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Ethiopian Airlines staff unload AstraZeneca vaccines from a cargo plane at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 7. As rich countries hoard vaccines, the Covax programme has only distributed 77 million doses to some of the world¨s poorest people so far. Photo: Reuters

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A Teesside taxi firm has defended its queue jumper service, after a customer blasted it as “unfair” and “a step too far”.

Boro Cars says its option for customers to add ♀2 to a fare to get a taxi sooner “works well for customers who need it” – without having “any adverse impact” on others who don t.

But one man who was charged for the service says Teessiders are being “unfairly treated”.

He has blasted the firm for what he sees as them “doing what they want” because they have “the monopoly of taxis in Middlesbrough and Redcar”.

A taxi booked for him by a family member turned up “literally two minutes after they booked it”.

“So it must have been available in the first place,” he said.

“I probably wouldn t have waited anyway.

“When I was trying to ring them, they were saying they were fully booked.”

He was surprised to see his fare was ♀2 more expensive, after his brother in law had chosen the queue jumper option via the app.

“We were charged ♀5.40 for a journey that s usually ♀3.40,” he said.

“When I asked why it cost so much the driver told me the extra ♀2 was for a queue jump charge.

“I don t understand how this can be allowed to happen.

“What if I didn t pay for the queue jump, am I sat there for an hour waiting for a taxi?

“What if I m vulnerable or waiting outside at a bus stop, would I be waiting an hour because other people have jumped the queue?

“Are you getting bumped further back? It doesn t seem right.

“Even if it wasn t, then it s still terrible on the customers who have booked normally and would potentially keep getting bumped to the back of the queue if people choose to queue jump.

“This is not a service, just because Boro Cars have the monopoly of taxis in Middlesbrough and Redcar, it doesn t mean they can abuse their position.”

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A spokesperson for Boro Cars said the firm s taxi fares remain among “the cheapest in the country”.

“Like many private hire companies and airlines, we offer optional priority queue jumper services as an optional extra for customers who need a taxi in a hurry or an emergency.

“It¨s nothing new and has been available for a couple of years now and works well for customers who need it, without having an adverse impact on the majority of customers who do not need it.”

The man, who says he used to work “on the taxis himself”, claimed he “didn t mind paying for the service”.

“But I really think this is a step too far,” he added, “there is no thought at all for the people of Redcar and Cleveland.

“I feel like taxis are a law unto themselves nowadays.

“I know the lads do a good service.

“But for me it s the operator, they re taking the mick.”