New Transport for London figures suggest London’s black cab trade is achieving almost 100% compliance with new rules mandating the acceptance of debit and credit cards.
First mooted in 2014 and coming into effect last October, the move was controversial with many of London’s 21,000 taxi drivers who saw it as an unwelcome and unnecessary financial burden at a time when the trade was facing unprecedented levels of competition.
Fifteen percent of all taxi drivers taking part in a TfL consultation said they opposed the new rules, a figure which rose to 44% among suburban taxi drivers.
Ahead of them coming into effect, many of the more vocal opponents suggested they would ignore the new rules and refuse to take card payments.
However figures released in response to a Freedom of Information request suggest that the overwhelming number of drivers are in fact complying with the new rules.
In the 24 weeks ending 16th September 2017, TfL says it received just 192 customer complaints about drivers refusing to accept payment by card or claiming their card terminals were out of service. Only a third of complaints were upheld on investigation.
As well as monitoring complaints, TfL checks for compliance with the new rules during each cab’s annual inspection when failure to have a working card machine will result in the vehicle not being licensed.
In addition, Taxi and Private Hire Compliance Officers check for working card terminals when carrying out their on-street spot checks.
Of the 40,000 checks carried out since 31 October 2016, officers only found a problem with the card machine on 300 occasions.
In its FOI response, TfL says: “Each case is individually assessed and may result in the driver receiving a warning or suspension of their licence and/or the vehicle being issued with an ‘unfit’ notice’; this means that the vehicle cannot be used as a licensed taxi until it is shown to have an approved functioning card payment device.”