Taxi drivers are generally allowed to ask for payment upfront. One of the main reasons for this is to protect them from potential fare evasion and to ensure they are compensated for their services.
Fare evasion, where passengers refuse to pay for their journey, is unfortunately a common issue for taxi drivers. In some cases, passengers may leave the taxi without paying or dispute the fare amount upon arrival at their destination. Asking for payment upfront can help prevent these incidents and reduce the risk of theft.
Another reason why a taxi driver may request payment upfront is for longer journeys. For example, if a passenger is travelling a significant distance, the driver may ask for a deposit to ensure they are not left out of pocket if the passenger cancels the trip or fails to pay upon arrival.
Some taxi drivers may also prefer to accept cash payment upfront as they may not have the necessary equipment to accept card payments. However, with a rising number of taxi licensing authorities mandating the use of card payments, this is becoming less of an issue.
It is however important to note that requesting payment upfront is not mandatory and is at the discretion of the individual taxi driver. Passengers may also refuse to pay upfront, although this may escalate the cabbie's concerns over the potential fare payment.
In Durham things got so bad that back in 2019 a campaign was launched to actively encourage taxi drivers to ask for pre-payment.
In a bid to reduce crime, Durham Constabulary set up the ‘Over 10 Pay There and Then’ scheme.
The scheme allowed taxi drivers to request pre-payment when the fare involved certain risk factors, including intoxication, large groups and fares taken at night.
DS David Bailey said at the time: “The drivers who have signed up to the scheme have welcomed this as these incidents waste a lot of time for everyone involved.
“These offences tend to happen when officers are at their busiest so it has meant that drivers were losing out on fares waiting for us to attend and deal, when their priority is collecting the money they are owed and to return to their business."
The ability for taxi drivers to request payment upfront provides a layer of security and reassurance for both the driver and the passenger.