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Taxi firm loses 80,000 fares per month

PUBLISHED: 12:44 20 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:23 21 July 2020

ABC Taxis marketing manager Chris Harvey, second from left, said passenger numbers are now back on the rise after a drop of 80pc at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo taken before the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Sonya Duncan

ABC Taxis marketing manager Chris Harvey, second from left, said passenger numbers are now back on the rise after a drop of 80pc at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo taken before the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Sonya Duncan

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Norwich’s biggest taxi firm is fighting back from losing up to 80,000 fares per month during the height of coronavirus.

ABC Taxis has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. From left, co-owners Simon Callender, Paul Walker and Dave Hall. Photo taken before the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Sonya DuncanABC Taxis has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. From left, co-owners Simon Callender, Paul Walker and Dave Hall. Photo taken before the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Sonya Duncan

As shops, workplaces and leisure venues closed as part of the government’s measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, the jobs dried up for ABC Taxis.

The firm celebrated its 25th anniversary last November and also completed one million journeys for the first time in a calendar year.

But its hopes of repeating that success were dashed by the pandemic – at the height of lockdown passenger numbers tumbled from around 100,000 per month to around one-fifth of that, between 15,000 and 20,000.

“As with all businesses we were hit pretty hard,” said marketing manager Chris Harvey.

ABC Taxis lost 80pc of passengers at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Sonya DuncanABC Taxis lost 80pc of passengers at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Sonya Duncan

“The business has suffered incredibly, and there’s not too much hope of that recovering. A lot of money has been lost all around.”

The firm’s owners are not the only ones who have taken a financial hit – many of its fleet of 250 self-employed drivers had no work, with some unable to sign up for the government’s aid.

Fortunately, after months of extreme difficulty, Mr Harvey said passenger numbers were back on the rise, allowing some drivers to return to work.

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“We’re still by no stretch of the imagination back to full strength – at the height of the pandemic we were between 75 and 80pc down in terms of driver numbers and job totals. We’re now back up to around the 60pc mark but we’ve still got a way to go.

“As the work has picked up, we’ve got the drivers back in relation to that and it seems to have worked quite well. Like most companies we’ve got a lot of workers who aren’t ready to come back and we’ve been very careful to make it clear that we don’t want to force them to do anything they don’t want to do.”

ABC’s team of 30 full-time staff are still working from home – though some remain on furlough – with caution being the key for the firm.

“We want to get back to normal as soon as possible but we don’t want to jump too soon – we want to make sure everything is in place to make sure they can come back to a safe environment and we can then move forward.”

Meanwhile, a number of safety measures have been put in place to reassure passengers that it is safe to travel by taxi.


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