The private hire industry in London continues to surge ahead in driver numbers, with new figures released by Transport for London (TfL) showcasing the growing number of licensed private hire drivers and vehicles.
As of the week ending 8 October 2023, there were a whopping 106,356 licensed private hire drivers in the city, contrasting the significantly smaller number of 17,832 licensed black cab taxi drivers.
A private hire driver, often referred to as a minicab driver, is an individual who provides transportation services to passengers in a private vehicle, typically booked in advance through a private hire operator. These include big operators like Uber, Addison Lee and Bolt.
These drivers differ from black cab taxi drivers, who are permitted to pick up passengers without pre-booking. Private hire drivers must hold a valid private hire driver's licence, which is issued by TfL after meeting specific requirements.
Licensing to become a black cab driver involves a more rigorous process to ensure passenger safety and high standards. To obtain a licence, applicants must fulfil several criteria, including a thorough background check, medical assessment, and completion of the "Knowledge of London" test, which examines their understanding of the city's routes and landmarks. They must also have the appropriate insurance coverage for their vehicle.
In the week leading up to 8 October 2023, TfL reported a decrease in the number of licensed private hire drivers by 13, with 86 new licences issued. Alongside this, the number of licensed private hire vehicles witnessed an increase of 94, reaching a total of 90,559, with 408 new licences granted.
The disparity between licensed private hire drivers and black cab taxi drivers is likely to persist.