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double_barrel
18th Oct 2018, 06:05
Kindly allow me a brief 'it wasn't like that in the old days' moment.....

I spend a lot of time being driven around by taxi/shuttle drivers in various parts of the world. Is it rose tinted glasses, or did we used to have professional drivers in these roles, who took their jobs seriously, knew the rules of the road and drove steadily and carefully? In the last 24 hours, I have been driven by 'professionals' who chatted on their phones, had lights constantly on high beam, lurched randomly across lanes and made ludicrously late decisions on simple developing situations leading to unnecessary last minute dramas. It was always a bit random in Asia or Africa, but even there I see a decline.

I have this hazy memory of an older driver, who greeted you politely, assisted with bags, and drove with care and precision. And would engage you in polite, non intrusive, conversation as required, but keep quiet when appropriate.

Any other old farts noticed this?

Espada III
18th Oct 2018, 06:13
Yes. The view that being a taxi driver is a last resort job rather than a career leads to the behavior you describe. Uber and similar apps exacerbate the problem.

No care, mind on other matters, no extra driving tuition...

Not like the old days when a black cab driver was someone with intelligence.

eal401
18th Oct 2018, 07:33
Definitely true.

I travel regularly with work and have to use cars from our transport coordinator to get to/from the airport. If I am lucky, we get one of the chauffer drivers "belonging" to a member of the board. When I know it is one of them, I relax and know it will be a good journey. They are all well trained (IAM), all drive smoothly and calmly and are the epitome of the "professional driver" the OP yearns for!

Other companies however - oh dear.... I have had numerous instances of drivers who pick me up at home to take me to Heathrow (or vice versa) and the first time their car will grace Lane 1 of any multi-lane road is exiting at a junction! I have drivers who speed, drivers who have no idea of the traffic conditions or even know where they are going. I had to block one company from my travel profile due to their drivers all be idiots who disregarded every aspect of the highway code. And before Etihad dropped their car picks ups for business class pax, I got a significant amount of free air miles complaining about a driver who nearly crashed the car twice on the journey.

Decent taxi firms (and the ones I end up with are often at the higher end of the price point scale) are few and far between.

UniFoxOs
18th Oct 2018, 07:34
Sympton of the gradual "dumbing down" in every walk of life. Shop assistants that know f*ck all about what they are selling, people cooking who don't understand the basics of hygiene, nobody with any training in "customer-facing skills"..... add your own pet hate here.

Old farts unite!!!

DType
18th Oct 2018, 07:40
Two nearest death experiences (so far) have been with taxi "drivers". Most recent was on hand held phone, titivating make up, when she noticed I was assuming the brace position!

Pontius Navigator
18th Oct 2018, 07:53
All I can say is for the most part I have been lucky.

And with shop assistants too. I note that the shelf stickers on the big supermarkets take me to find something rather than a vague wave, apart from Aldi.

Saintsman
18th Oct 2018, 09:50
An awfully of taxi drivers in the UK are foreign and they are employed because they are cheap and you don't need any special skills to drive (except how to use a SatNav). They would not consider themselves 'professionals' as it's just a way of earning a living for most of them, which just happens to involve driving.

Not that there aren't any good drivers amongst them of course.

AeroSpark
18th Oct 2018, 10:36
Professional driver here:ok:
For my licence I have to pass various tests, and stay on top of ongoing professional training to maintain it. The comment about Uber is dead right. They, and others have ruined the taxi trade. There is no test to be an Uber driver, any tom dick or harry with a driving licence can do it, and some even without seem to get on the network! They can even get round local authority knowledge tests by registering themselves with the PCO in London. Still, the public demand cheap so they can't really complain when they get such poor service. You reap what you sow and all that. Me, I wouldn't use uber to get to my own funeral...

eal401
18th Oct 2018, 10:40
Professional driver here:ok:
For my licence I have to pass various tests, and stay on top of ongoing professional training to maintain it. The comment about Uber is dead right. They, and others have ruined the taxi trade. There is no test to be an Uber driver, any tom dick or harry with a driving licence can do it, and some even without seem to get on the network! They can even get round local authority knowledge tests by registering themselves with the PCO in London. Still, the public demand cheap so they can't really complain when they get such poor service. You reap what you sow and all that. Me, I wouldn't use uber to get to my own funeral...

None of my bad experiences have been with Uber in the UK. All were with supposedly high end chauffer companies - by and large "normal" taxis have been better than them!

ATNotts
18th Oct 2018, 11:02
Outside London, where I believe taxi driving (excluding Uber and their like) is still a profession the quality of taxis and taxi drivers is dreadful.

Where I live in Nottingham taxi drivers (I'm thinking of the green "London Taxi" variety) barely speak English, whilst taxi drivers at Birmingham airport have similar language issues, and their "knowledge" doesn't extend far beyond Sparkhill High Street!! They are a very poor advertisement for their cities and I can't imagine what business people and leisure travellers arriving at Birmingham airport must think when they are greated by people's who's English is probably a deal worse than their's.

Pontius Navigator
18th Oct 2018, 11:21
At the risk from the illiberal thought police, I live near a large 'hidden ' town an hour from London. The population seems largely English with few foreign inhabitants. Our taxi driver from the first group was professional and informative. Naturally he is on speed dial.

redsnail
18th Oct 2018, 11:33
Our company uses a very good driving company in London. Although amongst them there are better drivers than others. The ones that are permitted to drive the Owners are all excellent. Taxis etc can be hit or miss. The Greek taxi drivers are especially memorable... Uber can be hit and miss too. I am not a fan of Blacklane.
I prefer to pay a bit extra for a decent, well maintained vehicle and a rested, experienced driver.

strake
18th Oct 2018, 11:46
If I were able to wave a magic wand, I would send you all to Japan for it is there you shall find what you seek. White-gloved courteous drivers, everything from barber shops to corner stores offering the highest level of service day after day. Shops where staff will fall over themselves to help you and where the experience of buying something isn't over until it is wrapped properly. In fact, I would go so far as to say, the service culture there is better now than it was when we were all young and harken back to the halcyon days in our own country.

pax britanica
18th Oct 2018, 11:59
I agree with most of whats said but worst first world taxi experiences were always in USA -Washington DC is laughable and I once got into a cab in NYC and asked to go to Bloomingdales and the guy said ' wheres that'.

I cannot repeat the chat i had about London with a driver at Kastrup except to say it highlighted the racism below the surface in Scandi land . On the other hand my first
expereince with a Swedish taxi back in god knows when was a SAAB 9000 with what looked like a 747 flight deck with god alone knows how many additional devices for credit cards direction finding multi channel radios and digital meters . However I am still a big fan of yer proper black cab driver of which there are still many many around whose humour and chat about Bleedin Boris (when he was mayor) and 'dont talk to to me about bloody cycles' , the England football team etc etc as well as putting up with Londons absurd and deplorable traffic.

There is a big element of rose tinted glasses or gaslighting as our american cousins aptly call it but one thing that does stand out is the astonishing level of ignorance today , but hey why use your brain when Google is your friend

Krystal n chips
18th Oct 2018, 12:18
At the risk from the illiberal thought police, I live near a large 'hidden ' town an hour from London. The population seems largely English with few foreign inhabitants. Our taxi driver from the first group was professional and informative. Naturally he is on speed dial.

Oh man, that's priceless ! Cosmopolitan Lincs eh ! Now, you'll have to excuse me after the convulsions have stopped that is,, buuuut, a couple of tiny points perlease....

You've told everybody where you live, not a million miles from a certain RAF station beginning with "C " and ending in "y" and let's be honest, there ain't no big "hidden towns " in that part of Lincs or anywhere else in the County really ...now are there. And 1hr from London you say ? ....that takes a bit of wellly really cos there's no way I can think of for even getting away from your "hidden " town in a hurry, let alone when on the usually congested arterial routes heading South. Unless you've been practicing telekinesis that is ?

Back to why the OP has chosen the perfect outlet for the woes that seemingly prevail. ....lots of moral support guaranteed on JB after all when it comes to the expectation of fawning deference, forelock tugging and general obsequious manners to appease the social standing of so many on here.

Now, I don't actually use taxi's that much. but, sometimes I've had to, more recently in Stafford in fact.....and guess what, the drivers aren't always pristine white English salt of the earth types .....I know, but that's multiculturalism for you in 21st century UK......however, and bearing in mind my simpleton status, I have found, not just in the location mentioned but over the years, that, if you talk to and with a driver making general conversation then all is well for the journey....this is in contrast to talking at the driver of course...which is probably where many of you come to grief lacking the capability or wish to do so.

I agree with the comments of the professional driver however re the standards of other drivers and their organisations because it's inevitable that, in such a competitive sector "management " will be far more concerned with profit rather than service and standards.

jez d
18th Oct 2018, 12:47
Whilst KnC is off having his daily dose of dried frog pills, I'll happily play the race card, which has nothing whatsoever to do with ethnicity but the country in which they were taught to drive. If a 'professional' driver has been taught to drive in Pakistan, for example, then I have no qualms whatsoever in stating that 99 times out of 100 they are less capable than their UK-trained colleagues, and often, in my experience, a nuisance and a danger to other road users.

double_barrel
18th Oct 2018, 12:59
And before Etihad dropped their car picks ups for business class pax, I got a significant amount of free air miles complaining about a driver who nearly crashed the car twice on the journey.
.

That reminds me, the last really good 'old school' style driver, with an immaculately turned-out car and perfect driving, was an Emirates business class pickup in the UK. (and K & chips, we spent a lot of the journey laughing at politicians on radio 4 - he had asked me for my preferences on the radio which I appreciated). Although I had a truly terrible EK pickup in Dubai with a dodgy driver who spent the whole journey telling me how sick and penniless he was. You would think they could do better in their home city.

krismiler
18th Oct 2018, 14:13
Whilst acknowledging the professionalism of London black taxi and Tokyo taxi drivers, the cost of using their services is prohibitive. The old mini cabs could be quite dodgy but pale in comparison to the antics of drivers from many developing countries.

Taxi driving is a job which is often taken by recent immigrants to a country until they can find something better, or as a temporary means of paying the bills whilst between jobs. The absence of the usual employment benefits such as a basic salary, sick pay, paid leave and union membership, together with the long and anti social hours for low pay ensure that it will remain a last resort.

rotornut
18th Oct 2018, 15:13
Taxi drivers in India are generally terrible. However, the best taxi driver I've had anywhere was an elderly Muslim who drove at moderate speeds and didn't play chicken with other drivers.

419
18th Oct 2018, 16:23
.however, and bearing in mind my simpleton status, I have found, not just in the location mentioned but over the years, that, if you talk to and with a driver making general conversation then all is well for the journey....this is in contrast to talking at the driver of course...which is probably where many of you come to grief lacking the capability or wish to do so.

That's all very well provided that the driver concerned actually speaks the same language as the majority of the people in the area of the country in which he is employed.

A couple of months ago, I booked a private hire car to take me from Horley ( For tose that don't know the area, it's a largish town about 2 miles from London Gatwick airport) to Crawley (another large town about 3 miles on the other side of Gatwick).

I was picked up by a driver who spoke basically no English and who had no idea whatsoever of where Crawley was. I tried directing him but gave up as he simply couldn't understand what I was saying and in the end I gestured for him to stop (by pointing at the side of the road), got out and called the company he was employed by to explain what had happened and they didn't give a toss.

The majority of taxi drivers in the area in question are of Asian heritage, something that I have no problems with at all but what I do have a problem with is people employed in a job, any job, for which they simply are not able to perform properly.

Pontius Navigator
18th Oct 2018, 17:26
First may I say, it worked.

Mrs PN booked a taxi from the Royal Albert Hall to their hotel - good move as there were lots of people vying for cabs.

On emerging however how to find her cab? She rang the company and asked what he looked like "He's an Afghan". He found them and had sufficient good English.

krismiler
18th Oct 2018, 22:53
That's all very well provided that the driver concerned actually speaks the same language as the majority of the people in the area of the country in which he is employed.


In Sydney, it would be unusual to find a native English speaker driving a taxi, they are mainly Asian or Middle Eastern. There is an English test and thankfully there is Sat Nav as the London cabbies knowledge level is the exception.

Even if someone has lived in a city all there life, they would probably struggle to drive a taxi without GPS. Most people except for emergency services personnel, delivery drivers, sales reps etc, would only know their way to work, the shops and a few other peoples homes. Stick them in a cab and ask them to drive between two locations in unfamiliar suburbs using a street directory and you’d get some blank looks.

M.Mouse
19th Oct 2018, 21:48
I came out of a hotel in Melbourne, Australia once on my way with the captain I was flying with to play tennis at the local club where our flying staff recreation club had membership. We jumped in a cab (driven by a white Australian, despite that having no bearing on the story!). We told him our destination, he turned the meter on, drove 50 yds, stopped and asked where it was! He then called in on the radio and spent five minutes working out where it was an how to get there. All the while the meter was running.

In London black cab drivers at least know there way around, drive well maintained vehicles and generally drive well. However, they are now so expensive I have stopped using them.

Quite why there is not a compulsory further driver training and a test for cab drivers nationwide in the UK is beyond me because in my experience the majority I travel with locally are bloody awful drivers.

FullOppositeRudder
20th Oct 2018, 00:20
Most of our cab drivers in Adelaide seem to have come from that which we know in cricket as the sub continent. Mostly they are OK, but sometimes one wonders.
I have to report that the cab drivers in Prague were outstanding. Suited with white shirt and tie, polite, friendly, knowledgeable, courteous to other drivers and impeccably safe. Driving a Merc as well. Shook hands at the conclusion of the trip. He received a well deserved tip. Repeated in full by another driver when we left a few days later to get back to the station. Ditto for the driver who took us from Rome A/P to the city on a fixed fare but deviated to show us some of the scenic points on the way. He also received an above average tip. He managed to contain his surprise since we were obviously Australian where tipping is not on.

Our London cab experience was enjoyable and engaging, although I suspect he took us the long way around to our nearby hotel.

All balanced out by our experience in Bolzano. Use of phone (texting most) of the way, 'adventurous' driving style. A length blast on the horn to acknowledge a friend on the footpath - female motor scooter rider a metre or so in front of us probably still has recurrent nightmares about that.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!
20th Oct 2018, 12:31
Taxi drivers in India are generally terrible

The worst part about taking a taxi in India is the other ten passengers clinging to the roof!

cattletruck
20th Oct 2018, 13:00
When going to the airport (usually a 70km/$80 fare) I would book my taxi to the train station where I would complete the journey by shuttle bus. If the driver was any good I would ask whether they mind going to the airport direct of which they often were glad to do.

But then I began to loathe the taxi trip to the train station. I even had one driver start the journey with all the windows down then proceeded to tell me how much he loves to fart.

Fortunately one of our smaller taxi companies has started a premium "limo" service for $15 extra. These are normal cabs but the cars and drivers are of a higher professional standard - this is just what I needed.

ex_matelot
20th Oct 2018, 19:45
Sympton of the gradual "dumbing down" in every walk of life. Shop assistants that know f*ck all about what they are selling, people cooking who don't understand the basics of hygiene, nobody with any training in "customer-facing skills"..... add your own pet hate here.

Old farts unite!!!

Wrt "customer service"...Google Mary Gober.
Many institutions in the UK have now implemented her recommendations. In short- Customer service is measured on time spent on phone as opposed to problem resolution.
In today's 'callcentre economy' - with many having no life experience outside of a callcentre - it roughly translates to misuse of reflexive personal pronouns: "If yourselves would like to contact ourselves regarding yourself...etc etc". They think it sounds more 'elegant'.

And the singy-songy intonation. Seriously-if you know someone in the UK who works in a callcentre...listen to them...they act similar in "real life" too!

treadigraph
20th Oct 2018, 21:48
In today's 'callcentre economy' - with many having no life experience outside of a callcentre - it roughly translates to misuse of reflexive personal pronouns: "If yourselves would like to contact ourselves regarding yourself...etc etc". They think it sounds more 'elegant'.

Can't resist adding that any call centre that wishes to "reach out" to me or vice versa has already progressed so far up my nose that polite verbal interaction is almost an impossibility.

happybiker
20th Oct 2018, 21:52
Early morning journeys to and from Heathrow have caused me concern due to drivers who have been up all night and are clearly struggling to stay awake. For self preservation I usually try to sit next to the driver so I can talk to them and see if they are starting to nod off. The most recent concern was when the driver did nod of and the car ran off the side of the road. Who monitors their working hours?

DType
20th Oct 2018, 22:23
Working hours!
Quite a few years ago, a group from work would hire a mini bus and driver for a "long walk", perhaps 10 hours from A to B, cross country/over some hills in the Highlands. Meantime the bus would be repositioned by road from A to B, collecting the weary walkers and returning a soporific group late to Edinburgh.
But then the rules changed, and the driver's "rest" period waiting at B was counted in, no cheating with a tachograph, and the day was declared too long. So we just hired a self drive mini bus, did circular walks, and hoped the nominated driver had not been too tired by his long walk.
So I guess some "taxis" do not have to have tachographs?

krismiler
20th Oct 2018, 23:38
No tachographs in taxis, but supposedly Uber monitor hours and will not let a driver log on if over their limit.

DType
21st Oct 2018, 08:36
But, of course, many drivers have multiple jobs over each 24 hours (just like our driver/walker/driver on the long walk!)

krismiler
22nd Oct 2018, 02:21
True, a driver may start early to catch the morning peak hours then go home for a rest and come back on again for evening rush hour and go through till midnight. Friday and Saturday could be all nighters if enough rest is taken during the day.

A study of New York taxi drivers found that they tended to work until they had taken a set amount of money and then call it a day. This was very inefficient as they ended up working longer hours during quiet periods and shorter hours during busy ones. Had they worked the same number of hours but spent more time on the road when it was busy instead of when it was quite, they would have made more money.

Impress to inflate
22nd Oct 2018, 05:42
A few months ago I caught a taxi from the airport to my hotel. I jump in the taxi with joy only to discover the taxi was totally buggered, not road worthy, not fit to carry the general public. I wrote to the local authority and was fobbed off with a load of bull effluent stating the car was road worthy and safe as houses, I totally disagree. I now use Uber's, 100000% better, better drivers, better cars, cheaper travel, able to track the car, able to go back and see his name and registration plate for future issues. The list goes on.