A friend went out for a meal and some drinks in Belfast City Centre on Saturday night. Being a sensible fella he left the bar about 11 pm to head home to his house in the Four Winds area of Belfast. Unfortunately for him, he missed the last bus home by a few minutes. Not a problem he thought, he would ring one of our big two taxi companies – an hour later, still no taxi. At this point, he decided to get creative and registered for a Belfast Bike on his phone. The bike got him to Forestside, then he had to walk the rest of the way. It was 1:30 am by the time he got home.
I was thinking if he had this amount of hassle trying to get home at 11 pm what must it be like at kicking out time? There are no late-night public transport options at all. I can understand Translink’s decision on this: sticking a bunch of drunks in a bus together can lead to a whole host of problems.
There is a shortage of taxi drivers but you would think there would be some flexible system for drivers who only want to work Friday and Saturday night. The big two say they offer part-time depot rent but they are a bit vague about the exact details. Reading some reviews from ex drivers, taxiing sounds a pretty hard way to make a living:
Impossible to make a decent wage. Depot rent £136 per week, Car payments average £140 per week, Car insurance average £50 per week, fuel around £100 per week. Thats £426 you have to pay out before you have any money for yourself. Then there’s car servicing as well. You have to work 60+ hours a week and constantly stressed trying to earn enough to pay bills. You’ll be fighting a losing battle because they have way too many drivers for the amount of work available.
My friend did not try Uber. The last time I checked Uber did not have many drivers in Belfast, but maybe this has changed.
The issue is if people can’t get home, they will be reluctant to go to all the bother of heading out. Or worse they will be tempted to drink and drive.
It was easier in the lawless old days of illegal drivers. Some fella would rock up in a 1985 Toyota Corrolla. Over the loud noise of techno he would inform you that if you got stopped by the peelers his name was Peter and he was your cousin giving you a lift home.
The most creative way of getting home was my dad’s friend Mickey. After a night out he used to go to the Chinese next to the bar and order a delivery. The driver would then take the Takeway AND him home. Genius.
Maybe Just Eat needs to start delivering people and food.
I help keep the good ship Slugger afloat by managing the business and techy stuff.