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Blueline revs up for cashless payments

Tyneside’s largest taxi firm is accelerating its technology drive by introducing chip and pin payment terminals to its fleet of cabs.

Blueline is believed to be the only taxi firm in the region to provide cashless journeys in all of its cars.

The 55-year-old firm has teamed up with Barclaycard to roll out the terminals which also take contactless payments via near field communication (NFC) technology.

Blueline is also trialling telematics software which has been fitted to cabs to monitor driver performance. The ‘black box’ recorders are attached to the vehicle’s diagnostic systems to register drivers’ speed, routes and fuel efficiency and can even record data from pre and post-impact collisions.

Frank Sims, Corporate Services Manager at Blueline, said: “When it comes to technology this is the way forward.

“We were the first taxi firm to introduce text messaging for bookings and this is the next stage. We’re moving towards the cashless night out where people can go for a meal or to the cinema and even pay for their drinks with a card.

“It’s one of those things that both drivers and passengers will find useful and the initial reaction has been very positive.”

Blueline, which has invested more than £5millon in technology in recent years including sophisticated booking systems, software and the development of a mobile phone app, carries more than 200,000 passengers every week.

As well as fitting it in its own fleet of cars, the business is distributing its ‘black box’ telematics software to all kinds of road users including young drivers; fleet and van hire operators; and lease vehicle companies.

Mr Sims said: “We have sold one-off units to parents who want to make sure their teenage kids are not driving like maniacs and we have sold them to businesses with company cars. For £99 for the unit and £99 a year for the data, it not only saves money, it can give you peace of mind at all times.

“The software is amazing. You can create your own settings but it can email you if the car is being used at a certain time of night, if it is being driven erratically or you can log in to see exactly where the car is. It also gives the driver a score out of 100 every week on how efficient and safe they have been driving.”

Blueline’s technology investment is being supported by a significant marketing push with more than 700,000 branded paper bags and bar towels being delivered to cafes, pubs and sandwich shops across Tyneside.

The company believes the chip and pin terminals bring benefits to both its business and domestic passengers. Blueline business account holders will now have an official record of their transaction rather than the traditional ‘chitty’ and can easily monitor their expenses. It also means that passengers without cash at the end of a night out can still pay for a journey home using their card.

Mr Sims added: “There are clear safety benefits because it means people will be less likely to walk home if they have run out of cash. Taxi drivers can also be reluctant to stop off at cashpoints because they’re difficult to access and you do occasionally get passengers running off.

“It also means the drivers are carrying less cash which makes them less vulnerable to robberies and attacks.”

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