With the festive celebrations underway, Bolton Council has partnered with the hackney carriage and private hire trade to issue a dozen reminders for anyone taking a taxi over Christmas and New Year.
Everyone has the right to feel safe when travelling home from a night out, but passengers are also being reminded of their responsibilities when travelling.
Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Environmental Regulatory Services, Cllr Anne Galloway, said: “This is a busy time of year for the town centre, with increased demand on our private hire and hackney carriage trade.
“We work closely with our partners in the trade to emphasise their duty of care to the public and ensure they meet the highest professional standards.
“Unfortunately, at this time of year there is a small minority who compromise the safety of drivers and fellow passengers with unacceptable and abusive behaviour.
“We are clear that there will be serious consequences for anyone who breaks the rules.”
Charles Oakes from Bolton Hackney Drivers Association said: “Hackney carriage operators are professional drivers and we are committed to looking after our customers.
“But we must also look out for safety of our members which is why we would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the rules and regulations when using one of our vehicles.
“We wish everyone an enjoyable festive period.”
A spokesperson for the Bolton Private Hire Association said: “During this busy period, members of the public should be reassured that our drivers are safe, trained and fully licensed.
“Whether a private hire or hackney carriage, we would like members of the public to cooperate with our drivers.
“We know that the vast majority of passengers we carry are respectful and responsible and we look forward to helping you get home safely this Christmas.”
One: Marshals are here to help
A taxi marshal scheme will operate at the taxi rank on Bradshawgate on Friday and Saturday evenings, from 11pm until 3am, until the New Year.
Marshalling schemes have proven to be effective in helping vulnerable people, reducing illegal ‘pick-ups’, controlling taxi queues and reducing anti-social behaviour.
Two: No Excuse for Abuse
Passengers who use anti-social behaviour towards drivers this party season will be reported to the police.Stickers are placed prominently in all vehicles with the slogan ‘No Excuse for Abuse’.
Nearly 400 drivers have already passed the “Trust2 Ride” training, with the rest set to qualify in 2020.
The course equips drivers with the necessary tools to respond when they suspect a passenger may be vulnerable or at risk. Look out for the “Trust to Ride” accreditation stickers.
Four: Look out for livery
Know what to look for when booking or hailing a vehicle. Private hire vehicles licensed by Bolton Council should display front and rear plates, back door signs and internal driver information. Hackney carriage vehicles should display a rear plate.
Make sure the information on the badges matches the vehicle registration.
Five: Support local drivers
Since 2015, taxi drivers have been able to obtain a licence in one area of the country, but then work in another.
While passengers can be assured that drivers licensed in Bolton have been subject to strict checks, there is no way for the council to monitor or hold these ‘out of town’ drivers to account.
By choosing a local driver, you’re supporting local business. Look out for Bolton livery and accreditation to ensure you are traveling with a local driver.
Six: Help keep our taxis clean
Private hire and hackney carriages are for use by everyone. Please keep them clean and safe by refraining from eating, drinking, smoking or vaping whilst travelling.
Seven: Be prepared to pay upfront
Over the busy Christmas period, drivers may ask you to pay for your journey upfront. This is normal practice and drivers are legally entitled to request it.
Eight: Get Home Safe #GHS
Organised by the Best Bar None initiative, the Get Home Safe scheme aims to raise awareness of the rules around private hire vehicles and prevent the use of unlicensed vehicles.
Private hire vehicles must be booked in advance of pick-up, have a licence plate on the front and back of their vehicle, a sign on the back door, display internal stickers and the driver must wear their private hire driver’s badge where it can be clearly seen.
Nine: Know the difference
Only hackney carriages (traditional style taxis) can be “hailed” in the street. Available vehicles will have a lit sign. Look out for a white plate with the vehicle licence number displayed on the rear of the vehicle.
Private Hire Vehicle (saloon type cars and up to 8 seater minibuses) can only booked 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.
Ten: Snap a photo
When taking a taxi home, consider taking a photo of the driver’s details and licence to message to a friend or family member.
Genuine drivers will understand the reasoning behind this.
Eleven: Spot checks
Over the Christmas period, Bolton Council officers will be carrying out a number of vehicle spot checks. These are essential to ensure the safety of the public.
If you are a passenger in a vehicle when it is stopped, please be patient. If officers need to suspend the vehicle, an alternative will be found for you.
Twelve: Report anything suspicious
If you see anything suspicious, report it to council licensing at email@example.com, Greater Manchester Police on 101 (non-emergency) or 999 (emergency).