Case Study:

Metro Taxis, Stockport

Case Study source: Private Hire & Taxi Monthly, January 2013

At a time when many organisations are struggling, Metro Taxis, Stockport’s largest taxi/ private hire firm, is bucking the trend and noticing a surge in new work. “We’re very busy, too busy!” Oliver Byron, General Manager at Metro, told us in December 2012. “In April, we found that our work was stagnating, so we reduced fares by 10%. Since then our numbers of jobs have been going through the roof! We’re expecting 40,000 jobs a week over Christmas.”

The sharp increase in work is particularly impressive given that Stockport is a competitive area: “That’s how we like it,” says Oliver, “We don’t want a monopoly, because that’s when you get lazy. We want to stay on our toes, stay fresh, stay number one.”

Metro clearly prides itself on being ahead of the game, and this is reflected in their choice of dispatch system. As Oliver puts it, “Trapeze is the best taxi dispatch system on the market. We are the biggest taxi firm in this town. We need the best.”

Photo of Metro Taxi officeOliver has now been with Metro for eight years and has seen a lot of changes in the industry. He tells us the new alcohol licensing hours “changed working patterns, there’s now less of a spike at 11 PM and 1 AM when people used to leave pubs and clubs.” In recent years Metro has responded by changing the kind of work it goes after, gaining Freephone contracts with local hospitals and supermarkets. “We have a huge contract with the NHS and we now have 99% of the Freephones in Stockport.”

To win such lucrative contracts, Metro has to offer professional service and consistently high standards. “We were the first company in the area to introduce a fully uniformed fleet,” Oliver says, “We also ensure that all drivers have an NVQ Level 2 in Road Passenger Transport. We take on drivers and help them to participate in and pass the course.” So what do the customers think? “Customer service levels have definitely improved since these changes were made. We use Trapeze’s SMS feedback, and the responses are usually really positive.”

As conversation turns to the Evocab office system, Oliver especially commends “the ease of booking and how quickly you can take bookings. A good operator can take 4-6 jobs a minute now, it’s fantastic.” Evocab also allows Metro to automatically dispatch differently at different times: they use rush hour dispatching routines which ensures that vehicles reach pick-ups more quickly in peak times.

Photo of Metro Taxi driverAdditionally, Metro have installed Trapeze’s flagship Eclipse unit in all their vehicles. “Technology is evolving that quickly at the moment,” Oliver says, “that we felt we needed to do it to keep ahead of the competition.”

“It was much quicker to install Eclipse, saving 30–45 minutes off each vehicle.” Multiply that by 400 cars and you get, well, a lot of saved time! And that’s not the only way the Eclipse has increased efficiency at Metro. “Now when we train a driver, in 20 minutes they’ve mastered more than the basics. Previously they needed at least 40 minutes training over a couple of sessions. Drivers love it, they love how fast it is, that it’s something new, that it’s much more up to date than what they’re used to.”

Oliver’s favourite feature of the Eclipse is its integrated TomTom satellite navigation. “Even the most experienced driver doesn’t know every road in town. The integrated TomTom literally guides you to the pick-up. You just press a button, there’s no messing about entering in postcodes.”

Metro have also been very impressed with the Eclipse Fare Calculator. “We actually tested the Fare Calculator and found it was more accurate than a standard meter. We tested it fairly vigorously, at the airport where reception isn’t great, and it stood up to everything we threw at it.” Not only is the Fare Calculator accurate, it also means one less expense for drivers. “It’s nice to bring on a new driver and not have to ask them to install a meter for £250.”

Photo of Metro Taxi infoSo, aside from using a great dispatch system, how does Metro manage such a large firm? “How long have you got?” Oliver laughs, “When people think of a taxi company, they think of the one in Coronation Street: five cars, and one woman taking a call every few minutes.”

Joking aside, it’s clear that Oliver’s passion for his work is a significant part of what makes it all possible. “There’s always something new, a different task, a different challenge. It is the most challenging job I have ever had but also the most rewarding. I can be a social worker, friend, trainer, customer services advisor all in the space of 10 minutes.”

So what’s next for Metro? “At the moment driver recruitment is our primary focus. After we’ve increased the fleet, we can promote the firm and continue increasing our customer base.”

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“Trapeze is the best taxi dispatch system on the market. We are the biggest taxi firm in this town. We need the best.”

- Oliver Byron, General Manager

photo of a Metro Taxi