I love talking with cabbies

I love talking with cabbies when I get to a new city. I love finding out how the system works and comparing the structures between different cities. They tend to be pretty revealing.

Martin, my cabbie yesterday as I was leaving London, told me all about how the system works there.

Martin is an independent cab-owner and cab driver. He owns his own cab, but doesn't own any other cabs. He could own a fleet, but he choses not to.

About half of London's cabs are individually-owned (if I remember correctly - either about a third or half), the other half are owned by fleet owners.

When you're a cab driver without a cab, you pay 180-200 pounds a week to rent a decent piece of car, you pay for diesel, and then the rest of the take-home is yours. The fares are regulated, of course.

If you're a driver in good standing, and you want to own your own car, you can, there's no red tape. The car costs around 33.000 pounds, and you have to do annual checkups and pay a fee of 1-200 pounds, but other than that, it's not restricted on monopolized, like in Denmark or New York.

Being a cab driver is treated as a real job in London. You can make a good living being one. Martin used to lay bricks, but preferred being a cabbie.

There's a total of 23,000 cabs in the city.

And here's an interesting twist on the typical "wait in line for 2-5 hours at the airport only to get a short local ride, and then you'll have to wait for 2-5 hours for the next ride" problem.

In London, the cab drivers have agreed that it sucks, so if you get a short trip, you tell the dispatcher, and he gives you a slip, and if you come back within 25 minutes, you get to go in the front of the line. It makes sense, it's fair to everybody, it's in everybody's interest.

Like he said, in London they treat cabs like a proper business.

Makes sense to me.


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London Minicab Driver

I'm a London minicab driver and it is not as profitable as it used to be with more competition etc. But I do love you get to pick your hours and meet some very interesting people from all over the world. I wouldn't have it any other way.
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