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Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) has celebrated the first anniversary of its Airport Black Cab scheme, declaring it be a resounding success with over 750 of the City’s drivers now having registered to work at the airport.

The scheme was introduced ahead of Capital of Culture year to regulate the provision of the Black Cab service at the Airport to ensure the growing number of arriving passengers received a high standard of service. In addition to ensuring that drivers comply with an agreed code of conduct, they have also been encouraged to attend an ’08 Welcome course jointly organised by Merseytravel, The Culture Company and the Transport and General Workers Union, especially for cabbies. To date, some 450 of the Airport registered drivers have undertaken this course, with more due to participate over the coming weeks.

Prior to the scheme, LJLA was almost unique in not charging hackney carriage vehicles for the use of its taxi rank and hence access to millions of arriving passengers per year. Under today’s scheme, drivers purchase credits costing £1 per visit in order to gain access to the rank at the Airport. This charge is then passed to passengers through a £1 toll added to all fares from the Airport, for the benefit of a ready and available, high quality service, with a rank located immediately outside of the arrivals area.

UNITE the Union (T&G) represent many Hackney drivers across Liverpool and were instrumental in agreeing this successful scheme with the Airport on behalf of its members. As a consequence the Union has continued to work closely with the Airport to further develop the scheme, with the common aim of offering a high quality service for passengers.

Passenger Transport Solutions (PTS) were brought in by the Airport Company to run the scheme and ensure consistently high levels of customer service. Since PTS took control, 15 drivers have been subject to disciplinary action by the Airport for failing to comply with the agreed Code of Conduct. By working closely with Liverpool City Council’s Licensing Department, action has also been taken on a further 28 drivers who failed to provide the correct driver and licensing documentation.

To celebrate the occasion, the Airport picked cab driver David Bentley’s name ‘out of the hat’ of all cabbies registered to work from the Airport. He was presented with £30 worth of free credits and a supply of special ’08 Cains beer – for consumption when off duty. At 70 years old, David is thought to be one of the Airport’s oldest serving drivers, yet one of the first to join this new scheme and completed his Welcome ’08 training in October last year in advance of the 2008 celebrations.

Robin Tudor, LJLA’s General Manager Corporate and Community Affairs commented, “There was some understandable concerns when this scheme was first introduced, as to whether sufficient drivers would participate. To have over 750 drivers now signed up is beyond even our optimistic projections.

On occasions a small minority of drivers previously let down the good name of cabbies across Merseyside by not being prepared to offer the level of service expected here at the Airport. We are delighted however by the way drivers and the Union have since responded to help the Airport now provide a consistently high standard of service, in time to welcome thousands of visitors during the Capital of Culture year.”

Tommy McIntyre, National Representative for Taxis from UNITE the Union (T&G) added, “With the growth of the airport, it is important to see its links with the trade growing proportionately. The T&G and its drivers are pleased with the progress at LJLA. We have seen a fantastic response to this initiative and are pleased to be developing a relationship with the airport that is beneficial to all parties including the traveling public.”

Liz Chandler, who heads up Merseytravel’s Merseylearn Team, said: “Taxi and private hire drivers are often the very first people visitors meet when they arrive in this region and they are a vital part of any successful transport network.

“They are ambassadors not only for Liverpool, but for the whole of Merseyside. This training is an important part of our joint commitment to supporting taxi drivers and to help improve all types of public transport.

Neil Peterson, Head of Liverpool Welcome commented, “We are delighted that so many drivers have participated in the 08 Welcome programme, and we have also provided several hundred Welcome packs to drivers to keep them in the picture about 2008 events and the positive role they can play. Indeed some of our work with drivers – especially the Tate’s taxi project, which is now on display at the Airport of course – has received national acclaim.
I constantly get really positive feedback from visitors to the City about how informative and engaged our drivers can be. And we will continue to look at ways to keep them in the picture about the events taking place during this special year.”

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