Addison Lee are to investigate and take appropriate action, if required, after a coronavirus partition screen collapsed down whilst passengers were onboard a private hire vehicle in the capital.
A video on social media has been circulating capturing what is believed to be a Addison Lee vehicle transporting a passenger. During the video, which was recorded by the passenger, the new partition screen is seen coming away from its rooftop fixing and folding over into the passenger compartment.
The driver then pulls the vehicle roadside to reattach the screen with the help of the passenger.
A spokesperson from Addison Lee told TaxiPoint: “We are aware of this situation and will investigate. Following this we will take appropriate action.”
In May, the private hire operator announced its plans to become the first operator to install partition screens between drivers and passengers across its fleet of 4,000 vehicles.
The move comes as findings from a survey of Addison Lee’s largest customers reveals that 80% of them will review policies around how employees get to and from work, with 90% citing safety as their priority when it comes to using minicabs or taxis.
Helen Chapman, Transport for London’s (TfL) Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging, told TaxiPoint: “The safety of licensees and anyone travelling in a taxi or private hire vehicle is paramount.
“We completely understand why some drivers would want to explore having a temporary screen fitted, but any such screen must comply with government and industry regulations in addition to our own requirements to ensure it does not compromise safety.
“We are aware of reports of some private hire vehicles that have been fitted with unapproved screens, and we will take appropriate licensing action where we find this.”
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), said: ”We are aware that after many complaints from the LTDA and others within the trade, TfL are finally taking action and stopping private hire vehicles with partitions."
Grant Davis, Chairman of London Cab Drivers’ Club (LCDC), described the incident as a “joke”. He added: “For several weeks whilst the implementation of screens being fitted was discussed at our conference call meetings, I asked TfL what were they going to do as I was seeing Addison Lee vehicles in London with screens fitted.”
The London Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell has advised TfL that there is no current evidence to suggest any partition screen in cars helps to prevent the spread of coronavirus. If screens are installed they must prove to not pose any injury risk nor compromise safety equipment like airbags.
London's regulators have worked with Millbrook and HORIBA MIRA, two industry leading automotive testing facilities, to develop a bespoke assessment process to ensure screens meet automotive standards and do not affect the overall safety of the vehicle.