A taxi marshal scheme to help town centre revellers get home safely over the busy festive period is being trialled in Bolton.
Bolton Council has teamed up with Exclusec Security Solutions, who will provide four marshals at the taxi rank on Bradshawgate.
They will operate every Friday and Saturday evening, from 11pm until 5am, until the New Year.
Marshalling schemes in other towns have proven to be effective in helping vulnerable people, reducing illegal ‘pick-ups’, controlling taxi queues and reducing anti-social behaviour.
The council will review the success of the scheme in the New Year.
Councillor Nick Peel, Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said: “People in Bolton will be using taxis at Christmas more than at any other time of the year and we want to make sure that they use them safely.
“The marshals will be there to give help, information and reassurance to members of the public at the end of their evening.
“We would also urge people to be safe when they are out this Christmas. Always use a licensed taxi, and remember only hackney cabs can pick up fares on the street.
“Private hire vehicles are only allowed to pick people who have pre-booked. Drivers who ply for hire could be in breach of their insurance, which means passengers would not be covered in the event of an accident.
“Any drivers caught picking up passengers illegally could face a steep penalty, fine or even lose their taxi licence.”
The council has previously secured fines of up to £880 and up to 8 penalty points for drivers who were caught accepting passengers who had not made a private hire booking.
Exclusec Managing Director, James Bancroft, said: “We are delighted to be able to work with Bolton Council and provide support to the public during this busy Christmas period.
“There are many extra people coming into town over this period, and of course, they like to go out and have a good time. Our marshals will be able to make sure that people get home safely after a night out celebrating.”
Tips to help passengers stay safe:-
• Only ‘hail’ Hackney Carriage Vehicles (London style traditional taxis). You should only approach a hackney carriage vehicle which has a lit sign and has a white plate with the vehicle licence number displayed on the rear of the vehicle.
• Only book a Private Hire Vehicle (saloon type cars and up to 8 seater minibuses) through an operator (booking office/base) – do not try to ‘hail’ a private hire vehicle as you may not be insured in the event of an accident. These vehicles must have a yellow plate on the front and back of the vehicle with the licence number on. They must also have the operator name and number displayed on the front doors.
• Make sure you give your full name to the operator and the number of passengers so they can record full details as required by law.
• Contact the Licensing Team if you are contacted after the journey by the operator or driver, or if you have any concerns about a journey or driver. You can report any behaviour by a driver which you think is unacceptable. They can be contacted on 01204 336584 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Ensure the drivers badge is on show before you enter a private hire or hackney carriage vehicle – this should always be visible by law – if not ask them to show it to you.
• Make a note (take a photograph if you have a phone) of the licence number of the vehicle as you enter it in case you need to contact the Licensing team about the driver or vehicle.
• Make sure you wear your seatbelt for your own safety.
• Check the price of the journey before you get in – prices may increase over the Christmas period, especially on bank holidays.
• Please do not drink alcohol in a private hire or hackney carriage vehicle – this is for your own safety, the driver’s safety and for the safety of other passengers. Drivers have been instructed to refuse to carry passengers that have alcohol in open containers.
• Do not get into a private hire vehicle unless you have booked through the operator – ask them who the vehicle is booked for and make sure the correct name before you get in the vehicle. Do not give them your name first.
• For your own safety, do not get into a vehicle which does not have the licence plate on display. The yellow or white licence plates displayed on the vehicle show that the vehicle has been tested at an approved garage within the last 6 to 12 months and was roadworthy at the time of test.
• Also for your safety, do not get into a vehicle with a driver who does not have a badge visible. These badges are your proof that the driver has undergone a criminal record check and rigorous medical before being issued with a licence.