How safe is a UK black cab?
September 22, 2020 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Roughly how safe is a 15 min journey for one person in a UK black cab, assuming driver screen, that they sanitise between customers, masks worn and contactless payment?

I've had cabs where the windows don't open which worried me about ventilation and I know numbers are ticking up, even here in Scotland. I am in a more vulnerable group so don't want to do anything high risk. I think I'm probably being over-anxious but I can't seem to find good advice on it to set my mind to rest or rule it out.
posted by Flitcraft to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
I would feel like it is fairly safe. You could contact the black cab company directly and ask what kind of measures you can expect. Sanitize your hands beforehand to protect the driver and later passengers. Wear a mask. Sanitize your hands after. Cars recirc their air through a filter and I’d hope that for your driver’s safety that the filter was up to date and working well. You might change your mask after.
posted by amanda at 7:06 PM on September 22, 2020

I don’t have any sources to cite, but if there’s a partition between you and the driver AND you’re both wearing masks, there should be very little air circulation between you so I think it’s very low risk.
posted by mekily at 7:12 PM on September 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

I just looked up web pages for two black cab companies in Scotland and they are advertising what you said: contactless payment, screen, sanitation. I would say this is not no risk but it feels as manageable as they can make it. Perhaps wear gloves, too, if it would make you feel comfortable. When you leave the cab, remove and dispose or stow the gloves and sanitize your hands.
posted by amanda at 7:15 PM on September 22, 2020

Safer if you can open a window, or even better, 2 windows.
posted by theora55 at 7:21 PM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

5.1. Is it safe to take a taxi cab or rideshare?

Being in a small, enclosed environment like the cab of a car can lead to high risk of infection if your driver (or customer if you are the driver) is infected with COVID-19. Your risk can be reduced significantly if you wear a mask and insist that the driver (or customer) wear a mask and you leave two windows at least partially open open during the trip. If the ventilation system is used, make sure it is set to outdoor air, and not to recirculated air (which would allow exhaled breath to accumulate). Since exposure time is important, shorter trips are better than longer trips. Try to avoid trips in a city during busy traffic times. Ventilation of the cab also increases with car speed, and so avoiding heavy traffic that leads to prolonged stops is safer, even when the windows are open.

Source: Aerosol FAQ, written by a team of aerosol engineers and scientists (check the"who wrote this" Q for more details)
posted by natabat at 9:18 AM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think overall it's moderately risky. The partition is good, but it's not airtight, and with the driver and other passengers in the car for extended periods I'd expect near saturation absent mask wearing and good ventilation. Assuming driver and passenger have worn masks, left the windows open, and not recirculated the air, it's not that risky, but I don't know how you assure that.
posted by wnissen at 12:51 PM on September 23, 2020

Black cabs are designed to be hosed out so they can be back on the road quickly so it won't do any harm to the vehicle at all to have a pack of anti-bac wipes and before you get in, wipe down everything you're likely to touch or that you're concerned about - seat, handles, screen, etc. Wear gloves and mask, have the windows open. Just ask the driver to wait while you wipe everything down, seal the wipes in a ziploc bag and dispose of it at your destination.
posted by essexjan at 1:14 PM on September 23, 2020

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