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Code of Practice for Cab Customers

(original edit of piece written for Taxi magazine, and published this week).

Code of Practice

Putting aside traffic-related issues, most of our problems come from our interaction with passengers.  It’s not always their fault: there’s poor communication and misunderstanding on both sides, and either party can be reluctant to make clear their wishes and expectations.  I think it’s time we compiled a Code of Practice for cab customers:


  • Just looking at the oncoming driver is not enough: you need to thrust your arm out with confident intent.  London is no place for limp-wristed hails (an underarm Asian-style hail is acceptable so long as it’s clear)
  • If you’re not hailing a cab, please don’t wave your arms around on a London street: we’ve all stopped for people waving to their friend across the road
  • Stop a cab somewhere sensible. Don’t expect a cab to stop at a busy junction or at traffic lights (yes, I know many cab drivers indulge you and stop at such daft places, but they spoil it for everyone.  Please don’t encourage it)

The same applies to setting down:  it takes a couple of minutes to process a credit card, so have your cash ready if you really must get out on double red lines on Euston Road.  We also don’t like you sitting in the back counting out the contents of your piggy bank with a queue of buses behind us on Oxford Street

  • Don’t stand at the back of the cab at Pancras expecting the driver to put your bags in the boot. Taxi boots are tiny, and are only big enough to accommodate the equipment we’re obliged to carry in order to make us accessible:  such as a wheelchair ramp and harnesses. There’s room for little else, even the driver’s golf clubs
  • Please try not to stop a cab on one-way streets if you are going in the opposite direction: particularly on northbound streets like Tottenham Court Road if you’re going south.  You’re quite within your rights, but it spoils it for the driver who thinks he’s on his way home if he stops for you
  • State your destination clearly and accurately. I know you’ve read about a cab driver’s enlarged hippocampus, but it doesn’t help him read your mind as to what part of Edgware Road you want.  It’s a very long road…
  • Don’t send your husband out into the street to stop a cab while you’re still at the till at The Rainforest Café gift shop. Or before you’ve got your kids in the pushchair and your shopping bags ready
  • Yes, you can bring your dog, cat, rabbit, or any other pet, with you: it’s the humans I’m suspicious of
  • Don’t put your feet on the seats, eat or drink without asking first, or throw pistachio shells on the carpet
  • No, you can’t smoke. Even if you open the window.  It’s against the law.  Vaping is also against the law, according to a sticker TfL made me put in my cab
  • Don’t indulge in any other anti-social behaviour not mentioned above. There’s one notable exception:  Man Spread isn’t encouraged on the tube, but it’s fine in a cab.  Go ahead, enjoy yourself Sir
  • Don’t ask for Paddington; then add that you want an obscure B&B on Sussex Gardens when we’re going down the ramp off Bishops Bridge Road
  • It’s bad luck say “the roads are clear today” when you are only half way there
  • Saying you want to be dropped off “half way down” is meaningless when the driver can’t see how long the road is. Just shout when we’re there
  • The driver is not responsible for the traffic. Please direct your comments on madcap road schemes to TfL
  • We have no control over taxi fares either
  • “I’m in a hurry” doesn’t cut any ice. Everyone’s in a hurry, and all trips are urgent.  In fact, Every Journey Matters – for want of a better phrase.  I respectfully suggest you look at your own time management.  Don’t try to turn your problem into my   If you’re running late for a hospital appointment, I have sympathy.  If you’re having to wait twenty minutes for the next train home, tough
  • Best not attempt to engage the driver in a discussion on Uber: like the afore-mentioned madcap traffic schemes, this is another touchy subject best avoided
  • I’ll take Euros, but ask first. My exchange rate is 1:1
  • I’ll stop at a cashpoint if you insist, but it’ll be easier for us both if you use a credit card. The meter’s still running while you queue at the cashpoint, so a card would be cheaper

Well, there you have it; these are my top tips for smooth customer relations.  I think we now understand each other.  So, sit well back in your seat for comfort and safety, sir, and away we go…  …feet off seats please…

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