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DRIVER SHORTAGES: Nearly 70% of regular taxi and PHV users struggle to book a cab says Autocab study

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

A major taxi and private hire driver shortage continues to impact the UK as a new study shows almost 70% of regular cab users have struggled or completely failed in their attempt to book a taxi since December 2021.

The research, commissioned by taxi technology company Autocab, reveals that almost three quarters (72%) of respondents missed or were late for an important event due to the lack of availability – this includes more than one quarter (26%) who were trying to attend a medical appointment.

In some areas of the UK, the taxi and private hire industry is currently experiencing a chronic shortage of drivers after thousands left the profession when job numbers plummeted during the pandemic.

Across the board, Private Hire and Taxi operators who are signed up to Autocab’s iGo Network, which provides trips to drivers across the UK, have seen driver numbers drop by as much as 25% – despite passenger job numbers having returned to pre-Covid levels.

As a result, passengers are now waiting 61% longer for a car to arrive and nearly nine in ten of those surveyed (89%) said they have needed to try several firms to secure rides.

Alarmingly, 72% of respondents said they had to walk home alone from an evening out because they couldn’t get a cab. Close to 60% said they have felt unsafe due to not being able to book a ride, and 43% admitted they are now worried about being stuck out late at night due to fears they won’t be able to book a vehicle home.

Safa Alkateb, CEO of Autocab, said: “The driver shortage is a big problem for everyone in the UK right now. And, as the country opens up again, this lack of taxi availability will only become more noticeable. It will make people’s lives harder and, ultimately, hurt the economy further.

“The reality is that the national fleet we serve is more than 20,000 drivers down right now, and there is no quick fix. We know the operators we work with are doing everything they can to recruit new drivers, but it will take time.

“And while operators are recruiting, they face new barriers to recruitment, as well as retention of their existing fleet – including HMRC tax checks and Clean Air Zone charges for many drivers. These are barriers created by central government and local authorities, and while they serve an important purpose, they remain barriers at a time of crisis.

“So our industry needs support now more than ever from local authorities (the bodies responsible for ensuring people have access to taxi transportation) to resolve this recruitment crisis.”

Amir Khan, Manager at 001 Taxis Oxford, said: “It’s not a great situation that we find ourselves in, but the good news is that the work has returned. And, for anyone considering becoming a taxi driver, there has never been a better time to enter the industry.

“There is no shortage of work and the potential to maximise your earnings from taxi driving has never been greater. We’ve got to get that message out far and wide, if we are going to attract new people into the profession.”


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