If you are looking into becoming a taxi driver in the United States, first of all, thank your lucky stars that you are not living in England, where you would have to study for two to four years and undergo a series of interviews and tests before meeting the requirements. In the United States, it is generally much simpler, and taxi drivers tend to learn their routes more through trial and error than through any formal study.
Taxi drivers in the United States work very long hours. One must generally lease a taxi from a company and then work a twelve-hour shift. The first part of the shift will be spent making the money to pay for the cab rental and gas, and the last part of the shift is where the profit comes in. This is why taxi drivers have to work such long hours. For some reason, cab companies rarely lease a taxi for shorter time periods with a lower leasing fee.
Driving a taxi can be dangerous as well. Taxi drivers must exercise caution, and feel comfortable trusting their intuition when it does not feel safe to transport a customer. Some statistics show that being a cab driver is the number one most dangerous job in the nation. There have been safety measures put in place in recent years. Now, most taxis have a global positioning system, as well as a panic button that the driver can press. If the driver presses the button, it alerts every other cab in a specified radius, which will then surround the cab that is in trouble until the police arrive.
However, the thing that usually makes or breaks a taxi driver is how well he or she knows the routes in the cities when major conventions are being held and so forth. If a taxi driver is not able to efficiently make money, and instead spends long hours sitting in front of hotels or at the airport, chances are, his salary will not even meet the minimum wage.
On the positive side, if you know your city well, have an affinity for people (and thus the capacity to earn some good tips) and you have the stamina to drive for twelve hours straight, you can potentially make some good money. Of course, some things that are simply uncontrollable, such as the price of gas, will influence your profit.
The requirements to become a taxi driver will vary from city to city. Generally, however, all a potential driver needs to do in order to begin to operate a taxi is to complete a background check, have a set of fingerprints placed on file, and perhaps obtain a chauffeurs license. Age requirements also vary, and in some cities, a driver will be required to prove that he or she does not owe back child support. A medical exam, a drug test, and proof of residency or citizenship may also be required. Then there will be a training period of about two to four days, during which the trainees learn how to operate the dispatch system, learn safety tips and other tools and tricks of the trade.
It seems that taxi driving would be more profitable if one could operate one’s own cab. However, many cities have protections in place for the taxis that are already in place and do not allow any more taxis on the streets, lest the existing taxi drivers get less business. Some interpret this as a way to protect the large taxi companies, as well. Regardless of the reason, it is definitely to every taxi driver’s benefit to having less competition on the streets. There are cities that do allow individuals to operate their own cabs, so this is something that you will need to check with your local regulatory agency about. These agencies also vary from city to city, but your department of motor vehicles should know whom to contact. Also, you can also find out who this agency is from one of your local taxi services.
Once you have decided to drive a taxi, investigate the different companies carefully before you decide to commit to driving with one in particular. You will want to talk to other cab drivers to get a feel for the flow of business within that company, the quality, and frequency of the dispatches and the degree of maintenance performed on the cars. Once you decide, give yourself time to adapt to the job. Once you get into a natural rhythm and begin to learn where the money is, your income should pick up. Don’t overlook cultivating relationships with desirable customers, who can then call you directly for repeat business.
Keep business cards on hand for occasions when you decide you would like for a particular customer to call you the next time he or she needs a ride. Above all, you will need to have an affinity for getting along with people from all walks of life. You will meet everyone from millionaires to people who are on public assistance. You will meet people who may become valuable business contacts, as well as obnoxious drunks. An ability to be flexible and friendly will take you a long way in the adventurous world of cab driving.Keep business cards