Updated: Mar 20, 2022
The Government is ‘confident’ the taxi and private hire industry will ‘bounce back’ after a lack of support for drivers has forced many to leave the sector and not return.
In a recent study by Autocab, the major taxi and private hire driver shortage was highlighted showing almost 70% of regular cab users having struggled or completely failed in their attempt to book a taxi since December 2021.
The research, commissioned by taxi technology company Autocab, revealed that almost three quarters of respondents missed or were late for an important event due to the lack of availability – this includes more than one quarter 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.
In London there is more of an issue with a shortage of black cab vehicles rather than drivers themselves.
The number of licensed taxi vehicles in the capital has dropped by nearly 25% since pandemic restrictions first hit in March 2020. Currently there are 14,491 cabs licensed in the capital compared to 18,341 licensed in April 2020.
A short-term recovery solution for fleets and individual licensed cabbies is to simply keep investing in new EV taxis to keep up with the number of drivers returning to the trade. Gaining finance to buy cabs had been difficult due to the downturn caused by the pandemic, but with demand higher than ever before lenders are now beginning to lend again.
Daniel Zeichner MP asked Robert Courts MP, a Minister for the Department for Transport (DfT), what assessment has been made of the support made available to taxi and private hire drivers around the country during the pandemic. Zeichner described the support as ‘patchy’ and said many experienced drivers have been lost to the sector as a result.
Robert Courts MP said: “I pay tribute to the sector for how it dealt with exceptionally challenging times during the pandemic; the hon. Gentleman is quite right to draw attention to that. These have been unparalleled and difficult times across the entirety of the economy. The key thing is that now we have one of the most open societies in the world because of the success of the vaccine roll-out.
“I am confident that the sector and the wider economy will bounce back.”