London black taxi vehicle licences set to expire before the New Year are to receive a six-month licence extension the capital’s transport regulator has announced.
In March, TfL temporarily closed all six of its vehicle licensing inspection centres, with one reopening a week later to deal with urgent vehicle inspections. By 25 August, all six vehicle inspection centres were reopened with appropriate safety measures in place including: social distancing markers, hand sanitiser stations, personal protective equipment for staff and limits on contact between staff and customers who were asked to wear face coverings.
As a result of these temporary closures, there is now additional demand on the vehicle inspection services as the regulators attempt to work through the backlog of vehicles.
In a ‘notice’ message for all of London’s taxi and private hire drivers, Graham Robinson, TfL Taxi and Private Hire General Manager, wrote: “We have significantly increased our capacity to deal with this extra demand but are still unable to fully accommodate the current volume of requested inspections while maintaining the necessary safety and social distancing controls.”
“We are therefore making some temporary and immediate changes at our vehicle inspection centres. With effect from Wednesday 11 November 2020, we will be prioritising inspections for those vehicles that could not be inspected earlier this year, owing to the temporary closure of our inspection centres, and for which there may have been no inspection for up to 18 months.”
The regulators are permitting those vehicles that have a licence expiry date between 11 November and 31 December (inclusive), where the licence was originally granted in November or December 2019, to remain licensed for a period of six months without an inspection being conducted.
However, TfL did stress that all cabs that were licensed for a further 6 months earlier this year, in response to the temporary closures of the inspection centres, will be required to undertake a vehicle inspection as part of a licence renewal and before the expiry of their current licence, in order to remain licensed.
All other taxi licences, that were issued for 12 months and are due to expire from 11 November to 31 December 2020 (inclusive), will remain licensed for a further 6 months and a vehicle inspection is not required at this time. Licensees will not need to attend an inspection site for a new taxi plate.
In the notice it also references the responsibility of vehicle licensees to ensure the roadworthiness of their cab. It remains a condition of vehicle licensing that a taxi or a private hire vehicle undertakes two MOT inspections per year.