05 December 2006
Patrick Crozier

Things were not going well.  I had already missed two night buses, lost my Travelcard and spent the last half an hour looking for a shop that was open to get some change to buy a replacement.  And I was worse for wear.

And I thought it might make a good post for Transport Blog.

We negotiated a price and off we went.  The driver claimed that while he, personally, had a temporary PCO licence, his vehicle didn’t.  It failed because the driver’s airbag wasn’t working.  If true, there was a rich irony in the authorities banning safer vehicles from the road.

I say, if true, because being almost completely outside the law I wouldn’t blame him if he was being a bit cagey.  Nor could I blame him for going illegal.  £800 for the personal licence.  £140 for the vehicle check.  And you end up on some list.

He told me a bit about his business.  He’d worked out a simple but successful strategy.  Stake out the same Central London spot in the wee small hours and you can pick up about 6 or 7 fares a night.  I reckoned he is making £700 a week.  And it’s all cash in hand.

Good luck to the guy.

“Safer vehicles”?
There’s some evidence that airbags and other safety aids make drivers drive more dangerously.

  1. I would never get in a random minicab alone (speaking as a woman); I’d rather wait for my regular firm (Cricklewood Cars - 0208 830 9999). I’m not saying cabs should be regulated, but I think even if I was a guy - and especially if I was worse for wear - I would be hesitant to jump in a cab whose driver I knew or suspected to be unlicensed. It would be different if there was some way of seeing if other customers would vouch for the driver’s non-dodginess.

    Posted by Jackie Danicki on  05 December 2006 at 06:27 pm

  2. Whilst I agree with jackie in principal, we have all been guilty of getting into an unlicensed minicab. I have done so following a rugby match at Twickenham. The station was packed, there were no taxis to speak of and the buses were full, it was either a very long walk, or accept the ‘risks’ of an unlicensed cab. I decided on the latter.

    Posted by SlackAlice on  14 September 2007 at 12:58 am

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