London’s transport regulators are clamping down on handheld payment devices used by some cabbies in the capital.
According to Transport for London (TfL), they had received at least 30 complaints of taxi drivers using handheld payment devices, rather than those approved by the regulator, in the 12 months previous to December 2022.
Handheld devices are not approved by TfL. All card payment devices must be fixed to the taxi and offer printed receipts on request.
Some cabbies have chosen to use a second device whilst working that usually links directly back to their mobile device. Cabbies might choose to use the back-up device if the network drops on their fixed device. Some use the secondary device more frequently because the service fees are cheaper than those offered by the fixed terminal suppliers.
A TfL spokesperson said via a mailing to all taxi drivers: “All taxi drivers must accept card and contactless payments via the approved TfL fixed card payment device fitted in the passenger compartment and provide printed receipts for those payments upon request.
“Handheld payment devices are not approved and do not meet licensing requirements.”
There are concerns from taxi rental firms that taxi drivers using handheld payment devices are putting their cabs at licensing risk.
One of London’s biggest black cab rental companies, Colts Cabs, shared a recent letter received by regulators TfL. A spokesperson said: “Cab being victimised because a cab driver has not been honest about the machine. Driver being asked to attend you know where to explain his actions. More to follow no doubt.”
HP Taxis fleet owner, Paul Byron, responded: “They say the machine isn't working? So the fleet loses a cab but we all know what is actually happening.”
Any taxi found not complying with a working fixed payment terminal will be issued with an unfit notice. That unfit notice will remain in place until the requirement is fulfilled and the vehicle is presented for inspection.
A driver found to be using any unapproved device may also have their fitness to be licensed reviewed.