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MOTOREX Magazine 2012 97 EN

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REPORT CONTINUED Regulations require each cab to be equipped with a tachograph that records trip data. Analyzing the data is the job of general manager André Hess. The company minimizes downtime by running its own repair shop. Chief mechanic Alessandro Cadorna relies on MOTOREX lubricants and care products. The cabs undergo regular cleaning and prep work in the shop and by drivers between fares. A clean cab is the best calling card. ADVANTAGES OF AN IN-HOUSE WORKSHOP Two full-time mechanics see to the health of the company’s four-wheeled “tools of the trade”. Vehicles are outfitted with the latest taxi equipment at the company’s own workshop. Front brakes are replaced every 20,000 kilometers. Maintenance work on vehicles with included service contracts is done at the workshops specified in the contract. All other maintenance and For fluids, Taxi Ernst Hess is a loyal MOTOREX customer care is performed by the two mechanics on staff. For fluids, Taxi Ernst Hess is a loyal MOTOREX customer. Low-ash MOTOREX LA-X 5W/30 keeps all engines running smoothly and undamaged over an average service life of 500,000 kilometers! The lubricant’s ideal low-lubricity characteristics and extremely low evaporative loss pay off in hard cash. DUTIES AND PLEASURES OF LIFE ON THE ROAD Full-time cab drivers work a twelve-hour shift, which must include at least 1.5 hours of break time under the Work and Rest Time Ordinance (ARV). To ensure compliance, each taxi is equipped with a tachograph that records break times. All taxi-specific equipment, incidentally, is also installed in Hess’s workshop. A display with a radio data link to headquarters shows the driver the customer’s exact address and has many other useful features. In the latest generation of Mercedes- Benz® cabs, the inside rear-view mirror even displays the cost of the trip. Ernst Hess taxi passengers who are short of cash can pay online with any major credit card – a strong selling point for business travelers and tourists especially. A RIDE WITH FREDI TO THE LION MONUMENT Professional cab drivers come from a wide range of occupations and nationalities, and their characters are equally varied. MOTOREX Magazine had the opportunity to ride along and chat with Fredi Steffen. He has 12

Along with regular customers, tourists and businesspeople are important sources of revenue. Taxi businesses are especially sensitive to changes in the economic climate. Regular passenger Stephan (right): Several times a week Fredi Steffen drives disabled passenger Stephan from his parents’ house to a day center and back. An increasing number of customers pay online by credit or debit card, entering their PIN (personal identification number). Modern times, even in the taxi business. The needs of passengers big and small are accommodated wherever possible. Customers who need a child seat should request one when ordering a cab. experienced a thing or two in his career, and passengers appreciate his straightforward, sincere but always discreet manner – so much so that a few of them have become personal friends. When occasional problems arise with passengers who speak a foreign language, Fredi handles them adroitly with a smile and a friendly gesture. Only once did he end up at the wrong destination, when one Asian woman’s pronunciation was so hard to understand that he mistakenly drove her to the youth hostel before figuring out the name of a five star hotel! It is not uncommon for frequent taxi passengers to ask for the same driver every time. “Older people especially want to know who they’re riding with,” says Fredi Steffen. E. Hess taxis often take people shopping, carry tourists on personalized sightseeing tours or whisk businesspeople to Zurich airport. Fredi Steffen especially enjoys his regular trips carrying passengers with disabilities. Besides exercising his driving skills, these offer him the chance to give back to the community and help others. COMPETITION IS FIERCE Competition in the taxi business is generally intense. Each city has its own rules, and the quality of transport services varies widely. Independent drivers often have Repeat customers appreciate the personal contact trouble keeping track of all their costs, cutting prices to a point where they have little left for themselves in the end. Taxi operators must be ready at all times to provide a proper service to passengers with lots of baggage or a pet or who have had a few too many drinks, even at four in the morning. It’s not always easy, as André Hess can relate. The driver’s appearance, the condition of the car and courtesies such as opening the door or helping with luggage can make a big difference. “This is Marlies in Hess taxi 48, please prepare a child seat for a ten-year-old girl; I’ll be at HQ in about three minutes,” calls a driver on the radio. The taxi business never sleeps; as one shift ends, a new one begins. • MOTOREX MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2012 13



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