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Taxi Printer Legislation Set To Improve Service Transparency

9th December 2016

The implementation of new taxi legislation in Northern Ireland earlier this year has highlighted a concern for many people about the transparency between drivers and passengers when it comes to journey cost.

The new law now requires all public and private hire taxis to have an approved printer receipt system installed, or have at least booked a date for installation. Those that fail to do so risk legal action and MOT failure.

Here, Sarah Baines, Business Development Manager at Able Systems, specialists in small printer solutions, discusses the implications of the new legislation for electrical engineers and the long-term opportunities for electrical contractors, taxi operators and customers alike.

Previously, taking a taxi may have carried an element of mistrust regarding the final fare price. The introduction of taximeters in most cases provides an assurance that passengers will be charged fairly for the distance travelled, though there are still instances when prices can be pre-agreed or presented off-the-cuff by drivers. A more transparent system is needed, particularly for private vehicles that tend to operate without using a taximeter system.

It is of paramount importance for example, that business employees receive clearly printed receipts for expenses purposes. In the current system, many taxi operators work off a hand-written receipt, which leaves room for error or illegibility with handwriting. Additionally, with the introduction of contactless payment facilities in many major city taxis, legible, printed receipts will help to provide assurance to passengers at a time of transition for the taxi industry. The older generation, in particular, still value the credibility of printed confirmation, and these receipts help to assure customers that the correct amount has been paid.

Northern Ireland has been the first country to implement the new legislation. As a decision that affects the whole nation, there is a huge scale of opportunity for electrical contractors to install these new compact printers. There’s also talk of expanding this legislation further afield, with London rumored to be the next city to embrace the change. This would also be a vast opportunity, with 242,000 public and private hire cabs currently operating in the capital according to government figures.

These new printers must be compatible with taximeter systems. Electrical engineers must therefore be wary of systems that are already configured to work with mobile printers, and those that must be adapted in physical and software terms to comply with the new legislation.

In fact, many of the big taximeter producers, such as Autocab and Viking, offer products already compatible with the new rules. However some older vehicles may need to be adapted to fit with a more modern taximeter and printer receipt system. Engineers and taxicab operators must also be aware that only certain taximeters and compact printers are certified for usage under the new regulations.

Small printers provide the taxicab industry and passengers with that vital peace of mind via clear, legible and professionally produced receipts inline with the new legislation. Easy to install and integrate, printed receipt systems assure both parties of fair, accurate and audited taxi fares. Achieving consistency in operations, taxi companies are able to give a far more accurate assessment of journey cost to potential passengers.

There are still many challenges that lie ahead in the current installation operation, particularly with companies such as Uber, which currently does not use a traditional taximeter system. However electrical engineers now have all the tools at their disposal to educate taxi operators of the benefits of the new receipt system.

It is clear that electrical engineers have a great opportunity to offer reliable, long-lasting systems such as taxi printers. As well as conforming to the new legislation, taxi operators will appear more professional to passengers through the provision of printed receipts, enhancing the credibility of their business and ultimately increasing passenger confidence and retention. The benefits are tremendous in terms of transparency and security, creating a much safer environment for passengers and taxi operators alike.