A guide to UK taxi services

Taxis make getting around incredibly simple and can be much more convenient than using other forms of public transport including buses and trains. One of the key benefits of using a taxi is that they are available around the clock and can get you right to your front door no matter what time of day or night it is. Taxis can also be more affordable than you think, especially if you split the cost of a journey with other passengers. In this guide, we’ll talk about the rules and regulations that surround the taxi industry, what kinds of vehicles are available, licencing, booking, typical taxi costs and more.

Hackney carriage versus private hire vehicles

There are two main types of taxis available to passengers in the UK. These are hackney carriages and private hire vehicles. Hackney carriages are taxis which you can either hail from the kerbside or enter at a public taxi rank. Firms or drivers with Hackney carriage licences are only able to pick people up from the roadside or taxi rank. They can’t take private, pre-arranged bookings. Many drivers prefer to drive Hackney carriages because they can choose their own hours. However, their rates are set by the local council, which means they don’t have the opportunity to earn more during unsociable hours or on public holidays.

Private hire vehicles are also known as minicabs. Drivers of these vehicles are only able to pick up bookings that have been made in advance. They can’t take passengers that hail cabs from the kerbside. One of the key advantages of being a PHV driver is that they only need to work when they have bookings. This means they don’t have to waste lots of time waiting for their cabs to be hailed.

Other differences between taxis and minicabs

Taxis generally have meters installed inside of them. These meters are used to work out the price of the journey as it progresses. These are the kind of vehicles that you can flag down in the street. When you order a minicab, you know what the price of the journey will be in advance. You can normally book a minicab either over the phone or online via a website or an app.

How much do taxis and minicabs cost in the UK?

The price that you pay to travel via a taxi or a minicab in the UK can vary considerably. Factors that influence the costs of journeys made by taxi or minicab include the town, city or region that you’re travelling through. A journey made in London may cost much more per mile than what you will pay in a small northern town. Another factor that may influence how much you pay is when you are travelling. If you are travelling at a peak time such as rush hour, you may pay much more than you would at a quieter time. You may also pay much more on a public holiday such as Christmas or New Year’s Day. One of the reasons for this is that there aren’t normally many other public transport options available to customers during these occasions. As there is now a great deal of competition for fares due to the likes of Uber, booking a taxi or minicab could be much cheaper than you might imagine.

Are taxi drivers permitted to refuse fares?

In the UK, a taxi driver needs to give a reasonable excuse for not accepting a fare. Drivers have been legally permitted to turn down fares for many reasons. These include menacing behaviour, excessive drunkenness, the taxi already being booked up and the taxi not wishing to head to a certain destination for safety reasons.

Do taxi drivers accept credit and debit cards?

In London, TFL (Transport For London) rules state that all licenced taxis need to have a card payment device installed into them. However, you may find that some drivers cannot accept card payments in some smaller UK towns. If you need to pay by card, ask if this is possible before your journey begins. More and more UK taxi firms are now enabling their customers to pay online via apps and on their websites.

How can I book a taxi?

There are various ways someone can book a taxi or a minicab in the UK. One of the options is to hail a taxi. You can do this by waving down a taxi that you see in the street. You can only do this with a licenced taxi as minicabs need to be booked in advance. You can also go to a taxi rank, stand in the queue and ask the driver if they can take you to your destination. The third option is to call a minicab and book your journey over the phone. You may also be able to book a minicab online if the company has a website or an app that facilitates this.

How to stay safe when using taxis and minicabs

You should only ever get in a minicab that you have booked in advance. Minicabs are only permitted to take jobs which they have arranged in advance. You should also ensure that the vehicle is licenced and that the driver has an ID badge.

How do taxi and minicab drivers apply for licences?

If someone wants to drive a taxi or a private hire vehicle, they need to apply to their local council. They must show proof that they are able to work legally in the UK, and they must have held a driving licence for at least 12 months. It’s common for councils to run DBS checks on applicants before they enable them to drive minicabs or PHVs. Other checks may also be made to ensure the driver is a ‘fit and proper’ person. Drivers may also need to take a medical examination and pass a ‘knowledge’ test. They may also need to take an additional driving test. Rules can vary from one local authority to another. Anyone who is interested in becoming a taxi or minicab driver is encouraged to contact their local authority to find out what the specific requirements are in their area. Licences normally need to be renewed every twelve months.

What are the benefits of using taxis and minicabs?

There are many benefits attached to booking taxis and minicabs. Using a taxi or a minicab means getting to your destination without having to drive your own vehicle or using other forms of public transport. Many people wish to avoid using public transport options like buses and trains because they can be very slow in comparison to taxis. Another drawback of using buses and trains is that they don’t always take you to where you specifically need to be, which means you may find yourself walking for quite some distance before you finally reach your destination. Taxis also make things easier for you when you have a great deal of luggage to transport.

24/7 services

A big benefit of taxis and minicabs is that they are available at times when buses and trains are not. This means you can easily get from A to B late in the evening or early in the morning when you use these forms of public transport. Another key benefit of using a taxi or minicab is that the vehicle won’t need to stop repeatedly to pick up and drop off other passengers.

An affordable option

Although some people regard taxis and minicabs as expensive, they are actually quite cheap when you consider what you are paying for. Riding in a taxi can be much easier and more comfortable than carrying out your journey via a bus or train. If you have other passengers in the vehicle with you, you can split the cost and make your journey even cheaper. Using your own vehicle can also be very expensive and inconvenient, especially when you consider the cost and fuss attached to parking your car in a public place such as a hospital car park. Finding somewhere to park in a public area can also be very time-consuming and stressful. Taxi and minicab hire helps you remove much of the stress and fuss from getting to where you need to be. Taxis and minicabs also tend to be available at very short notice, which means you can normally get to your destination at short notice when an emergency occurs or you embark on an impulse excursion.

Professionalism and experience

Taxi firms tend to be home to highly experienced, professional drivers who know the best routes for taking you to where you need to be. Riding in a taxi can therefore provide you with a great sense of reassurance and safety.

About Flex Taxis

At Flex Taxis, we are proud to offer affordable, punctual and reliable UK taxi services. Why not place a booking today? You can reach us by calling us on 01992467782, by getting in touch via WhatsApp on 075626444777 or by leaving a message on our website.

Posted: July 13, 2022