As you read this they are already stacking the kindling wood for me in Smithfield, but I feel it has to be discussed. London is experiencing the worst decline in its core business for a generation and cabbies not renowned for being stoical never stop complaining about the loss of business. With so many cabs available companies have in some cases stopped pre-booking them, telling their employees to hail from the street.
[W]e now have the opportunity to become the first city in the world to have a completely integrated transport system (excluding rickshaws).
By allowing cabs to accept Oyster Cards while at the same time drivers should offer an appropriate discounted rate for the journey (say 20 per cent) for using the card.
At the same time TfL runs a promotional campaign spearheaded by Boris Johnson and offering tokens in the Evening Standard, I believe could be of mutual benefit to all participants.
By promoting the fact that we are helping London’s struggling businesses by keeping down their costs might even help raising London cabbies’ profile, possibly changing the view held by many that we are greedy and self serving.
Sponsorship from a body like the London Chamber of Commerce, could offer prizes for the cabbie who gave the most discounted rides and the most frequent passenger who availed themselves of the service. Corporate sponsorship of the scheme could be extended to a tie in with the London Olympics.
Another idea suggested by the Chairman of the London Taxi Driver’s Association is that with London’s transport bursting at the seams in the morning and evening rush hour, TfL could introduce an online system to marry up empty cabs travelling to and from London with commuters. With again a discounted fare balancing what the passenger would normally pay on the train with the convenience of being picked up locally and having a seat for their entire journey.
While Tweet a London Cab the fledgling (sorry about that) no booking fee service, who allow people to book a cab via Twitter should also have wider coverage, possibly incorporating that morning and evening commute suggestion.
As a footnote; TfL pay some of their staff over £100,000 a year to think up these incentives, and I offer them gratis, so you see we cabbies can be altruistic.
Now boys, do you still want to tie me to a stake and roast me?