Advice for taxi passengers

We are responsible for licensing hackney carriages that operate in our area. They are more commonly called ‘taxis’.

Taxis can be identified by council issued licence plates which they must display on the back of the car. These plates feature, amongst other things, the vehicles registration number and a unique identification number, commonly referred to as the ‘plate number’. If you want to complain about a taxi, it is helpful to make a note of the registration number and/or plate number.

There are currently two separate taxi licensing areas in Somerset West and Taunton, being the former Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council districts. Taxis licensed by us can only operate in one of these districts and the licence plate displayed on the car will have either a Taunton Deane Borough Council or West Somerset Council logo.

Hiring a taxi

Many taxis have roof signs, often referred to as ‘top hats’ which, when lit up, indicate the taxi is ready to be hired.

You can hire a taxi in one of the following ways:

  • From a designated taxi rank
  • By flagging one down, also known as ‘hailing’ a taxi
  • With a booking, having contacted and agreed one with the driver or operator in advance

Fares

The cost of using a taxi depends on when and how far you travel. The total cost of using a taxi is often referred to as a ‘fare’.

We decide the maximum fares taxi drivers can charge and this is broken down into separate charges, in a ‘tariff’. A driver cannot charge more than the council tariff but can charge less if they wish.

There are currently different tariffs for the Taunton Deane and West Somerset taxi licensing areas.

Taunton Deane area tariff

Charges Amount
Standard fare (if the distance does not exceed 500 yards) £2.40

If the distance does exceed 500 yards:
For the first 500 yards
For each completed 160 yards or part thereof


£2.40
20p
Waiting time for each completed period of 42 seconds 20p
Extra charges Amount
For hiring's commencing between 10pm and 7am +50%
For Saturday and Sunday +50%
For all Public and Bank Holidays +100%
In excess of 4 passengers at any point during the hire +100%
In excess of 4 passengers Saturdays, Sundays and Bank/Public holidays +100%
Soiling charge £100.00

West Somerset area tariff

Charges Amount
Standard fare (if the distance does not exceed 530 yards) £2.40
If the distance does exceed 530 yards:
For the first 530 yards
For each completed 180 yards or part thereof

£2.40
20p
Waiting time for each completed period of 45 seconds 20p
Extra charges Amount
For hiring's commencing between 7pm and 7am +50%
For Sundays +50%
For all Public and Bank Holidays +100%
Each person in excess of 2 20p
For luggage/perambulators (per item) 20p
For each animal (at drivers discretion but excluding assistance dogs) 20p
Soiling charge £100.00

The ‘soiling charge’ is what the customer must pay if they are unwell or have an accident and the taxi becomes dirty. This charge covers the cost of having the car cleaned and what money the driver might lose by having to take it off the road for the remainder of the day or night.

Taxis licensed by other councils will be ruled by different tariffs, therefore fares do vary across the UK. If you are planning a trip or night out and will need to use a taxi, it is a good idea to phone different companies who are local to that particular area, in advance and to get an idea of costs or use any of the websites or phone apps which are able to calculate taxi fares. You must ensure you will be able to pay the full fare.

Drivers often refer to a standard fare or ‘single time’ ie where no extras costs are applied, as ‘tariff 1’. Time and a half (+50%) is then ‘tariff 2’ and double time (+100%) as ‘tariff 3’.

All taxis are fitted with meters, which calculates the fare. The driver cannot demand anything more than is shown on the meter, except the soiling charge.

Customers who refuse to pay the full amount, including the soiling charge (if applicable), or make off without paying, break the law and can be prosecuted. Although some drivers are equipped to take card payments, many are not and customers should therefore be ready to pay in cash.

The driver/company and customer can agree a fixed price upfront and this can be less than the tariff and what might be shown on the meter at the end of the fare. The driver must always use the meter, whether they agreed a price up front, so that they can demonstrate to the customer that they have not been overcharged. The driver must not start the meter until the vehicle has set off.

Fares for destinations outside Somerset West and Taunton may be negotiated between the customer and driver/company before the journey. If no fare is agreed before the start of the journey, then the maximum fare will be that shown on the meter at the end of the journey.

Taxi ranks

Taxi ranks are designated places for designated places for taxis to wait for customers. They are not places where other vehicles should park.

You can choose to travel in any taxi that is waiting on a rank but drivers sometimes guide customers to taking the taxi at the front of the rank, as its driver will have been waiting the longest.

The main ranks in our area are:

  • Taunton – Corporation Street, outside of the Municipal Building/registry office
  • Wellington – Fore Street, opposite WH Smith
  • Minehead – either side of The Avenue, in the centre of town

Private hire vehicles

We also license private hire vehicles, which are vehicles with up to 8 seats that are available to be booked in advance only. They must also display a council issued licence plate, similar to ones issued to taxis.

What you can expect from licensed drivers

We expect our drivers to:

  • be polite and courteous
  • be helpful, offering assistance with items like bags
  • be well presented
  • drive in a safe and professional manner

All licensed drivers have a council issued badge, which they must wear at all times when working. The badge will have either the Taunton Deane Borough Council logo or West Somerset Council logo, to show where they can work. The badge will have a number on it and if you want to complain about a taxi, it is helpful to make a note of this number. You should not use a taxi if the driver cannot show you their badge.

The driver of a taxi cannot refuse a fare, unless they have a reasonable excuse, eg the customer is being aggressive or abusive. They should not refuse a fare because the journey is too short.

Wheelchairs and assistance dogs

Some vehicles are adapted to carry wheelchairs. For those that are, the driver must carry a passenger who is in a wheelchair, except if they have a medical exemption certificate issued to them by us. If they have an exemption, they will display a bright orange certificate in the windscreen.

Drivers must also carry assistance dogs, unless like above, they have a medical exemption certificate issued by us.

There are no extra charges for carrying wheelchairs or assistance dogs.

You should report a driver who refuses to carry a wheelchair or assistance dog and does not display an exemption certificate.

Lost property

Licensed drivers must hand in any property left in their vehicle at a local Police station, within 72 hours of finding it but are encouraged to try and contact the owner first or return the item themselves, where possible.

If you have left something in a taxi and it has been handed into the Police, it may help the Police to reunite you with that property if your enter your details online on report my loss website.