Running a taxi requires repeated management of a lot of small issues. Of themselves, these tasks are not especially onerous, but they can be time-consuming. The increasing level of regulation – running to more than 100 pages of localised regulation in the Vale of White Horse district alone - and the time required to be off the road when things go wrong, can add significantly to the costs.
For as long as I have been in the taxi business, hackney carriages have had to pass what is called a compliance test. It is carried out locally at a number of council-nominated garage businesses, to a standard set by the council, which is higher than that required for the MoT test.
Dependent on the age of the hackney carriage, a compliance test has to be carried out up to three times a year - and there are even sometimes random vehicle checks.
These are reasonable requirements, given that we transport members of the public. A full-time taxi driver will have as many as one to 200 people every week in their taxi. And we can be on the road during the year for four times as many miles than the UK national average for a private vehicle.
Tyre pressure is checked manually and frequently when driving a taxi, especially before a long journey involving a motorway.
There is of course, no such thing as free of cost, but the charges for using compressed air machines vary between £1, at some branches of a national petrol filling station brand, and free of charge, at a national supermarket brand, which sadly does not have a branch in Abingdon.
Fifty pence is the norm, but a fare to Didcot Parkway last week meant I could use the free of charge air machine nearby.
However, there is a lot of pressure on parking space around the rail station, with people parking on the pavement outside disused derelict buildings and even in the petrol station itself, next to the air machine. So I stretched the air line over the selfishly parked vehicle and it snapped the valve of my tyre, instantly deflating it.
But many modern vehicles have devices such as the one which is inserted into the tyre, behind the air valve and interfaces with the dashboard, to control the tyre pressure warning light.
Instantly, I had lost £50 worth of work and was off the road for the rest of the morning.The repair man arrived on the scene and told me the news that the valve would cost £200 to replace – and it would have to be done to remain legal, because of the recent MOT changes, which require there to be no lit warning lights on the dashboard.
It is outrageous that a large motor manufacturer would put these completely pointless modern inventions into their vehicles, when a simple manual and readily available air pressure check would suffice.
As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday, 25 July 2018
- Vale of White Horse District Council, Joint Taxi Licensing Policy (PDF, 195.8 Kb), updated 26 February 2015, retrieved 24 July 2018
- Vale of White Horse District Council, Hackney carriage and private hire vehicle specification. (PDF, 41 Kb), 01 January 2013, retrieved 24 July 2018
- Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, MOT rule changes: 20 May 2018, retrieved 24 July 2018
- BBC News, Drivers' annual mileage rates drop to new low, 29 July 2014, retrieved 24 July 2018