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Edinburgh Airport taxi delays blamed on glitch

17/04/2013

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Click here to read on the Scotsman website

AIRPORT officials have blamed a software glitch for early-morning traffic delays that blighted the first day of £30 million taxi rank deal.

A malfunctioning barrier controlling access to the airport’s public drop-off zone failed to operate, causing delays of up to 15 minutes.

Black cab drivers reported passengers running from the queue with luggage to catch flights due to the hold-up.

The fault coincided with the first day under a five-year contract for the rank that has sparked a war of words between rival transport firms.

The deal jointly awarded to Edinburgh City Private Hire and black cab firm City Cabs has ended the five-year service previously run under a consortium involving the city’s largest taxi company, Central Taxis, and private company Onward Travel.

An airport spokesman said the problem had been an error linked to a software upgrade controlling the barrier.

The spokesman said the problem had taken less than half an hour to fix, adding: “Nothing has changed with the taxi rank. This could have happened on Friday or Saturday – it’s just pure and utter coincidence.”

Central Taxis director Tony Kenmuir labelled the morning queue as “enormous”.

He said: “We find that usually from town out to the airport, depending on where you’re going from, is between £16 and £18. But most of the fares were costing an extra £2 or £3 – a ten to 15 per cent increase because of the length of time it was taking sitting in traffic to get into the airport and drop off.”

Mr Kenmuir claimed extra taxis using the £1 drop-off zone had contributed to the traffic jam and said drivers had taken photographs of travellers waiting at an unmanned taxi rank.

He said: “We’re going to have to write to all our corporate customers now – all of the people that use us regularly to get to the airport – advising them to book their taxi ten or 15 minutes earlier.”

The rank will operate from its existing location until July, when operations will move to a new forecourt.

A marshal standing at the rank will use an iPad to key in passengers’ names and destinations before pointing them to the right vehicle at the alternate location.

Vehicles serving the taxi rank will have to be no older than five years old and each driver will be required to carry identification.

Police said they had received no reports of any incidents at the airport. ECPH and City Cabs were not available for comment.

ECPH director Kevin Woodburn had previously said the firm intended to operate out of the airport 24 hours to meet requirements.

The firm has been granted a temporary licence by Edinburgh City Council to run a booking office at the airport, but is the subject of an objection filed by rival Central Taxis.

The licence application will be decided later this month.

A council spokesman said: “An application for a permanent licence has been lodged and will be dealt with by the licensing sub-committee in due course, as will the objection.”

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Published on Tuesday 16 April 2013 12:00

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