All London Taxi cabs will be required to accept debit and credit cards from October 2016 after a consultation run by Transport for London revealed strong support for the change.
Although many drivers already accept payment cards this is on a voluntary basis and passengers must first check with drivers before starting their journey. The new requirement that all cabs adopt payment by card means passengers will benefit from a consistent experience.
To help minimise the impact of the change on drivers, TfL says it has negotiated deals with the credit card industry to reduce the fees for accepting cards from up to 10 per cent to three per cent or less of the transaction.
There will also be a 20p increase in fares to help drivers recoup their costs but the current surcharge on card payments is to be axed.
The new rules need to be rubber-stamped by the TfL Board when it meets in February but the backing of Mayor Boris Johnson, who chairs and appoints the board, means they’re almost certain to be approved.
Mr Johnson hailed the change as “great news for the millions of people who use London’s world famous black cabs” and predicted it would “boost business for cabbies and bring the trade into the 21st century by enabling quicker and more convenient journeys for customers.”
Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer for Surface Transport, said: “This is a very positive change for taxi drivers and for our customers. London is increasingly a cashless city, with people using cards to pay for all aspects of their daily life – including transport.
“We are seeing more and more people use contactless payments on our network, and mandating card payments in taxis will mean customers no longer have to consider how they might pay for a journey before getting into a taxi. It will also benefit drivers, who will see their services opened up to potential new business.”
Commenting on TfL’s announcement, Steve McNamara from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said: “The majority of taxi drivers already accept Credit Cards but we welcome TfL having used their bargaining power to reduce the costs to cabbies charged by the Card Providers”
The news has also been welcomed by Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson on the London Assembly, who said: “This is immediate good news for passengers and in the long term it is also good news for London’s taxi drivers as new forms of payment can only help to boost trade.
“However there is much more that needs to be done to ensure London’s taxis continue to provide a valuable service. Above all else TfL urgently needs to address the shortage of taxi ranks that still exist in too many London boroughs.”