Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley is promising to deliver a better deal to taxi drivers - including a five per cent fare increase that Government promised they would get in 2005, but never did.

The "range of measures" that the Opposition UBP says it will bring in if elected comes two months after Mr. Dunkley held an open meeting with taxi drivers and a day after the Bermuda Sun reported that disgruntled taxi drivers are vowing not to drive PLP supporters to polling stations to vote as they did in the 1998 election.

The measures are believed to be what taxi drivers had asked for in their meeting with Mr. Dunkley, but Bermuda Taxi Association president Gilbert Trott said he was unable to comment last night.

But Lee Tucker, the former spokesman for the taxi industry, who is no longer a member of the BTA, said he does not support all the UBP proposals, but added that Mr. Dunkley is on the right track. "At least the Opposition is prepared to listen," he said. Mr. Tucker told the Bermuda Sun on Tuesday he does not intend to vote for the PLP in this election, although he has supported the party in the past. Michael Ray, the former president of the Bermuda Taxi Association, confirmed taxi drivers as a whole are not happy with Government, although he could not predict how that would play out at the polls.

Mr. Dunkley said the UBP will bring in "a range of measures to meet the concerns of both drivers and customers should it win the next election."

They include:

n Delivering the fare increase promised to taxi drivers in 2004;

n Formulating a new schedule for compensation that includes regular review;

n Making GPS optional;

n Reducing the payroll-tax burden on the taxi industry during the off-season;

n Seeking ways to reduce the cost of taxi parts;

n Considering a duty reduction on fuel;

n Reviewing the concept of shared rides and premium rates for late hours;

n Establishing a Taxi Commission to increase consultation among government, taxi owners and drivers, representatives from the hospitality industry and the broader community with a mandate to monitor dispatching and make recommendations on fare structure and surcharges;

n Allowing for a surcharge after 9pm that strikes a fair balance between drivers and their customers.

Mr. Dunkley said: "We hope this plan goes some way toward helping taxi drivers stay afloat in an industry that faces continuing economic and regulatory challenges. We believe it is vital for any government to work closely with the people so that public policies reflect their needs. That's where the United Bermuda Party approach to government begins and ends."

Gilbert Trott, president of the BTA, said he was unable to respond to the UBP statement last night. n

The Bermuda Sun incorrectly reported that the Bermuda Taxi Association owns BTA (Dispatching) Ltd. The dispatching company is owned by a group of taxi drivers that include BTA members and non-members.