Stella

Years in trade Fifteen

Most Notable Pick-ups Dame Judy Dench, John Sweeny, Noel Gallagher, John Taylor, Joe Cole, Ian Collins

"Sometimes you get people who say: I’ve never gotten in a cab with a woman before!"

What made you become a taxi driver in the first place?

The flexibility and freedom to come and go as I please. My children were still at school so I was able to work split shifts and to do the school runs.

What comments do you get for being a woman from people who jump in?

Some say “you’re a woman!” with surprise. Sometimes you get people who say “I’ve never gotten in a cab with a woman before.”

Why do you think there is such a lack of women in the trade? Only 2% of all registered London cab drivers are female…

I’m surprised, I’ve noticed more women out there nowadays.

The taxi trade around the world is generally male dominated so the percentage would be low.  We are the best trained drivers, we know other routes when roads are closed off, others do not have this knowledge.

The job is changing rapidly, more hours need to be worked. The competition is fierce and the traffic has increased due to cycle lanes, road works etc. I am thinking of diversifying, retraining for another occupation. It’s becoming extremely difficult to make a sustainable living and I believe the situation will not improve. There will become even less women “black cab” drivers as time goes by.

There will become even less women “black cab” drivers as time goes by.

Have you had any crazy experiences before cameras were installed where people were disrespectful or physically threatening?

On several occasions I have had reason to stop the cab and ask passengers to leave, this is generally because they are causing problems, being abusive when questioning the route, cost etc. Since Uber have come along there have been less drunks so at least taxis are left with the better clientele, although there are plenty of drunks in “suits”!

Stella

How did minicab services like Uber affect your profession?

It’s questionable whether the checks are as thorough as ours. Anyone with a Sat Nav can become an Uber driver!

You notice most people just want a cheap ride home, they’re not bothered who is driving them, whether the driver is insured. I have to renew my taxi licence every 3 years which takes a few months to be issued. PH licences are being issued at a rapid rate, how can this be so when ours takes so long? It’s questionable whether the checks are as thorough as ours. Anyone with a Sat Nav can become an Uber driver!

I believe they’re working extremely long hours, having to pay Uber a minimum of 20%, so they cannot be earning a great amount. I’ve never worked for them and never would. Uber are forcing the taxi trade out business.