Even though the job of being a taxi driver is simple in theory – to be able to drive a car and pick-up passengers, the day-to-day working conditions for drivers can be unreliable, and there are a number of key problems that taxi drivers around the world face:
Unpredictable & unreliable work & pay
Taxi drivers don’t earn a regular wage or charge a set hourly rate. Instead, they are paid based on the number of fares they get, therefore the aim is to get as many fares as possible. Drivers usually use a meter to charge passengers based on time and distance traveled as well as some other factors like the time of day they are driving. Since the number of fares a driver gets in a day can vary greatly, the money earned per day van also vary greatly. Add to this that in English speaking countries taxi drivers are on average unoccupied between 30%-60% of the time and you get a sense of how unreliable this type of work can be. This means that for up to 60% of their day they are either waiting at a taxi rank for passengers, waiting for a phone call for a passenger booking or driving around looking for waiting passengers. This is obviously an unreliable and inefficient way of working. This can be seen in almost every major city around the world – long rows of taxis waiting at airports, train stations and nightlife hubs.
Taxi drivers are victims of crime more often than the average person due to the nature of their work – they work in all parts of a city, often late at night, and they pick up random people who may be drunk, on drugs or simply looking for trouble. Fare evasion and robbery is common, and in certain cities drivers can also be victims of violence, car theft and there’s even been cases of murder and rape.
Long Hours, limited movement & health problems
Taxi drivers often work 8-12-hour shifts or longer, and they are sitting in their cabs for much of this time. Taxi drivers can be prone to health problems due their limited movement due to being in the sitting position for hours on end and also their diets, they often they eat a lot of fast food on the run.
Car & driving problems
Taxi drivers face the same regular problems that all vehicle driver face – traffic, break downs, bad weather and other traffic related issues and fines. These problems are amplified for taxi drivers as they are in their cars and on the road much more than the average driver.
Taxi drivers are competing against other drivers and other taxi companies who often try to claim various areas of a city as their terriroty. Competition can be very fierce in some cities where an almost mafia-like atmosphere dominates the city’s taxi industry.
When a new driver starts they have to very quickly learn their trade and the city they are driving in or risk making very little money. New drivers are competing against established drivers who know the city, who know from years of experience and by habit the places and times where passengers will likely be. New drivers need to quickly get up to speed and presently there are few ways, apart from simply driving and learning on the go, to do this.
Revirda is working on ways to tackle these problems and make taxi drivers jobs easier and more reliable. Stay tuned for more from Revirda.