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Taxi drivers, passengers and venues are losing out to cancel culture

A Taxi Dispatch Operator answering the phone to a customer

Cancelled cabs cause frustration and inconvenience all round and taxi drivers are among those looking for a solution.

The problem is largely the result of improved technology and booking apps which let drivers and passengers know exactly how far away they are from each other.

It is an issue Taxi Point has looked at a few times and is one that seems to be getting worse.

There are two main reasons for a cancellation, as Taxi Point explains.

The first is when a passenger books a taxi and knows it is a certain distance away. In the meantime, they spot a black cab with its light illuminated and immediately flag it down. It has public hire insurance, so they are entitled to hail it in the street and quickly get wherever they want to go. But in the meantime, there is another driver heading to their destination who is about to have the fare cancelled. They have lost time and money on a wasted journey and will have to wait for their next booking.

The second reason for cancelled taxi bookings is that hotel concierge staff have been known to book multiple taxis at once to ensure their guests can get on their way as quickly as possible, hopefully leaving a generous tip. The result of this is that several taxis arrive at the same place, only one without a wasted journey.

As a result, taxi drivers have become wary of certain venues and may cancel a fare if they think it might be an overbooking.

And, while the practice is common among hotel staff, passengers have also been known to make multiple bookings and jump into the first taxi that arrives.

In the days before the internet, passengers would ring a taxi base to check on its progress and – however far away it was – the controller would dutifully assure them “it’s just turning on to your street”.

Now, apps give drivers and passengers precise details of each other’s location, as well as the time it will take the cab to reach the fare.

Cancellations have created a Mexican standoff between the parties, with each being uncertain whether the other will keep the booking. The result is fewer taxi drivers accepting certain bookings – especially if they have further to travel – which creates longer waits for passengers.

Taxi Point suggests several solutions, but each requires one of the parties to make the first move.

The first is to allow drivers and venues to see the number of cancelled jobs in the previous 100 requests. Seeing each other’s cancellation rates would help them make more informed decisions about whether to accept a booking.

Taxi Point also suggests improving communication between passengers and drivers, possibly through the taxi app itself, for real-time updates to ensure the booking goes ahead.

It also suggests working with venues to prevent booking multiple taxis for one passenger. Those that are found to be abusing the process could have the booking system removed from their premises.

The final solution is the one that is likely to have most impact. It is offering incentives or penalties to encourage passengers and drivers to act in a more cooperative way. It suggests venues being rewarded for not cancelling rides and drivers being rewarded for accepting longer pick-up times.

Rewarding drivers and passengers encourages them to keep a booking and enjoy the benefits. Penalising them for cancelling a booking without good reason means they may find it more difficult to book cabs or be able to accept fares in future.

What do you do to avoid cancelled bookings?

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.