The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis welcomes the independent DfT report calling for new legislation to safeguard passengers and cap the rapid growth of private hire vehicles in the UK’s cities.
The wide-reaching changes were proposed by Task and Finish Group Chair Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, and supported by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, taxi apps including Gett and mytaxi, manufacturer LEVC and Transport for London.
New laws to stop drivers and operators cross border hiring, and working wherever they please, no matter which local authority issued them a licence, which ultimately leaves local authorities unable to control who operates in their area and protect residents;
National minimum licensing standards that all drivers and operators must meet to ensure public safety, including enhanced DBS checks, mandatory disability and equality awareness training, child/adult safeguarding awareness training and basic English;
Granting powers to cities such as London to place a cap on spiralling PHV numbers, which is having detrimental impacts on congestion and air quality;
Finally making clear in law that taxis alone retain the right to be hailed on the streets and on ranks, and that private hire vehicles must be pre-booked.
Wes Streeting, Chair of the APPG on Taxis, said: “It is unacceptable that at present some drivers and operators are able to skirt around the law, and operate in one area under a licence they got hold of elsewhere. This dangerous practice of cross border hiring – coupled with a lack of acceptable national licensing standards – is putting public safety at risk. This report shows how urgent action is needed, and the Government now has to bring forward legislation to protect the public and drive up standards in our cities.”
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “The current system is seriously flawed, and is being exploited by PHVs and operators allowing them to work wherever they want, however they want. Local authorities are left powerless and unable to protect their residents. The Government must bring all the report’s recommendations into force without delay. We need a system that is fit for the 21st century and can give passengers confidence that they will be safe whenever they step into a taxi or minicab.”
However, there are some concerns that the report doesn’t focus on minimum wage violations being pushed on minicab drivers.
IWGB UPHD branch chair James Farrar said: “While the report has some good recommendations, it fails to deal with the most pressing issue for minicab drivers -- the chronic violation of minimum wage laws by private hire companies such as Uber. By proposing to give local authorities the power to cap vehicle licenses rather than driver licenses, the recommendations risk giving more power to large fleet owners like Addison Lee, while putting vulnerable workers in an even more precarious position. Just days after the New York City Council took concrete action to guarantee the minimum wage, this report falls short of what's needed to tackle the ongoing abuses of companies operating in the so-called “gig economy”.”