There are thousands of taxi drivers in the US and sometimes we tend to overlook their importance to the community. Other than trains, buses and private cars, the taxi remains to be one of the most common mode of transportation in the United States. When you’re too busy or lazy to drive yourself, hailing a taxi cab is the best choice.
When you think of it, taxi drivers have a very interesting job. They get to meet people from all walks of life, engage in casual conversations with strangers and may even have friends with passengers. Plus, taxi drivers get to act as tourist guides to passengers who are new in town.
Since you will be spending your day with random people, be sure to groom yourself and your cab well. Treat it like it’s your second home and you’ll be surprised how you will get positive reactions from your passengers.
As a taxi driver, you should be alert for all possible conditions of the road like ongoing construction, heavy traffic, busy and congested areas and accidents. This is to prevent passenger delays and inconvenience. A good taxi driver has the sense to choose routes that are more accessible with lesser chances of being caught up in any road dilemma.
Working as a taxi driver can be stressful too. Much of it is because they spend long hours sitting down, and may be asked to carry and transport heavy luggage or groceries. Other factors that can affect taxi drivers are fuel prices and being at high risk for robberies. In fact, taxi driving is considered one of the most risky jobs in the US.
How to become a Taxi Driver
- In the US, anyone who is of legal age and holds a valid driver’s license can become a taxi driver. While there is also not always an education requirement, most have at least a high school degree or GED.
- Most states have a special license for taxi drivers. This is often referred to as a "hack license". Contact your state's DMV to determine if your state requires a taxi driver license and how you can get it.
- Not only do most states require a taxi driver license, but local governments often set regulations for taxi drivers. These regulations can include how much you can charge for a fare, what type of car you can driver and where you can operate. There may also be special regulations and licensing for your taxi car.
- Taxi drivers work with random people throughout their shift so it is important to be able to communicate effectively and has basic listening comprehension.
- A taxi driver should also have knowledge in auto mechanics. It’s inevitable that cars may experience engine trouble or a flat tire or be in an accident. You should know what to do when this happens.
- Study and be familiar with road signs, directions, and learn to read maps and use Global Positioning Systems (GPS). A lot of passengers, especially tourists tend to ask a lot of questions regarding road and street names, building names, and even famous sightseeing spots.
- Most taxi drivers rent cabs from a taxi company or what is commonly called “fleet”. These companies own taxi franchises and have their units rented out. A taxi driver and his fleet have an open communication through a two-way radio or mobile phone to directly inform drivers about expecting passengers.
- Before a taxi fleet accepts you, they require drivers to undergo training. Training usually lasts for about a week or two. It will help drivers be familiar with the industry and the equipment they are going to use such as the taxi meter, radio and the Global Positioning System or what is commonly called GPS. Training also includes discussions about road safety regulations, good customer service and driving ethics. Some fleets also require drivers to pass writing and listening comprehension exams.
- Once you pass the test, you are now able to rent a taxi under their fleet. However, taxi drivers are not considered full-time employees of the fleet and are not given the opportunity to enjoy company benefits such as insurances and bonuses.
- The common work schedule of a taxi driver is a long 8-12 hour shift. The busiest periods would be during the holidays and when school is out. Taxi drivers have three options as to how they operate within a city:
Working with the fleet is convenient for the taxi driver. However, since there are a lot of other drivers lining up to be dispatched, you may not earn much.
Taxi drivers who line up in establishments earn higher income. And since most of the passengers are businessmen, rich professionals and tourists, they also benefit from huge sums of tip.
There are a lot of people who hail cabs wherever they are. Taxi drivers who choose to pick up passengers in random areas tend to earn high income too.
The salary of a taxi driver depends on the number of passengers accepted in a day. Most taxi drivers spend most of the hours of work to pay for the taxi lease and fuel. After which, the rest of what a taxi driver earns is his income for the day. Taxi fleets may require daily or weekly lease payment, depending on agreement. According to the BLS, the recorded average salary of a taxi driver is $27,000 a year.
As to advancement, taxi drivers do not have many options unless they decide to start their own business. If they have been working for many years, they could consider applying as fleet managers or become lead drivers.
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