The emerging popularity of “doing lift” services is an issue that regulators need to urgently get to grips with as it is undermining the UK’s stringent taxi and private hire licensing laws.
“Doing lifts” is the phenomena of using social media to buy and sell car journeys. There is an increasing amount of “lifts” groups appearing on social media sites such as Facebook.
The BBC has reported that more than 7,000 people are members of a closed group in Bournemouth, Dorset which is the equivalent of a third of the town’s student population.
People can apply to join closed Facebook “doing lifts” groups and once they have been granted access they can meet other people using their own cars and charging a fee to give them lifts to and from anywhere they want. Often the fees people charge for offering a lift is less than it would have cost to take a licensed taxi or private hire car.
It goes without saying that people offering lifts in the manner described above is committing an offence. Section 80 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 defines a “private hire vehicle” as meaning:
“…a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a hackney carriage or public service vehicle or a London cab or tramcar, which is provided for hire with the services of a driver for the purpose of carrying passengers.”
A number of offences will be relevant in relation to “doing lift” service:
Section 46(1)(a) – It is an offence for the proprietor of a vehicle to act as a private hire without a licence being in force.
Section 46(1)(b) – It is an offence for any person to act as a driver of any private hire vehicle without having a current licence.
Section 46(1)(d) – It is an offence for any person to operate any vehicle as a private hire vehicle without having a current licence.
Aside from the fact that the “doing lifts” industry is illegal, there are also real public safety and protection implications. None of the people nor their cars would have been subject to checks and scrutiny and their insurance will be invalidated by offering lifts on a commercial basis.