Travelling by black cab in Liverpool will soon be even easier after city council licensing chiefs agreed that all vehicles should provide the facility for customers to pay by debit and credit cards.
At a meeting of Liverpool City Council Licensing Committee on Tuesday 9 July, members backed a proposal to introduce mandatory card payment facilities in Hackney Carriage vehicles.
The move means Liverpool will follow in the footsteps of cab drivers in London, who already accept card payments.
The proposal originally came before the city council’s Licensing Committee in April of this year. Members deferred a decision on the plan, following concerns from drivers about where the card payment reader should be located in the cab.
It was originally proposed that the reader would be placed in the passenger compartment, but drivers feared this could lead to it being damaged.
A revised report to the committee now recommends that the reader be placed in a plastic holder in the partition between the driver and passenger.
The council consulted with members of the trade in the run-up to the proposal. Drivers also raised concerns about the need for a printer to be installed alongside the reader to issue receipts.
During the consultation, drivers expressed the view that a printer was not needed because they had the option to text or email receipts to the passengers.
The new recommendation means it would be left to the driver’s discretion whether they installed a printer.
The report to the committee says that the council has a responsibility to make sure a ‘safe taxicab and private hire service is available to meet the demand across all sectors of the public, especially those vulnerable groups to whom a taxicab is often the only means of completing a journey’.
Chair of Liverpool City Council’s Licensing Committee, Cllr Christine Banks, said: “This is a positive move for the city’s taxi trade and one that will make it easier for people to travel by cab in our city. As part of the process, we have listened to the concerns of the taxi drivers and acted upon them, by amending the proposals.
“In an increasingly cashless society, it is clear that card payments are the preferred option for many people in shops, supermarkets, cafes and bars. With a cruise terminal, an international airport and many thousands of foreign visitors each year who don’t carry cash, it is important that we move with the times and give the customer what they want.
“This proposal also plays a big role in public safety because it means that late-night travellers will be able to get home safely without the worry of not having any cash on them.”
The card payment readers cost about £60, and the drivers will have to meet the cost of the installation. Drivers now have six months to make sure their cab is fitted with a card reader.
Liverpool-based UNITE union National Taxi Organiser, Tommy McIntyre, said: “In the ever-changing world we live in people are using less cash and paying for more services by card transaction. We feel that this is the perfect opportunity to introduce pay by card to the Liverpool Hackney trade. After speaking with the members the general opinion is that this will be fantastic for both the trade and the travelling public and would encourage more passengers to use the city’s Hackney fleet."