LATE-night taxi travel is set to be made easier and safer across Ryedale as a string of new ranks swing into operation.

Three new full-time sites which will allow hackney carriages to pick up passengers have been set up around the county, together with five time-restricted overnight points, after a review marked out a need for more facilities.

Police and council chiefs hope the extra ranks will cut down on queues and make people enjoying the area’s nightlife feel more secure when waiting for a taxi.

A three-vehicle rank has been introduced outside the HSBC in Malton’s Market Place, with a two-vehicle facility being placed on the town’s station forecourt, while space for another two taxis to pick up passengers around the clock will now operate outside the Co-op in Eastgate, Pickering.

Meanwhile, part-time ranks will also be open between 6pm and 6am on Main Street in Kirkbymoorside, Market Place in Pickering and Railway Street in Malton, and from 6.30pm to 6am in Helmsley’s Market Place car park and Pickering’s Ropery car park.

Laural Carr, Ryedale District Council’s taxi licensing officer, said: “The additional ranks look set to provide a boost for transport needs throughout Ryedale and provide a vital service, allowing improved access to everyday services and facilities in the area.”

The authority will also be monitoring the ranks with North Yorkshire Police to ensure they are only being used by licensed hackney carriages – private hire vehicles are not allowed to pick up fares from the ranks – and to their full potential, as well as keeping a watching brief for bogus taxis.

Sergeant Paul Stephenson, the force’s safer neighbourhoods officer, said: “We will be supporting the initiative as it provides a safe environment for all users, especially females, using registered taxis late at night. It is essential for people who use taxis to be able to identify where the ranks are and that the cars they get into are taxis.”

An information leaflet outlining the safety aspects of using taxis and private hire vehicles is available from the council, and feedback on the new rank system can be emailed to, by phoning 01653 600666 extension 474, or by writing to the Taxi Licensing Officer, Ryedale District Council, Showfield Lane, Malton, YO17 6BT.