Costly Card Machine Plans Halted in Liverpool

April 15, 2019

New plans to equip taxis with mandatory card payment machines have been postponed following negative reaction from taxi drivers.

Compulsory card payment machines are intended for both hackney carriage and private hire taxis in Liverpool.

Card Machine Concerns

However, the council’s licensing committee has halted a final decision being made after a recent meeting.  Members from Unite trade union were unhappy with the additional costs that installing card payment machines would bring.

The costs would range from £100 to £280 based on purchasing a receipt printer alongside the card payment machine.  Liverpool City Council informed drivers that passengers would have full ownership over their card, with the reassurance they’re being charged the correct amount on their journey.

Unite officer, Tom McIntyre, said:  “We view card payments positively. It’s something that’s been coming for a long time.

“Everybody knows kids don’t carry cash these days.  Where we have a problem, is having it in the back of the cab.

“In Liverpool we carry a lot of young girls with prams and little kids sitting in the back touching the buttons.

“We want this to work.  We can implement the card machines in six months and most of the trade are willing to do this.”

Taxi drivers said this was ‘offensive’ and reflected badly on them as being untrustworthy.  They made comment that they’d prefer the card machines to be kept next to them in the front compartment.

Potential Risks

Concerns were raised that drunk passengers or children risked the payment machines being damaged or broken.

A report is to be issued by licensing officers following a dispute as to where the card machines should be located inside taxis.  This is the second occasion where changes have been made after opposition from taxi drivers.

A council officer commented:  “The reason we don’t want the card facility in the front is historically, drivers have taken the card by hand to take payments.

“What we don’t want is the drivers to be accused of taking money from the cards, double payments, or more money off the card.”

Paul James, taxi driver and Unite member, argued this. He said:  “With all due respect I take offence at the implication all taxi drivers are robbers.  It’s not happening in London.”

“We’re the cab drivers.  I can see the council’s point of view but they’re not the ones paying for it.”

Chair of the licensing committee, Malcolm Kennedy, ensured there are no intentions from the council to imply any wrongdoing by taxi driver.

He suggested that in order to move forward new proposals must either be accepted by drivers or they’d have to ask for a new report detailing the issues of having the card facility in the back.

Committee members agreed with taxi driver’s concerns. Councillor Anna Key said:  “I’m a mum of four kids and I can see them messing around with the card machine. Teenagers, after a few drinks, could vandalise it.”

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