LT&PH PRESS RELEASE
Golden Fares Launched on Busiest Party Night
A RADICAL new taxi service is to be launched tonight (fri 17/12/10), one of the busiest party nights of the year, to provide West End revellers with a safe way of getting home.
The Golden Fares scheme is designed to give visitors to central London an accessible, easy to use and safe way of travelling home late at night and into the early hours on Fridays and Saturdays, and encourage revellers not to be tempted by touts in the knowledge they can get a trustworthy licensed taxi at a fixed price when they most need it.
Operating from Leicester Square from 10pm-4am both Friday and Saturday nights, passengers will be pay a fixed price up front to travel to four zones stretching as far as from Redbridge to Richmond and Croydon to Copthall, with the most expensive fare being £50, and the cheapest £20.
The scheme has been developed by Westminster Council, Transport for London and representatives from the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, Unite, the London Cab Drivers Club and Heart of London Business Alliance.
Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr Lee Rowley, said: “This will be a boon to revellers this Christmas, especially those living in outer boroughs. We want people to come to the West End and have a great time, but we also want them to get home safely and not be tempted by touts who pose a real risk to their safety.”
Westminster council’s city commissioner of transportation, Martin Low, who came up with the concept of the Golden Fares scheme whilst taking part in a phone in on the LBC radio’s James Whale show, said:
“We all know how difficult it can be to get a taxi in the early hours, but it struck me whilst taking calls from cabbies that what was needed was some extra incentive to encourage them, as well as ensuring a good deal for the passengers.
“Golden fares offers customers certainty about what they are going to pay and the taxi driver gets the fare up front at the start of the journey with no risk of the passenger not paying. Also, many cabbies do live in many of the outer boroughs, so it makes sense for them to be heading home with a fare paying passengers instead of driving empty. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
It has also been backed by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, whose Director Catherine Skinner, said: “Suzy Lamplugh Trust would encourage revellers visiting the West End over the festive period to either book a licensed minicab in advance to come and collect them or take full advantage of the Golden Fares Scheme and stay well clear of illegal minicabs touting for business on the streets.”
John Mason, Director of Taxi and Private Hire at Transport for London said: “TfL are delighted to have been involved in the introduction of this new, innovative scheme. It provides yet another alternative for the public to get home safely from the West End at night using licensed taxis.
“The pricing structure for the scheme provides both taxi drivers and the travelling public with a transparent and simple structure of set fares that we hope both will find attractive. We will monitor this trial closely and work with Westminster Council and the taxi trade to expand the scheme if it proves successful.”
Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association General Secretary Bob Oddy said: “This is the busiest time of the year and we want to do all we can to ensure people can find a taxi as quickly and easily as possible, and are not tempted to put their own safety at risk by using a tout. It’s a great deal for passengers, as a group of five people travelling to the same location can travel in safety and comfort to places as far as away as Croydon and Barnet for as little as a tenner each. I’m confident taxi drivers will embrace this scheme and if a success it could become a regular fixture this time of year.”
Passengers and taxi drivers are being asked to agree fixed fares for journeys made from the Golden Fares Taxi Rank located on the north side of Coventry Street at the tourist coach bus stop outside G Casinos by Wardour Street and Swiss Court.
Passengers tell the driver their destination postcode or the street name and the driver then inputs the information into an ipad which identifies which Golden Fares zone the address is in and the cost. Divided into four zones of three, seven, ten and twelve miles the fixed fees will be priced at £20, £30, £40 and £50 respectively.
Drivers are not obliged to participate in the scheme but only drivers willing to accept payment via the Golden Fares Scheme are permitted to use the identified rank. Visitors still be able to choose to hail a taxi in the street as normal if they so wish, which would be cheaper and more convenient for shorter journeys as the scheme is primarily aimed at those travelling home, particularly to the outer boroughs.
Businesses in Leicester Square and Piccadilly, represented by the Heart of London Business Alliance (HOLBA), also backed the scheme and provided the marshalling point.
Golden Fares will operate from 10pm to 4am Friday and Saturday nights for four weekends starting on Friday December 17th, but excludes the Friday and Saturday of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. LTDA will supply taxi marshalls during the trial, and the casino will also provide a place for drivers to use the facilities.
The Council has loaded special software on Apple ipads to calculate the fare, which is based upon the post code of the destination or a road name and the following fixed fares:
Up to 3 miles £20
Up to 7 miles £30
Up to 10 miles £40
Up to 12 miles £50