Taxi drivers in Brighton will have to accept cashless payments following rule change

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All licensed hackney taxi drivers in Brighton will be required to accept cashless payments from passengers after councillors approved a rule change yesterday (Thursday, February 17).

The new rule means drivers must carry card readers in their cabs and cannot refuse to carry customers who want to pay by card or smartphone rather than cash. The new rule comes into force on Sunday, May 1.

The move affects only hackney drivers as the councillors accepted that all private hire operators in the town were already able to accept cashless bookings.

A report to the council’s licensing committee said: “It has been reported to officers that it is common for passengers to be turned away from ranks for wishing to pay by card and having to try several vehicles before being able to find a driver willing to take a card payment.”

“This could be seen as a public safety issue especially for vulnerable passengers unable to obtain a taxi ride home and putting them at risk especially at night. It is also alleged that refusing a payment card is a way to ‘cherry pick’ by refusing short journeys.”

“Covid-19 has accelerated the use of card payments during the pandemic as a protection measure against the disease and even fever passengers now carry cash since this matter was last considered by members.”

“This does not appear to be an issue with private hire who use payment apps or are linked to operators that can take card payments.”

The move has the support of Brighton and Hove Cab Trade Association members, with the majority backing the change. However, some drivers objected to being forced to take payments by card or phone, claiming poor or non-existent phone and wifi coverage in parts of Brighton made it difficult. Others objected to the cost of the transactions, with drivers worried about having to pay hundreds of pounds a year in charges.