About Taxi Driving
When you become a taxi driver, it will involve many things including picking up and dropping off passengers at given destinations. Taxi drivers are also responsible for taking payment for these fares, judged by a meter that is visible in the front of the taxi that can be seen by both driver and passenger as time and mileage passes.
There are two kinds of taxi vehicle in operation:
Licensed hackney carriages - These meet the truest definition of taxi in that these can be hailed off the street or at a taxi rank. They can be hailed in random locations where people frequent, picking up their fares as and when they are gestured to. The fares and the geographical boundaries for hackney carriages are set by the local authority. In London, hackney carriages are easily identified as the famous black cabs.
Licensed Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) - Also known as minicabs, these cars are not allowed to pick up passengers from the street and cannot display a 'taxi' light on the roof. Instead, they can be pre-booked by phoning or calling in at the minicab office which receives commission on their fares. They are often booked to pick up fares after nights out, from the airport or train, and even on school runs.
Most taxi drivers are self-employed and own their own vehicle. This means that they are in charge of its maintenance, fuel, insurance, and accountancy. The job involves customer interaction as the driver picks up passengers and determines where they wish to go. The driver must know the shortest and cheapest route, and be capable of handling money for the fare. It may also be necessary to help with luggage and assist passengers with mobility difficulties.
The starting salary is around £10,000 per annum, though many drivers work part-time so this will be less. The hours incorporate days, nights and weekends, with Friday and Saturday nights being peak times. To earn good money it will be necessary to put in long hours.
- Friendly, polite, and sociable
- Safe and experienced driver
- Local geographical knowledge and sense of direction
- Calm in instances of traffic or with an aggressive passenger
- Able to handle money
There is no formal qualification to become a taxi driver, and each local authority has its own specifics on licensing conditions. You may be required to take the DSA vocational driving test.
Hackney carriage drivers must be 21 or above and have had a driving licence for 12 months. They must have no criminal convictions in fraud, theft, violent or sexual offences. They may to pass a medical and a formal test of the area, like the London Knowledge.
Private hire drivers must have been driving for 12 month and pass similar medical and criminal checks. Although the age barrier differs, under 25s may struggle getting the relevant insurance.
A taxi driver's licence test will examine the driver's knowledge of the local streets, places of interest and efficient routes. It will also monitor the driver's ability and confidence in the car.