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TfL taxi licence renewal debacle could force drivers off the road

Sometimes you hear of stories emanating from the ranks that you’re never quite sure is gospel or not. Did Dave really do the Knowledge all on foot? How did Linda fit a live llama into a TX2? And did TfL really sit on Pete’s taxi licence renewal for months meaning he was unable to work after its expiry? Well one, the latter statement, I can now vouch for as I’m left infuriated just days before my licensed taxi bill is due to expire. So let’s run through the background. I received my pack from my regulators Transport for London in good time and completed the necessary DBS checks as quickly as the process allows. My renewal application with full DBS check was submitted on 28th June 2018. That meant TfL had over two months prior to my current bill expiring to issue me with another one. Five or six weeks pass and I hadn’t heard anything, so I call the the Taxi & Private Hire licensing number to check on its progress. A helpful member of the TfL licensing team assured me that the application had been submitted correctly, it was processing as expected and there was nothing else for me to do or worry about. When I queried when I was likely to expect my new bill, he said “by the end of August”. August passes and no bill lands on the Richardson household doormat. I call again. I go through the 20+ minute wait on the phone and go through the usual security checks. I then sense a little more urgency from the lady I’m speaking to. “I’ve spoken to our urgent licensing team and they’ve informed me the DVLA licence check code has expired.” says the TfL representative. Of course it expired. The check code generated on 28th June 2018 hadn’t been accessed by TfL in the 21-days it remains active for. This raised questions from myself as to why this wasn’t flagged when I rang three weeks prior for which the TfL representative couldn’t comment on. The call handler now had the code and I was told that the team would be acting fast and I could expect an email from TfL soon confirming my new completed renewal. Two days later. No email. I ring the TfL number again to check its progress. I was then confronted with a more sinister conversation just 9 days prior to my licence expiry. The TfL representative checked my details and said he “hoped” that I would have an email confirming my renewal by the end of this week. If I haven’t heard anything call back after the weekend on Monday. That would leave just three days left on my current bill to sort this ever growing mess out. Not happy with relying on the “hope” that I might receive my bill by the 14th September, I asked what would happen if this carries on being unresolved past the expiry. “You will not be able to work Sir” the gut-wrenching, stress inducing, anxiety laden response. Being told you can’t do a job despite following the instructions by the book can only be described as outrageous at best. In my household I’m currently the only earner what with my wife giving birth to an amazing little girl just 4 months ago to go with our other inquisitive little 2-year-old. Things are tight for many in the trade and you can never have enough money where young families are concerned. My thoughts switched straight to how do I pay the mortgage and keep the family home ticking over whilst this carries on! I call my union representatives now as stress levels rise. They took details on my behalf and assure me they will act quickly. Which they have.  Much to my delight a TfL email arrives within the hour, but it doesn’t confirm my new bill renewal! This time the regulator wants my National Insurance Number. A piece of data that was included in the original online licence submission over two months ago! A piece of data that wasn’t requested in the three other conversations I had had.  So that’s where I’m at. And on closer inspection there are more drivers facing this very same problem as Transport for London appear to sit on online renewal applications letting DVLA check-codes expire.

Will I get a licence in time to provide for my family? My regulator will “try”. I’ll have to hope. 

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