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Taxi Driver Survey 2013

In March 2013, insureTAXI decided to conduct a Taxi Driver Survey. Below are the results.

The survey was in 2 parts.

Part 1 was to collect and share some meaningful taxi driver data. Vehicle types. Rent or own? Shift patterns. Average fares. Cost of fuel.

Part 2 was for FUN! For example, funniest/strangest thing you have seen in the back of your cab! Most frequent question you are asked!

Below are the results from the 2013 Taxi Driver survey! Thank-you to the 220 drivers that completed the survey, you have been entered into our prize draw which will take place shortly.


Part 1 Results – This section is all about taxi drivers thoughts on the current trading environment

The first question  was “Do you drive a public hire or private hire vehicle?”

Do you drive a public or private hire vehicle

You can see from the results that 62% of the respondents were private hire drivers while 38% were public hire drivers

The second question was “What type of vehicle do you drive?”

What type of vehicle do you drive

Given that more respondents were private hire drivers, it is no surprise that “Saloons” came out highest with 55%, followed by MPV at 23%, Minibus at 12% and Black Cab at 10%

The third question was “How many miles do you drive per year?”

How many miles do you drive a year

This was an interesting, but not unexpected response.

32% of drivers do over 30,000 miles per year and this is supported by our own insurance policies data where drivers have to declare their annual mileage.

The bulk of the other responses are between the 15,000 and 25,000 miles per year.

The 4th question asked “How long have you been a taxi driver?”

How long have you been a txi driver

Nearly 39% of respondents have been a taxi driver for over 10 years.

85% in total have been taxi drivers for over 2 years which shows that most surveyed are long standing taxi drivers.

5th question “Do you rent or own your vehicle?”

Do you rent or own your vehicle

Given the recent UK trend to rent/lease vehicles in recent years, especially if special offers are attractive, insureTAXI were surprised at the very high percentage of vehicle owners at 93%.

6th question “Do you work similar shift patterns each week?”

Do you work regular shifts each week

83% of taxi drivers work similar shift patterns each week. This is not surprising, as there will be regular contracts included in these results, as well as lifestyle choices (e.g. picking up kids from school).

Some people will prefer to work days and some will prefer to work evenings/nights – and get body clocks adjusted on a longer term basis.

7th question was “How many hours do you work each week?”

How many hours do you work each week

We at insureTAXI know that taxi drivers are very hard working – we speak to you every day – and this result proves just how hard you work.

11% work more than 60 hours per week.

20% work 50-60 hours per week.

41% work 40-50 hours per week.

We would imagine the lower hours results might well be part time drivers.

Well done all, hats off to you.

8th question – “Which shift time is closest to the one that you work?”

Which shift time is the closest to your own

This was an interesting question.

9am-5pm = 29%

12pm-8pm = 9%

6pm-2am = 35%

7am-3pm = 26%

So the late night shift is most popular, closely followed by the “day shift” of 9am-5pm and then early morning shift.

9th question “Are there any issues that affect your choice of shifts?”

Are there any issues that affect your shift choice

The vast majority of respondents state that it is personal preference when it comes down to choice of shifts. This correlates with a later question in this survey where it is clear that a main advantage of being a taxi driver is being your own boss and choosing when to work.

10th question – “How many fares would you expect to do in a week?”

A wide ranging response to this one! Lowest was 12 fares in a week and the highest was 250 fares in a week. The average number, which is perhaps a truer representation of the data, was 60 fares a week. So about 10 fares a day assuming one day off per week.

11th question – “Do you own vehicle outright?”

Do you...

Whilst the vast majority of people own their cars, 31% are still repaying a loan rather than owning outright with no finance outstanding.

12th question – “If you have car loan/finance repayments, how much do you pay each month?”

If you make repayments how much do they cost

We were surprised at the largest percentage being over £400 per month, meaning a lot of fares are required to cover this, insurance and fuel!

It should be noted that this questions results might be slightly skewed if fleet owners have put down total car repayments (rather than one vehicle)

13th question “Estimated monthly cost of fuel?”

Average monthly fuel cost

26% of respondents state they pay £300-400 per month on fuel, and 20% pay more than £500.

Unsurprisingly, 80% pay at least £200 and up to over £500 per month.

14th Question “Annual cost of vehicle insurance?”

Annual insurance cost

As a taxi insurance broker, we were interested to see the answer to this question and if it correlated to the figures we are experiencing here at insureTAXI.

We’re pleased to report that the figures in the survey match the reality. Our average premium is around the £1,500 mark.

Generally (please note that EVERY case is different), you get lower rates in more rural areas (especially if over 25, experienced driver and high NCB) and higher rates in larger cities (particularly if you are young or inexperienced taxi driver).

Having probably the largest panel of underwriters and specialist schemes, we usually find that we obtain the best rates against any of our competition regardless of driver location and circumstances.

15th question – “How do you get insurance quotes?”

How do you get insurance costs

This is certainly in line with that we experience at insureTAXI. Many of our new customer quotations come from our website – either a form submitted asking for a quote, or a phone call to our dedicated website hotline number.

We do also advertise in taxi magazines and get many phone calls this way.

What is nice is that we have seen a really big increase in customer recommendations in recent years. So taxi drivers that are insured with ourselves telling their friends that they should try us – and given we pay £25 for recommend a friend to each person, it makes even more sense.

Q16 – “Annual cost of servicing your taxi?”

Annual insurance cost

A large percentage of you said that it costs over £500 a year to keep your car on the road. Add in fuel costs & insurance, plus any car repayments, and it really adds up!

Taking very rough averages – £500 servicing, £4,800 fuel, £1,500 insurance means £6,800 to stay on the road for a year. That’s before any car loan repayments…

Q17 – “Monthly radio or depot fee (if applicable)”

Monthly depot fee

Approx 3/4 of respondents had a monthly radio or depot fee. 61% pay more than £150 per month.

Q18 – “In the last 12 months, have fares increased or decreased?”

Have fare numbers increased or decreased

55% of you say fares have decreased, whilst 34% say they have stayed the same.

Only 11% of you think fares have increased

Q19 “In relation to the fares, why do you think this is?”

Here are a selection of responses: we’ll start with the responses of drivers that say that fares are declining

“More people staying at home on an evening instead of going out socializing”

“Money is tight 4 everyone”

“Smoking law and unemployment.”

“Too many competitors”

“Recession and utility bills too expensive leaving people with less cash”

“More people becoming taxi drivers”

“More customers using social networking to keep in touch. Less disposable income for socializing / activities”

“Customers not spending as much cos double dip recession”

So we can see a recurring theme here. Customers spending less on taxi’s because of the economic climate, and more people becoming taxi drivers so there is more competition for fares

Of those that said their fares were increasing, it seems this is down to customer service / loyal customers.

“Customers happy and word of mouth”

“Because i have good customer service”

“I charge cheaper fares! People remember me and I’m in demand”

“I have added bookings to plying for hire, and got recommended by satisfied customers”

Q20 – “Estimated Average Fare”

Average fare

Opinion is split between £0-£5 and £5-10.

20% think their average fare is more than £10.

Q21 – “Average wait between fares”

Average wait times

The largest percentage of 37% state more than 30 minutes wait per fare. 25% say between 20-30 minutes

Q22 – “Average weekly earnings as a taxi driver?”

Estimated weekly incomes

Quite a wide range of responses to this question.

£300-400 and £400-500 were the 2 most popular answers.

Looking at an annual salary, these 2 responses range from £15,600 per annum to £26,000 per annum.

Part 2 Results – The FUN part! This section discusses most discussed topics in the taxi and taxi drivers funniest stories!

We asked what the most frequent conversation topic was asked by taxi driver passengers

Most popular conversation topic

74% of you plumped for the famous “Have you been busy?”

Next most popular passenger question is discussing the weather (45%) closely followed by asking “What time do you finish?” (39%)

Other themes include politics, family, hobbies and asking how the taxi business is…

What is the strangest / funniest thing you have seen as a taxi driver?

Lots of great stories here, too many for us to print (and some too rude for us to publish!). Here are some of the best ones…

“Businessman getting to the airport in his fine suit and tie to find he still had his fluffy slippers on”

“When customers are drunk and you say something good to please them they think the world of you and don’t want to leave you and they wanna keep paying their fare over and over again”

“People dressing up e.g. at Halloween. have carried a Hobbit, a zombie and a giraffe !”

“Someone trying to get in to my taxi with stolen goods like nothing had happened – despite having just robbed somewhere”

“£50 fare just to take lad to his car and back to collect his car charger, or. Women so drunk the place I take her to as requested is the place she sold and moved from 3 years previous and she can’t remember her current  address.. Problem LOL!”

“Funniest incident occurred I was waiting for in taxi que when customer gets in car & asks me to take him to Aberdeen I asked customer are u sure he said yes so I told him how much it’s going to cost him he replied that’s fine,so I asked customer you have to pay up front before we commence journey he replied that’s fine,customer paid his fare to Aberdeen so I started my journey to Aberdeen customer fell asleep in taxi when I get to Aberdeen I woke up the customer & he asks me where are we so I told him we are in Aberdeen he replied oh my God what we we doing here in Aberdeen,I replied cos u asked me to take u to Aberdeen so he put both his hands on his head & started panicking. I asked him what’s the problem he replied I wanted to be in hotel in Leeds with rest of his mates music group band,so I asked him why have u brought me to Aberdeen he replied cos I was drunk & lovesick that’s why I brought u here in Aberdeen so now can u take me back to Leeds hotel where rest his mates were staying,so I brought him back to Leeds,I couldn’t stop laughing customer joined in too I made my way back to Leeds it was long drive customer looked after me the end!”

“A fat ugly drunk women fell asleep and when I got her to her house and woke her up, I think she thought I was her husband because she tried to smack the lips on me until she opened her eyes and realized she was in a taxi. Awkward.”

“Heavily pregnant woman nearly giving birth in my car”

“I had to put a young drunk lad to bed in a hotel one night, his mate’s had paid upfront for the journey, when i arrived at the hotel, there was one female receptionist on duty, no way could i have left her to deal with him, so between us we walked him to his room took of his shoes and rolled him on the bed”

“Collecting guests for a wedding and ending up being asked to be the photographer”

“When I picked up 2 guys dressed as woman (been to fancy dress) and two blokes wanted to share the taxi and they tried to chat the fancy dress guys up”

“Had budgie in a cage once in the back, told customer to keep hold of it but they didn’t and I broke hard for a car that pulled in front of me. The cage went flying, the door flew open and the bird was out flying round my car with her daughter screaming her head off! Customer had to try climb in back and catch it”

“Two couples sitting in the back of taxi, one wife said to the other wife ” I just have to look at a cream cake and I put 2lb on” The other wife said ” well I can eat what I want and I don’t put an ounce on”. Then her husband said that’s right honey but you weigh 26 stone. I nearly crashed laughing!

“Getting an MP to a TV broadcast 9 mins before he was live on air with Paxton on Newsnight!”

“Taking a blind couple (one on each arm) (both drunk) to an address they were not invited to. They were expecting a family get together, but this was a swingers party. They were welcomed in. I don’t know what happened after I left. They probably enjoyed themselves.”

“Had four student’s in car the fare was four pound’s one of them said to me how much is that each? mmmmmmmmmmm”

“Forgetting the passenger in the back and driving them home to my house – only realised when I was on my driveway!”

“April Fool,woman told me she had killed her husband and wanted to go to the police station. In fact she was picking up lost property.I hadn’t realised it was April 1st!”

“When I had a London cab, a pink rinse lady came up to me and asked me if I was a taxi? I replied “No I’m the QE2, I’ve just berthed in and I’m sailing on the next tide, did you want to go on a cruise?” She replied with a laugh and said “A very good answer to a stupid question…. Can you take me to Southampton Docks where I’m on a liner” I obliged and received a large tip from a very very nice lady who appreciated a keen sense of humour…. The tip was bigger than the fare….!”

“Newlyweds arguing and bride asking to be dropped off at parents as she did not want to go home with husband”

“Another driver telling me he forgot his passenger left his 2 dogs in the boot of the car. He had driven for about 2 hours after he dropped the passenger off. The passenger forgot about his dogs and so did the driver”

“A man getting in on a Friday night asking to go to town. Notice he was getting changed then when we got to town he got out looking like a chick”

“One night a customer left her shopping as proof that she would return and pay. After 10-15 minutes of waiting she hadn’t come back, so I checked her shopping bags. They were full of rubbish.”

“Back in the 80s I was asked to take a male and a female, dressed in Gothic fashion to the local Crematorium late at Night. I said, hesitantly, “what actually inside the grounds?!” “I mean I’m sorry to ask but why do want to go there this late at night?” ..”Oh it’s alright” the female said, noting my worried look and nervous voice…”we’re going to a Party!”…Well, I looked even more horrified..”what in a Crematorium!”…”it’s OK” she said “I’m Alf, you ever heard of a group called Yazoo”…”no”, says I…”yes, we’ve been in Timepiece having a laugh and I’ve been invited to a friend’s Party..they live in a house inside the grounds of the Crematorium”…hesitantly I drove into the grounds of the Crematorium, shaking, fearing I was going to face some ritualistic ceremony…it was getting darker and darker until suddenly I saw the lights of a House and breathed a great sigh of relief. Alf, whose identity was a complete mystery, paid the fare, and wrote “thank you for a great ride, love Alf” in my notebook. Later, I spoke to a younger Taxi Driver and said “have you heard of a group called Yazoo” …”yes, why did you have them in your taxi..where did you take them? I replied “They wanted to go to a Party at the Crematorium!”


The BEST part of being a taxi driver

Best part of being a taxi driver

The WORST part of being a taxi driver

Worst part of being a taxi driver

We hope you found this 2013 taxi driver survey both informative and interesting. We’ll be back with another survey in 2014 to see if opinions has changed.

Many thanks to all those that completed the survey.