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ADCU: TfL’s boom in minicab licensing ‘RECKLESS AND RELENTLESS’ as concerns for driver welfare grow

A private hire union has called Transport for London’s (TfL) recent boom in minicab licensing ‘reckless and relentless’ as concerns for driver welfare grows.

The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) went on to add that the explosion in private hire vehicle (PHV) driver numbers competing for a slice of the market was ‘bad’ for workers, passengers and the environment.

The union said that the burst was however good for Uber and other ‘big money operators’.

The number of PHV drivers licensed in the capital currently sits at an enormous 100,544. Since October 2022 TfL have licensed over 4,000 additional drivers.

In comparison, Manchester City Council licences a total of 3,673 PHVs in its region according to April 2022 Department for Transport (DfT) data. There are 12,418 PHVs in the whole of Greater Manchester which spans ten licensing authorities.

An ADCU spokesperson said via social media: “TfL Taxi and PH’s reckless and relentless expansion of private hire driver licensing is bad for workers, bad for passengers, bad for public transport and bad for the environment.

“It only benefits Uber, other big money operators and TfL's own finances. We need some reality at City Hall.”

The Mayor of London and TfL have historically called on the Government to provide them with more powers to impose a cap on minicab numbers.

A prominent London taxi industry representative recently suggested that the capital’s regulator COULD do more to cap the number of PHV drivers if they really wanted to.

Currently, if a PHV applicant meets the statutory eligibility criteria, TfL are legally obliged to issue a licence.

Some years back, the Mayor of London called on the Government to provide further legislative powers to cap the total number of PHVs in London.

TfL had altered the structure of licence fees paid by operators of different sizes to better reflect the costs of compliance and enforcement activity. It was hoped it would provide further financial incentive for operators to maximise the efficiency of their operations and minimise the number of vehicles they use across London as a whole.

Paul Brennan, LTDA Chairman, wrote in TAXI Newspaper: “Isn't it amazing how Transport for London (TfL) can't seem to get anything done at the moment – a mere response to an email takes weeks, even months, yet somehow, they managed to licence in excess of 2,500 minicabs in a single week in December.

“How can they justify licensing so many new minicabs on the one hand, whilst on the other implementing restrictions here, there and everywhere to restrict vehicle access and “avoid a car-led recovery.

"This kind of contradictory decision making is at play across TfL. They are (apparently) on a mission to limit the number of cars on the streets of London, to address pollution and the resulting toxic air Londoners are forced to breathe. Meanwhile, they ignore the fact that the most toxic air that Londoners are forced to breathe is actually found in their very own underground system.

“Funny how that gets ignored. Perhaps we should call for cycle lanes to be introduced in the tunnels of the tube network, I bet we’d see some changes if that was the case?"

Brennan added: “Now, TfL and City Hall will tell you 'There’s nothing we can do, if they meet the requirements then we have to licence them.' That’s true, they do, but whilst there may be a requirement to licence them, there is no requirement to do so at such speed and at such high volumes, particularly when everything else you do moves at a glacial pace.

“It’s also true that they have previously been lobbying government to give them the power to limit minicab numbers, (generally only after we and other groups have lobbied them, to lobby the government) but is it really something they’ve pushed hard on? Surely during all the wrangling over successive financial bailouts, they could have sorted out this relatively simple issue. Plus, since the pandemic, their lobbying has all gone pretty quiet. The cynic in me is beginning to think they might be being a tad bit disingenuous and are simply passing the buck to the government on this one.”


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