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PREFERRED TAXI ROUTES: Cab passengers encouraged to speak up at the start of the journey

Black cab passengers have been encouraged to speak up at the start of the journey if they have a preferred journey

Sam Houston, a Senior Representative at the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), highlighted the often-overlooked aspect of taxi travel in London.

Houston shared an anecdote about a friend, a seasoned cab user, who felt hesitant to suggest a preferred route to a taxi driver amid the city's recent strikes.

Despite being well-versed in London's geography and assertive by nature, the passenger's reluctance sheds light on a common misconception among customers: the belief that taxi drivers invariably know the best routes.

The LTDA rep dispels this notion, emphasising that drivers are open to passenger suggestions, highlighting ‘it’s their journey’.

The discussion also touched on the importance of expressing route preferences at the journey's start to avoid disputes over the chosen path, especially when the fare exceeds the passenger's expectations.

Houston encouraged passengers not to hesitate in directing their preferred journeys. Taxi drivers are normally open to taking preferred routes, as long as passengers understand that these might not always be quicker or cheaper.

Sam Houston, Senior Rep at Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), said in TAXI newspaper: “A friend of mine is a regular cab user and surprised me the other day with a story of how he took a journey during one of the recent strikes and was a bit reluctant to ask the cabbie to go a certain route.

This is not some wallflower, he can hold his own in an argument and has been taking cabs for years. He’s also got a good knowledge of London and was confident his way would be better. So why the reluctance?

“Customers are right to assume that a London Taxi driver will have a better overall knowledge than them but I never particularly mind when someone asks to go a certain way. After all, it’s their journey, if they want me to drive around in circles for an hour, then I'm more than happy to oblige.

If it’s in the suburbs I will sometimes say that if the customer knows a better way than the one I’ve chosen then please let me know – people have favourite ways they like to go.

“The rub of course comes when there’s a dispute about a route selected by the driver that might have ended up more expensive than the passenger thought. This is the sentiment of the old partition sign about a preferred route being stated at the start of the journey, as it can be seen as unfair to question a route taken once it’s already too late to change. If no preference is expressed, it’s our job to choose the most cost-effective way to complete the journey.

“Anyway I told the guy not to be shy, that it’s his journey and no cab driver is going to mind going your favourite route, as long as you understand it might not necessarily be quicker (or cheaper)!”


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