Taxi drivers are very unhappy about new proposals to ensure that all taxis are no older than ten years. They say that it is an additional expense which will drive many operators to the wall. I can understand their difficulty but I don’t endorse it. As a taxi user I am delighted that I will never again have to sit in a vehicle which was first registered back in the nineteen nineties. The new proposals are a step in the right direction but only a baby step. There are a lot of improvements needed. Taxis should be kept clean and fresh. I am sick to death of getting into cars that reek of smoke. If a taxi switches back to being a regular car when the driver is off duty the ‘no smoking in the vehicle’ rule should still apply. Cars that operate from airports should have nothing superfluous in their boots. The last time I took a taxi home from the airport, after a family holiday, the driver’s boot was littered with tools and toys. We ended up travelling home with half our luggage on our laps. I firmly believe that it is not necessary for a customer to take the first car at a rank if it doesn’t seem suitable but I have never seen anyone buck the trend and refuse to take first car in the line. I would love to be brave enough to walk the length of a rank on a slow night and pick the cleanest, freshest car but I know I wouldn’t dare risk the wrath of the skipped drivers.
The taxi’s interior should be free of clutter, religious emblems and knick-knacks. I don’t want to know about my driver’s religious beliefs, hobbies or interests unless it comes up in a conversation which I have instigated. The volume of the radio is another part of the taxi experience that can be bothersome. I have only once been in a cab where the driver has asked me if I wanted to have the volume adjusted. It is bad enough to be deafened by rear shelf boy-racer style speakers without having to be subjected to ‘Spin’ as well. And if I am lucky enough to be spared the in-car music experience I do not want to be subjected to overhearing the minutiae of my driver’s life as he conducts telephone conversations through his blue tooth headpiece.
When I book, or hail, a taxi my needs are simple and clear. I want to go somewhere. I am paying the cab driver to deliver me there safely. I am renting the space in the car and, therefore, I do not want to smell, see, hear or feel anything that detracts from my comfort. The edict is so simple that even Rihanna sang it ‘Now shut up and drive, drive, drive’.