August 23 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, April 13, 2013
For the last five years London black cab drivers have been voted the best in the world.
North-east London, including Havering, has more suburban licensed taxi drivers than any other sector in the capital, meaning that the borough is home to some of the best cabbies on the planet.
Hotels.com users have voted London’s drivers the best every year since 2007. But what’s the secret of the success? Hornchurch’s Alan Fisher, who edits the Dial-a-Cab magazine, Call Sign, has been a driver since 1971.
He said that part of the reason is that as cabbies do the knowledge, they don’t have to think about where they are driving to and so have time to have a chat to their passengers.
“I don’t use a smartphone and I don’t use a sat-nav,” he said. “Taxi drivers know the most direct route and which route to use at the right time of day. I also don’t think it looks good to have a sat-nav on, it gives the impression you don’t know where you’re going.” But he admits: “I do have one just in case I have to drive someone out to the sticks.”
On the Streetlife website, Recorder readers weren’t surprised to hear that their part of London has more registered drivers than anywhere else.
John B said: “Personally, if possible, I will always hail a black cab, simply because they are trustworthy and professional, not the cheapest mode of transport but definitely the safest after 2300hrs and slightly inebriated. Long live the black cab firm.”
But Ken G pointed out the economic difficulties faced by the drivers. “One of my friends studied and passed the knowledge and shared a black cab with another cabbie on a 24-hour basis.
“After a year or two he packed it in and the last I heard he was servicing photo machines in shops and supermarkets. He told me that after taking account of all his expenses he could not make enough profit to make it viable.”
Alan acknowledges current economic difficulties and competition from minicabs, but thinks there is “light at the end of the tunnel”. He said: “When the economy improves things will get better again, hopefully. People who use black cabs expect a good service. We like to think that people are still using us because of that service rather than saving that £1.50 or £2.”