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THE RULES: Why can London taxis choose to display advertising livery, but minicabs can’t?



Taxi drivers in London drive not only black cabs, but also livered taxis, which display a multitude of different adverts to the public.

The extra revenue generated from the adverts allows fleet owners to rent out the vehicles to cabbies at a cheaper rate. Livery advertising can also help push down the costs of running a taxi for those drivers who have taken the plunge and bought a taxi themselves.

But why are Private Hire Vehicles (PHV) not allowed decal/bodywork advertising and taxis are?


It all comes down to a legislative requirement dating back to 2004, brought in to maintain a clear distinction between taxis and PHVs in London.


Most crucially, section 7(2)(c) of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 states that a PHV licensed by Transport for London (TfL) should not be “of such design and appearance as would lead any person to believe that the vehicle is a London cab”.

Furthermore Regulation 8 of the Private Hire Vehicles (London PHV Licences) Regulations 2004 refers to advertising, signs and notices and states:

8. [No signs or advertising material shall be displayed on or from a private hire vehicle], except:

(a) badges or emblems on the radiator or windscreen which are issued by an

organisation—

(i) providing vehicle repair or recovery services; or

(ii) concerned with driving skills and qualifications; [..]

(b) a sign displayed temporarily on a stationary vehicle which contains, and contains

only:

(i) the name and address of a person operating the private hire vehicle, or the

name under which he carries on that business and its address; and

(ii) the name of a passenger for whom a private hire booking has been [made; or]

[(c) other signs or advertising material in such locations and for such purposes as the

licensing authority may approve from time to time for either:

(i) specified private hire vehicles; or

(ii) all private hire vehicles.]

TfL’s stance on minicab vehicles displaying livery advertising is unlikely to change, given their recent response to draft proposals on the topic created by Department for Transport (DfT). In fact TfL went as far to say: “We agree that it is both unnecessary and inappropriate to impose a livery requirement on PHVs.”

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