Private hire driver licenses soared the same year local knowledge test was axed coinciding with Uber
Private hire driver licences in Tyneside went through the roof after the council made the decision to scrap tests for new applicants to prove their basic knowledge of local roads. Coincidentally, the tests were abandoned the same year ride-sharing giants Uber were granted a licence to operate by Newcastle City Council.
In 2015, the year the tests were axed, 1,072 licences were granted by Newcastle City Council - that's almost a thousand more than the previous year. A report on Chronicle Live, highlights a huge surge in private hire licences since then, with the licensing authority admitting they are powerless to stop issuing licences to new applicants. “We understand Hackney carriage drivers are concerned by the number of licences being granted to private hire operations but this has been seen in cities across the country because by law, local authorities are not able to impose a cap on the number of licences we issue," said a council spokesperson. Hackney carriage drivers have raised concerns over the amount of drivers now desperately trying to find enough work to go around, with one saying his earnings have halved since 2015. Drivers have since campaigned for the return of what was dubbed the 'Geordie Knowledge', in the hope of stemming the flow of new drivers who are saturating the industry. A Freedom of Information request to the council revealed by Chronicle Live, showed that over 3,000 new private hire applications from 2015-2018. The only possible saving grace is that this year, so far, only 166 new private hire applications have been processed, showing a down fall in numbers. But has the damage already been done? Lowering standards and increased numbers has now left many drivers worried about the future of their trade.
Image: Source; Taxipoint