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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 10:10 am 
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Arrow Taxis in Ashford to close after 41 years over struggles to recruit drivers

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/ashford/ne ... rs-268887/

One of Kent's longest-running taxi firms is to close down next month as bosses are finding it "increasingly difficult" to recruit new drivers.

Arrow Taxis, based at Cobbs Wood in Ashford, has been picking up customers in its Mercedes-Benz fleet since 1981.

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Image: Kent Online

But over the past few years, staff say they have been struggling to hire new staff and now the cost of fuel has become 'unsustainable' – leading to the devastating decision to park up the cars for good.

In a statement, owners Jenny Lucking and Karen Boyce said: "After 41 years and much soul searching, Arrow Taxis has regrettably made the decision to close its business on Sunday, July 10.

"This decision has been made because it has become increasingly difficult in the last few years to find drivers so that we can give our customers the good service that we have always tried to provide.

"The pandemic of course only made this situation worse with drivers leaving during the pandemic and not coming back to us as the country has come out of the pandemic and tried to get back to normal.

"New entrants to the driving profession have also not come through the pipeline.

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Image: Kent Online

"On top of that, as we all know, in the last 12 months costs have been increasing, with the cost of parts needed to keep our fleet running escalating at an alarming rate.

"Some parts have increased by 200%.

"Now the cost of fuel has become totally unsustainable for a business like Arrow Taxis trying to run a fleet of 24 cars.

"We would like to thank all our loyal customers, some of whom have been with us since the beginning in the early 1980s.

"We would also like to thank all our office and workshop staff and the drivers for their loyalty and support, a large number of whom have been with us for 20 to 30 years.

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Image: Kent Online and 'Images of Ashford' book by Mike Bennett, page 90. Photo taken July 1983

"Their help and hard work has enabled us to keep the business running for as long as it has.

"We will miss them massively and with them all the best for the future."

The family-run business held the title as one of the oldest private hire taxi companies in the county.

As well as local journeys, it offers airport transfers and trips for special occasions.

Firms in other parts of Kent have experienced similar problems with driver numbers and abuse has been aimed at staff working for companies in Sittingbourne and Thanet.

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Image: Kent Online

One Ashford resident who regularly relies on taxis has experienced first hand just how much the industry has suffered post pandemic after struggling to get a taxi in the town.

Teresa Bartram said: "Both my son and husband have to use taxis on a regular basis as neither of them drive and it appears that over the past two weeks it has become evident that taxi companies are struggling to provide drivers.

"Last Wednesday my husband was told he would have to wait three hours before a taxi would be available to take him home from an appointment.

"I fear that this problem is only going to get worse and must be affecting many other regular taxi users many of whom are elderly or live in remote areas which are poorly served by public transport especially since local bus services have also been also systematically reduced over the past few years to save money."


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 10:11 am 
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One of the biggest in NE Fife shut up shop recently, and I'd guess it was running for a bit longer than this firm :?

In fact it was probably the biggest in the St Andrews area, or certainly so a few years ago, if not more recently.

Problem here is that there are some quite big events and the like for the size of the town, and it can be difficult enough for even the bigger firms to cope with such stuff at the best of times, never mind post-pandemic.

So who knows what will happen in a few weeks when the British Open golf comes to town :-o

The offices certainly seem mega-busy a lot of the time. Problem is, the leftovers don't seem to be coming through to the ranks in the way I thought it might ](*,)

Most of the more recent and newer drivers seem to be going straight onto the ranks as independents or mobile phone firms, and aren't going the more normal route via the bigger offices and then ending up on the ranks when they get fed up :roll:

Although the bigger firms here are HC, they normally end up doing very little rank work because of the amount of independents clogging up the ranks.

I've got a theory about why the newer drivers are ending up straight on the ranks rather than via the bigger offices, but I'd better not say, although I'm sure some of the old hands in the trade might be able to guess :-#


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 11:23 am 
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Quote:
So who knows what will happen in a few weeks when the British Open golf comes to town :-o


don't worry about it it's not your fault if there is a shortage just concentrate on raking in a nice big pile of readies for yourself

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 7:45 pm 
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I've got a theory about why the newer drivers are ending up straight on the ranks rather than via the bigger offices, but I'd better not say, although I'm sure some of the old hands in the trade might be able to guess :-#

Maybe things might change up there next April.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 9:06 pm 
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Edders wrote:
don't worry about it it's not your fault if there is a shortage just concentrate on raking in a nice big pile of readies for yourself

Not looking forward to it at all, for reasons I won't bore everyone with. But I'm sure anyone who's in the trade can guess the kind of reasons, particularly when it's 50,000 people per day rolling up to a town with a resident population of 15,000 :-o

A major problem is that as someone who's done several Opens before, I kind of know how much money I'll make, but know the downsides of making it :sad:

So the money's in the bag, sort of thing, it's just the question of going through the ordeal of making it :roll:

The newer drivers tend to look forward to it, because they view it as a pot of gold. The drivers who've done it all before are more inclined to view it as a massive pain, because the money's counted, effectively, but they know the stresses and strains of actually making it :x

Personally I'd prefer it wasn't happening at all, but can't really afford to give up the money. If the money was much the same as normal I'd have the week off, defo :-o

But, I mean, waited almost 2 hours for a £5 fare last night, so can't really afford to pick and choose...


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 9:07 pm 
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Incidentally, the reason the newer drivers seem to head straight for the ranks rather than the offices doesn't have anything to do with tax, apps, card payments or anything like that (offices here still in the dark ages with stuff like that).

It's more, er, a cultural thing, I'm guessing 8-[


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 9:22 pm 
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we have a similar problem with Burghley horse trials you can get stuck in traffic jams for hours so best avoiding getting fares up there BUT that's where everyone wants to go of course

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 11:13 pm 
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StuartW wrote:
Incidentally, the reason the newer drivers seem to head straight for the ranks rather than the offices doesn't have anything to do with tax, apps, card payments or anything like that (offices here still in the dark ages with stuff like that).

It's more, er, a cultural thing, I'm guessing 8-[


That cultural thing im guessing, is a preference for cash payments rather than account work.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 11:58 pm 
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Nothing to do with any of that kind of stuff, I suspect.

More maybe a kind of ghettoisation effect. Could be a particular office, or another office, or the ranks. Here it's the ranks. And indeed maybe particular ranks :?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2022 7:43 am 
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Back to the opening post.

You have to wonder why none of the competitors wanted to buy the firm.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2022 8:21 am 
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Sussex wrote:
Back to the opening post.

You have to wonder why none of the competitors wanted to buy the firm.

Why buy it if it is closing? The work will no doubt go to the other firms anyway.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2022 9:10 am 
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Maybe competitors have acquired parts of the firm, but probably not the whole lot as a going concern.

Of course, competitors could well just let it fold totally, and to that extent they'll all get a share of the spoils. On the other hand, they'd have to assess the risk that a competitor buys profitable assets like phone numbers, trading names and contracts.

Likewise, they could all simply agree to let if fold and then share the spoils between them for nothing. Which could amount to an illegal agreement to rig the market, but unlikely that anything would ever happen over it.

But all we can really tell from the article is that it's essentially folded as a going concern. And I'd guess that any saleable parts of the business won't be particularly valuable in the current environment :?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2022 9:28 am 
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I think one of the most valuable parts of any taxi/PH firm at present is drivers.

And long may that continue.

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