The capital’s iconic black taxis are having to wait NINE HOURS for a job at London’s Heathrow Airport as coronavirus continues to decimate the taxi industry.
According to figures released by the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), cabbies waiting on London’s biggest taxi rank face the huge wait due to a dramatic fall in demand.
The number of black cabs passing through the feeder park was down 96 percent on last year’s figures in April, May and June. It picked up slightly in July when it was down 90 percent and in August and September down 83 percent. As new restrictions were introduced in October it fell again, down 85 percent on last year.
The average waiting time for a fare at Heathrow in October was a whopping nine hours from the time the driver entered the waiting area for the terminal taxi rank known as the ‘Feeder Park’, until being dispatched to the terminal itself.
New national lockdown measures have also meant the pattern has been repeated on the streets of London away from the airport.
Colts Cabs, one of London’s biggest taxi rental fleets, has been detailing the daily number of card payment transactions taken by one of the industry's card payment companies.
On Friday 6 October the number of payments dropped by over HALF to just 10,859 compared to the 22,883 payments recorded seven days earlier.
Lisa, a taxi driver from Enfield, said: “I have had my badge for nine years and over that time I have loved being a London taxi driver, it’s the best job I have ever had and I was proud to do it every day. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on my livelihood and completely changed my life.
“Trade collapsed during lockdown and my income fell to almost nothing. I was one of the lucky one able to get help from the Government with the grant for the self-employed, which was a godsend. I wouldn’t have been able to survive without it.
It took me five years to pass the Knowledge but the time I invested was well worth it and I had thought I would carry on driving a cab until I retired.
“However, with the costs of keeping the cab on the road and less money coming in, I was worried about the future and needed some security, so with a heavy heart I made the decision to give up the cab trade, at least for the time being. I was able to find a job working for a supermarket warehouse picking deliveries and I am lucky that I did so early on, as I am not sure this would be as easy to do given where we are now, with record levels of unemployment.
“I am hoping to be back as soon as possible, hopefully next year if things get back to normal but who knows what will happen.”
Richard Massett, Chairman of the LTDA, said: “Our members are reporting going hours in between jobs and earning around just 20 percent of their usual income. We also estimate that only 20 percent of drivers are even back at work, as there is simply not enough demand to sustain the majority of drivers.
“With fare income once again being decimated by new restrictions and a new lockdown starting later this week, the situation is only going to get worse.“
Massett continued: “These drivers are now reaching a point where they simply can’t earn enough to carry on. The taxi trade urgently needs a tailored package of support to help it survive the difficult winter ahead.”