By now, you will have heard the news that from next year, every Taxi will have to have a TfL approved Contactless Credit Card payment system, fitted to the vehicle under the terms of the conditions of fitness. This will not be free to the driver as they will have to pay a rental fee. The driver will also have to pay the card surcharge which (at present) we believe has been set at 5%.
To compensate the driver, there will be a small increase in the metered fare. This means that passengers who pay cash, will be subsidising those wanting credit. (Can't wait to see the headlines in the papers when that comes in)
But it doesn't end there. This new measure will not put bums on seats as drivers will still be able to refuse.
Drivers on point of a terminal at Heathrow will still refuse unattractive jobs wanting to pay by card, the passenger wanting the Old Vic from Waterloo in the rain on a card will still be passed along the line. In fact the sight of thousands of Taxis with old socks and plastic bags over the contactless payment system in the back could be detrimental to the image of the trade.
Contra to what many people believe, there has never really been a shortage of drivers able to take Card payments.....12,000 drivers on Hailo, 7,000 drivers on Gett, plus thousands of Cab App and iZettle users all with the facility to clear payments from street hails. Then you have even more drivers on radio circuits that clear street hailed CCs.
And now an assault on in app card payments has begun with a certain competitor complaining to Visa about CabApp's clearance of Visa payments by the driver. It's going to get nasty.
In my opinion, the only people who will be laughing all the way to the bank, are the third party suppliers who will be renting out the equipment. If TfL projections are correct, this business is worth somewhere in the region of £24m a year, all of which will be taken out of our pockets.
Here's would the GLA Transport Committee had to say about the new measures:
The Transport Committee welcomes Transport for London’s (TfL) announcement that taxis will have to accept card and contactless payments from next year. (Actually, the GLA have been misinformed, acceptance hasn't been mandated just having the facility has, as part of the CoF)
Making the acceptance of card payments more attractive to cabbies was one of the important recommendations made in our ‘Future Proof’ report into the taxi and private hire industries - and it is clearly common sense. (How is paying a rental and paying the card surcharge, making card acceptance more attractive to driver?)
Passengers will no longer have to worry about carrying cash and it is very positive news for drivers.
We heard evidence from New York during our investigation, where the introduction of card payments boosted business (not so! The Yellow Cab industry in New York has been decimated by Uber who have now stepped up its assault on the trade by slashing fares by 20%. The industries medallions which were once worth billions are now virtually worthless and unsaleable) - so this gives licensed taxi drivers a golden opportunity, in a hugely competitive market.
The elimination of customer surcharges for card payments and the reduction in transaction fees paid by drivers should all add up to a better, more efficient service for customers. (The way they have phrased this passage is as if drivers have been paying transaction fees which are now going to be reduced...again the GLA research seems to be years behind the reality of the situation).
Remember all the hyped up stories of little old ladies with suitcases going to Maida Avenue not being able to find a card payment cab at Paddington. They were splashed all over social media by the perfect "look at me" drivers saying that everyone should be made to take cards.
We tried to warn back then, they couldn't force the trade to give credit and that you should be careful what you wish for with TfL, as it will always be the drivers who lose out and have to pay, but we were accused of being dinosaurs.
TfL have shown they have no regard for public safety. Just look at the way they dish out new PH licenses which this week will top a record 93,000, that's £43.8 million in licence fees from PH
The public are being subjected to a PH service who's drivers have no clue where they are going, have to take their eyes off the road to follow a sat Nav regardless of where it tells them to go. Plus none of their drivers have any advanced driver qualifications, resulting in numerous collisions.
London arteries have been clogged to the state where the capital is libel for a heart attack. London's congestion is causing illegal pollution levels which is killing over 9,000 people every year.
TfL's legion should be changed from
Every journey matters...to
EVERY POUND NOTE COUNTS.