Tips for tips: How can taxi drivers maximise their fares?

New research shows that chatty, helpful taxi drivers with ‘fresh-smelling’ cars are most likely to receive tips on longer journeys

Chatty taxi drivers who carry bags to cars, divert routes to pick up friends, and visit drive-thrus en route to the destination are most likely to get a tip in Britain, new research has shown.

UK vehicle supply firm The Taxi Centre has attempted to get to the bottom of tipping culture in the private transport sector with a new survey – collating the feedback of 2,000 people to determine what influences passengers to give extra money.

Results showed that whilst 46% of people wouldn’t tip on a typical trip, taxi drivers are more likely to earn a bit of extra money by helping passengers with luggage (48%) or driving conscientiously (36%).

Respondents also said they would tip drivers who went out of their way to help – with 33% claiming they’d pay extra for a taxi that picked up a friend on the way. 18% said they’d tip drivers that were happy to visit a drive-thru during the journey.

29% said they’d tip for a fresh-smelling vehicle.

Rank
Reason
%

#1
Helping with luggage
48 per cent

#2
Conscientious driving
36 per cent

#3
Offer to pick up a friend on the way
33 per cent

#4
Fresh smelling vehicle
29 per cent

#5
Divert to a drive-thru
18 per cent

Overall, 66% of passengers said they’d tip a chatty driver who could hold a good conversation, whilst 65% would be more willing to add some money on top of the fare for a trip that was longer (20 minutes +) or late at night.

Indeed, many passengers agreed that taxi drivers should earn higher wages for working busier/unsociable hours – with 39% saying they supported a premium rate at these times. 33% disagreed.

71% of tippers said they handed over cash to their cabbie at the end of the trip, whilst 21% tipped by app/phone. However, 46% said they’d tip more often if it was easier to do so via contactless payments.

Rank
Reason
%

#1
Cash
73 per cent

#2
Online or app
21 per cent

#3
Neither of these
4 per cent

On average, taxi drivers in Britain were found to earn GBP3.22 in tips per journey.

18% of passengers said they would leave their driver up to a fiver, and 19% said they’d pay even more, with only 5% admitting they never tip

Reasons for refusing to leave a tip for taxi drivers were varied.

The most popular (41%) was the fact that the fare was too expensive in the first instance, whilst 32% said they didn’t believe in giving up extra money to a person simply doing their job.

17% said they never tipped service workers.

Rank
Reason
%

#1
Taxis are too expensive anyway
43 per cent

#2
It’s their job
32 per cent

#3
I don’t take long enough to constitute a tip
24 per cent

#4
I never tip service workers
17 per cent

#5
I have never had a good enough taxi experience
11 per cent

A Taxi Centre spokesperson said it was “wonderful” that the art of conversation in taxis wasn’t dead – despite the arrival of the “silent ride” feature on taxi apps suggesting passengers preferred to be left alone.

“People still love to have a natter to their cabbies to pass the time, and this is exactly what our survey has proven,” said the Taxi Centre rep.

“Being affable earns better tips, and that’s something we can definitely get behind here at The Taxi Centre.

“After a quiet year or so on the roads, we hope to see (and hear!) plenty of happy passengers getting back to enjoying their taxi journeys as we enter the next taxi season!”

Find out more about how taxis run in the UK by reading more articles on The Taxi Centre newsroom.