"The first time people use us is because they've got into a situation. They didn't mean to drink and have ended up having a few," Jason says. "What we're finding is lots of people who used us originally as an emergency are now thinking it's not just an emergency service." Jason, Alister and their team of 10 drivers are insured to drive cars worth up to pounds 75,000. They stipulate that the pick-up or return has to be in a six-mile radius of central London, but are happy to go whatever distance. Nearly 40 miles to Maidstone is the furthest so far. They operate 7pm to 1am Sunday to Wednesday and up to 3.30am the rest of the week.
Prices have fallen since Christmas, which has attracted a wider range of people. "It's not just the affluent. Now we get a lot of people who see it as being incredibly good value. People can go from A to B to C before they start drinking, and save all the money on cabs." The cost is a set rate of pounds 10 on any journey up to three miles, then pounds 2.50 a miles applies up to 8.5 miles, falling to a rate of pounds 1.50 a mile. They estimate Fulham Broadway to Mayfair at pounds 10 and Hyde Park Corner to Henley-on-Thames at pounds 67.25. Darren Keirle, 26, one of the drivers, says most of the clients are fine to deal with. "You are driving their machine so they treat you with more respect than they might a normal cab driver," he says. "The little joke always comes out when you see the blue light of a police car and they say, 'That could have been me'."
Jason suspects that if the Government does decide to lower the limit from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50 mg - the equivalent of about one pint, one unit of spirits or two glasses of wine - interest will increase. "If people have to take cabs both ways, they're not going to go out at night," Jason says. "So we're full of positive vibes for the future."
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