Any seasoned PCO driver knows that not all fares are created equal, and even though taxi companies all charge their own set rate per mile, there are still ways to maximise the journeys you take. However, for newer drivers, there’s a lot of background maths to be done to calculate how best to make this happen. For example, you might think it would be easier to pick up one fare going a long way — say, a passenger going from one side of London to the other — and effectively act as a shuttle service. But unless you have the autonomy to adjust your fares accordingly, you will ultimately end up spending most of your income on petrol and congestion charge fares and likely struggle to break even. Similarly, you’ll have to take into account the revised congestion charge regulations, which now run seven days a week across an expanded area, at a flat daily rate of £15.
The real key to driving a cab in London is to be in the right place at the right time. And although rush hour and whenever the pubs let out is clearly the when of finding a good fare, working out where you need to be can be trickier. Some areas of the city are busier than others, and while that obviously makes it more likely to pick up a passenger, that also means you’ll face more competition with other drivers.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of the best parts of London in which to base yourself, and have the best chance of picking up a decent day’s fares.
Kings Cross St. Pancras
As one of Central London‘s busiest travel hubs, catering for national and international travelers, as well as five different London Underground lines, the twin stations of Kings Cross St. Pancras are something of a no brainer for PCO drivers looking for an easy fare. Although it can get competitive, there are several well-placed taxi ranks outside both stations, at most of the exits, and rocking up before rush hour during weekdays will have you perfectly placed for a busy day.
Other London stations which offer good fares: Liverpool Street, Euston, Waterloo, Paddington, Victoria
Heathrow is the world’s second busiest airport, so it’s no surprise that it’s popular with PCO drivers, to the extent that there is a dedicated waiting area for taxis before their bookings are confirmed, which will set you back £1 per hour. However, since the station lies relatively far outside of central London, you’ll be more likely to get a longer fare for your troubles, which should easily help you recoup any of the costs of waiting at the airport. The airport is at its busiest from 10am to 1pm, and between 5 and 8pm, though the latter time will also see you having to contend with peak rush hour traffic as you take your fares to their destination.
Other airports which offer good fares: Gatwick, London City Airport
Covering 100,000m², the legendary London department store is one of the largest in Europe, and welcomes around 300,000 shoppers a day at peak times. This gives PCO drivers ample opportunity to pick up customers from around the world, who will most likely be laden with armfuls of shopping to (put in your) boot. In fact, the main entrance of Harrods is so popular that it has its own taxi rank, giving you a handy place to wait for your next fare. There isn’t exactly a peak and off-peak time for shoppers, though Sundays are browse-only between 11am and noon, so you’ll be less likely to pick up a fare until at least the early afternoon in that case.
Other busy shopping areas: Selfridges, Soho, Camden