What made you become a taxi driver in the first place?
Primarily the freedom to explore London and work the flexible hours around my lifestyle.
How long did the knowledge take to complete and what did the tests involve?
The knowledge took me 13 months, but it helped that I was driving my Vespa around London on a daily basis during that time. To become a taxi driver you are given a blue book by the public carriage office which consists of roughly 465 runs. I drove 6 runs a day and had my Mum test me on my knowledge of each one every day.
What are the benefits of the job?
Driving a London taxi means I can drive in bus lanes, get to see all parts of London and truly get to know the city. You learn something new about the city every day.
Do you have a CCTV camera installed?
Yes I do – I like the camera, it is very effective and serves for the security of myself and my passengers; especially with all the cyclists on the road. If any of them drive into you and claim you hit them, you don’t even have to start an argument, you just say “ok fine, but you’re on camera”
As a female cab driver you might get the occasional comment like:
“Do you want to join me in the back and I’ll increase your money?”
Have you had any awkward experiences before the camera where people were disrespectful?
Nothing that was too difficult to deal with. As a female cab driver you might get the occasional comment like “Do you want to join me in the back and I’ll increase your money?” Or people asking me up to their hotel. I’ve had some abusive and rude guys in my taxi, sexually explicit remarks are not uncommon. Luckily I can just point to my camera now.
Who has it easier in this trade, men or women? And why?
I think women taxi drivers have less stress than the guys. For instance, my brother is also a cab driver and I know of the abuse he can encounter…
The first initial approach to my window tells it all – everyone is a lot less aggressive than they probably would be to a male driver. And you know what they say, “it’s all about the first 15 seconds”.
How did minicab services like Uber affect your profession?
It’s no longer quite the same. I reckon my wages got cut down by about 40%. The day to day itself did not change, but my earning has. I don’t like the fact TFL now allows nearly anybody who can drive to become an Uber driver, whereas I went through lots of training organised by them. TFL completely ignored the whole trade which makes everything a bit uncertain.