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GROWING TAXI AND PHV ISSUE: TfL urge Government to ‘address problems caused by cross-border hiring’

Updated: Jul 31, 2022


Wolverhampton City Council PHV working in London (Credit: @bexleytaxi)

Transport for London (TfL) has urged the Government to ‘address problems caused by cross border hiring’ as part of its response to new taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) guidance proposals.


After a long wait and much lobbying, the Government recently closed a 12-week consultation to update vital Taxi and PHV guidance supplied to local authorities to better cope with new digital ways of working following the boom in ride-hailing services.

A raft of new recommendations have been made, covering pretty much every hot topic impacting the taxi and PHV sector right now, ranging from enhanced driving standard requirements to better signage on taxis.


The Department for Transport (DfT) first issued best practice guidance to licensing authorities in 2006 and this was refreshed in 2010. It has now been recognised that much has changed in the taxi and PHV industry since then and the time has come to update the guidance to ensure it reflects new ways of working, new technology and feedback from interested parties.


One of the big issues within the taxi and PHV industry, cross border hiring, was ignored in the latest update in guidance. Cross border hiring is a common term used to describe when a taxi is lawfully used for PHV purposes in a district outside which it has been licensed to operate. This is a problem in many areas because there are disparities in conditions on licences; a prospective driver in one council district may apply to be licensed as a driver in another district because there are lower standards in driver testing, cheaper licence fees or less rigorous/fewer pre-licence checks.

The term ‘cross border’ is also used when a PHV in one district picks up a passenger from another district. This is legal, provided either that the driver, vehicle, and operator are all licensed by the first district; or that the operator sub-contracts the booking to an operator licensed in another council area. This practice has become increasingly commonplace with the growth of app-based operator models.

Andy Byford, TfL Commissioner, said in his latest TfL Commissioner’s Report: “While we support the role the best practice guidance can play in ensuring taxi and private hire services are safe, inclusive and accessible, we continue to urge the Government to introduce legislation that will address fundamental issues in the industry, including the introduction of national minimum standards, addressing problems caused by cross border hiring, and the introduction of enhanced enforcement powers.


“We welcome the commitment made by Baroness Vere in the recent Queen’s Speech debate to modernise the laws around taxis and private hire vehicles and look forward to working with the DfT to achieve these outcomes.”


Several cab drivers in London have posted up images of out-of area PHVs working in the capital. Since TfL tightened rules which includes safeguarding training, English speaking tests and more costly licensing fees, drivers have sought cheaper and more liberal authorities to licence themselves with.

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