CHANGES need to be made to the way taxis are run in the city, drivers have said.
Portsmouth City Council has produced a report to help improve the taxi service in the city looking at things such as the standard of English and knowledge of the Highway Code.
And taxi drivers across the area have backed the plans.
Hackney carriage driver Chris Dixon said: ‘The proposals review the current policy guidelines.
‘The standard of English is important. They need to have a good comprehension of what people are saying.
‘I’m not sure that they are tested. With the Highway Code there are some alarming figures.
‘The council’s report says that in 70.6 per cent of collisions in Portsmouth the taxi driver is to blame.
‘That’s quite scary and that needs to be improved.
‘And with driver disability awareness training, we would embrace that.
‘If someone has a disability and they were trying to get into your car, you would need to know how to help them.’
One taxi driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘It’s about making sure that drivers can speak English, that they know where they are going and that they have wheelchair accessible vehicles, that sort of thing.
‘Most taxi drivers in Portsmouth are decent, genuine people.
‘Most of them are fine but some of them don’t know the job. The council is undertaking a taxi review.
‘Some of the taxi drivers haven’t got a clue. They stop on zig-zag lines. They probably don’t know. It’s something that needs to be addressed.
‘This isn’t just unique to Portsmouth. This happens up and down the country. There are too many vehicles doing too little work.’
Speaking on The News Facebook page, Tony Finn-Ford said: ‘I got a black cab once from outside the old cinema in North End and told him I wanted to go to the Gosport ferry.
‘To my amazement he went through Stamshaw and got on the M27, I asked him where he was taking me, to which he said Gosport ferry.
‘I pointed out to him that if I wanted to go to the ferry Gosport side it would be called the Portsmouth ferry.
‘He came off the M27 at Port Solent, back on it and then drove to the Gosport ferry, where he proceeded to charge me for the entire journey.’
Nickii Humphreys, the council’s licensing manager said: ‘The last full review into Hackney carriage and private hire licenses was 2001, and we want to find how we can make improvements.
‘This review benefits both those working in the industry and their customers. We hope to have a draft policy by April and we will consult a range of groups to find out their comments.’
The original plans would have seen the cost of a hackney carriage vehicle licence next year rising from £196 to £303.
But a compromise was reached ensuring increases will continue to come in gradually over five years.
What passengers say
Colin Gatwood of Chatsworth Avenue, Cosham
‘There have been a few times I have been asked to direct a taxi driver to somewhere.
‘I would like to see a bit more knowledge on the local area rather than just handing out licences to them.
‘I think there should be more testing rather than being like “Oh you want to be a taxi driver? Here you go” such as local knowledge around the area.’
Kelly Edwards, 24 of Eastney
‘Some taxi drivers are absolutely lovely, just before Christmas we had a gentleman drive us home and he was so polite and lovely.
‘He even spoke to my children as well which was quite nice when the kids aren’t having to be occupied by themselves.
‘I do think the standard of driving from taxi drivers is lacking, the quality of driving especially speeding and manners as well, it doesn’t take much to have a nice little conversation in the morning.’
Ben Osso, 24 of Hayling Island
‘I think stricter laws on who can drive needs to be improved as a lot of the time I have been cut up numerous times by taxi drivers.
‘They just pull out when they want and they park where they want, I think it is a bit of a joke really.
‘I understand they’re trying to make a living but if it’s a public service and you are carrying, for instance, a pregnant woman or children you can’t be flying around like a mad man.
‘It’s other people’s lives you are responsible for not just your own.’
Reaction on our Facebook page
Matthew Ainsworth: ‘A decent and proper knowledge test, and an ability to talk clear English and understand customers will go a long way to giving the public the taxi drivers they deserve, rather than playing Russian roulette every time they phone hoping they get a decent driver!’
Scott Jenkins: ‘They need to learn to respect other road users, the Highway Code and the law!’
Paul Chambers: ‘In Bradford the council have said all taxi drivers must speak English.’
Sal Fangtastic: ‘I’m fed up with getting a taxi and having to know the route to my location so I can direct the driver as they never seem to know lately.’
Ric Spencer: ‘Portsmouth taxis are great, plenty of cars and as cheap as buses.’
Kevin Oshea: ‘Maybe they should learn how to indicate! It drives me mad that they just turn as and when they want with absolutely no warning.’
Matt Troke: ‘I was with an English driver the other day and he was doing 50mph through North End!’
Andy Smith: There should be a code of conduct or set of standards. Too many don’t appreciate other drivers or road users. Way too many cabs in Pompey.’