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Guernsey's taxi and private hire trade branded "not fit for purpose" after independent review

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Guernsey's taxi and private hire trade has been branded "not fit for purpose" as independent review results are published.

Guernsey’s Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure has received the Taxi and Private Hire Car Review, carried out independently by TAS Partnership following several months of research and engagement with local stakeholders.

The Review details its conclusions and recommendations in a 200+ page report which was presented to the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure on Friday 2 September.

The Committee has only had a very short time to begin considering its many findings, but has made the decision to publish the Review at the earliest opportunity.

The Review was commissioned by the Committee to give a ‘holistic view’ of the issues facing the sector, mindful that there was unlikely to be any one measure that would on its own lead to the kinds of improvements that customers or drivers would want to see.

It found that the current taxi and private hire car sector 'as it currently stands is not fit for purpose - it is failing to provide a decent service that meets passenger needs; it is only marginally sustainable for many drivers; it is disadvantaging the business and tourism economy; it is not attracting the necessary investment towards improvement'.

It also found that the regulatory framework for the sector is hindering improvement and the States of Guernsey does not currently have the tools available to make the necessary changes.

Other conclusions include:

  • The traditional model of self-employed owner-drivers is creating barriers to the introduction of necessary technological improvements and restricting access to potential new drivers.

  • There is an underlying assumption that quantity control will prevent over-provision and enable a stable provision of full-time drivers. However, the current restricted supply of taxi licences (also known as 'plates') has no underlying business model that supports its interventions; nor are there any measurable targets.

  • There is also currently no effective means of ensuring that supply is available when most needed whether it be at peak times or times when traditionally few drivers are prepared to work.

  • The control of fares is entirely cost based and there is no consideration of demand-elasticity to price, nor of market development potential.

  • Quantity control acts as a barrier to new entrants and innovation.

  • Allowing operating taxi licences/plates to be tradeable has created an artificial value for third parties in the plates by restricting plate issue.

  • There is no strategy in place for ensuring an adequate supply of accessible vehicles and/or zero-emission vehicles.

As a result, there is a general sense of stagnation:

  • The sector is dominated by owner drivers who choose when to work.

  • Taxi infrastructure is generally poor.

  • Information is outdated and limited, and policing and enforcement of quality standards is largely reactive.

The Review makes wide-ranging recommendations across a number of areas including quantity control, the licensing of drivers, vehicles, tariffs, accessibility, enforcement and regulatory management, sector representation and marketing. The recommendations are aimed at opening up the market to capacity growth, investment, innovation and a more flexible labour supply.

This aims to improve the customer experience by enabling easier booking, improved accessibility, greener vehicles and assurances of reliability. Among the recommendations is for 20 additional non-transferable taxi plates to be issued to address the inability of the current supply to meet consumer requirements.

Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, President of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure, said: "We know many customers and drivers have been concerned about some of the problems that have been reported recently including a lack of taxi availability, high costs and unreliability. Like us, they're also concerned about the sector's long-term sustainability. At the same time we know many drivers are working long and anti-social hours, under more pressure because the sector as a whole is short of drivers.

“This Review does not pull any punches and I'm grateful to the authors and all those who contributed for that. We wanted a 'warts and all' review so we could make real improvements. It shows the challenges are many, and the changes can't focus on just one area if they are to make a difference. There's no 'silver bullet' and we need to address this in the round.

“Our Committee has already begun to look at the recommendations but it's still early, and we now want to hear the views of stakeholders. We want to work with customers and drivers, and all other interested parties, to support a move to a model that works better for them and works better for our economy, our society and our environment."


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