London taxi fares fixed for Christmas party weekend
Revellers travelling home from central London this weekend can opt to pay a fixed rate for some black cab journeys, rather than being charged by the meter.
The "golden fares" scheme will operate from a rank on Coventry Street, midway between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, on Friday and Saturday nights.
London will be divided into four zones, with fares of £20, £30, £40 or £50, depending on the destination.
Westminster Council's trial service has been backed by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
The trust, which promotes crime-prevention strategies, said it hoped revellers would use the rank and "stay well clear of illegal minicabs touting for business on the streets".
Scheme 'offers certainty'
The service will be available from 2200 to 0400 GMT on 17 and 18 December, and will also be tested on 8/9, 15/16 and 22/23 January.
Passengers will be asked their destination and then asked to pay in advance for their journey.
Participating drivers will be issued with computers to calculate the fare.
Anyone travelling up to three miles will be charged £20, while a seven-mile journey will cost £30.
A £40 charge will apply to those travelling up to 10 miles, and the upper limit of 12 miles will be priced at £50.
The scheme "offers customers certainty about what they are going to pay", said Westminster Council's commissioner of transportation, Martin Low.
"The taxi driver gets the fare up front at the start of the journey with no risk of the passenger not paying.
"Also, many cabbies do live in many of the outer boroughs, so it makes sense for them to be heading home with fare-paying passengers instead of driving empty."
Black cab drivers do not have to take part in the service and metered taxis can still be hailed throughout the West End, the council said.