Category Archives: Taxi Advice

Title: Taxi News Roundup May 2017

Hub Image:

Example image of Taxi News Roundup May 2017

Summary: Read the most important news stories from the taxi industry in our May taxi news roundup post.

Meta Title: Taxi Industry News May 2017

Meta Description: Read the most important news stories from the taxi industry in our May taxi news roundup post.

Article:

Taxi News May 2017

UK Drivers Protest Working Conditions

Late may saw drivers in a number of regions staging protests and threating strike action, with most looking to raise awareness of what they consider to be increasingly difficult working conditions.

Drivers in Leeds, Manchester, Cardiff, York, Brighton, Oldham and London all took part in demonstrations to protest the oversaturation of vehicles in their areas. The protests were in part organised by the GMB union, which claims that a lack of stringency amongst local authorities has led to new licenses being handed out “like sweeties”.

GMB states that many areas are now so saturated with vehicles that drivers have to work longer hours to earn a decent wage. In addition, some drivers say that they have resorted to looking for work in areas they are not licensed.

Regarding the demonstrations, Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for the Taxi and Professional Drivers Trades, said: “The vast majority of drivers in the trades of both taxi and minicabs are professional drivers, and operate strictly in accordance with their licensing requirements.”

“However because of the huge surge in licences being issued there is now over capacity, where drivers are being encouraged by their operators to work hundreds of miles from where they are licensed. Unfortunately the government does not recognise there is a problem, which in the main is of their making.”

The union is now campaigning for changes to be to protect drivers, which include legislative amendments designed to protect local drivers, prevent out of town working, and halt illegal touting, alongside proposals for a national database for operators, drivers, and enforcement officers.

Uber Faces Uncertain Future in Europe

2017 hasn’t been a great year for Uber in Europe. In March the company was forced to cease activity in Denmark, following a change in legislation that effectively made it illegal for them to operate in the country. Then Italy followed suit, banning Uber altogether following a complaint from the country’s taxi unions.

In May the rideshare company’s future in Europe became even shakier, with a European Court of Justice advocate arguing that the company is a transport – not internet – company. Maciej Szpunar argues that as Uber’s services are “undoubtedly transport”, it “cannot be regarded as a mere intermediary between drivers and passengers”. Szpunar as such says that the court should re-evaluate Uber’s financial status. Although not a binding decision, if followed through by the court Uber could face far tighter regulations on the continent.

Uber’s self-identification as a digital service has meant that to date, the company has been able to operate and expand in Europe with relative ease. However, as transport companies are subject to more stringent laws than technology companies, a decision in support of the advocate could force Uber to comply with local legislation in all EU countries within which it operates.

London Moves Towards Greener Taxis

May saw the capitals taxi industry move towards a greener future, with the announcement that an LPG powered black cab would undergo a final round of assessment from Transport for London. The cab – created by Autogas – will undergo a 10,000 mile technology assessment to recreate the day to day activity of a typical London taxi, with TfL looking to consider whether the vehicle is suitable for general use.

With air quality in London coming under increasing scrutiny, TfL are looking for alternatives to the diesel vehicles the black cab trade operates on. LPG – or liquid petroleum gas – is viewed by many as an affordable and viable alternative to traditional fuel, and has already been introduced to the black cab trade in other cities in the UK, most notably Birmingham.

Speaking about the plans, Autogas’ business development manager Paul Oxford said: “London, like many other cities and towns across the UK, has a major air quality problem, largely as a result of NOx emissions and particulate matter from diesel vehicles.””Giving taxi drivers an immediate and viable opportunity to switch to a fuel source that is much cleaner than diesel will not only help improve local air quality, but it will also extend the usable life of their cab for another five years and save them around £200 a month in fuel costs, so it really is a win-win situation for everyone.”

Author: Fusion

Title: Taxi News Roundup March 2017

Hub Image:

Example image of Taxi News Roundup March 2017

Summary: Read the biggest news stories from the taxi industry in our March news roundup post.

Meta Title: Taxi Industry News March 2017

Meta Description: Read the biggest news stories from the taxi industry in our March news post.

Article:

Uber Withdraws from Denmark after Legal Face-Off with Danish Government

Uber, the company behind the widely-used but controversial ride-share app of the same name, are set to end all of their operations in Denmark, after the introduction of new Danish law that requires all hire cars to have seat occupancy sensors and fare meters, which many Uber drivers’ cars will not be able to meet.

An Uber spokesperson, speaking after news broke of the law’s implementation, said: “For us to operate in Denmark again, the proposed regulations need to change. We will continue to work with the government in the hope that they will update their proposed regulations and enable Danes to enjoy the benefits of modern technologies like Uber.”

The San Francisco based company have met legal problems not just in Denmark but across the world. Keep checking the Taxi Centre blog for more Uber updates.

UK Government Takes a Harsher Stand Against Drivers on the Phone

The UK government has increased the penalty of being found using a phone behind the wheel of a moving vehicle to a £200 fine and six points against your license.

New drivers who receive six points will be required to retake both the practical and theory exam, while more experienced drivers will be banned if docked for any amount above twelve points. Drivers caught on the phone previously were able to avoid the points penalty by going on an educational course, but the law change has simultaneously removed this as an option.

It’s been illegal to use a phone behind the wheel since the 1st of March, 2003, which doesn’t just apply to talking and texting; using apps like Google Apps, for instance, is also against the law. The only circumstances in which you’re allowed to be on the phone while in the driver’s seat are when you’re safely parked or it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.

RTPC chief inspector Colin Carswell said: “Using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving means a driver’s attention is distracted from the road. After speeding, it’s probably the most dangerous thing a driver can do – leading to people being killed and injured on our roads. You’re slower at recognising and reacting to hazards if you are driving and using a mobile.”

While hands-free options do allow you to speak on the phone whilst driving, you’re still liable for prosecution should your phone usage appear to compromise your ability to concentrate on the road!

Taxi Drivers Campaign Against Diesel

In a letter to the UK Government, various taxi organisations have pledged their support for the implementation of a national diesel scrappage scheme.

Air pollution is becoming more and more of a pressing concern across the UK’s cities. The letter requested that the UK government help drivers make the switch away from diesel cars to greener alternatives, of which there are now many, such as the Nissan Leaf which has become a green favourite among taxi drivers.

Despite the increasing pressure that’s being directed at the government, alongside the fact that over half of the British public statistically support diesel scrappage, the year’s budget made no mention of introducing such a scheme. However, a new “tax treatment for diesel vehicles” was suggested as something planned for 2017’s autumn budget.

The UK taxi industry has been pioneering in bringing environmentally friendly vehicles onto our cities’ roads. The environmental impact of these cars is complemented by their considerably lower running costs and superior fuel economy.

For more on low emission vehicles and the Nissan Leaf, check out last month’s news round-up!

Author: Fusion

Title: Taxi News Roundup January 2017

Hub Image:

Example image of Taxi News Roundup January 2017

Summary: Read some of January's most important industry news in our monthly taxi news post.

Meta Title: Taxi News January 2017

Meta Description: Read some of January's most important industry news in our monthly taxi news post.

Article:

Taxi News Roundup - January 2017

Uber Trials Self Driving Taxis

Select groups of Uber users in the USA can now request to be picked up by a driverless vehicle. The service is being offered to app users in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and California, following on from a year and a half of intense testing.

Uber has been cautious to state that the service is still only in a trial stage, branding it as a “research exercise”. For safety (and testing) reasons, each vehicle is manned by at least one Uber engineer, who has the ability to switch from autonomous to manual mode and take control of the vehicle if needed.

Courts in California have already branded the self-driving vehicles a safety concern, after they were found to cut across cycle lanes rather than merge with them. In addition, California’s attorney general has warned Uber to withdraw its driverless fleet or face legal action; something that Uber has stated they won’t be complying with. However, the company did admit that “It’s still early days and our cars are not ready to drive without a person monitoring them”.

Uber is yet to comment on introducing driverless cars to the UK. However, driverless vehicles are being tested by other companies and manufacturers. Nissan recently announced that they will be trialling a driverless version of the LEAF in London from February, with Volvo also planning to carry out trials of their own autonomous vehicles in early 2017.

Karhoo Bought by Renault

Renault has announced the purchase of taxi-comparison service Karhoo, taking the app’s parent company out of administration. The app was purchased by Renault’s financial services division RCI Bank & Services, for an undisclosed fee estimated to be in the region of £13m.

Initially pitched as a direct competitor to Uber, Karhoo initially seemed to be set for success. At its height the firm employed around 200 members of staff in offices around the world, and at one point stated it had received $250m in funding from backers, although recent suggestions have placed this at closer to $30m. However, Karhoo ceased trading in November 2016 after only 6 months of business, leaving its employees and cab firms in the lurch.

RCI are now set to resurrect Karhoo -which will be incorporated under the new “Flit Technologies Ltd” venture – stating that it would help the company “design simple and attractive solutions” as part of its Renault-Nissan alliance brands.

The app is set to re-launch under the stewardship of new joint CEOs Boris Pilichowski and Nicolas Andine. In a statement, the pair said that “there is a need in ground transportation for someone to aggregate all the independents and allow them to compete, and we are determined to make sure Karhoo fills that need. Karhoo was amazingly successful in ferrying hundreds of thousands of people around the world but lacked a corporate backer, but with RCI Bank and Services, we now have that.”

Study Shows Black Cabs Faster Than Uber

Researchers from Lancaster University have pitted black cabs against Uber, in a bid to accurately compare the average cost and speed of the two services.

Over a period of 3 days the researchers took 29 different journeys from various locations around London. From a set location, one researcher used the Uber app to hail a taxi, whilst another hailed a traditional black cab and let the driver decide the route.

Their findings showed that on average, hailing a black cab was the faster option, with journeys conducted in around 88% of the time that it took the Uber driver. However, Uber was found to be the cheaper option, with black cabs being around 35% more expensive.

Anastasios Noulas, who led the research group, explained that “Uber drivers rely on navigation apps, but in dense parts of the city these can be slower than a black cab driver to react to traffic build up.”

The research group found that black cabs had a particular edge in the densest parts of the city, where the specialist knowledge of drivers provided especially useful in finding faster (but more complex) routes than Uber. They also noted that black cabs had the advantage of being able drive in bus lanes, and that drivers frequented side streets not generally recommended by navigation apps.

Author: Fusion Unlimited

Title: Taxi Survey 2016

Hub Image:

Example image of Taxi Survey 2016

Summary: Have you ever wondered whether the price you’re paying for a ride home is “normal”? Whether your driver appreciates you whiling the miles away with chat about your cat, or if they’d prefer the strong silent type? If not leaving your driver a tip is fine, cos, well, nobody tips in taxis, do they? We have.

Meta Title: Taxi Survey 2016

Meta Description: Take a look at our 2016 Taxi Survey. Click through to read more about average taxi prices, how many people use uber, and whether to tip or not to tip.

Article:

Have you ever wondered whether the price you’re paying for a ride home is “normal”? Whether your driver appreciates you whiling the miles away with chat about your cat, or if they’d prefer the strong silent type? If not leaving your driver a tip is fine, cos, well, nobody tips in taxis, do they?

To be honest, probably not. But here at The Taxi Centre, we have, and we’ve decided to get to the bottom of things. We’ve surveyed taxi passengers from Dorset to Durham, to find out how and what they ride, how much they pay for the pleasure, how happy they are about it, and how polite they are in the process. Take a look at the results of our survey below.

frame01

We asked all respondents for to estimate the average fare they’d usually pay to travel one mile, including minimum fares. With those in the north and the midlands paying on average more than a quid less per mile, it’s safe (and perhaps not surprising) to say that a north south divide exists when it comes to taxi prices. Average prices down south were pushed up considerably by respondents from London, some of whom reported minimum fares of over £10!

frame02

Next up we asked our passengers which type of taxi they used most often – private hire, hackney cab, or Uber.

Whilst you might have expected private hire services to come out on top, perhaps a bit more surprising is Uber – not yet available nationwide – coming in second place.

It’d be interesting to see how these stats would have fared up a couple of years ago before rideshare apps became so widely used. Would hackney cabs have had a wider share of the market, or would this gap have been closed by more people using private hire services?

frame03

A deeper look shows that the further south you go, the more likely taxi passengers are to rely on Uber. Around 30% of southerners said they used Uber most often, compared to just 14.58% of those in the north.

Our older age range seemed more likely to use taxi apps too, with around 30% of 18-34 year olds using Uber most often compared to 19% of 34-54 year olds.

frame04

Despite – or perhaps because of – the bigger market share the app has in southern cities, a definite north south divide exists when it comes to getting an Uber.

It might be an attempt to drum up interest, or maybe those famously thrifty Yorkshire folk are simply unwilling to pay any more, but at around £2.50 Leeds currently has the lowest base fare in the country. That’s a good half of the base price that Londoners have to pay, which might explain our next stat…frame05

We asked whether our passengers were happy with the price they usually pay for a cab, and the results we got pretty much mirror a pattern we’ve seen emerging. Unsurprisingly, where taxi prices are higher, passengers are least happy with the prices. Is it true that a quid really does go further in the north. Or, is it that the surge pricing typical of services like Uber is leaving those in the south less satisfied than Northerners?

frame06

This might be a bit of a shocking stat for drivers, but 93% of those in the north said they usually provide a little something extra for their driver. And despite being the least satisfied with the fare, having to shell out most in the first place, and being more likely to use apps, 80% of southerners also said they provided a tip. Those in the Midlands were the least likely to say “keep the change”, but at 69% we’d still say they’re not exactly stingy.

frame07

With 85% of northerners saying they usually talk to their driver compared to 81% in the midlands and 63% in the south, our survey seems to confirm two old clichés; the stuffy southerner, and the northerner who for better or worse will take up any opportunity wait to chew someone’s ear off.

Or, it could be that as 68% of northerners said they used local minicab services most often, those in the north might have simply got to know their drivers a bit better.

Our results also showed that the older spectrum of those surveyed are more likely to chat to their driver, with 81% of 34-54 year olds saying they usually initiate conversation compared to 68% of younger passengers. Women are also marginally less likely to spark up a chat, with only 67% saying they talk to their driver compared to 85% of men.

It’s also worth pointing that it’s hard to determine how many people are classing “been busy mate?” as a conversation.

frame08

Our respondents agreed pretty unanimously on their preferred seats, with just over half of all preferring to ride in the back. The only exception appears to be men, who at 55% were the only group to slightly favour front seat riding.

Presumably, those riding up front are northerners looking to get into prime position to regale their life story.

frame09

As an aside, we asked our passengers about the most memorable thing to ever happen to them in a taxi. Unsurprisingly, most of the stories were half remembered drunken escapades.

However, amongst the tears, vomit, and stuntman antics, were two good Samaritans, nobly handing in forgotten valuables. We will say that people who frequently pocket found goods are perhaps less likely to brag about it when asked, although before doing this survey we’d have said the same about people who are liable to fall out of moving vehicles when seat-belted in with the doors closed.

So, there we have it, a little snapshot of England’s taxi users in 2016; embracing of new technologies, thrifty, invariably chatty, and more likely to tip (or lie about it) than you might think.

Author: Fusion

Title: A Guide to Gett

Hub Image:

Example image of A Guide to Gett

Summary: Founded in Israel, taxi app Gett has quietly expanded its operations to around 25 cities up and down the UK, including London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Bath, Bradford, Nottingham, and Newcastle.

Meta Title: A Guide to Gett

Meta Description: With rideshare apps like Gett looking to expand to offer more services, The Taxi Centre takes a wider look at the way the taxi industry could be heading.

Article:

GettThe way that the taxi industry operates has been shaken up somewhat recently, with new regulations, apps, ridesharing, and even the services that the humble taxi offers to customers undergoing change.

Much of this has been brought on by technology, with many local private hire businesses now having another mode of contact as well as the traditional land-line; the mobile app.

This use of mobile tech hasn’t just allowed existing local businesses to make it easier and more efficient for customers to get in touch, but for new companies to make their way into the UK’s thriving taxi trade. By now you’re surely heard of Uber – if not, just read our earlier blog post on the company – but it turns out that they’re not the only mobile focused newcomers operating on these shores.

Indeed, it’s not just Uber who’ve gained a foothold across a number of UK cities. Founded in Israel, taxi app Gett has quietly expanded its operations to around 25 cities up and down the UK, including London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Bath, Bradford, Nottingham, and Newcastle.

It also might not seem like it, but Gett isn’t exactly the newcomer that many might think it to be either. In fact, the company has operated in the UK for around 4 years now, originally launching in London under the name “Get Taxi”.

Compared to their rivals, Gett operate on slightly different terms. The general premise of the Gett app appears similar to most taxi apps; connect to GPS, view drivers in real time on a map, and book the nearest driver to your location. So far, not much different to what your tech savvy local private hire company has been doing for a while.

However, Gett only allows licensed black cab drivers to register with them. It’s for this reason that Gett has avoided the scrutiny that many rideshare apps have come under by both the media and existing taxi trade. For the Taxi industry – particular black cab drivers – Gett is often seen to be working with the trade, rather than against it. For customers, the impression is that Gett is safer than other apps, even though drivers of rideshare apps in the UK must be licensed in order to operate legally.

Regardless, the introduction of a range of newcomer apps has meant that Gett has had to innovate and offer a wider service in order to try and stay ahead of the competition. This has seen the introduction of Gett Kiosks to select locations in the country, which allow customers to book a taxi without directly using their mobile phone.

Alongside this, Gett have also made moves to expand their core operations. This includes the proposal to offer transportation of a wide set of goods to customers, including food and shopping, in the same way that takeaway and online supermarket delivery drivers do.

If this seems like quite a big step away from being a taxi service, their next suggestion is a giant leap. Alongside Gett Pizza and Gett Groceries, the company has also hinted at partnering with local businesses and trade providers, to bring services like Gett Plumber to customers. Whilst full details of this haven’t yet been disclosed, this would presumably be a service that operates like their current taxi app, but instead of identifying a taxi driver in your area, you’d be identifying a local tradesman. Whether they’d get to you in a taxi is their decision, presumably.

Whilst this might seem far-fetched, when put into consideration it’s not too different to the steps that the taxi industry has made in the past couple of years. A decade ago, tracking your taxi on a portable screen would have been unthinkable, but now it’s an established practice. As we’ve seen previously, change is something that’s perhaps inevitable in industry, and is essential to ensure that the industry in question survives. Apps like Gett are perhaps simply filling a gap in the taxi market that with the rise of technology, would have been filled in anyway.

Author: Tom

Title: How to Become a Taxi Driver

Hub Image:

Example image of How to Become a Taxi Driver

Summary: Taxi drivers carry out one of the most valuable – and perhaps underappreciated – public service occupations around. Whether it’s to and from the shops, to work or school, or as that essential post night out beacon to home, it’s likely that most people will have taken a ride in a taxi at some point in their life.

Meta Title: How To Become A Taxi Driver

Meta Description: Learn how to become a taxi driver with this comprehensive guide from The Taxi Centre. If you need any additional advice please contact the team today.

Article:

Taxi Driver

Taxi drivers carry out one of the most valuable – and perhaps underappreciated – public service occupations around. Whether it’s to and from the shops, to work or school, or as that essential post night out beacon to home, it’s likely that most people will have taken a ride in a taxi at some point in their life.

If you’ve taken a trip in a taxi before, you may also have found yourself wondering what life behind the wheel of a taxi might be like. The individual responsibility, apparent freedom, and working hours of being a taxi driver might seem appealing to many; perhaps the reason for the recent rise of “self-employed” rideshare services.

If you’ve ever found yourself daydreaming about a life on the road, we’ve put together a step by step guide telling you everything you need to know about becoming a taxi driver. From qualifications, tests, and even personality requirements, we hope we give you a good insight to what it takes to make a living behind the wheel.

  1. Who do you want to work for?

So, you’ve decided to investigate becoming a taxi driver. Firstly, we’ll need to ask you a few questions about exactly what kind of driver you’re looking to be. The fact of the matter is, taxi-driver is a bit of a blanket term, covering a few different types of taxis with separate requirements and working expectations.

The first and most well-known taxi you could potentially drive is a hackney carriage, commonly known as “black cabs” in the London region. When driving this type of taxi, you could pick up passengers when flagged down, from a specified taxi rank, or from a pre-booked destination. Hackney carriages are usually licensed by a local public authority, the Public Carriage Office, or the Department of the Environment, and licences for these types of taxis are less readily available than other types

The other most common type of taxi is a private hire vehicle, or “minicab”. Unlike hackney carriages, private hire cars generally only pick up passengers who have pre-booked from a specified location, and can’t be flagged down or ordered from a roadside rank. When operating on behalf of a private hire company, you’ll either be able to use your own vehicle or hire one from the company itself. Rather than being on the books, you may also be registered as self-employed, meaning you could be able to choose when and how frequently to operate. However, you may also have to work to a rough shift pattern.

  1. Get a license

Once you’ve decided which type of firm you’d like to work for, you’ll need to work on getting licensed. Presumably, you’ll already have a regular driving license – if not, it might be a good idea to work on getting one.

Obtaining a taxi license is usually a fairly simple process, conducted through your local authority. Although the exact conditions differ from council to council, there are some general requirements:

Be a registered UK citizen, or have proof of a legal right to work in the UK.

Pass a criminal records check.

Have a clean driving license.

Hold a driving license for at least 12 months, although longer is preferred. In London, the minimum is 3 years.

Be over 21. However, many firms may not hire drivers under 25, due to the insurance premiums associated with this.

Complete some form of driving assessment.

Pass a geographical test of the area you’ll be driving in.

Pass a medical. If you have poor eyesight, severe heart problems, epilepsy or diabetes, you may be refused a license.

Any tests you take may be carried out by different authorities. Driving assessments will most likely be carried out by your local council, or the DVSA. The geographical test will also be carried out by a local authority, and in London this test – colloquially known as “The Knowledge” – will be carried out by the Ministry of Transport. You’ll be expected to build up a solid knowledge of the area you’ll be driving in, although in an era of satellite navigation knowing every highway, road, by-way and ginnel in your area is perhaps becoming a less strenuous requirement.

A license is usually issued for a period of 12 months, and after this, it will need to be renewed. This is a much easier process than initially obtaining a taxi license, and generally involves completing an updated criminal records check and medical form, and sending this off with an updated passport size photo.

  1. Choose your car

So you’ve decided who you’d like to work for, passed all the requirements, and obtained your private hire license. But it feels like you’re missing something…

Perhaps the most important decision you’ll need to make when choosing to become a taxi driver, is which car you’ll license to drive. You’ll be depending on your car day in day out, so you need to make sure that you choose something sturdy, reliable, and affordable to run.

If you’re working for a firm that uses hackney carriages, you’ll likely be supplied with a vehicle that you’ll pay a small amount to use. However, for private hire-companies, you’ll be presented with two options. You can choose either to hire a vehicle from the private hire operators to license, or drive your own vehicle. If choosing to drive your own vehicle, some firms may specify that it meets certain requirements. It may need to be a certain colour, size or age, have a certain engine size, and have undertaken an MOT test at least twice a year if over one year old.

Once you’ve decided on the right vehicle for you, whether it’s a hatchback, estate, or MPV, you should be set to go. If you’re unsure of what vehicle is right for you, taking a look at the options we’ve got on show at The Taxi Centre might be a good starting point.

Remember that this guide is simply rough advice, and that rules and regulations for your local area may differ slightly to those stated here. Most importantly, if you’re looking for a social job that offers the opportunity to meet new people every day, a flexible working pattern that suits you, and an excuse to talk about the weather as often as you like, becoming a taxi driver might be the career calling you’ve been waiting for.

Author: Tom