CABBIES hope to put a stop to customers who run off without paying – by installing new chip and pin machines in their taxis.
An Edinburgh taxi firm has now installed the credit card readers in around 70 per cent of its fleet of cars.
ComCab claim the move will also benefit lone female passengers who will no longer have to seek out a cash machine before hailing a black cab home.
And for the hard-up cabbies there is an added option to add a little extra on to the fare.
The chip and pin machines have already been installed in taxis in Aberdeen, London and Liverpool and are already said to be popular among customers.
New system big hit with passengers
The company’s chip and pin system was initially introduced as a trial last year and proved such a hit with customers the system was rolled out nationally within a couple of months.
John Cumming, general manager of ComCab, said: “The company has always tried to stay at the forefront of new technology and this is just one more way of staying ahead of the competition.
“It will be to the benefit of all customers, but particularly female passengers because they won’t have to go looking for a cash machine.
“The drivers don’t look for tips, it’s just a gesture that some customers make.”
Central Taxis, another Edinburgh cab company, are currently assessing the system and have installed the machines in 10 of their taxis.
Mr Cumming added: “We have now got around 70 per cent of our fleet with the machines in and the customers just love it. I’ve actually had a quite a few e-mails from passengers who have been caught short cash-wise, and find the system very helpful.
“We are the first taxi company in Britain to introduce the facility and are already seeing an upturn in personal and business clients.
“It’s such an easy idea we should have thought of it sooner, but we were waiting on the technology becoming easier to handle.”
Lone travellers safer
As well as making the journey home safer for women and easier for businessmen caught short, the new payment method will also make the taxi drivers’ job much safer because they will be carrying less cash around with them.
Mr Cumming also revealed the new facility is proving so popular with his drivers that those who are still waiting on their machines being fitted are the only ones complaining.
Murray Fleming, Central Taxis’ Company Secretary, is also enthusiastic about the new, way to pay cab fares.
He said: “We have got an initial trial ongoing and it is proving very successful with both passengers and drivers.
“The taxis involved are already showing a significant increase in trade and I believe in a couple of years every taxi in the country will operate this way.
“People are using credit more and more these days, so it makes sense to adapt the business that way to cater for the changes.”
Last month, it was revealed that taxis are to install CCTV cameras in a bid to make drivers and passengers feel safer.
A report on the controversial move is being considered by various Scottish council authorities.
Mr Fleming added: “As a company it makes sense to install CCTV, not just for the passenger’s safety but also for our drivers who work late at nights.
“These technological changes are all about making the customer’s journey a better and safer experience.”
Earlier this year, Edinburgh council chiefs also announced measures that all private hire firms will be banned from picking up passengers in the street.
The move to tighten up on taxi safety comes after a number of alleged sexual assaults in the city involving bogus mini-cab drivers.