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London black taxi decline ‘inevitability of the world’s technology today’, PHV rep tells City Hall

In a vital session this week, the London Assembly Transport Committee convened to scrutinise the difficulties besieging black taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) within London's transport framework.

The critical meeting, highlighted a host of different topics and points of view, one of which focused on the notable decline in taxi drivers and their iconic vehicles.

Steve Wright MBE, Chair of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA), presented a perspective on the evolving landscape of urban transportation. He told the committee: “I think modern technology has actually changed the dynamic of the way taxis and private hire vehicles are booked and as a consequence of that, the old days of cabs cruising the streets and ranking up with today’s traffic are less easy to do. It’s very easy to book with apps and other technology and for that reason people like the convenience of that.

“The other thing is there are lots of requirements to become a black cab driver. I don’t pretend to speak for the black cab industry, but quite clearly there is a change in the demographic across the UK with more private hire coming, pre-bookable, door-to-door service, and less hoping that yellow lights are passing you on the street.

“I just think it’s an inevitability of the world’s technology today.”

Contrastingly, Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), offered a differing viewpoint. He said: “The reality is that we lost four thousand cabs during the pandemic and that’s the primary reason for the number of vehicles being down.

“The pandemic done us an awful lot of damage from which we’re recovering strongly. We’ve invested over £600 million in new vehicles, but it’s a combination of factors, many of which are beyond your (London Assembly) control, but some are within certainly the remit of the Mayor, that have impacted us.

“The key reason we’ve lost a number of drivers we have is the pandemic, changes in regulations, changes in standards that have been applied to us. The cost of running vehicles, the cost of buying vehicles and the age limit has impacted. They are all factors.”

The meeting underlined the complex challenges facing London's iconic black taxis and PHVs. While technological advancements and changing consumer preferences are reshaping the industry, external factors like the pandemic and regulatory changes are also playing a significant role.


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