Last April, the council’s Licensing Committee moved quickly to agree a proposal to make contactless card payments mandatory across the city’s 1,426 fleet of Hackney carriages.
Every Hackney cabs licensed in Liverpool should now take contactless card payments, allowing travel across the city and beyond, safer and more convenient.
The move was made in order to bring Liverpool in-line with other major cities such as London, where cabs there are already fitted with payment facilities. It has also encouraged black cab owners to keep pace with private hire vehicles in the city, as many of them already accept card payments.
This means that in the modern era, people travelling around the city, particularly at night, do not have to worry that they don’t have enough cash on them to get home safely.
The city council consulted extensively with Liverpool’s Hackney owner/operators prior to any decision being taken. The drivers initially raised concerns about where the payment machines should be sited and it was decided that the card reader should be placed within a plastic partition between the passenger and driver.
Following the decision by the Licensing Committee, owners were then given a grace period to make the compulsory adjustments to their vehicles and have the payment machines installed.
That grace period ended this week, which means that all of the Hackney cabs must now have the ability to accept payments by card.
The move comes at a time when, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, contactless card payments have become the preferred method of paying for services and goods.
Hackney cabs are also fitted with plastic partitions to further protect both driver and passenger from infection transmission.
The improved safety and security of the Liverpool’s cabs also comes on the heels of news that the city has been recognised recently as the, ‘most accessible city in the country’, in terms of journeying by cab.
A recent survey by the website, Taxi2Airport.com, identified Liverpool as the city with the most wheelchair-accessible carriages per head of population. Every one of Liverpool’s black cabs are able to take wheelchairs this means that there are nearly 3 accessible cabs for every 1,000 residents of the city.
Chair of Liverpool City Council’s Licensing Committee, Cllr Christine Banks, said: “At a time when we are re-opening the city following lockdown, the full introduction of contactless payment will be a real boost to the cab trade in the city. The move will provide passengers with the reassurance they need that they are limiting contact and therefore reducing the risk of spreading the coronavirus. We hope, in turn, this will encourage more people to travel by cab and give the trade the support it needs for what has been a difficult period. All our cabs undergo inspection by the council on an annual basis and now should have the card payment machines fitted. Any that are found to be flouting this rule may face enforcement action. We would ask members of the public to ensure the cab has a payment machine before travelling and to inform us if it does not.”
Tommy McIntyre, who is Liverpool’s national taxi organiser for Unite, said: “Liverpool is a vibrant tourist attraction as well we having an international airport, railway stations and a major shopping centre, which are serviced by our cabs. Now all customers will now know if they wish too, they can pay by card. Tourists to the city and locals customers will know that any cab they hire from the street, a rank or radio system will take payment by card. This can only be a good thing and benefit the customers and our members alike. As we are still in the midst of COVID 19 and the chances of the disease spreading. It must be realised that all Liverpool cabs are purpose-built taxis and have a completely separate compartment for the customer away from the driver and the vehicle is sanitized after every journey. By our cabs having the facility of taking card payments will make it less likely to transmit the disease from person to person by limiting the use of cash.”
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Inclusive and Accessible City, Cllr Pam Thomas, said: “It’s fantastic news that our city has been recognised as the most accessible in the country in terms of travelling by cab. Our Licensing Team has worked closely with the trade to ensure that all wheelchair-users have the right and the ability to get around our city in the same way as everyone else. It’s part of our wider plan to make our city accessible for everyone and a great example of how we are all working together to improve the quality of life for everyone in Liverpool.”
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