Inside the life of a taxi driver – from fare dodgers to wee on seats

From fare dodging customers, back-of-cab drug deals and passengers urinating on seats – life as a taxi driver is no picnic.

But now they’re fighting back, declaring "enough is enough" as they are battle against the public’s bad behaviour.

The constant disrespect shown to the drivers, who are just trying to make a living, has some of them at breaking point as they are losing out on money and having to dip into their own pockets to make repairs after their cars are damaged.

Just last week, one taxi driver, Linda Richardson, had four customers run away without paying in the space of four days, and has lost over £100 in fares since December due to run away customers, with other drivers dealing with the same issue on a daily basis.

Linda has been a taxi driver for the past 21 years, and through that time she has seen it all, including having a knife held to her throat and being robbed in 2012, reports the Grimsby Telegraph .

Now, she is wanting to stand-up to the fare dodgers and those who commit the anti-social behaviour that is badly affecting the livelihood of taxi drivers all across the borough.

She says that since October, she and other drivers have noticed a significant rise in problems.

Linda said: "You really would be surprised at some of the people who run away or simply tell us that they are not going to pay their fare.

"We have had school teachers, old pensioners from Waltham, drug dealers and people who have just drunk too much, there is no stereotype of the people who just refuse to pay or run away.

"The one that really annoys me though, is when we are clearly being used for a drug deal, and we see the person get out of the car, go and buy their drugs, which they clearly have money for, then at the end of the journey they run away or just say that they are not paying.

"The thing is, it can get very intimidating when someone runs away or refuses to pay, because they are stealing from you, but you don’t know what might happen if you stand up for yourself and try and get your money back.

"It can be a bit ridiculous, I have had someone empty their handbag to show me they have no money, but can give me half a bottle of perfume.

"I have even had someone once offer me two bottles of shampoo instead of paying.

"People need to realise that when they ring a taxi driver and they know they do not have the money to pay for it then they are committing fraud."

Fellow taxi driver Chrissy described one recent incident where she tracked a fare dodger back to his house.

She said: "There was one man who I dropped off at a house and then disappeared, and I think he ran round the back garden to climb over into his actual house.

"So I rang the depot and found out the phone number’s most common address, which was just down the street, and when I called at the door the man appeared in his boxers saying that he had never left the house.

"I was having none of it though and demanded he paid me my money. I eventually got it."

The fare dodging is just one huge problem that taxi drivers face on a daily basis.

They have also described a multitude of problems that they face, from having their cars attacked with bricks and stones, to highly inconsiderate customers who urinate inside their vehicles.

Driver Andy Moore said: "The biggest problem that I have is the kids that think it is funny to attack your vehicle with bricks and stones, it is going to lead to a serious injury one day.

"You get it all over the town, there are these groups of kids that will leave a bicycle or scooter in the middle of the road, expecting your vehicle to stop when you get to it, then they start pelting you with bricks and stones.

"I recently even had one group of lads who were in the car, and while I was getting paid I noticed that one was in the back weeing all over my seats."

Linda even described how on occasion some customers have even asked her to get out of her car for a short period of time while they engaged in "activities".

She said: "You wouldn’t believe it but I have even had prostitutes in the back with their customers who have asked me if I can leave for an hour and come back while they do their business.

"I just demanded that they get out of my car immediately."

Police have urged taxi drivers to report any incidents of fare dodging to them, giving as much detail as possible, noting that if they fear a person will not pay their fare, they have the right to refuse them.

Humberside Police’s Chief Inspector Jenny Bristow said: “If you are a taxi driver and a customer makes off without paying, you should report it to us giving as much detail as possible.

“When you report it to us try to give us a detailed description of those involved, including the number they called from (unless they attended the cab office), the location of the pick-up, their stated destination and which way they went as they got out of the car.

"Any CCTV from within the taxi itself should be kept, along with any footage from the office where relevant. If any taxi driver has any concerns over a person’s ability to pay for the journey, they should be refused travel or be asked to pay up-front.

“Information can be shared with us by calling 101 or via Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

A North East Lincolnshire Council spokesperson said: "Avoiding a taxi fare is a serious crime and should always be reported to the police in the first instance, using non-emergency number 101.

"For longer journeys, and where the customer is happy to oblige, drivers can ask for a portion of the expected fare to be paid upfront."

Source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/inside-life-taxi-driver-fare-12022907

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