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HEATHROW TAXI BROOMING: Some cabbies pushing work to others due to amount of luggage

Updated: Mar 24

Image credit Dynamo Motors

In a revealing insight into the challenges faced by airport taxi drivers, Suzanne Sullivan, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association's (LTDA) Airport Representative, has raised concerns over the increasing number of drivers at Heathrow refusing fares due to passengers having 'too much luggage'. This issue has thrown the spotlight on the need for greater consistency and control at airport taxi ranks.

Sullivan pointed out the procedural grey area where drivers, before accepting a job, are NOT supposed to know the destination, a rule that is often flouted. This has led to situations where drivers selectively refuse fares based on the drop-off location or the perceived inconvenience of the job.

The inconsistency in handling these refusals has seen some drivers being removed from the rank for not accepting a job when their vehicle clearly could not accommodate it. Conversely, others have been known to question passengers directly about their destination before deciding whether to take the fare.

A particular challenge noted involves drivers of larger Mercedes Vito black cabs who often end up with less desirable jobs when other drivers refuse fares on the basis of luggage or destination. Sullivan, herself a taxi driver, recounted witnessing and experiencing first-hand the dynamics of job allocation and refusal at Heathrow's Terminal 5, highlighting a specific instance where she had to refuse a fare due to excessive luggage.

The LTDA representative stressed the need for agents to firmly control the rank to prevent drivers from refusing jobs based on destination knowledge. Additionally, she highlighted the challenges in maintaining consistency due to the high turnover of agents and the limitations of training provided by Apcoa, the company responsible for managing airport taxi services.

Sullivan said in TAXI Newspaper: “I was on Terminal 5 last week and I saw my fare approaching me. I immediately said that I couldn’t fit the job in. I could tell four people and lots of luggage was too much for my TX4.

“When I refused it, the agent went on to say, ‘but it’s an Aylesbury.’ This should never have happened. At no point should they have told me the destination. I continued to say I still can’t fit it in.

“The driver behind was a Merc and I could tell he got out suspiciously thinking I was brooming the job. Of course, once he found out where it was going, his whole demeanour changed.

“If that had been another driver, they may or may not have then taken the job, once they knew where it was going. Had that job been a short journey or a job a driver viewed as being 'rubbish', it would have been a whole different scenario.”


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