Up front pay system eyed for London cabs
By Maureen Finn
MAKING THE ROUNDS. London taxi drivers may be asking for
a portion of the fares up front in lieu of dumbass drunks
who run off without paying and other such miscreants.
London cab companies are looking to implement a fare-deposit
system to prevent fare fraud. If the cab drivers of London
have their way, riding and running will no longer be an option.
London Taxi Association president Hasan Savehilaghi is leading
the initiative to put an end to what he sees as a growing problem. “Fare
fraud is an ongoing problem. Overall, asking for a deposit
in advance is the best alternative,” he said.
Savehilaghi said the LTA wants to legalize the advanced deposit
system and make it part of the taxi bylaw in London. He said
under certain circumstances London cab drivers have been asking
for a deposit before driving customers to their destinations.
“It is a taxi driver’s right to ask for a deposit
if he feels it’s necessary,” Savehilaghi said. “Whether
the city accepts it or not, we are going to be asking for deposits
in cases where we think we should.”
He explained that fare fraud tends to be a problem with young
adults in London, but not specifically with university students. “Sometimes
students become excited because they’ve been pre-drinking
and a few get a little out of control, but overall I have no
serious concerns with students specifically,” he said.
“The worst situations are when several people get in
a cab and get dropped off at different locations, then the
last person asks you to stop and jumps out without paying,” Savehilaghi
explained. “But sometimes a customer will tell you to
take them to a location and once you get there they say they
don’t have any money,” he said, adding if a deposit
was required issues such as this could be discussed ahead of
Savehilaghi plans on meeting with the London Police Department
to discuss the issue. “Together, we can provide alternatives
so that nobody is abused — cab drivers or customers.”
Const. Paul Martin, spokesperson for the LPD, said the idea
of paying cab drivers up front has been contemplated for some
time. He said fare fraud occurs on a regular basis and alcohol
is usually a factor.
Savehilaghi said taking a deposit is the best option because
there are legalities with requesting collateral, such as photo
identification. He said he feels implementing the fare-deposit
system will reduce the amount of time wasted by police, as
well as taxpayers’ dollars. “If the deposit idea
is accepted by the city and the police then there will be far
fewer calls to the police regarding fare fraud,” he explained.
Michelle Smibert, manager of the City of London’s licensing
elections, said London’s taxi bylaw does not currently
allow for this new system. She said there will be a review
of the bylaw early this spring.