Cabbies have been having late-night disputes about passengers wanting to pay their taxi fare by debit or credit card, councillors were told.
Drivers have had several altercations either with taxi marshals or passengers late at night or in the early hours of the morning, according to Conservative councillor Dee Simson.
She told Brighton and Hove City Council’s Licensing Committee that the disputes had been reported in East Street and West Street, in Brighton, where the taxi marshals are based.
They had happened since a rule change earlier this year, requiring taxis to offer cashless payment from the start of last month.
But the rule requiring a card or phone reader applies only to drivers with a new licence or a renewed licence.
When the Licensing Committee last met in February, taxi trade representatives told councillors that most drivers had card readers.
But at Hove Town Hall on Thursday (23 June), Councillor Simson said that she had received several reports of “altercations” over card payments.
She told the committee: “I am hoping as time goes on these altercations between taxi marshals and / or customers and taxi drivers should reduce because more will have card machines.
“I wondered if we have a plan B in case it doesn’t reduce?
“The minutes of the last meeting said the majority of (taxis) have card machines so why is this happening?”
Councillor Simson said that the rules gave passengers the choice of how they paid – not the driver.
Council licensing officer Martin Seymour said that the new rules were a licence condition for about 60 drivers – and the number would rise.
Mr Seymour said: “Some of the cases are drivers using it as an excuse not to take passengers rather than accusing them of being drunk or with food. It’s an easy option to refuse.”
Officers kept a spreadsheet to track which drivers were refusing fares, councillors were told. And, if necessary, officials would speak to drivers.
When the change was proposed, the Brighton and Hove Cab Trade Association asked the council to consult drivers about the payment rules.
The results reflected the association’s own poll of members, with most backing the change, according to a report to the council’s Licensing Committee in February.