The airport is busy which is causing longer delays, but we have to maintain our best face.
The good news at Heathrow is the total number of cabs through the Taxi Feeder Park (TFP) has continued to rise; the figures for February were up 4.6% on February 2018.
This is not always reflected in the waiting time unfortunately, which has remained stubbornly long, probably because of the increase in drivers putting on the rank. For the business as a whole though, this increase is a story of success, continuing a trend started in 2016 when the acceptance of card payments was mandated.
Despite reservations among drivers about the cost of processing, overall, compulsory card payment acceptance has demonstrably led to an increased turnover at the airport. It’s also fair to say that customer satisfaction has been much higher, as hiring a taxi at the airport is a much smoother experience than it used to be.
The TFP itself is also running much more smoothly, as there is now a dedicated team of wardens, helping to get the maximum capacity out of both parks. This enables drivers to enter the TFP who would not otherwise have done so on most days.
Wardens are present from 5am in all weathers, it can be a very tough job and both Apcoa and Heathrow Airport Limited have expressed praise for the scheme.
Anyone wishing to know more about the wardens should contact a trade representative or speak to the head warden Suzanne Sullivan.
Any driver who wishes to put on the ranks at Heathrow must obtain a tag and booster set from the Cab-In on Newall Road. You will be required to pay a deposit and top up with some credit, as it costs £3.50 every time you go through the TFP.
Drivers will also be given some basic information about local journeys etc. Obviously, the airport is not in central London, so there will be some customers who wish to go to destinations you are less familiar with. It might seem obvious, but it’s essential you have a full destination address and that you are crystal clear where you are going before leaving the rank – misunderstandings can be embarrassing and quite expensive.
Customers won’t mind you taking a few moments to clearly establish where they are heading. As mentioned earlier, the wait can be quite long, so it’s important to be aware of this when considering whether to join the rank.
As with any rank, the job you get in the end might be fantastic, but it could also be disappointing. However, you are one of the first people visitors to this country see and they expect to see the same happy, smiling cabbie wherever they happen to be going, especially in the face of the low-rent competition from you know who; it is not the customer’s fault if navigating the park takes a long time.
Just like in town, there is a growing number of LEVC taxis using the TFP. This is great news for HAL, as it should mean that emissions will fall, which is crucial for them and their ongoing campaign for a third runway. There has been and will continue to be frequent liaison between drivers and the airport to make sure that facilities at the TFP remain suitable for our changing fleet of cabs. Dialogue so far has been positive and constructive. Anyone who wants to know more about this should follow @eTaxiCharging on Twitter.