More than 100,000 texts from people looking for a safe journey home in a licensed minicab or taxi were sent in 2007, tripling the number of Cabwise requests in the two years since its launch.
By texting the word ‘HOME’ to the Cabwise number, 60835, the area a caller is in can be identified and the phone numbers of a black cab company, as well as two local licensed minicab firms, sent back.
The Cabwise service is a key part of the Mayor’s Safer Travel at Night Campaign which works in partnership between the GLA, the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London to raise awareness of the dangers of using illegal minicabs and the safe travel options in the capital at night.
The proportion of women willing to use illegal cabs in the West End has reduced from 18 per cent to four per cent since 2003, and there has been a 46 per cent reduction in cab related sexual offences over the past five years. A record 23,000 text messages were received in December last year.
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said: “Illegal taxi touts pose a real danger to women. Because of Cabwise, and Transport for London’s licensing of the minicab trade, no-one ever has to get into an illegal cab again.
“Our work to crack down on illegal taxi touts, and to make London safer to travel at night, has led to a dramatic reduction in cab-related attacks on women. It has also led to more women becoming aware of the dangers of illegal minicabs, and increasingly unwilling to risk using them.
‘It’s important to remember that a licensed minicab will never tout for business or pick up fares in the street. It’s really not worth the risk of getting into an unlicensed car, especially when Cabwise provides such a safe and easy alternative.”
David Brown, Managing Director of Surface Transport said: “The Cabwise text service has gone from strength to strength and it is really good news to see that more and more Londoners are taking advantage of this innovative service.
“I would remind people for their own safety and peace of mind that licensed minicabs in London must be pre-booked otherwise they are acting illegally and may not be safe.”