Department of Transport release taxi and private hire figures

Largest PHV increase seen in West Midlands driven by increase in the issuing of licences in Wolverhampton

The Department for Transport have released their latest report on taxi and private hire figures across the UK, and the statistics make for interesting reading.

The report shows that the total number of licensed taxi and private hire vehicles and licensed drivers in England reached new record levels, with the total number of licensed vehicles in England increasing by 2.5% (7,200 vehicles) since 2018, to 291,800. This is the highest number since comparable records were first collected in 2005, and was driven by an increase in Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs). 

In 2019, over three quarters (76%) of all licensed vehicles in England were PHVs, while the number of taxis equated to 24%.

There were 362,600 driver licences in 2019, an increase of 0.4% (1,400 licences) compared to the previous year. The report showed that there were 291,800 licensed taxis and PHVs in England in 2019. Around a quarter (70,600) of these vehicles were taxis. The number of licensed vehicles increased by 2.5% from 2018. This was driven by a 4.4% increase in licensed PHVs from the previous year. Licensed PHVs in England outside London increased by 7.4% to 133,100. Overall there has been a 58.1% increase in total licensed vehicles in England since 2005. There were 70,600 licensed taxis in 2019, a 3.0% decrease from 2018. There was a larger decrease in taxis in London compared to England outside of London, 4.2% and 2.5% respectively. There were 221,200 licensed PHVs in 2019, a 4.4% increase from 2018, although there was a larger increase in PHVs in England outside London compared to London, 7.4% and 0.2% respectively. Similarly to last year, on average there were 5.2 licensed taxi and private hire vehicles per 1,000 people in England. The number of licensed vehicles per 1,000 people generally decreases as areas became more rural. In London there were 12.2 licensed vehicles per 1,000 people, approximately double the national average, with 9.9 licensed PHVs and 2.3 licensed taxis per 1,000 people. In England in 2019 the report showed that the total number of licensed vehicles has  increased. However, the North East, the East Midlands and London all saw decreases. Other than the East Midlands, all regions saw increases in the numbers of licensed PHVs and decreases in the numbers of licensed taxis.  

There were 362,600 total licences in England, 1,400 (0.4%) more than in 2018. Of the total licences, 63% were PHV- only licences, 15% were taxi-only 23% licences and 23% were dual taxi/PHV licences. The largest increase was seen in the West Midlands (15.8%, 5,300 driver licences), mainly as a result of a large increase in the number of PHV driver licences (and PHVs) in Wolverhampton. All regions saw decreases in the numbers of taxi-only driver licences while, other than London and the East of England, regions saw increases in the numbers of PHV-only driver licences. Dual driver licences increased in all regions except the North East.

The report also showed that the total number of licensed drivers increased in 52% of licensing authorities (151 out of 293). The largest increases from the previous year in total licensed drivers were seen in South Gloucestershire, Lewes, Wolverhampton, Copeland and Ashfield. While the number of licensed PHV operators increased by 2.8% to 15,500 from the previous year there was still a decline of 6.1% since the peak in PHV operators at 16,500 in 2009. PHV operators declined by 7.0% to 2,200 operators in London and increased by 4.6% to 13,300 operators in England outside London. In England, 16% of all licensed vehicles were wheelchair accessible. 58% of all taxis were wheelchair accessible in 2019 while 2% of PHVs were wheelchair accessible. This is similar to the proportion in 2018. All 20,100 London taxis were wheelchair accessible as required by Transport for London’s ‘Conditions for Fitness’ taxi licensing policy. Similarly to last year, in England (outside of London), metropolitation areas had 82% wheelchair accessible taxis. However, when looking at all licensed vehicles 19% of licensed vehicles in London were wheelchair accessible, compared to 11% of licensed vehicles in rural areas. There was also an increase in the number of authorities requiring disability awareness training for taxi and PHV drivers. The number of authorities requiring disability awareness training for taxi drivers has increased from 41% to 44%, while the number of authorities requiring disability awareness training for PHV drivers has increased from 38% to 41%. Over this time period, the majority of prosecutions carried out were for failing to accept bookings to carry assistance dogs (68%). In 2018, 84% of prosecutions led to a conviction. This conviction rate has been fairly stable since 2013, and most convictions result in a fine. Another aspect of the report showed that over three quarters of authorities required taxi drivers (77% or 225 out of 291) and PHV drivers (77% or 227 out of 293) to complete child sexual abuse (CSA) or child sexual exploitation (CSE) training. These proportions have grown since the previous year. All authorities required a security check for taxi and PHV drivers, with the majority of authorities requiring enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) and barred list checks for taxi drivers (90%, 261 out of 291) and PHV drivers (89%, 262 out of 293). The remaining authorities required an enhanced DBS check. The proportions of authorities requiring enhanced DBS and barred list checks has grown from 79% (for both taxi and PHV drivers) in 2017. Unsurprisingly, the report revealed that the  majority of drivers were male (98%) in 2018/19. These proportions are similar to the previous year. Similar to last year, the average age of a driver was 47 years old, with 29% of drivers being aged under 40. Those aged 60 or over made up 19% of drivers. There has been a slight shift in the age profile of drivers over the past ten years, with a slightly smaller proportion of younger driver and a slightly larger proportion of older drivers. Finally, the two main ethnic groups of drivers were White and Asian or Asian British in 2018/19, making up 42% and 40% of drivers respectively. This compared to 63% and 29% respectively in 2008/09. There was also an increase in the proportion of non-UK nationals working as drivers in England, rising from 14% in 2008/09 to 25% in 2018/19. Image Source: Pixabay 

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