Portsmouth's biggest taxi firm warns of a lack of drivers as Victorious festival gets underway

FRUSTRATED bosses at Portsmouth largest taxi firm have warned of a lack of drivers – in a blow for thousands of revellers attending the Victorious festival.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 8:49 am
Updated Friday, 27th August 2021, 10:40 am

Aqua Cars, which is a key transport firm in the city, issued the warning in an open letter to customers last night.

It comes as tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to Portsmouth over the next three days to witness the triumphant return of Victorious.

In a letter, the taxi firm said: ‘Have you tried to order a taxi over the last few weeks to be told we had nothing available? You may have tried to call our call centre at a busy time only to find your call has not been answered for several minutes?

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‘Have you tried to book a car using our app only to find that it isn’t working correctly due to the over loading of bookings already in our system?

‘These issues above are all symptoms of a massive shortage of taxi drivers, not just in our industry, this is also a major problem in the haulage, hospitality and many other businesses.

‘Aqua Cars are not alone in facing driver shortages. Every taxi company in the country is experiencing these problems.

‘We have also seen a massive spike in demand as customers are now socialising and catching up on lost time with friends and family.’

The News reported last month that Department for Transport figures showed 958 vehicles were licensed to operate in Portsmouth at the end of March this year – down from 1,237 at the same time last year. Taxi drivers reported that it had been a hard job during lockdowns, with many needing to work a 60 to 70-hour week to get by, with lots of waiting in between fares.

Aqua Cars insisted it was ‘trying its best’ to recruit new drivers and hoped to have ‘driver levels back to pre-Covid and Brexit levels’ soon.

The firm added: ‘We sincerely hope that our industry amongst others will return to some sort of normality very soon but in the meantime, we thank you for your patience at this extremely unprecedented (of) times.’

Victorious is kicking off from today, with British rockers Madness headlining the opening day of the spectacle.

It has been two years in the making, after last year’s event was axed following the global coronavirus pandemic.

Saturday and Sunday’s events are expected to pull in around 30,000 punters, in a much-needed boost for the city’s economy, which has taken a hit during the pandemic.

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