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TAXI BUTLER: Best ways for passengers to show appreciation towards taxi drivers

Updated: Oct 2, 2022

Taxi drivers are the ambassadors and the heart and soul of the taxi industry. They play a crucial role in connecting passengers, making them feel safe and comfortable, and putting a smile on their faces despite their daily hurdles. The long work hours, including extended and exhausting traffic, are just a few instances of precisely what a taxi driver experiences in a day. They are not just responsible for the security and luggage of their passengers but are also often exposed to dealing with dangerous situations, including troublesome passengers.

During my recent visit to London, in a casual conversation with a taxi driver, I asked, 'what do taxi drivers expect from their passengers?' The taxi driver mentioned “we aim to assure that our passengers feel comfortable in our taxi as we drop them safely at their desired destination, while in return, we only expect them to be polite to us and respect our taxi". In the past few years, taxi drivers have endured many challenges and are now bouncing back and getting back on track.

The data from the second edition of Global Taxi Industry Report by Taxi Butler indicates that in the second quarter of 2022, the B2B bookings witnessed a 49% growth compared to the previous year. In the UK, despite the taxi trade witnessing substantial demand, the drivers' shortage had adversely impacted the taxi industry. Various reasons such as costly licensing, better work elsewhere, low wages, and backlogs in background checks for drivers contributed to the shortage across the UK. However, despite the challenges, the UK and Ireland have witnessed 656.89% increase in Q1 compared to Q1 2021. In Q2 2022, despite lockdown easing and the travel sector opening globally, the taxi booking industry in the UK saw a dip of 222.20 % in B2B taxi booking as compared to Q2 of the previous year in 2021.

To assist and encourage the UK taxi industry in the comeback, the departments for Transport and councils are already working towards a sustainable solution. However, as fellow citizens and regular passengers, let’s show appreciation and encourage taxi drivers to get back on the road by following the following essential best practices.

Greet. Smile. Respect.

A nice gesture can always go a long way for taxi drivers. Next time you're travelling and the staff at the hotel front desk book a taxi for you, we encourage you to enter the taxi, look in the eye of the driver and say 'hello!' — you know, as polite human beings do. The

profession of a taxi driver is seamlessly selfless and requires much patience. Irrespective of the passenger's mood, they aim to complete the ride safely and efficiently. They offer so much more when working beyond the convenience of a 9 to 5 job. However,

with every completed ride, customer satisfaction and a genuine smile better their day differently.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) 2019 launched a 'Taxi Driver Respect' campaign in Ireland to encourage passengers to respect their taxi drivers. The campaign promoted the drivers' right to expect a workplace free of abuse and aggression. The six-

week national advertising campaign was live across digital and social media platforms and on bus shelters, on-board public transport and on bus vehicles' exteriors in the coming weeks.

Avoid the mess

As a frequent traveller, I understand how busy we can get while leaving for a crucial meeting or catching up on that flight back home, barely having time to grab a bite before leaving, carrying the food in the taxis. However, dropping food crumbs, leaving a foul smell and leaving it on the driver to clean later is something the drivers certainly don't appreciate. Always ask the driver if he is okay with you eating in his car or waiting until you get to your destination. However, if he allows you to eat, carry napkins and clean the mess yourself.

I have encountered a few drivers complaining about such passengers and how uncomfortable they felt because of the munching sound and the smell of the food. One added that the next passenger often made a remark due to the behaviour of the previous passenger. He even stated that some passengers spilled food, leaving stains on the upholstery, which cost the cab company money and its reputation.

Backseat drivers

How would it feel if someone looked over your shoulder and told you what to do all day? That's what it feels like to taxi drivers when passengers holler directions from the back of the car, frequently at the last second. If you'd like the driver to take a specific route, you should establish that before pulling away.

Clarify the payment options with the driver before the ride.

It is always advisable to clarify the payment options with the driver or, even better, keep the cash ready before your drop-off destination. It is not good to make the taxi wait after it's reached your travel point as many drivers might have an urgency to pick up from other destinations, and keeping them waiting until you get down from the cab and then pay the fare could be a havoc for the drivers or the other people on the road. This might create congestion on the road. So, instead, always keep your fare ready so that you can hand it over to the driver as soon as you reach it.

Locate the main road nearby

When the front desk at the hotel books a taxi for you via the taxi booking device, it is easier for the drivers to locate your destination. However, sometimes, you can reach out to nearby main roads, facilitating the drivers to identify and pick you up. Occasionally, the ride we book can be over a reasonably walkable distance. This could amount to a loss for the driver, especially if they spent hours waiting in line at the taxi stand for a passenger. Let's walk it, if we can, or pay him extra!

One of my friends in Melbourne had booked a taxi from the Melbourne CBD to the inner suburb. Altogether it was a 1.5 to 2 km journey. The driver asked about her drop-off location when she got in the car. After hearing about the destination, the driver expressed his sadness and said that he had waited more than an hour and that her drop-off destination was too short for him. He advised her not to search for any taxis for such a short distance next time.

The taxi industry has faced continuous uncertainty and disruption over the past few years. Emerging competitions, regulatory changes and shifts in consumer expectations have contributed to the changing landscape of the commercial passenger vehicle industry. Taxi Drivers have endured all this and more. They play a significant part in mass transportation and are often expected to do more than merely drive passengers from point A to B. In fact, they also assist people with their luggage, sometimes picking up and delivering packages and providing sightseeing tours to people new to the city. Their work continues to be a shining example of the importance of providing friendly and accessible service to all in need. Their job is challenging and sometimes dangerous too.

The next time we board a taxi, we could definitely put in a thoughtful effort into working on these taxi etiquettes mentioned above and appreciate taxi drivers not only in the UK but across the globe for their loyalty and selfless service towards us.

Article by: Laurence Docherty, Head of Sales at Taxi Butler


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