Taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licences will be granted six month extensions upon expiry during the COVID-19 distancing period.
Transport for London (TfL) yesterday issued a ‘Notice’ to the industries following Government guidance on the status of drivers, confirmation of a six-month exemption from MOT testing and other areas, including the six month extension of vehicle licensing in both trades.
As reported by TaxiPoint last week, the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed taxi and minicab drivers can continue working during the current COVID-19 government isolation measures.
However, TfL added yesterday that they “expect all licensees that fall within the vulnerable category to follow Government advice and continue to self-isolate”.
TfL also confirmed taxis will be included in the recent government announcement to extend MOT's by 6 months, meaning that, should any taxi driver wish to, they can continue to work or use their taxi as a private vehicle without an NSL or MOT test.
Taxi or minicab vehicle licences which have expired or are due to expire between 23 March and 30 June (inclusive) will also remain licensed for a period of six months pending the full resumption of vehicle inspections and a decision by TfL on the grant of a new licence.
Graham Robertson, Interim General Manager of Taxi and Private Hire at TfL, said: “We announced a temporary closure of all six vehicle inspection centres while we considered the statement from the Government and appropriate arrangements for taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing inspections during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“To ensure the safety and welfare of our staff and taxi and PHV licensees, we are implementing a number of changes with immediate effect. These changes are being made in light of the exceptional circumstances.
“The changes will enable taxi and private hire drivers to continue to work, however we remind licensees to be mindful of the Government advice that people should stay at home if possible.”
Given the relaxation of rules during the period of unprecedented social isolation, TfL did warn drivers that Compliance Officers will be carrying out targeted on-street checks to ensure vehicles remain fit to be licensed and safe to carry passengers. According to TfL, any vehicle found not to comply will be deemed unfit and therefore unable to continue to be used for service until it can be demonstrated to meet all regulatory standards.
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, wrote to his members saying: “I am pleased to be able to tell you that TfL have agreed to our proposal and will be extending, from the date of expiry, any recently expired or soon to expire taxi vehicle licence for 6 months.”
He continued, saying: “I am currently trying to get the situation on expired or soon to expire driver licences clarified. I have asked that they introduce a similar blanket extension.”
Steve Wright MBE, Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) Chairman, said: "The LPHCA is delighted that TfL taxi and private hire have, following considerable LPHCA lobbying, decided to put together measures for the continuation of Vehicle Licensing to enable vital work to be undertaken by Taxi & PHV drivers in the capital.
“Thanks to the TfL taxi and private hire team, the Mayor’s Office, government officials and others who have lobbied for these measures to be put in place."
The LPHCA is now calling for all other regulatory bodies licensing taxis and PHV to bring in similar measures.
Wright added: "There is still much to do in these challenging times with taxi & PHV as a licensed and criminally record checked industry playing its part. In the meantime, we will continue to work with Government and regulatory bodies across the UK and to disseminate important information to our Members and Partners."
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