London Mayor acknowledges private hire fatigue issue, but fails to support fatigue research

The London Mayor has distanced himself from researching the levels of fatigue in the private hire industry, but did acknowledge there is likely to be a problem in the capital.

Following a recent damning report into the high levels of fatigue facing bus drivers in the capital, similar concerns from the London Assembly have now emerged surrounding the fatigue levels of minicab drivers.

In a recent Transport for London (TfL) report, which included a survey by Loughborough University, it found that 21% of bus driver respondents had to fight sleepiness two to three times a week.

The research also found that 17% of bus drivers admitted to falling asleep at least once whilst at the wheel.

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, asked the London Mayor whether similar research would also be conducted in both the taxi and private hire industries working in the capital.

Pidgeon asked today’s Mayor Question Time at City Hall: “Would you look today, go away look at how you could do a similar study with the private hire sector in London, we’ve got some big players as we know in the system there, to make sure we maintain safety for passengers and other road users in the capital.”

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, failed to support the idea of extending the research, explaining that the relationship between private hire operators and TfL was very different to that of the relationship shared by the regulator and the bus companies.

Khan did however acknowledge that there was likely to be a problem with fatigue and the 100,000 plus private hire drivers working on London’s roads.

The London Mayor said: “I think the issue is not knowing there’s a problem, we know there’s a problem, the issue is what the solution will be. We have not got the same levers with operators in the private hire sector as we have with trams, which was also an issue, and buses and the tubes and the trains. So, there’s a whole issue around the regulation of PHV’s and that’s one of the issues I’m hoping to galvanise going forward.

“Once we have more control and more levels, I give you an example the gig economy, so we know many private hire vehicle drivers work for more than one operator, work many many hours, because of the skimming from the top made by the operator, so they got to do that, so they can go from one operator, to another operator, to another operator.

“So there’s lots of concerns about loop holes, but actually the reasons why the loop holes are there, is because there is such poor regulation.”

Since the research in to bus driver fatigue, TfL have committed to making £500,000 available to help bus operators undertake further work to establish the most effective interventions to reduce fatigue.

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