Cabbie dishes the dirt on Christmas taxi antics

AT SOME point this festive season most of us will stagger, stumble and eventually fall into at least one cab.

Often after a party, perhaps late at night, we may remember little of the experience. What we did on the trip, what we said to the driver.

But the taxi driver, sober and alert as they are, remembers everything. And now one has spilled the beans about what passengers are really like at Christmas and New Year - and it's not all that pretty.

Unscheduled stops for sickness, back seat bonking, even a bit of legal breaking and entering - it's all happened to 13 Cabs taxi driver Jag Bajwa during the season to be merry.

The taxi industry is battling hard to win back customers after the onslaught from ride sharing. And a renewed emphasis on customer service is part of the industry's strategy to tempt riders away from Uber and back to traditional taxis.

Jab Bajwa has been driving cabs in Sydney for eight years.
Jab Bajwa has been driving cabs in Sydney for eight years. Supplied

Mr Bajwa, who has been driving cabs around Sydney for eight years, also has his own tips to ensure revellers don't have a cab crisis.

And he said the usual worry about 3am changeover - when taxis reportedly vanish from the streets as drivers' shifts end - is far less of an issue than it used to be.

"I love driving around Christmas," Jag told "There's a lot of traffic, it's very busy and as long as you keeping getting fares and keep your meter running it's all good.

"People's mood does change," he says. "Most of them are joyful and happy and after a few drinks they joke around."

Mr Bajwa could be the most polite cabbie ever but you can't help but think "joyful" is code for "drunk".

He said business doubles in the weeks running up to and around Christmas as people rush to the shops, work parties and family barbecues.


But sometimes people are in too much of a rush.

"It's very hectic. People are always in a hurry and one fare last Christmas I picked up was from the Hills District to the airport.

"We were on time and it was all perfect but after five minutes she said she'd left her cardigan at home. It was her favourite cardigan so we had to turn back.

"Then she realised she didn't have her door keys but she'd remembered she'd left the first floor balcony door open," Mr Bajwa said.

"So I helped her with the ladder and she had to put her feet on my shoulders to get to the balcony.

"Finally, she got her cardigan and her plane and she was very happy and gave me a $60 tip.

"That must have been an important cardigan is what I was thinking," Mr Bajwa said.

What about the more standard situations cabbies have to deal with - like sleepy passengers?

"People falling asleep happens a lot. Going from work to home they are very tired so I ask them what route I should take,"

But he denies he has ever taken advantage of passed out passengers to pump up his fare. "I never take them the long route."

Christmas cabs are the most fun.
Christmas cabs are the most fun. Andrew Tauber


Short term illness is another everyday hazard. "It happens," Mr Bajwa said. "The last time it happened the passenger managed to tell me in time and I stopped so she could throw up outside. Luckily, she was with her friends."

He said no one has ever been sick on the back seat.

The same can't be said for a bit of passion in the wagon. Again, Mr Bajwa is a polite cabbie, but read between the lines.

"Passengers do get romantic in the car. Normally when they are drunk after they have finished a party."

In what way? "That would be too personal," he said. "But they were in the back seat hugging and kissing each other.

"Then they took their seat belts off and got closer.

"They didn't stop until I told them to put their seat belts back on." Safety trumps shagging, it seems.

In recent weeks, Uber has revamped its "community guidelines", essentially the rules for passenger behaviour.

There's some common sense guidelines like no harassing the driver or damaging the car. Coitous is certainly forbidden but so is kissing and even flirting. Commenting on your driver's appearance or asking whether they are single is also not allowed.

Mr Bajwa said his experience with passengers suggest such rules are all a bit draconian.

"I've never had an angry customer," he said. "I try to be professional, well dressed and have a clean cab and if you're nice to them even if they are drunk they will be nice back to you.

"Most customers don't get too personal, they just ask things like what's the longest fare you've had, and do you celebrate Christmas, these types of things."

In another effort to combat Uber, 13 Cabs has launched a new taxi app. Type in your destination and, similar to Uber, it will bring up an estimated fare so you don't get caught short at the other end.

Traditional taxis are upping their game to fight Uber.
Traditional taxis are upping their game to fight Uber. Supplied


And of course with cabs there's no surge pricing. This is where the usual Uber fare increases due to high demand.

A surge price of 2.00x means the normal Uber price has been doubled.

A survey by found Uber users assumed ride sharing was almost always cheaper than cabs. But the difference between the two can be a lot tighter when the surge takes hold

"In Sydney a surge rate of above 1.30 times the normal Uber fare, on a normal weekday daytime, means it's actually cheaper to get a taxi," Graham Cooke, insights manager at the comparison website told

Mr Bajwa has his own list of tips for catching cabs.

"Try to avoid cabs at around midnight as it gets really busy but 10pm is the best time between the post-dinner rush and the midnight dash," he said.

The notorious 3am changeover time is also now less important.

"Lots of cab drivers are working long hours these days until 4.30 or 5am. But the afternoon 3pm changeover can still happen.

"Go to a taxi rank as ranks are where cabs go to first; grab a cab with friends and family as that way you can share the fare and free up another car for someone else."

Mr Bajwa said he'll be working six days a week and up to 10 hours a day this Christmas and New Year. So if you're feeling joyful say hi.

Just don't get too joyful in the back seat and undo your seatbelt.


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