City Hall report calls for a halt to the taxi and private hire race to the bottom

The number of licensed private hire vehicles in London has increased by over 65 per cent since 2014, from 52,811 to 87,921.

TfL needs to bring in higher standards in the industry and the London Assembly is proposing a Charter Mark scheme to give passengers confidence.

Today, the Transport Committee publishes a follow-up report on the taxi and private hire industry. The current approach to regulating the private hire market in London needs to adapt to reflect changes in the sector and give TfL the ability to raise standards.

The report says the impact of taxi and private hire services on congestion and pollution must be addressed. TfL needs to think about ‘smart’ ways to achieve this, given that new powers to cap licence numbers are unlikely to be forthcoming. The move to a cleaner Black Cab fleet is hindered by the slow progress on rapid taxi charging points. The latest available figures [3] show that the Mayor is halfway to reaching his target of a minimum 300 charging points by 2020. The introduction of a new ‘tier’ of regulation that recognises the need for a different approach to high-volume, app-based operators is required, like the system in New York City. Other recommendations include:

  • The taxi action plan should be refreshed, and clear targets set; for example, for the wider and accelerated provision of rapid charging infrastructure across London and the establishment of ranks at all Crossrail stations.

  • The criteria for fit and proper tests for private hire operators should be reviewed.

  • The Mayor should bring forward a more comprehensive analysis of the potential benefits and risks of ride sharing for drivers and passengers, with a view to developing appropriate regulation.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, Chair of the Transport Committee said: “When we published Future Proof in 2014, it was clear the taxi and private hire industry was going through unprecedented change and was careering uncontrollably down a very steep hill. “Five years down the track, the ongoing challenges facing the industry remain largely unresolved and driver despair is setting in. TfL must get a grip on the situation and prioritise this sector in a way it has never done before. A new Charter Mark scheme to set higher standards is a logical step to increase passenger confidence. “Regulation, or a lack of it, is still London’s blind spot. New York has introduced a new ‘tier’ of regulation that recognises the need for a different approach to high-volume, app-based operators. London needs to learn from other cities grappling with the increase in minicabs. “Cleaning up the Black Cab fleet is imperative – but without the charging infrastructure, licenced taxi drivers are understandably reticent to make the switch to electric vehicles. “And passengers need to be reassured that enough wheelchair accessible vehicles are available to those who need them. “There is still a lot of work to be done and it needs to be done urgently, for both passengers and drivers.” 

Image Author: Keith Edkins

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