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AUTOMATED LAW PASSED: What does it mean for the taxi industry?

Image credit: DALL.E (AI generated)

The Automated Vehicle Bill has now been passed as law, signalling a new era for UK road transport, but crucially potentially also for the taxi industry.

The legislative proposal is aimed at addressing the challenges and opportunities brought about by the introduction of automated cars, but are the relevant discussions being had about the impact it will have on an industry with over 300,000 drivers?

There is a hope that those pushing through the new law must recognise the potential job displacement that could result from a decrease in the demand for human-driven taxis. Will discussions begin that would explore avenues for those within the industry to transition towards roles that accommodate new technology?

The Bill had begun calling for comprehensive regulatory changes, but that moved quickly and the Bill is now law. Current regulations governing taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) services will require revisions to incorporate the safety, licensing, and operational standards for automated vehicles. But again, how will this impact the industry and what level of input will the trade have?

Quite simply, 300,000 taxi and PHV drivers will not be required. If they all stayed it would saturate a market with a now unlimited workforce of AI driven cars to meet the required demand. Some drivers will have to face up to the need to acquire new skills as the industry evolves. What skills can be adapted, ensuring that workers are equipped to manage or work alongside new technologies?

The economic implications of this shift to automated vehicle (AV) has always involved the potential of around 38,000 new jobs created in a new technological sector. But little focus has been placed on assessing the broader impact on the taxi industry and its related employment sectors, acknowledging that changes could have far-reaching effects on the UK economy.

The acceptance of AV taxis by the public will significantly influence the speed of decline for traditional taxi services. At what stage do local authorities stop taking in new taxi driver applications and is the current lack of applicants down to the future threat of AVs?

Automated vehicles are on their way. The timescales and level of autonomy remain unknown, but the technology is now live in cities around the world and as of 2026, in the UK too. This is no longer a futuristic fantasy. This will arrive for many during their working lifetime.


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