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The taxi and PHV 'White Paper' that could transform CROSS BORDER HIRE in Wales

Updated: Mar 30, 2023


Image credit: Welsh Government

Cross border hire is a term that refers to the practice of taxi and private hire drivers operating in areas where they are not licensed. This can create problems for local licensing authorities, passengers, and other drivers, as it can affect the quality, safety, and availability of services.


Cross border hire can happen for different reasons, such as:


  • Drivers seeking more work or higher fares in busier areas

  • Drivers using online platforms that do not restrict bookings to licensed areas

  • Drivers exploiting loopholes in the current legislation that allow them to work anywhere in England and Wales.

Some of the issues that cross border hire can cause are:


  • Lack of enforcement and accountability for drivers who do not comply with local standards and regulations

  • Unfair competition and loss of income for local drivers who follow the rules

  • Confusion and dissatisfaction for passengers who may not get the service they expect or pay for

  • Increased congestion and pollution in popular destinations.

To address these issues, the Welsh Government has published a white paper that proposes a new Taxi and Private Hire Bill. The bill aims to:


  • Create a national licensing framework for taxi and private hire services in Wales

  • Introduce consistent standards and requirements for drivers, vehicles, and operators across Wales

  • Strengthen enforcement powers and sanctions for non-compliance

  • Improve passenger safety and accessibility

  • Support innovation and sustainability in the sector.


The bill also proposes to tackle cross-border hiring. The Welsh Governemnt have some concerns that PHV drivers may travel to other licensing regions outside of Wales to obtain lower standard licences and then predominantly work in Wales using pre-booked methods.


It's been propped that the Government do not wish to stop legitimate journeys that cross the border between Wales and England such as airport runs, but there is a move to prevent drivers mainly working in Wales when licensed in England where there are differing licensing standards.


The white paper is open for consultation until 1 June 2023. The Welsh Government invites feedback from stakeholders and the public on the proposed bill and its impact on taxi and private hire services in Wales.


Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, said in a cabinet statement: “Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) play a vital role: making public transport a more practical choice by providing connections for the first and last mile of journeys and moving people at times when other transport services are not operating or in places where they are not available.


“This is also about social justice. Taxis and PHVs are particularly important in communities with low levels of car ownership and they play a crucial role in school, social care and patient transport where there isn’t a suitable public transport alternative.


“Given the importance of the sector, we should expect consistent standards across Wales. Currently, there is far too much variation in terms of suitability checks and training requirements for drivers, vehicle age and emissions standards, and the requirements to become an operator.


“This leads to an inconsistent service and is unfair on drivers and operators facing competition from drivers licensed to lower standards in neighbouring local authorities.


“We recognise that we need to level that playing field and our proposals will deliver better, safer, more consistent services. We will achieve this through the introduction of national minimum standards for licenced taxis, PHVs, drivers and operators, improved local authority enforcement powers, and better information sharing.

“As the taxi and PHV sector has modernised rapidly in recent years, the legislative framework has simply not kept up with the pace of change. Our proposals are based on extensive engagement with the industry and key stakeholders on the most pressing issues facing the sector, but we recognise that some issues will need to be re-visited as the industry landscape continues to evolve.

“I welcome views from drivers, our social partners, the wider industry and all of those who want to see a thriving, safe and reliable taxi and PHV sector in Wales.”

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