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Understanding the differences: Hackneys, Taxis, Minicabs, Private Hire Vehicles, and Chauffeurs

With an ever-growing array of passenger transportation options in the United Kingdom, the public and some media sources are finding it difficult to understand the distinctions between various services available.

This article aims to break down the differences between Hackney Carriages, Taxis, Minicabs, Private Hire Vehicles, and Chauffeur Services, grouping some together and shedding light on the type of vehicles used, fare charging methods, and the level of training required for the drivers.

Hackney Carriages, Black Cabs and Taxis are all the same: These include vehicles such as the iconic wheelchair accessible black cabs seen across the UK transport system. However, it’s worth noting that not all taxis will be purpose built taxi models. In more rural areas, cheaper saloon style vehicles are used, but they do retain certain characteristics. Hackney Carriages are easily recognisable due to their illuminated "TAXI" sign and can be hailed from the street or found at designated taxi ranks. These vehicles must adhere to strict regulations set by local councils which dictate features such as accessibility, taximeters, and vehicle age limits. The fares charged are calculated using a taximeter, with rates determined by local authorities.

Minicabs, Private Hire Vehicles (PHV) and Ridehail are all the same: Minicabs and Private Hire Vehicles provide pre-booked services and cannot be hailed from the street. These vehicles, often diverse in make and model, must be licensed and insured by local authorities. Minicabs and private hire vehicles do not display the iconic "TAXI" sign. Fare pricing for these services is usually fixed based on the journey distance or pre-agreed rates at the time of booking. All bookings must be made via an operator and not through the driver. Some of the UK’s biggest minicab operators include Uber, Bolt, Veezu, and Addison Lee.

Chauffeur Services: Catering to clients seeking a more luxurious and personalised experience, chauffeur services often offer higher-end vehicles and arrive with suited and booted drivers. Chauffeurs usually hold the same licences as minicab drivers licences. Chauffeur services are pre-booked. The fare structure tends to be fixed or calculated based on distance, and additional charges may apply for extra services such as airport transfers, waiting times, or event packages. Some chauffeurs work exclusively with one client or passenger and take a set annual salary.

Understanding the differences between the services is vital to make informed and safe choices when selecting transportation options.


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