TAXI drivers have called for action to be taken at Swindon railway station to ensure passengers are safer when queuing for cabs.
In 2012, a £1.8m refurbishment of the station forecourt was carried out to modernise the station and offer a more welcoming entrance to the town.
However, cabbies have said that the updated look means that while it may appear nicer, it is unclear for passengers where they need to go to grab a taxi, increasing the risk of an accident and arguments during busy periods.
Among them is Dave Mackie, 62, who has been driving taxis for more than 30 years. He says there needs to be clearer directions from the station to exactly where passengers must go, because as it stands there is only the one sign.
He said: “When it’s quiet there is not too much of an issue. The problem is on a busy period, like a Friday or Saturday night when everyone comes piling out of the station, usually after they have had a few to drink.
“They just crowd the rank and jump in front of each either, sometimes without even knowing they are doing it. No one knows which taxi is first or who is first in the queue so that is how fights begin. Everyone then jumps into the first taxi they see, never mind where it is in the queue.
“There is also no shelter for the elderly and disabled who have quite a distance to travel if the weather is bad. I have seen people struggling in really heavy rain and not know where they are going. The whole project was not thought through properly.”
Many other taxi drivers have echoed this sentiment. One, who did not want to be named said: “It all looks very nice but it isn’t practical. We used to be able to have 50 cars waiting outside, close to the station. Now we can only fit 12 and that is even less if there are coaches arriving.
“The problems it causes are just not worth a few extra benches. It’s a total waste of money.”
The drivers think there are a number of low cost solutions which could be implemented to help solve the problem.
Dave said: “What you could do is put in barriers like you see at Alton Towers and theme parks. That way it would be very clear who is meant to be first in line and it would be very organised.
“At Bristol Temple Meads the taxi rank is covered and they have put footprint markers on the floor. If we could have something like that in Swindon it would make things better.
“It surely wouldn’t cost that much and make things so much easier for everyone.”