Cabs Meridian ID
Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
- Taxi drivers and chauffeurs may work any schedule, including full time, part time, night, evening, weekend, and on a seasonal basis.
- Very few drivers are paid an hourly wage; most rent their vehicles from a cab fleet, although many own their vehicles.
- Local taxi commissions set licensing standards for driving experience and training.
- Job opportunities should be plentiful.
Nature of the Work About this section
Taxi and limousine services make it easy for customers to get around when driving their own cars or using public transportation is inconvenient. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs take passengers to and from their homes, workplaces, and recreational pursuits, such as dining, entertainment, and shopping, and to and from business-related events. These professional drivers help both residents and out-of-town guests get around a city or urban area. In addition to regular point-to-point services, some drivers offer sight-seeing services around their cities.
Drivers must be alert to conditions on the road, especially in heavy and congested traffic or in bad weather. They must take precautions to prevent accidents and avoid sudden stops, turns, and other driving maneuvers that would jar passengers.
The majority of people in this occupation work as taxi drivers. Typically, taxi drivers own their vehicles or rent them from a company called a fleet. Drivers who rent their vehicles usually report to a garage where they are assigned a vehicle, most frequently a large, conventional automobile modified for commercial passenger transport. Drivers check their cabs� fuel and oil levels and make sure that the lights, brakes, and windshield wipers are in good working order. If anything is not working properly, the driver who discovers the problem reports it to a dispatcher or company mechanic. Some drivers own their own cabs. Generally, they park at their homes overnight, so they simply drive to their first pickup when they start working. Like other car owners, they are responsible for their own insurance, maintenance, and for making sure that the car is in good working order.
Taxi drivers usually find fares in one of three ways. Most commonly, they work with dispatch services, which allow customers to call in a request for a cab. Dispatchers relay the information to drivers by two-way radio, cellular telephone, or onboard computer. This is the most common method in smaller cities, late at night, or in low-traffic areas. Drivers may also pick up passengers waiting at cabstands or in taxi lines at airports, train stations, hotels, restaurants, and other places where people frequently seek taxis. In major cities, drivers �cruise� the streets looking for fares, although this is not legal in all jurisdictions.
Good drivers are familiar with streets in the areas they serve so they can choose the most efficient route to destinations and avoid traffic. They know the locations of frequently requested destinations, such as airports, bus and railroad terminals, convention centers, hotels, and other points of interest. In case of emergency, drivers should know the location of fire and police stations, as well as hospitals.
Upon arrival at the final destination, the driver determines the fare and announces it to the passenger. Each jurisdiction has its own regulations that set the structure of the fare system covering licensed taxis. In most areas, a taximeter measures the fare based on the distance covered and the amount of time spent in traffic. Drivers start their meters when passengers enter the cab and turn them off when they reach their final destinations. The fare may also include surcharges, such as base fares, dispatcher fees, or fees for additional passengers, tolls, luggage, or other services. Passengers usually add a tip or gratuity to the fare. The amount of the gratuity depends, in part, on the passengers' satisfaction with the quality and efficiency of the ride and the courtesy of the driver. Drivers issue receipts upon request. They may also fill out logs for use by their fleets.
Chauffeurs operate limousines, vans, and private cars. They may work for hire, as taxicabs do; or they may work for private businesses, government agencies, or wealthy individuals. Chauffeur services differ from taxi services in that all trips are prearranged. Many chauffeurs transport customers in large vans between hotels and airports, bus terminals, or train stations. Others drive luxury automobiles, such as private cars or limousines.
At the beginning of each workday, chauffeurs prepare their automobiles or vans for use. They inspect their vehicles for cleanliness and, when needed, clean the interior and wash the exterior body, windows, and mirrors. They check fuel and oil levels and make sure the lights, tires, brakes, and windshield wipers work. Chauffeurs may perform routine maintenance and make minor repairs, such as changing tires or adding oil and other fluids. If a vehicle requires a more complicated repair, they take it to a professional mechanic.
Chauffeurs cater to passengers by providing attentive customer service and paying attention to detail. They help riders into the car by holding open doors, holding umbrellas when it is raining, and loading packages and luggage into the trunk of the car. Chauffeurs may perform errands for their employers such as delivering packages or picking up clients arriving at airports. To ensure a pleasurable ride in their limousines, many chauffeurs offer conveniences and luxuries such as newspapers, magazines, music, drinks, televisions, and telephones. Increasingly, chauffeurs work as full-service executive assistants, simultaneously acting as driver, secretary, and itinerary planner.
Some drivers transport individuals with special needs, such as those with disabilities and the elderly. These drivers, known as paratransit drivers, operate specially equipped vehicles designed to accommodate a variety of needs in non-emergency situations. Although special certification is not necessary, some additional training on the equipment and passenger needs may be required.
Work environment. Driving for long periods can be tiring and stressful, especially in densely populated urban areas. Being seated in the same position for most of the day can also be very uncomfortable. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs often have to load and unload heavy luggage and packages. They are also at high risk for robbery, because they work alone and often carry large amounts of cash. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that taxi drivers and chauffeurs experienced a work-related injury and illness rate that was much higher than the national average.
Work hours of taxi drivers and chauffeurs vary greatly. Some jobs offer full-time or part-time employment with work hours that can change from day to day or remain the same. It is often necessary for drivers to report to work on short notice. Chauffeurs who work for a single employer may be on call much of the time. Evening and weekend work is common for drivers and chauffeurs employed by limousine and taxicab services.
Whereas the needs of the client or employer dictate the work schedule for chauffeurs, the work of taxi drivers is much less structured. Working free of supervision, they may break for a meal or a rest whenever their vehicle is unoccupied. Many taxi drivers like the independent, unsupervised work of driving.
This occupation is attractive to individuals, such as college and postgraduate students, seeking flexible work schedules and to anyone seeking a second source of income. Other service workers, such as ambulance drivers and police officers, sometimes moonlight as taxi drivers or chauffeurs.
Full-time taxi drivers usually work one shift a day, which may last 8 to 12 hours. Part-time drivers may work half a shift each day, or work a full shift once or twice a week. Drivers may work shifts at all times of the day and night, because most taxi companies offer services 24 hours a day. Early morning and late night shifts are not uncommon. Drivers work long hours during holidays, weekends, and other special times when demand for their services is heavier. Independent drivers set their own hours and schedules.
Job opportunities for taxi drivers and chauffeurs should be plentiful.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement About this section
Local governments set licensing standards and requirements for taxi drivers and chauffeurs, which may include minimum amounts of driving experience and training.
Education and training. Little formal education is needed for taxi drivers or chauffeurs, but many have at least a high school diploma, GED, or its equivalent. Drivers need to be able to communicate effectively, read maps, and use basic math. A basic understanding of auto mechanics can also be very useful.
Most taxi and limousine companies give new drivers on-the-job training. This training generally only lasts about a week or two, and is required by law in some jurisdictions. Companies show drivers how to operate the taximeter and communications equipment and how to complete paperwork. Other topics covered include driver safety, customer service, and the best routes to popular sightseeing and entertainment destinations.
Many companies have contracts with social service agencies and transportation services to transport elderly and disabled citizens in non-emergency situations. To support these services, new drivers may get special training in how to handle wheelchair lifts and other mechanical devices.
Licensure. Taxicab or limousine drivers must first have a regular automobile driver's license. In many States, applicants must get a taxi driver or chauffeur's license, commonly called a �hack� license. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires a commercial driver's license (CDL) with a passenger (P) endorsement for drivers transporting 16 or more passengers (including the driver). While this is not a concern for taxi drivers, some stretch limousines and other such vehicles may be large enough to require a CDL.
While States set licensing requirements, local regulatory bodies set other terms and conditions. Most cities and urban areas have taxi commissions. These commissions set requirements for drivers, license vehicles to be used as cabs, and even set the rates that drivers are allowed to charge. In many cases, these regulations do not affect chauffeurs.
In most areas, taxis must have medallions that certify them as legally recognized cabs. Passengers generally prefer cars with medallions, as they are guaranteed to be law-abiding by local commissions. Drivers who receive too many complaints can lose their medallions, which discourages unethical behavior.
Regulations can vary greatly among localities. Some areas require new drivers to enroll in up to 80 hours of classroom instruction, to take an exam, or both before they are allowed to work. Some localities require an English proficiency test, usually in the form of listening comprehension; applicants who do not pass the English exam must take an English course, in addition to any formal driving programs.
Other qualifications. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs work almost exclusively with the public, and should be able to get along with many different types of people. They must be patient when waiting for passengers and when dealing with rude customers. It also is helpful for drivers to be tolerant and level-headed when driving in heavy and congested traffic. Drivers should be dependable, since passengers expect to be picked up at a prearranged time and taken to the correct destinations. Drivers must be responsible and self-motivated, because they work with little supervision. Increasingly, companies encourage drivers to develop loyal customers to improve their business.
Many municipalities and taxicab and chauffeur companies require drivers to have a neat appearance. Many chauffeurs wear formal attire, such as tuxedos, suits, dresses, or uniforms.
Advancement. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs have limited advancement opportunities. Experienced drivers may obtain preferred routes or shifts. Some advance to become lead drivers, who help to train new drivers. Others take dispatching and managerial positions. Some drivers become managers at taxi or limousine fleets. Some people start their own taxi or limousine companies.
In many communities, drivers can purchase their own taxis or limousines and go into business for themselves. Independent owner-drivers need an additional permit allowing them to operate as a business. Some big cities limit the number of operating permits, which keeps many owner-drivers out of the market. In these cities, drivers become owner-drivers by buying or renting permits from owner-drivers who leave the business. Although many owner-drivers are successful, some fail to cover expenses and eventually lose their permits and automobiles. Individuals starting their own taxi companies face many obstacles because of the difficulty in running a small fleet. The lack of dispatch and maintenance facilities often is hard for an owner to overcome. Chauffeurs often have a good deal of success as owner-drivers and many companies begin as individually owned and operated businesses.
For both taxi and limousine service owners, good business sense and courses in accounting, business, and business arithmetic can help an owner-driver be successful. Knowledge of mechanics enables owner-drivers to perform their own routine maintenance and minor repairs to cut expenses.
Employment About this section
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs held about 232,300 jobs in 2008. About 26 percent of taxi drivers and chauffeurs were self-employed. Jobs were located throughout the country, but were concentrated in large cities. Metropolitan areas with the largest employment of taxi drivers and chauffeurs in May 2008 were: