Driving a taxi requires a certain level of enthusiasm and an ability to satisfy customers. A taxi driver’s main task is to provide transportation to paying customers from one destination to another destination of their choosing. Handling baggage or some other type of cargo may be involved. Taxi drivers obtain new customers by responding to hand signals, by responding to dispatches, phone calls or computer messages from the actual cab company about new customers, and by frequenting areas with hotels, airports and other places most likely to have people in need of transportation.
Transporting passengers to and from various locations is the main responsibility of the taxi driver. It is important that this is done in a safe and timely manner. Drivers should also be friendly and courteous to clients as it is a part of good customer service and effects the client’s decision to leave a tip. Drivers need to be as helpful as possible to passengers.
Taxi drivers need to have thorough knowledge of the city and surrounding area. It is important to keep a map in the vehicle for reference. A navigational device is also useful, though it may be best not to have it installed on the dashboard for safety reasons, but kept nearby. A map or navigational device are especially helpful to drivers in larger cities and areas that are continuously changing and expanding.
The taxi cab is the responsibility of the driver. Before beginning work for the day the driver is supposed to check for any faults with the vehicle, such as a burnt out tail light. Fuel levels, brakes and various fluid levels also need to be checked. The inside and outside of the vehicle should be kept as clean and smell-free as possible. The vehicle should always be presentable.
After a brief vehicle inspection, the driver should begin filling out paperwork that logs the activity of the day. The paperwork needs to be updated with every new client. Basic information that is usually on these worksheets include client name, destination and total fare. All of the information needs to be accurate.
Training and Education
There are no special education requirements needed to become a taxi driver. Many cab companies want drivers to have at least an eight grade education, though a high school diploma is most preferred. Drivers must be at least 21 years of age, 25 years of age in some places, and have a clean driving record. If there are any previous traffic violations, there cannot have been any within the last three years.
Salary and Wages
Wages vary from state to state and from city to city. Drivers in larger cities and metropolitan areas earn more money than those in smaller areas. Wages are determined by hours worked, number of completed fares and tips. Most taxi drivers do not have a set work schedule and can work as many as six days a week and more than ten hours a day. Self-employed drivers have a bit more flexibility in their schedules.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Drivers who are more helpful, friendly and courteous typically get more tips. Depending on location, fares are either based on a taximeter, which is a meter that calculates the amount of money due to the driver based on distance and time, or a flat fee, which is determined by zoning in some areas. The taximeter is usually started once the passenger tells the driver what location to drive to and turned off after arrival. Extra fees can also be charged for extra passengers or baggage handling. In 2009, the average salary for a taxi driver is around $33,000. Most drivers can expect to earn between $20,000 and $30,000. That amount can change depending on whether or not a driver is employed by a cab company or is self-employed.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Drivers need a driver’s license at least, but some states require public transportation drivers to either have a chauffeur’s license, special taxicab operator’s license or both. Some states also require taxi drivers to have a commercial driver’s license with “endorsements” to carry passengers. These licenses need to be renewed every year to continue driving a cab.
The standard for training is set by the state government. Up to 80 hours of classroom instruction may be mandatory. Drivers will need to be able to pass tests with proficiency on motor vehicle laws, basic automotive repair, local geography and landmarks, and safe driving. Overall good vision and hearing, with or without corrective lenses or devices, is a must. In the United States, an ability to speak conversational English is required for drivers.
The most well-known professional association for taxicabs is Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association, also known as TLPA. It was established in 1917 and its membership includes 1,100 public transportation companies worldwide. TLPA provides information, education and other services, such as legislative resources, to its members to help them better serve customers and increase profits. The specific division for taxicabs has more than 500 members. Seminars, legislative representation, an opportunity to network with peers and more are offered by the Taxicab Division of TLPA.