Taxi drivers prefer to be busy because it means more money in the bank, as well as helping a shift to go faster.
While having lines of fares waiting for the next cab is a dream for drivers, the longer passengers have to wait, the shorter their patience becomes, especially if it is late at night and they have been drinking. Trouble can often spill out among crowds of rowdy people and who is left to sort things out as rowdy passengers try to lay claim to the next cab?
Taxi drivers want to get from one fare to the next with the minimum fuss. The last thing they want is to be caught up in a confrontation which costs them time and money while things settle down or the police are called.
And if things really get out of hand and their taxi is damaged, as well as missing out on fares, their taxi insurance premiums may also be affected if they have to make a claim.
Scenarios like this play out in towns and cities across the UK every week and taxi drivers can quickly find themselves involved in a volatile situation as tempers flare. Places where there have been particular problems have introduced different schemes to try and keep the peace. One of these is Ipswich, which has just celebrated the 10th anniversary of its successful taxi marshal scheme which has been credited with helping keep the town centre safe.
The Ipswich Star reports that after repeated problems, the scheme was launched to prevent disorder and violence and help queues flow as quickly as possible, which is good news for taxi drivers and passengers.
And the marshals – who co-ordinate taxi queues at the Old Cattle Market bus station every Friday and Saturday from 11.30pm until 4.30am – have been credited with helping keep the town centre a safe place to visit and enjoy a night out.
Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: “It is extremely important that Ipswich has a reputation as a safe and welcoming town where everyone can come to enjoy a drink, a meal or a trip to the cinema and theatre.
“Making our town centres safe and prosperous encourages people to visit and spend time and money enjoying what Suffolk has to offer.
“I am happy to financially support this taxi marshal initiative. I can see tangible benefits for the constabulary and for the people in Ipswich on weekend evenings.
“People will get home quicker and more safely, and fewer people hanging around when the pubs and clubs close will reduce potential disorder, which in turn will reduce the pressure on the police. Everyone wins.”
As well as taking the pressure off an already-stretched police force, the marshal scheme has also benefited the town’s night-time economy, making it a welcome place for visitors and those enjoying a night out.
However appealing a restaurant, bar or attraction might be, people will stop going there if they know it will be difficult to get home afterwards, or they could be putting themselves in danger while trying to get a cab.
Terry Baxter, chairman of Ipswich Central, added: “It is of paramount importance that people feel safe whilst out in the evening.
“Enabling people to find a taxi easily and safely at the end of their evening out is as important as the evening itself. We are delighted to continue to play a role in the taxi marshal scheme.”
Taking steps to identify and address potential flashpoints has helped boost the town centre’s night-time economy and make it a place people want to be.
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