I’m writing to express my concern over the way in which TfL is mandating credit card payments for Black Taxis. Although I am a strong supporter of the mandate in principle there are important aspects of it which I think are unfair. I have been contacted by Black Taxi drivers and trade representatives about this.
There are two ways in which the approach is unfair:
1. Fares – the 20p flag increase is inadequate to cover the charges Black Taxi drivers will incur by paying the 3% charge on credit card payments. Any journey paid for by credit card that costs more than £6.67 will result in a loss for the driver. My guess is that most fares are over that amount and that an increasingly large proportion of fares will be paid by credit card.
2. Requiring a fixed TfL-approved payment device. This is something that Black Taxi drivers will have to pay for and it is likely to be more expensive than an off the shelf mobile device. Drivers who are already offering credit card payments will be out of pocket. A fixed terminal will also be more vulnerable to vandalism by passengers and if the device is damaged the taxi will not be able to operate legally.
I recognise of course that mandating credit card payments will better able Black Taxis to compete, but there is the danger of yet more costs being heaped on the trade at a time when being a Black Taxi driver is increasingly difficult. Surely the change should be designed to be cost neutral. I have some questions that I think would help clarify the situation: