Category Archive: Taxi Drivers

  1. A Beginner’s Guide to Minibus Insurance

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    Some vehicles require specialist insurance due to the nature of their use or the number of passengers they can carry. This often applies to minibuses which are generally used to ferry people about, whether that be for free or for a fee. Generally speaking the more passengers your minibus can carry, the larger your insurance premium is likely to be.

    In this article we’re going to take a quick look at minibus insurance and when you’re likely to need it.

    What is a Minibus?

    A minibus is defined as a vehicle with nine to sixteen seats, including the driver’s seat. Anything under that will be classed by your insurance provider as an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) or car and anything over that will be classed as a coach.

    Types of Insurance Associated with Minibuses

    If you own a minibus you need to be very clear on how you plan to use it as this will affect the type of insurance you take out and ultimately your premium. There are different types of insurance you can hold when driving a minibus:

    • Minibus Insurance
      If you’re using your minibus to ferry people from one place to another in a non-commercial situation then you’re going to need minibus insurance. This could be for a charity, church or a school or sports club.
    • Taxi Insurance
      If your minibus is being uses as to transport people for a fee then you’ll need to take out specialist taxi insurance.
    • Van Insurance (Commercial)
      If you are using your minibus for commercial purposes other than as a taxi, then it’s more likely you’ll need to take out van insurance. Van insurance doesn’t include the option of ‘social, domestic, pleasure and commuting’ class of use, so even if you use it just once to get to work you’ll need to have commercial van insurance.

    The important thing to remember about minibus insurance is to make it absolutely clear to your insurance provider what you are using the vehicle for. You should also keep your insurance provider informed of any changes in the way you use the vehicle. Failure to do this could result in your insurance becoming invalid.

    For more information on minibus insurance call and speak to one of our experts today on 03445 732 400 or visit our minibus insurance page for more details.

  2. Boris Johnson Weighs into Uber Debate

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    Currently Uber has 18,000 drivers (or registered partners as Uber likes to refer to them) in London alone. By offering cheaper fares and the ability for customers to effectively hail cabs via GPS and an app, traditional black cab drivers have accused Uber of undermining their business by flouting the law and allowing unlicensed drivers. In May they took to the streets to protest about it, bringing traffic to a standstill in parts of central London.

    Into this debate has weighed Boris Johnson, caught between proponents of Uber, who say it is offering customers reasonable taxi fares in the capital and creating thousands of jobs, and those who say it is destroying the black cab profession and pushing drivers into poverty.

    Transport for London (TfL) are currently in a high court row with Uber over whether its app acts as a meter, something which would make it illegal in the capital, as only licensed cabs are allowed to operate meters. Uber has retaliated, claiming that TfL is just trying to protect black car drivers by curtailing its business.

    TfL has also launched a consultation to consider proposal to force Uber drivers to wait at least 5 minutes before picking up a booked fare (the average time is 3 minutes).

    It’s worth noting at this point that, as well as being Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is also chair of TfL. This clearly puts him between a rock and a hard place, with some accusing him of supporting a black cab ‘cartel’.

    The fine line Johnson is walking can be seen in his Telegraph column, where he starts by defending ‘rampant, frothing, free-market Conservatives’ who ‘hate cartels’, referring to the TfL’s attempts to curb Uber practices and protect London cabbies.

    He goes on, however, to talk passionately about the professional black cab industry, by pointing out the distinction between private hire vehicles and hackney carriages, whose drivers must pass ‘the Knowledge’ before they are allowed to drive. Johnson then goes onto openly accuse Uber’s technology as facilitating law breaking:

    “You only have to consider the habits of many Uber minicabs – not all, but many – to see that this law is systematically broken; and that is because technology makes it so easy for it to be broken.”

    The ability for technological progress to constantly disrupt traditional industry is a historical fact not lost on Johnson. His calls seem to be for a balanced approach, where both parties can coexist; Uber as a convenient and cheap service and black cabs as a highly professionalised institution. Whether this is true intention is another question entirely.


  3. Taxi Drivers vs. Uber

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    There is a new App in town which is causing taxi drivers across the globe to arrange protests and even call on governments to ban it altogether. This App is called ‘Uber’, and it allows users to book a taxi using their mobile phones; however, many taxi drivers claim that Uber’s drivers are breaking the law and that the government should do something to stop them. Here, DNA Insurance looks the global issue in more detail:

    What is ‘Uber’?

    The creators of Uber wanted to revolutionise the way in which we use taxis, which is why they created an App enabling users to quickly book a private hire taxi via their mobile phones. The App also provides users information concerning the taxi driver that will be picking them up, including their name and photo. The App also lets approved friends ‘follow’ your journey via a map on their mobile phone and users can also have the route which their driver took emailed to them in order to ensure that they took the fastest option and didn’t try and overcharge them. The creators of Uber claim that this new technology enables passengers to stay safe when in a taxi and enables self-employed taxi drivers to run their businesses more effectively without the support of a taxi firm.

    Why are London Taxi Drivers protesting?

    The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) has recently complained to Transport for London (TfL) about Uber’s drivers as they believe they are breaking the law. This is because Uber’s drivers can use the App in order to calculate fares, which is illegal for private hire vehicles and can void taxi insurance policies. However, Transport for London have claimed that as drivers’ mobile phones aren’t connected to their vehicles, they are not technically breaking the law. TfL added: “We have seen no evidence to suggest that Uber London Ltd are not fit and proper to hold a London private hire vehicle operator’s licence, but no final decisions have been made whilst Uber’s operating model is still under investigation.”

    Complaints against Uber

    Even though TfL has claimed that Uber is not breaking the rules when it comes to private hire vehicle operator’s licences, Steve McNamara, LTDA’s general secretary, argues that Uber is dangerous to both the public and the UK’s taxi industry. He added: “Transport for London not enforcing the Private Hire Vehicles Act is dangerous for Londoners. I anticipate that the demonstration against TfL’s handling of Uber will attract many many thousands of cabs and cause severe chaos, congestion and confusion across the metropolis.”

    The LTDA’s demonstration is planned to take place at the beginning of June, and so far it seems that TfL has done little to discourage them. Steve McNamara also claimed that Uber “has a stated aim of challenging legislation that is not compatible with its business model. This is not some philanthropic friendly society, it’s an American monster that has no qualms about breaching any and all laws in the pursuit of profit, most of which will never see a penny of tax paid in the UK.”

    Worldwide Issue

    London Taxi Drivers are not the first to protest against Uber being used in their country, in fact the company had to pay a ten thousand Euro (£8,205) fine in Brussels after a court decided that drivers were picking up passengers without the necessary licences. Meanwhile, Berlin’s taxi association has won a temporary injunction against the firm, while in France the government has banned private car services from using GPS-enabled apps such as Uber altogether.

    However, Uber’s general manager in London, Jo Bertram, doesn’t sound too worried, as he said: “Competition in my view is always good for the customer because it makes all of us up our game in terms of quality and service. On the driver side, we offer a much more flexible model that is very different from the old-school private hire industry, that allows them to work as independent business operators however and whenever they choose.”

    Photo by Pixabay

  4. Taxi Drivers turning away fares over Safety Fears

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    Safety has always been a huge issue for taxi drivers, as essentially they let dozens of strangers enter their vehicles during each shift, and it only takes one to put them in danger. Unfortunately, we often see stories in the news about taxi drivers who have been assaulted by passengers because they are under the influence of alcohol or are trying to get away without paying their fare.

    This is why many local councils have regular meetings with taxi drivers in their constituencies – particularly public hire ones – where they discuss how to improve their safety. Some towns have already introduced taxi marshals at busy taxi ranks in order to improve the safety of both taxi drivers and those waiting for taxis; however some are thinking about going even further. For example, a number of taxi drivers and local politicians are campaigning for CCTV to be installed in all taxis, which will hopefully deter passengers from engaging in illegal activity, or will catch them if they do.

    However, some taxi drivers believe that the only way to stay completely safe is to flat out refuse fares which they think will put them in danger. Recently there has been a spate of robberies and attacks on taxis drivers in the East Lincolnshire area during the early hours of the morning, which has left many taxi drivers feeling concerned about picking up such fares. Roy Grantham from Links Taxis is just one of the taxi drivers in the area who has been affected, and he believes that the situation is becoming more dangerous.

    He said: “I started in 2001 and I believe it’s getting worse. We are hearing on a daily basis of people not getting paid and being threatened. I have had plenty of people refusing to pay, arguments
    with people that have been abrupt towards me, but this is the worst I have felt since 2008. My views on the job at the minute aren’t very good. We are very vulnerable. I think I’m going to have to stick with it at the minute but as soon as I get the chance to get another job I will be gone. It’s just not safe.

    “I’m going to be carrying on going out in the morning but I’m going to be very much more aware and self-conscious about picking people up on street corners and phone boxes. A lot of the taxi drivers I have been talking to said they are going to do the same. If they don’t like the look of somebody or are suspicious acting or who are not from a proper address they might all refuse the fare. There’s innocent people out there and you shouldn’t tar everyone with the same brush but we have got to do what is safe for us.”

    Paul Revell, manager of Links Taxis, understands why his staff including Paul are concerned, and added: “We have always had a problem with people not paying fares, but we have had a lot more support from the police than in the past in that they do tend to make an effort and follow up incidents in order to retrieve drivers’ fares. I can see a time where we are not going to pick anybody up in the twilight hours if they are not seen to come from an address.”

    When it comes to staying safe, Revell says that taxi drivers “have got to make a decision before they have got somebody in the car. It’s very difficult if you stop and they approach the car. The best thing is to weigh it up as you’re driving – you are not necessarily their car as far as they are concerned.” Naturally, if your vehicle is damaged or your money is stolen while on a job the local police and your taxi insurance provider will be there to help, however they are not always able to solve physical or emotional injuries to the drivers themselves.

    If you are ever concerned about a certain fare then it may be a good idea to adopt a policy such as Roy Grantham, and not pick up anyone unless it is from an actual address. Don’t forget that if you are affected by theft or assault by a passenger to call the police straight away, as it is likely the culprits will try the same thing again with other taxi drivers.

    Photo by Albert Bridge / CC BY-SA 2.0