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RANK, ROAM OR APPS: How taxi drivers choose their shift strategies



For taxi drivers, the approach to working a shift can vary greatly. With three main options available - waiting on a taxi rank, seeking out fares on the road, or working with pre-booked fares - drivers often tend to gravitate towards one particular method based on their preferences and experiences.


The anticipation and uncertainty of picking up a fare has always driven many to stay active on the streets rather than waiting on ranks. Sitting idle on a rank can be monotonous and even anxiety-inducing, as there's no guarantee of a decent fare after hours of waiting.

However, for many drivers, sitting on a rank presents a compelling option. The primary advantage lies in fuel savings. While drivers like myself burn fuel driving around empty, those waiting on ranks can conserve their fuel for when they actually have a fare. The ability to catch up on reading or other activities during rank shifts is an additional benefit.


Some taxi drivers rely on booking operators to secure jobs throughout the day, especially during specific times such as school runs in the mornings. This approach offers the assurance of consistent work at designated times. However, proper shift planning is crucial to ensure adequate coverage, and there is a risk of waiting between jobs when there is ample work available on the ranks or streets.


To gather insights on the preferred method among taxi drivers, TaxiPoint recently conducted a reader survey. The results revealed that a significant percentage of drivers tend to avoid ranks whenever possible, unless the streets are entirely devoid of work or there are no bookings available. A driver mentioned working with pre-booked jobs 99% of the time, as they would rather stay at home than invest hours on a rank for a subpar job.

Some drivers expressed a preference for school contracts, citing guaranteed work as an enticing factor. Others who favored rank work emphasised focusing only on large busy stations, where they can expect to pick up fares within a reasonable timeframe for the majority of the year.


However, there are also drivers who choose to mix things up and adopt a more flexible approach. These "nomads" operate based on intuition and go with the flow of the day, covering work as it comes their way. They embrace a free-thinking mindset that allows them to adapt to various situations.


Ultimately, the choice of shift strategy in the taxi industry revolves around minimising stress for the individual driver. Whether it's dealing with traffic, difficult passengers, or a lack of demand, every driver's preferred approach is subjective and shaped by their personal experiences.

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