Private hire taxi driver Kenny from Glasgow has been in the trade for several years. We talked to him to get an insight from a professional about life in the taxi world, how the trade has evolved over the years and his thoughts on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the industry.
What is your background in taxiing?
I have worked in the private hire industry for 16 years – I have been with Glasgow firm Hampden Cars throughout.
What do you like most about the job?
Being my own boss! I have the freedom to work when I want which gives me the flexibility to enjoy other hobbies and interests, such as going to the football. It means that I do not have to miss anything important like family birthdays and special events which I am very grateful for. I also like dealing with the public. I have always worked in customer facing roles as being able to meet and chat to new people every day is something I really enjoy – I find that people are likely to really open up to me when I pick them up! People will tell taxi drivers things that they might not tell anybody else. I think it feels like a safe space and because often the passenger is unlikely to meet the driver again, it’s a good opportunity for them to rant or get something off their chest, it is almost therapeutic. The company I work for is fairly large, with hundreds of drivers and I am happy to call a lot of my fellow drivers friends.
I have also been proud to be able to help several passengers and friends over the years in my taxi. When a close friend’s daughter went into labour during the night he called me right away and I got her safely to the hospital. I didn’t accept any money for the journey of course, it was just nice to know that my friend knew I would be someone he could rely on at a time when he needed help and I was glad to give it.
How have you seen the industry change over the years?
The taxi trade has evolved into the digital age. First, it was the change to PDA systems for receiving jobs and in recent years we have also been able to take credit card payments and have given passengers the option to book their trips online or on our App rather than call through to the booking office. This has helped taxi journeys become easier and more accessible to the public. However, we have had some knocks over the years too – the 2008 financial crisis hit us hard. The first things that people stop doing when money is tight such as social outings, concerts and events and going on holiday are some of the biggest reasons for taxi travel so it has a huge impact. I have been lucky to be part of a large company that has several accounts for things like supermarket journeys and school runs, so have always been able to carry on working throughout these problematic periods.
What did a typical week at work look like before the COVID-19 pandemic?
Working in Glasgow in and around the city centre, typically we can be busy any time of the day or week – you have the school runs, taking passengers to the shops or to appointments during the day and the busy weekend trade going back and forth to the pubs and restaurants in the area. I tend to work in the afternoons right through the night as I prefer to be busy and up until recently found it could often be back to back jobs at this time.
What is it like on the road at the moment?
It is of course extremely quiet on the roads – I would say there is probably around 15% of the usual amount of work coming in. However I have worked throughout the lockdown period to cover essential journeys both for those who need to go out for food and medication and for keyworkers getting to and from work and a huge number of our drivers have taken themselves off the road during this time, so I have been able to stay busy. The company that I am with has also taken on some initiatives to help during the crisis such as delivering prescriptions to those who are shielding and offering a click and collect service from supermarkets for the vulnerable who are not able to get out to the shops and are experiencing difficulty securing online shopping. It is good to know that I am providing an important service at this time. I have a lot of regular jobs taking nightshift workers in the NHS or in essential services to work and back as the public transport services are very minimal during the night in some areas and helping ensure the elderly and vulnerable are equipped with supplies that they need.
How do you see the crisis affect the trade in the coming months, whilst the economy recovers?
It will be much the same as the recession I think – a slow bounce back. As we are coming into the start of restrictions being lifted, some elements such as school transportation will come back quicker than others like the social trips and events. Unfortunately the taxi industry will be slower to recover than other sectors but I believe there will always be an important place for taxi travel in our society.
At Cab Direct we understand the strain drivers will be under during this time and want to be able to support the industry as much as we can. As the UK’s leading taxi sales specialist, we provide a wide choice of quality vehicles at trade prices and offer affordable weekly payments and low deposit options. We also provide a great selection of used vehicles and a part-exchange service. Whatever your requirements and whenever you are ready to look for your black cab or private hire taxi, we are here for you. Please call the number at the top of the page or click here to find out more!