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London’s traditional black cabs will take credit card, debit card and contactless payments, as well as cash, for any journey from Halloween 2016 onwards.
The introduction of contactless and card payments is part of the Taxi and Private Hire Action Plan proposed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan with the aim of making it easier for taxis and private hire cars to operate in the capital, as well as promote ease of use and safety for customers.
The plan is supported by the Future Taxis campaign group, which represents the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), the London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC), the Unite union’s London cab section and the Hailo and Gett taxi booking mobile applications.
Khan said: “Everyone using our iconic black cabs will be able to pay by card, making their journeys quicker and more convenient. While many black cab drivers already provide this service, it is important that Londoners know for certain that they won’t have to run to the cash machine before they start their journey.”
Black cabs and other taxi firms have been under threat since the arrival of disruptive online-only cab firm Uber made it easier for customers to order and pre-pay for their ride.
Uber’s flexible and legacy-free operational structure has been hard to compete with, but Helen Chapman, Transport for London’s taxi and private hire general manager, hopes the introduction of card readers in black cabs will benefit “London’s historic cab trade” as the world becomes increasingly cashless.
According to TfL, the push for contactless and card payments in taxis was prompted by a consultation, which showed 86% of customers wanted to be able to use alternative payment methods in cabs.
Chapman said: “Many taxi drivers have been accepting card payments for years, but customers were never sure when hailing a taxi whether they could pay by card. We have listened to customers, and we believe this will make journeys in black taxis even more convenient.”
As a result of the introduction of card machines, the minimum fare for a black taxi will be increased from £2.40 to £2.60, but customers paying by card will no longer have to pay a surcharge, and will only pay what is shown on the meter, no matter what payment option they choose.
For the rest of this year, card readers in the cabs can be hand-held or fixed, but must be included in the passenger compartment by January 2017.
When it was made mandatory for taxi drivers in New York to offer card payment in 2010, there was a big increase in the number of customers paying by card – and London’s cab drivers have been advised to expect something similar.