Heathrow to provide lounge for tired cab drivers

Heathrow Airport will offer a business-class lounge for professional cab drivers, enabling them to recharge between journeys, Metro has reported.

The move comes as efforts are underway to create Britain’s first members-only club for professional drivers, which includes a restaurant, sleep/office pods, showers and a roof garden. It will also house a gym and other recreational facilities. Drivers will be able to monitor airport arrivals via TV screens provided around the building, which will be located at a site less than ten minutes from all five terminals.

According to research conducted for the project, 340,000 licensed drivers in Britain, generating almost £8 billion for the economy, carry out more than a billion journeys annually. And nearly 80,000 passengers passing through Heathrow’s terminals every day arrive there by cab or other private hire vehicle, meaning that thousands of drivers are in and around the airport at any time of the day.

The business plan is the brainchild of Jon Jordan, founder of the Institute of Professional Drivers and Chauffeurs (IoPDC), and has been under development for two years.

‘I see a genuine gap in the market for an industry hub of this sort,’ says Jordan, who has worked in the chauffeur industry for more than 20 years. ‘Drivers will be able to relax in safety and comfort but also to network, find out about job opportunities and keep up to date with industry news.’

Scheduled to open at the end of next year, and provisionally known as the Professional Drivers’ Club, the facility will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Membership will be available to anyone who drives professionally and carries passengers, including black cabs, minicabs, chauffeurs and other taxi services. Details of membership costs have not been revealed, but according to Jordan it should be less than the price of a cup of coffee per day, the Metro said.

Jordan said the club would address the problem of parking and waiting at the airport. Conflicts with local communities have been a recurrent problem for many years.

The club will also help improve the health of professional drivers, who often spend long hours in their vehicles. ‘Prevalent conditions include diabetes, obesity and sleep apnea (breathing problems). Dehydration is also very common because a lack of toilets means many drivers don’t take in enough fluids.’

The Heathrow club will consist of a new building on a 2.5-acre site. With up to five levels and a multi-storey car park, it will allow 600 members to be onsite at any time. The club will also provide vehicle services, including a garage for MoT and repair work, and a fuel forecourt.


London Cabs Voted the World’s Best in 2012

London cabs have been voted the best taxis in the world, according to an annual global taxi survey conducted by Hotels.com, a US-based travel company and a part of the Expedia group,

Around 11 percent of global travellers who voted in the survey favoured London’s black cabs as the best in the world, followed by those in New York (6.4 percent), Tokyo (5.6 percent), Shanghai (4.8 percent) and Bangkok (4.3 percent).

Travellers voted for the cabs in seven categories, and London cabs took the lead in five of those categories; friendliness, knowledge of the area, cleanliness, safety and quality of driving. New York beat London as the best city for cab availability, and Bangkok topped the list for best value.

Alison Couper, the senior director of communications at Hotels.com, said, ‘It is great news for London to be the home of the best taxis for the fifth year running. London’s iconic black cabs are recognized around the world as being the highest quality and it’s due to the impressive expertise of London taxi drivers that they’re seen to have the best local knowledge compared to any other city in the world.’

The taxi survey also highlighted that around half of all respondents, 56 percent, have fallen asleep in a taxi, while around a fifth of the respondents, or 19 percent, have used the journey to touch up their hair and makeup. Around 26 percent of the people surveyed admitted to having kissed in the backseat of a cab.

Other facts revealed by the survey include that around 15 percent of respondents admitted not tipping their taxi driver, and 39 percent have often rounded the tip off to the next currency unit over the fare. Safety has been voted the most important quality in a cab driver, with their local knowledge and moral values coming next.