The scheme, which began in December and is supported by West Mercia Police, involves employing taxi marshals in orange high visibility jackets who work in pairs to safely aid night-time revelers on their way home.
Originally trialed in December 2011, the scheme has been commended by the police who reported a reduction in crime and disorder and traffic offences as a result.
Over the party season, one marshal has been stationed by the Odeon cinema to direct the flow of taxis to a ranking point either in front of the Fusion Nightclub or in front of Yates’ Wine Lodge. A second marshal has been overseeing these ranks and preventing dangerous ranking of taxis on the Franklin Barnes corner whilst ensuring that people safely get into the vehicles. Extra support was provided for Sunday 23rd and Monday 24th December and 31st December to account for the key peak Christmas/New year dates, frequently working as late as 4am.
It’s thought that thousands of revelers have used the scheme over the festive period although most have probably been unaware of why everything ran much more smoothly and safely this Christmas. All of the county’s taxi fleets have also cooperated, with taxis queuing safely and not u-turning in front of traffic and passengers. Its popularity has continued to grow during January.
Although delivered by Herefordshire Council’s environmental health and trading standards service, the initiative is funded by West Mercia Police, NHS Herefordshire, Hereford City Council and Heineken. The scheme will operate until the end of March, but Herefordshire Council is trying to get sponsors to allow this to continue.
Cllr Patricia Morgan, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We have seen some really positive benefits as a result of this initiative in a very short period of time. Although it is too early to tell, we are hopeful that alcohol-related hospital admissions will reduce and the feedback is that the well-run taxi ranking is leading to much calmer evenings when the marshals are on duty.