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TAXI INDUSTRY: There is ‘VALUE’ in cross-border hiring despite ‘CHALLENGES’ faced says Government

The Government has acknowledged the ‘challenges out-of-area working’ presents to taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing authorities, but has also argued in favour of the ‘value’ cross-border hiring can bring.

Transport Minister Richard Holden described the value cross-border provides in helping to meet unmet demand in areas where drivers might not be readily available.

Gill Furniss, Labour MP for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough, asked the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he was taking to address cross -border working by private hire vehicles.

Richard Holden replied: “Taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) are permitted to undertake pre-booked work outside of the area in which they are licensed. PHVs are subject to a triple licensing lock; the operator fulfilling the request, the driver and vehicle must all be licensed by the same local authority. The Government is aware of the challenges out-of-area working can present to licensing authorities, but also sees the value this system provides in meeting otherwise unmet demand in areas where drivers might not be immediately available.

“The Government is responsible for setting the regulatory structure within which local licensing authorities in England license the taxi and private hire vehicle trades. The Department for Transport’s Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards recommends enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. All licensing authorities require these checks.”

This summer, Transport for London (TfL) urged the Government to ‘address problems caused by cross- border hiring’ as part of its response to new taxi and PHV guidance proposals.

After a long wait and much lobbying, the Government closed a 12-week consultation to update vital Taxi and PHV guidance supplied to local authorities to better cope with new digital ways of working following the boom in ride-hailing services.

A raft of new recommendations have been made, covering pretty much every hot topic impacting the taxi and PHV sector right now, ranging from enhanced driving standard requirements to better signage on taxis.

One of the big issues within the taxi and PHV industry, cross-border hiring, was however ignored in the latest update in guidance. Cross-border hiring is a common term used to describe when a taxi is lawfully used for PHV purposes in a district outside which it has been licensed to operate. This is a problem in many areas because there are disparities in conditions on licences; a prospective driver in one council district may apply to be licensed as a driver in another district because there are lower standards in driver testing, cheaper licence fees or less rigorous/fewer pre-licence checks.

The term ‘cross-border’ is also used when a PHV in one district picks up a passenger from another district. This is legal, provided either that the driver, vehicle, and operator are all licensed by the first district; or that the operator sub-contracts the booking to an operator licensed in another council area. This practice has become increasingly commonplace with the growth of app-based operator models.


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