Tyneside's largest taxi firm is accelerating its technology drive by introducing chip and pin payment terminals to its fleet of cabs.
Blueline is believed to be the only taxi firm in the region to provide cashless journeys in all of its cars.
The 55-year-old firm teamed up with Barclaycard to roll out the system, which also takes contactless payments via mobile phones and similar devices using near field communication (NFC) technology.
Blueline’s corporate service manager Frank Sims said: “When it comes to technology this is the way forward. We were the first taxi firm to introduce text messaging for bookings and this is the next stage.
“We’re moving towards the cashless night out where people can go for a meal or to the cinema and even pay for their drinks with a card. It’s one of those things that drivers and passengers will find useful and the reaction has been very positive.”
In recent years, Blueline, which carries out 200,000 passengers every week, has invested more than £5m in technology, introducing the likes of sophisticated booking systems and its own mobile phone app.
Currently, it is also trialling telematics software to monitor driver performance through ‘black box’ recorders that register speed, routes and fuel efficiency. The technology can even record data from before and after a collision.
“The software is amazing,” Mr Sims said. “You can create your own settings, but it can email you if the car is being used at a certain time of night, if it is being driven erratically, or you can log in to see where the car is.”