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TfL pauses enforcement action on minicab drivers yet to meet language and safety requirements


Transport for London (TfL), the regulatory body overseeing London's transport system, has recently announced a pause in enforcement actions against private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers who have not yet met the Safety, Equality, and Rules and Regulations Understanding (SERU) or the English Language Requirement (ELR).


Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, addressed the issue on social media, stating that a trial is being conducted to assess these requirements differently. He acknowledged the difficulties faced by PHV drivers in meeting these standards and assured that no licensing enforcement actions would be taken while the trial is in progress.

Highlighting the ‘crucial’ role of PHV drivers in London's economy, Mayor Khan reaffirmed his commitment to advocating for their interests and those of their passengers.


In contrast, Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, expressed concerns over the decision in an article that appeared on LBC. McNamara questioned the rationale behind allowing drivers who haven’t met the requirements to continue transporting the public, pointing out that such drivers would typically be deemed unfit for a new licence.


The current licensing framework mandates new applicants for a London PHV driver’s licence to pass the ELR and SERU assessments from 1 April 2023. Existing drivers are categorised into four groups, each with specific deadlines to meet these requirements. The recent notice primarily impacts Group 1 drivers, who were required to pass these assessments by 30 September 2023 but failed to do so. While many in this group have complied, some still need to meet the standards.

Graham Robinson, General Manager of TfL Taxi and PHV, acknowledged the feedback received during the assessment process in a notice sent to taxi and PHV workers. In response, TfL plans to trial a new approach to the SERU assessment, making it an open-book test. This adjustment aims to shift the focus from memorisation to critical thinking, scenario evaluation, and problem-solving.


Robinson states in the notice: “The SERU assessment is not and has never intended to be a memory test. A number of drivers have fed back to us that, in an assessment environment, it can be difficult to recall precise answers without referring to the Handbook.


“We therefore intend to trial making the PHV driver handbook available for drivers to refer to during the SERU assessment i.e. an open-book SERU assessment. This will allow drivers to focus more on critical thinking, scenario evaluation and problem solving and less on simply recalling facts, information and technical terms. This is consistent with our overall objective, that drivers know how to act in the light of their obligations, rather than ensuring that drivers are able to produce the right answers (using the correct technical language) in a test.”

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