Taxis carry endless business possibilities for 2010

Last week I wrote about the glamorous ladies who refuse to pass on other passengers' fares.

It is one of the unwritten rules that has evolved in the taxi trade that money from the back is passed, seat by seat, to the front.

There it is counted by the front-seat passengers - the accountants. They dispense change and give the rest to the driver.

This custom evolved after many passengers and drivers died in accidents because the driver took his eyes off the road to make change.

I thought this custom was great and I wrote about passengers who wouldn't play ball.

I was surprised to receive a number of calls that said the snooty ladies were right. They had every right to refuse to do the drivers' job.

A reader, Ike, told me that drivers should have a conductor or an assistant to collect fares and count change.

He says passengers should not be treated as unpaid assistants simply because they will die if they don't.

Ike says taxis in other provinces have conductors who look after the passengers, which frees the driver to get everyone safely to their destination.

I once experienced something similar in Port Elizabeth. There was this scruffy young man standing near the door of the taxi shouting out the cross streets as the taxi barrelled through the town. This chap had no seat and swayed dangerously in and out of the door.

The idea of a conductor is a good one, but I wonder where the young man will sit since Gauteng taxis favour the 4x4 seat game plan. Does that mean the driver will forfeit that fare on all trips? Will the passengers have to pay more for a de luxe service?

Who is going to pay the conductor? Is it the driver or are his wages going to be paid by the taxi owner? Who is going to be the boss and will the driver be willing to cede his power to the conductor?

But then again we are moving towards the 2010 Soccer World Cup. We must expect the taxi industry to improve its services to the public. The hordes of passengers from Africa, Europe, the US and Asia will not be familiar with our rand and will probably fumble the change.

The tourists will probably scream holy terror if you tap them on the shoulder. They will not know that you are passing on the fares, not trying to mug them.

They will need a conductor to tell them where to get off, someone who will be able to decipher their odd pronunciation of Joubert or Macingwana streets.

Perhaps these conductors can also undergo a course in tourism or something. This will empower them while also giving them an opportunity to climb on the 2010 bandwagon.

A fashion designer can make up a nifty uniform for them. The list goes on.

This 2010 business is really getting to me. There are endless possibilities opening up. I must apply for a taxi licence.