Cabbie’s credit card machine is just the ticket for riders
A Bermuda taxi driver is operating a cashless cab — but that doesn't mean passengers ride for free.
Wayne Hodgson has fitted his cab with a credit card machine which allows customers to pay their fare without cash.
Mr Hodgson spoke out after a letter from a US visitor, published in The Royal Gazette yesterday, called for taxis should be equipped with card machines as is common elsewhere.
Mr Hodgson said: “I've had one for going on for five years — I accept all credit and debit cards and customers like it.
“It's the only one in Bermuda, as far as I know. I have a lot of celebrity and business clients and they all use credit cards.
“It's very convenient — even local people I pick up like it. One local gentleman who needed to stop at an ATM — I said I could take his debit card and he said ‘cool'.”
Mr Hodgson — a 14-year veteran of the taxi trade and a former driver of the official Premier's car, GP1 — said: “I can't speak for other taxi drivers, but I find it very useful.
“You do pay a fee to the bank and the credit card company, but you usually get a gratuity with it, which covers expenses.”
He added that the debits from the machine go direct to his business account at his bank.
Robert Lambert, from New Hampshire wrote to The Royal Gazette and said: “I have had excellent service from every taxi I have ever used.”
But he added: “I fell that the only thing that could be done to improve the experience is for the taxis to accept credit cards.
“As a business traveller, the credit card is the preferred method of payment for everything.”
Mr Lambert said that using a card meant he did not have to carry large amounts of cash en route to Bermuda, he did not have to worry about having enough money for an extended hire and there was no problem with reimbursement from his employer.
And he added that visitors would not mind paying a bit extra to cover credit card and bank charges for card use.
Mr Lambert said: As a visitor to the Island, we expect higher prices as everything must be imported so the increase will not be noticed.”
Bermuda Taxi Owners' Association Derek Young said administrative problems were holding back the widespread use of card swiping machines in cabs.
Mr Young added: “Also, I believe the driver stands to lose part of the fare because of the fees charged by the banks.
“It's something that's being looked at by the industry and by the dispatching companies — but there is no real technical issue with it. It's a matter of the industry adapting to the 21st century way of thinking.”
A spokeswoman for BTA (Dispatching) Ltd, set up with the taxi owner and operators and the Bermuda Taxi Association to manage the use of digital taxi systems, confirmed the group was examining card swipe machines for cabs.
She added: “Anyone who does have a credit card system at the moment is independent.”