A TAVISTOCK taxi driver has stepped in to offer a guaranteed ride home for a group of friends who were left stranded by a Plymouth ‘black cab’ who tried to charge £80 for the journey home after a night out.

One of the group, a single mother living in a remote location near Brentor, said the incident was just the latest in a series which have seen her ejected miles from home on returning from the city after a night out. On one occasion, she had to walk half a mile down the track to her cottage alone, after the taxi driver claimed her lane was impassable. 

In the latest, a black cab picked them up in Union Street in Plymouth in the early hours of the morning with the meter running, then quoted £80 to take her home, part way into the journey. She ended up paying £50 to go as far as Tavistock, then walked the last two miles home in the early hours.

She said she found it impossible to book a taxi in advance that would agree to come out in the early hours to bring her and her Tavistock area friends back – and called for a ‘night bus’  like the one that exists in Plymouth to bring them home.

I’m 2.1 miles out of Tavistock,’ said the woman, who is in her early 20s and works in the Tavistock area. ‘This happens every time we go out. On one occasion, the driver got me to the top of my lane and then refused to drive me down; it was pitch black and I had to walk about half a mile down the track. The next morning there was a whole lot of litter on my track, including a blazer which wasn’t ours so must have been thrown out by the taxi driver on the way back.’

She said this had followed an earlier incident last September when she and her friends were ejected by a taxi driver half way along Harrowbeer Lane in Yelverton, after the driver refused to go any further. 

And most, recently, she was forced to walk back from Tavistock town centre, after a black Hackney taxi from Plymouth’s Union Street told her it would cost her an extra £30 to drop her the 2.1 miles out of the town to her home between Mary Tavy and Brentor. ‘We weren’t going to pay the extra £30 just to take us 2.1 miles, it was ridiculous. I’m just a bit fed up with it. Living rurally, we have just as much right to get a safe and affordable trip home. It wasn’t like we were thinking the journey would be for nothing, we were more than happy to pay our way. It just wasn’t worth £80.

 ‘I’m a 24-year-old  and I am self employed. We are all educated, reasonable people. We enjoy a good night out occasionally, we don’t go out all the time. We just want to be able to get home when we do.’

The publicity around her plight, though, has prompted Tavistock taxi driver Trevor Lashbrook of Grab-A-Cab, who she often uses to get home from Tavistock, to allow her to book him for taxis home from Plymouth from nights out over the next couple of months.  ‘He is very reliable and always turns up to take me home from Tavistock,’ said the woman. ‘It is the Plymouth taxi drivers that let us down.’

Trevor said: ‘We do pick up from Plymouth on a Friday and Saturday only, but not past 2.30am as so many people let you down at the last minute. I do try an look after my customers, although it is a long day for me as I work all day on Friday and Saturday, so I don’t work past 3am.’

On complaining to Plymouth City Council about the way she had been treated by taxi drivers in the city, the woman was told that there was no legal obligation for Plymouth taxi drivers to take passengers to anywhere beyond the city boundaries and the taxi tariff set out by the city council only applied to journeys within the city boundaries.‘With regards to the fares for journeys to Tavistock and surrounding areas, unfortunately the law concerning this is not fit for purpose in the 21st century, but it would be for Government, not the council, to instigate a change in the law,’ said the official.‘The law, which incidentally originated in 1847, only compels drivers to perform journeys that are wholly within the Plymouth City Council jurisdictional area.’ These laws date back to the days of horse drawn carriages.