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PRE-BOOKED OR ELECTRIC HAIL? New Welsh ‘White Paper’ proposes to define the digital app hail

Welsh White Paper Defines Digital Hail There are big changes afoot in Wales. The Welsh Government recently published a white paper on the Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (Wales) Bill, which aims to radically reform and modernise the taxi and PHV sector.

The White Paper, which is the first step in making new laws, sets out proposals for legislation that would replace the outdated and fragmented laws that currently govern the industry. It acknowledges the potential impact of new technologies and business models on the taxi and PHV sector, such as app-based ride-hailing platforms and electric vehicles.

Proposal to define ‘pre-booking’

There are lots of interesting proposals throughout the paper but one in particular stands out for onlookers across the border; a proper new definition for what constitutes as a 'pre- booking'. It reads:

"The hiring of a taxi or PHV via an operator either at the operator’s office, via the phone, internet or electronic device, for future travel. Taxis can also be pre-booked in person directly with the driver, but this cannot be done in a PHV where bookings are made via an operator."

If this becomes law, it will be the first time that mobile app bookings will be officially defined as pre-bookings. London cabbies have long called for definitions in this area, but the argument here is that these app-based bookings are effectively electronic hails and should be treated as a hail, not a booking.

Defining Plying for Hire

There’s also a proposed Welsh definition of plying-for-hire called ‘there and then hire’ which is as follows:

"The hire of a taxi in person for immediate travel, by a hirer in the location of the vehicle; either on the street (including private land to which the public have access) or by hailing an available taxi."

The interesting terminology here is the ‘in the location of vehicle’ bit. The new proposal completely distances the act from digital and makes hailing completely physical. Ever since technology gathered pace and smartphones enabled the ‘immediate pre-bookings’

of minicabs, many drivers and representatives within London and beyond have argued that the technology is used to circumvent the regulations currently in place and illegally ply for hire.

So far the UK Government has refused to act on these issues and despite many recognising the need for new legislation for taxis and PHVs in the modern age in England, nothing has been done. With Wales now leading by example, could we see the Government finally acting in England? Watch this space.


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