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THE UBER EFFECT: Why is the job of a taxi driver no-longer seen as a long-term career?

In recent years, the taxi driving profession has undergone significant changes. The advent of gig-economy platforms like Uber has shifted what it means to some to be a professional driver, transforming it from a long-term career into a stop-gap job or side hustle. This shift raises important questions about the future of taxi driving as a sustainable profession and the factors contributing to this changing perception.

The gig economy introduced a new way of working, focussing on flexible hours and the ability to earn money on the side. For many, driving for platforms like Uber provided a convenient way to supplement their income without the need for arduous qualifications. This flexibility appealed to a wide range of people, from part-time to low skilled workers.

However, this very flexibility has contributed to the perception that driving is not a 'real' career. The nature of gig work often lacks the stability and benefits traditionally associated with full-time employment, such as job security. Consequently, many people now view taxi driving as a transient job rather than a lifelong career.

Despite the rise of gig work, the traditional hackney carriage driver still exists and thrives in many regions of the UK. Many taxi drivers have spent decades in the profession, building a loyal customer base and navigating the streets of their cities with expertise. For these drivers, taxi driving is more than just a job; it is a vocation.

These seasoned professionals often work full-time, with some transitioning to part-time or ad-hoc work as they approach retirement. This gradual shift allows them to supplement their pensions while maintaining a connection to the job they have dedicated much of their lives to. This model demonstrates that taxi driving can still be a viable and rewarding long-term career for those who commit to it.

Another factor contributing to the uncertainty surrounding the future of taxi driving is the ongoing development of driverless cars. The prospect of driverless cars raises valid long-term concerns about job security for taxi drivers. If autonomous vehicles become mainstream, the demand for human drivers could diminish significantly. This potential shift adds another layer of uncertainty for those considering a career in taxi driving, even in ten or twenty year's time.

To ensure the future of taxi driving as a viable career, the Government and the industry must adapt to modern pressures. This adaptation could involve investing in training for drivers and advocating for regulations that protect the interests of traditional taxi drivers if or when the transition to autonomous is made.

The key lies in recognising the value of experienced drivers, investing in their future, and ensuring that the evolving transport landscape includes a place for the human touch that has defined taxi driving for decades.


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