Monday, 7 July 2008

Show me the way to go home

Not quite to home, I already know my way there, but I must admit to using my sat-nav for the first time "in anger" this weekend. And for the second time...

The first was on Saturday night when I managed to pick up a family in Strand who first asked me to take them to Liverpool Street, and then as they were climbing in they asked how much it would be to Romford. I told them it would be around £50-£60 and he said, "Ok then, take us home". I already knew the route to Romford town centre, but it was just putting the finishing touches to the job that I needed. The passenger was quite happy to tell me the route, but I was keen to see if Tom Tom agreed so we tried to programme in the postcode but it didn't recognise it, but the address came up and the route was in.

To be honest I was more comfortable using the passenger's directions than sat nav but it got us there and more importantly, got me back onto the A12 after dropping them off.

I had another long job on Saturday night, from The Banker in Cousin Lane, down to Old Coulsdon ("How far south of the river is that?"). Again, I knew the main part of the route from the suburb runs at the end of The Knowledge, and the customers got me to their destination from there. After that it was back onto the A23, the M25 and head for home, a fairly busy night finished off with two £60 jobs.

The only major problem on Saturday was the lack of roads available for use through the West End. With the O2 Wireless Festival taking place in Hyde Park and the Gay Pride parade and events going on most of Soho and the West End were no go areas for any vehicles (presumably other than Pedicabs). Luckily, most of my work took me well away from the West End.

One of my first jobs was into Long Acre, an I.T. engineer on call for the weekend, and having dropped him off after a trip from Waterloo Station, I immediately picked up two ladies wanting to go to Rose Square on Fulham Road. Since Strand and Shaftesbury Avenue were both closed I warned them that I would have to get down to the Embankment and work my way in form there. There had also been warning that Knightsbridge traffic was heavier than usual so I asked if I could take a more southerly route than usual. They were happy, just so long as we didn't have to sit in traffic for too long. The only time one of them moaned was when we hit a little bit on Kings Road, but once we'd got into Anderson Street, it was plain sailing from there to the destination. Happy customers, despite a fare that was probably 50% higher than perhaps it would normally have been. They were quite understanding about the traffic problems and still gave me a nice little tip on top of the fare.

From there I had jobs pretty much without any down time going to Campden Grove, then Praed Street. From Praed Street I had two tourist wanting to go to Sussex Gardens. I told them it was a matter of no more than 1/4 mile to the hotel they wanted, but they insisted on taking the cab. I ranked up at Paddington after that and 10 minutes later I was on my way to Saint Johns Wood Park. From there I went to the rank at London Zoo and was asked to go to Soho. "Soho - Oh No!". I explained about the road closures and they were happy for me to get them to any point as close as I could get to Frith Street. A long journey to get to Cambridge Circus and then a short walk for them.

I picked up heading South on Charing Cross Road, a customer wanting to go to Regency Street, SW1. After 10 minutes we had moved about 50 yards because of the closure of Trafalgar Square, so I suggested it might be easier for him to walk. He agreed and I let him off the £3.40 that had clocked up up to that point, saying it wasn't fair that we'd gone nowhere. Another grateful customer.

From there I managed to get Eastbound along Strand and picked up a job to Euston Station. Since the rank was back in operation after some refurbishment work I decided to drive down the ramp to see how different it was. A bit cleaner and the island had been removed allowing you to get out of the rank if things re a bit slow down there. Wish I'd taken that option. Sat there for 45 minutes before getting a job to Gibson Square (my second to that famous destination - but never from Manor House Station). Everything after that seemed to keep me North and West with jobs to Crouch End Hill, Rutland Grove in Hammersmith, Chiswick High Road, Kensington High Street, until finally getting back into town for the two "roaders".

Sunday was just as busy, but with road closures still in place until mid-afternoon from the previous day's Gay Pride Festival, and that morning's London 10K run (Why would people want to run that far in London when there's a perfectly good cab network?) This caused some problems for one customer who wanted to get from Pimlico Road to Charing Cross Station. Road closures around Whitehall were causing horrible queues all around Victoria and Westminster. Luckily, chatting to the customer I found out he wanted to get the train to Woolwich so suggested that we cut across Lambeth Bridge and head for Waterloo East. Another changed destination, but another happy customer.

The Rail Air Freight Terminal at Victoria (RAFT) was particularly busy during the afternoon but only resulted in jobs to Tedworth Square, Royal Hospital Road and Fawcett Street. After that, most jobs kept me away from the centre of town and I found myself in some areas i hadn't been to in the nine months since I got my badge. I had a job that took me out to the Turnham Green area so made my way back to Hammersmith Broadway to see if there was anyone heading back into town. Two ladies approached the cab and asked for Maida Vale. I had the route in my head until one of them told me "It's not actually Maida Vale, it's Walterton Road". This threw me completely since I couldn't place the street at all. Now, I could have got the A-Z to see where the road was, but asked if they'd mind me cheating and switching on the sat-nav. "No problem".

So, I programmed in the destination and followed the route. Wish I'd used the A-Z since it would have shown me the final destination and made me think of the route. As it was I followed almost blindly, and when it took me along Great Western Road, right into Woodfield Road, Left Woodfield Place, Left Harrow Road, Right Elgin Avenue instead of just going straight over at the end of Great Western Road I had to apologise to the customers. I got them to the destination but knocked a couple of quid off the fare with which they were happy. And I've got one more area to report to the Tom Tom mapshare system.

All in all a good weekend, cab rent covered, a few quid towards my summer holiday wherever that takes me, and a lesson learned about not being lazy and relying on the sat nav instead of the three and a half years of training on The Knowledge.


Nicey said...

I am liking the blog dude ....
I'll be back

lorenzo said...

Dropping Walterton Road? Outrageous. Any fool knows that's where the 101ers came from. A Rock Musician as well, oh dear. Fawcett Street, now that's a different matter. Well done.


Anonymous said...

Very good're very understanding and a credit to the trade unlike some of the knucleheads you come across. I have been a cabbie on and off now since the mid 80's.. used to live in Highbury..recently moved beyond you to cliftonville, betwixt Margate and Broadstairs!!...yes what a roader!! I Come into town 3 days a week now. Once left the meter running on my way home (empty of course) from Canary Wharf to Margate - £245!!. I'm happy if I can finish my 8hrs anywhere near the Blackwall Tunnel and have developed a sudden liking for jobs to New Cross, Lewisham, Lee Green etc ! so I can point the black beast in the direction of the A2 and home. Stay lucky...regards Nick.

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