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Taxi Driver

Taxi’s have been around for many years and some say it began in the 1700’s. Whether this is true or not I am unsure; however, I am pretty confident that people have been paying for lifts on the back of horse and cart for an exceptionally long time. In this case payment was probably more of a trade – like a turnip or something! The lure of being a taxi driver stems from the fact you can work the hours you want without having a boss demanding you work (with the exception of your “better half” that is!). This flexibility allows for earning extra before Christmas and taking time off to go to the kids sports day, although I am sure many would call it “just a job”.

What type of taxi’s exist?

Well you can use any vehicle as a taxi which are normally cars and people carriers but minibuses also fall into this category but they require an extra license also. The obvious point to make is this, the more seats the more you can fit in, so if you have 6 seats you can transport 6 people, which is more than if you only have 4 seats. The logic of this is that people love to split fares and if they can save money when going out then they will and request such a larger vehicle. However, drunks on a Friday nights are not necessarily where the money is. The London Black Cab (or Hackney Carraige), for instance, only seats 5 people other than the driver, however is is one of the most popular.

Licence & Medical

First things first, get yourself a CRB check, which is now actually called a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) which ensures you are legally safe enough to carry members of the general public without risk to them. This is just a legality and more public service jobs require this background check. If you do have a criminal record of any sorts then be aware that you may be refused the ability to even apply for a licence. You should also be aware that there is a fee for purchasing a license and you can easily expect to pay around £200 after the DBS check and other formalities. It is worth noting that it can be less expensive if you join a firm, in this case you will pay off the debt in instalments.

The medical test is to ensure you can transport members of the public without risk of a personal medical problem whilst doing so and bus drivers go through the same procedure. Contact your GP or doctor and get a general bill of good health to present along with relevant paperwork to your local council.

Vehicle

Taxi Driver

So your going to need a vehicle to taxi people from place to place and some companies do actually offer vehicles to rent for a fee. One driver I spoke to said he pays around £200 per month for his estate vehicle, whereas there are cars and people carriers available in the UK for anywhere between £150 to £400. Obviously if you have your own vehicle then you can use that but in the beginning, if you are not sure whether this is truly for you, hire a vehicle and within a month you will know if it will work out.

Insurance and other legalities

Specific taxi and private hire insurance is widely available from most of the big name insurers here in the UK and checking out comparison sites can net you the best deal around. Obviously if you are new to the taxi game then you are not going to know how many miles you will cover, but a conversation with other drivers will reveal anywhere up to 30,000 miles per year just within the city limits of London!

Other legalities include no smoking signs to be displayed within the passenger area, no eating and drinking signs at the drivers or ranks discretion and its always worth having a first aid kit, breakdown triangle and emergency supplies in the winter months. For other essential items, see our article Useful and Emergancy Roadside Equipment.

Local Knowledge

If you don’t know where your driving to then you ain’t going to be a good taxi driver, period! Local knowledge is the special skill that you will learn over time where you can get to a location 5 or 10 minutes quicker because you know a short cut. Real experience will enable you to just drive your fare direct to the location without having to tap it into a satnav, which is a real faux par for a taxi drive to do. Your customers will also ask you questions about the local area and you need to know the answer, especially if you want to know specifics. An example question could be “which way do I go for the nearest cinema?” and this is the type of information a good taxi driver would know. Buying a map of the city you plan to operate in before you even apply to your council is a good idea and you can spend the initial paperwork period learning your catchment area.

Wage and Overheads

Anywhere up to £400 per week take home is achievable if you are hiring a vehicle and have included your overheads but this figure is completely subject to the job you do. If you are driving to airports then your fuel expense is going to far far less than someone sitting in traffic in Newcastle! The age and efficiency of the car you are driving also has an impact on the fuel consumption and maintenance costs. Longer drives may be more profitable than short runs, and visa versa. Whether you work for a company or are self employed there are many questions to ask. The best way to get an up-to-date answer is to check out some of the current taxi driving forums, be sure to search within the UK, for a true reflection of the possible income you can expect.

Image Credit- Flickr

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