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STEP TWO LEARNINGS: How was the taxi industry effected by the 12 April restriction easements?

April was a big month for all the devolved nations when we talk about the easing of coronavirus restrictions. As places of interest continue to reopen then confidence grows and, most importantly for the taxi industry, footfall increases bringing with it a sense of normality creeping back into the sector.

There is no denying there was positive news based on the data showing a sharp early increase in demand for taxis in the week commencing 12 April as restrictions began to ease further in England. In London, the number of job transactions more than doubled compared to the previous week according to data shared by taxi rental firm Colts Cabs.

Booking app FREENOW recorded a 91% increase in bookings which General Manager Mariusz Zabrocki said was a “phenomenal level of growth that exceeded even our own expectations”.

In Liverpool, hackney cabs have seen a record surge in bookings since shops, salons and bars have been allowed to re-open. ComCab, one of Liverpool's largest black cab firms, reported a 60% increase in fare bookings.

Then finally there’s Uber who have reportedly seen a spike of more than 50% in demand since the easing of coronavirus restrictions last month.

However, whilst the percentages do project a positive step in the right direction, it does not quite give the full picture when comparing the figures to work levels pre-covid. For example, a 300% increase in turnover might sound fantastic on paper, but if hypothetically that increase focused on a turnover worth only £10 per day and now increasing to £30 per day, you still have a long way to go before the turnover is sustainable.


It is that word again, confidence. As positive vibes circulate a well- connected trade, it brings out more cab drivers looking to dip their toes back into work life. There is no point begrudging people coming back into the fleet after months away, but there will be a period of industry regrowth diluted by the number returning to the roads.

Eventually the number of taxi drivers will plateau and the growth in the number of journeys will continue to rise. This is when cab drivers will feel like a corner has been turned and individuals rather than the trade as a whole will start seeing increases in job numbers.


Having worked myself, and looking through the comments on social media, weather is playing a big part in the Step Two recovery. If the sun is out people have been coaxed out to drink in beer gardens and eat al- fresco. There is also increased footfall in parks and high streets which is key to the recovery of the taxi industry.

When the temperature drops, or the rain falls, there are fewer people about braving the out-door facilities. It is understandable to be fair, but it does not help the growing taxi fleet returning to work.


Since Step Two there seems to be a slight increase in the number of people traveling at rush hour and going to office space. However, Step Three could be the turning point on this for the trade. Indoor eating and places to meet could be the spark the taxi industry needs to find more regular work between 10am-4pm.

A note of caution though. Not all office workers across Europe are expected to return to the workplace until at least the summer, according to a survey conducted by AlphaWise at US bank Morgan Stanley in January.

More than six in 10 (62%) office workers who currently work from home for at least one day a week think they will be back in the office around June 2021, much later than the April return date it previously expected.

Commenting on the report, Morgan Stanley said: “Despite vaccine rollouts and tighter lockdowns, this estimate has moved later in all countries surveyed since the last survey from December, by around 1.5 months, and now stands around June, on average. Clearly, this will not only impact office utilisation in 2021, but the leisure and retail property that depends upon the return to normal commuting patterns.”

The US bank canvassed 12,500 people across the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy – 2,500 in each country.


Step Two appears to have provided a slight increase to street footfall and people visiting places of interest, but that remains weather dependent. As an industry we can be positive with the progress seen in Step Two, but there remains little change financially at an individual driver level, unless you are one of those returning to trade after a long COVID-enforced layoff.


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