A Department for Transport (DfT) transport review is seeking evidence based around the future ‘converging’ regulatory regimes of bus, taxi and private hire industries.
The DfT has called upon transport stakeholders to give evidence and information on three areas of the ‘Future of transport regulatory review’.
The call for evidence asks:
whether certain micromobility vehicles (such as electric scooters) should be permitted on the road, and if so what vehicle and user requirements would be appropriate
how effective existing rules are around flexible bus services, and which other areas of the bus, taxi and private hire vehicle framework should be considered in this review
what the opportunities and risks of MaaS platforms might be, and what role central and local governments should play in their development.
Whilst the main focus of the review is based around flexible bus services, there are notable and numerous references to taxis and private hire regulatory framework.
In the 61-page DfT document ‘Future of transport regulatory review call for evidence’ it states: 'The call for evidence response will also inform further work looking at how the bus, taxi and PHV regimes are converging and what legislative framework might be appropriate in future. We would be interested in respondents’ views on what areas of the bus, taxi and PHV framework we should consider in future stages of the regulatory review.'
In the same document the DfT ask: “What areas of the bus, taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) framework should we consider in future stages of the Future of Transport Regulatory Review?
“How else, in your view, can the Government support innovation in the bus, taxi and PHV sectors?”
The report also seeks more evidence on the topic of pre-booking and ad-hoc journeys in bus, taxi and private hire industries.
Under existing regulations, private hire vehicles can only pick up passengers when pre-booked via an operator, rather than from a rank or hailing from the street.
Such regulations provide passengers with important safety protections against unregulated drivers. However, in the last decade smartphone apps have blurred the lines and law governing the taxi and minicab industry.
Taxi driver representatives which include LTDA, RMT and LCDC, have long been advocates in distinguishing what is legally ‘plying for hire’ and what’s not.
However, the DfT paper states: 'Since flexible bus services could become the main form of public transport in some areas in future, there could be benefits in making it easier for ad-hoc passengers to use them and reducing the limits on carriage.
'Experience with taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) apps in recent years has indicated that the concept of pre-booking transport does not necessarily need to mean booking well in advance.
'PHVs can be pre-booked through an operator’s app seconds before a car in that area arrives to pick up a customer.'
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