The well of inspiration must be running dry.Â It’s a well-known journalistic truth that the last resort of the blogger or columnist bereft of ideas is to write about whatÂ taxi drivers say to them.Â In a small but novel twist on this desperate tactic, this blog will in fact be about what I said to a taxi driver.Â
In London at the moment, there really are zillions of cabs driving around with their lights on.Â In parts of London, after dark, you could probably dispense with the street lights, they’re providing such a bright orange glow.Â When I took a cab at Paddington the other day and drove back along the length of the waiting queue, the meter was showing about Â£5.50 before we reached the end of it.
To me, one major conclusion was obvious:Â cabs have become too expensive for the current climate, and it’s time for some permanent or temporary price promotion.
There’s so much that cabs could do – all the same things, in fact, that are already being done by every other form of transport in the universe when faced with a market as difficult as today’s.Â Drivers could offer us BOGOFs.Â Or discounts if we travelled at off-peak times.Â Or loyalty cards like Cafe Nero that give us one free ride for every ten paid for.Â Or family discounts so that it actually costs less, rather than more, to travel with children.Â Â Or an equivalent of Orange Wednesdays, so that, say, the after-8pm excess is waived for customers of a particular phone network.Â Or… well, you get my point.
In fact, cab drivers do absolutely none of these things, and, based on a sample of the CabÂ Drivers AtÂ Paddington, have at least a dozen reasons why they couldn’t, shouldn’t and never will.Â Some of these are fairly good reasons, like, for example, that their regulator, the Public Carriage Office, absolutely doesn’t allowÂ such thingsÂ (although the regulators of every other form of transport seem perfectly happy with promotional pricing, so you can’t help wondering what the PCO’s response would be if they were actually asked the question).Â Â But the main and most strongly-held objection of the Cab Driver At Paddington was that business is already quite bad enough, thanks very much, without the insanity of giving awayÂ a proportionÂ of the proceeds from the dwindling handful of passengersÂ still willing to stick their arms up and flag him down.Â
So, in the end, despite my best efforts, I’m afraid this is a piece about what my cab driver said to me, rather than the other way round:Â on a sample of one at least, the very clear message on this occasionÂ is that cab drivers don’t really get sales promotion.