they wait for their fares in a ‘feeder car park’ managed by airport marshals who direct them to where cabs are needed, where they pay £1.60 every time they leave.
But until now pick-ups directly outside the airport’s railway station have been a ‘free for all’ for private hire vehicles and hackney drivers with or without permits.
But that’s set to change. From this month, a new lane will be installed outside the station - to be used only by hackney and Arrow drivers with permits - and the £1.60 pick-up charge is likely to be passed on to passengers. All other drivers will be forced to use public car parks around the site.
It’s caused consternation among cabbies and passengers - with passengers likely to pick up the £1.60 bill.
Drivers, meanwhile, say they can be forced to queue for up to two hours to use the official ‘feeder lanes’ that lead to the terminals. This, they argue, is worth it for a likely £50 fare for a passenger off a flight - but not for the shorter fares more common from the station.
One hackney driver who asked not to be named told the Manchester Evening News: “Most railway passengers just want to head to a nearby hotel with an average fare of £8. That isn’t worth the two-hour wait we usually have when we’re queuing in the feeder lane.”
Airport bosses say the charge for permits and pick ups will be ploughed back into the feeder park, which includes a prayer room and toilets.
A Manchester Airport spokesman added that the new system and controlled lane would make the station ‘consistent with the current operation of the three terminals’. He added: “This lane is for hackney carriages with airport permits, and Arrow Cars – our onsite private hire provider.
“Hackney carriages currently without an airport permit can apply for one, for a small one-off fee. This provides access to the dedicated hackney carriage facilities, and contributes to the costs of operating these. The current drop-off arrangements at the station remain unaffected for all other users.
“As well as ensuring a consistent passenger experience, this will also improve congestion on the road network and make the site a safer, more secure place.”