The rules of taxi rank etiquette are simples

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I am a big fan of Preston bus station and during the day the Tithebarn rank outside the St John’s Centre is the main one apart from maybe the train station.

It’s the hub of Preston and here people get their first impressions of our metropolis. The other day my colleague was number four on the rank when an elderly couple got in his cab and explained their destination.

My colleague intimated they should be travelling in the front cab as that is the unwritten rule number one of taxi law. The couple protested, saying they wished to travel in his cab, not any other, and in fact wanted my colleague to commence the journey.

Now this is where most of us taxi drivers use commonsense.

If we feel it’s the right thing to do in the situation, we exercise our discretionary powers. My colleague explained the delicacy of the situation, bearing in mind a posse of fellow drivers were now out of their cabs craning their necks like a bunch of meerkats. As this situation was developing the customers, said they weren’t willing to get out and walk to the front cab, that they couldn’t understand what the fuss was about and had now decided they were going to get the bus home. One of the meerkats then opened my colleague’s door and questioned the elderly couple’s motives and told them to travel in the front cab. It was at this point, I guess, that these two people simply wanted to get home. They initially chose to hire a cab. But because of taxi politics were now getting a bus. What gets me is my colleague tried twice to explain in a friendly way they should really travel in the front cab in the interests of fairness. By listening to the customers’ express wish “just get us home”, in my opinion, gave my colleague every justification to take the fare. Not only did he lose out on a potential fare, he was left deeply embarrassed by the actions of the meerkats. For the meerkats to not use an ounce of commonsense but rather serve their own needs first by being overly inquisitive in front of the customers left him mortified.

If it was my parents I would contact the licensing authority to find out why my elderly mum and dad had been subjected to this pantomime.

I certainly wouldn’t alight from my cab and open up the door of one of colleagues’ cab and question his or his customers’ motives. He probably wouldn’t speak to me again for displaying such bad manners. If someone entered my cab and did the same it wouldn’t be a warm hello I would be greeting them with, I would be having fairly robust words, and would follow this up with a visit to see them post dropping my customers off home. It is totally out of order and smacks of desperation. The council do their best to prepare us drivers, they give us everything you could ask for in terms of guidelines and best working practices. But what they don’t supply you with is commonsense, manners and decency.