CONSULTATION BACKGROUND – The 2016 Taxi & Private Hire Action Plan stated that: “Effective and strong regulation is the bedrock of passenger safety. To meet the safety challenges of a dynamic taxi and private hire industry we will bring in a number of new measures’.
To deliver on the Action Plan, TfL is launching a public consultation focusing on public safety, which aims to review various aspects of the existing arrangements covering private hire services and to invite comments and suggestions where improvements could be made or are deemed necessary.
ADVANCED DRIVING TEST
Background – The mayor’s Taxi & Private hire Action Plan included a commitment to improving; “The standards of driving across the private hire industry by requiring private hire drivers to pass an advanced driving test before they can be licensed or relicensed.” As professional drivers are carrying fare-paying passengers in an urban environment, it is important for public safety that PHV drivers demonstrate a higher standard of driving than that required for a standard driving licence.
New York is a world city of similar size and stature to London and a useful international comparator. The New York City & Limousine Commission requires all licensed drivers to complete a defensive driving course. This is a classroom-based, six hour, comprehensive driver safety course which provides, “knowledge and techniques for safe and lawful driving”.
Proposal (1) Introduce an advanced driving assessment for all new PHV drivers: The proposed standard of the private hire advanced driving assessment will be the same as the taxi driver advanced driving assessment.
Do you agree or disagree with the proposal to introduce an advanced driving assessment for all PHV drivers? If you do not agree, please explain why. Do you have any comments on a proposed outline driving assessment at Appendix B? (see below)
Driving Element – The observed drive will be between 45-60 minutes in length. The drive will incorporate a short commentary element to assess the driver’s spatial awareness, concentration levels, observation skills and problem solving. The drive will also include a period of driving without being given turn-by-turn directions by the assessor. During this driving part of the test, most PHV candidates will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav.
Proposal (2) Introduce an advanced driving assessment for all existing PHV drivers on the next renewal of their licence: We propose that all existing PHV drivers will be required to take and pass the advanced driving assessment before the renewal of their next licence.
(1) Do you agree or disagree with the proposal to require all existing PHV drivers to take the advanced driving assessment on the next renewal of their licence? If you do not agree, please explain why?
Proposal (3) Introduce an advanced wheelchair assessment for drivers of all wheelchair accessible PHVs: TfL maintains a list of designated wheelchair accessible PHVs, the drivers of which have to meet the duties set out in Section 165 of the Equality Act 2010. To assist these drivers, we propose that they should take a wheelchair assessment similar to that taken by taxi drivers.
(1) Do you agree or disagree with the proposal to introduce an enhanced wheelchair assessment for drivers of all wheelchair accessible PHVs?
(2) Do you agree or disagree that wheelchair accessible PHVs should only be driven by private hire drivers who have completed their wheelchair assessment, while undertaking a booking? If you do not agree, please explain why?
PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE SIGNAGE
Background – The mayor’s Taxi & Private Hire Action Plan included a commitment, “Requiring details of our customer complaints procedure to be clearly displayed in PHVs as they currently are in taxis, ensuring customers can comment about a journey.”
Proposal (1) Contact information in PHVs: It is proposed to introduce a new mandatory signage display in licensed private hire vehicles. The intention is to raise awareness amongst passengers that they can contact TfL if they want to comment on a private hire journey and how they can do this.
It is proposed that the signage combines the existing no-smoking signage with information advising passengers of how to contact TfL if they want to comment on a private hire journey.
It is proposed that the new signage would be double sided and it is envisaged that in most licensed private hire vehicles it would be placed on the nearside and offside passenger windows.
(1) Do you agree or disagree with the proposal to introduce signage in private hire vehicles which will display customer contact information?
(2) Do you agree or disagree with the proposal to introduce additional signage in private hire vehicles which will advise passengers to wear their seatbelt?
(3) Do you agree that these messages should be displayed in one combined sign?
(4) Do you have any alternative suggestions to ensure that passengers are aware of this contact information?
Proposal (2) Introduction of coloured licence discs: The purpose of the licence disc is to demonstrate that the vehicle is currently licensed. This assists TfL’s on-street compliance activity, enabling enforcement officers to identify the validity of the vehicle’s licence status.
We propose to replace the existing PHV licence discs displayed in the front and rear windscreens of private hire vehicles with more visible fluorescent coloured licence discs that change when the vehicle is licensed.
(1) Do you agree or disagree with the proposal to change the colour of the vehicle licence disc on an annual basis?
(2) Do you have any other ideas as to how expired licences can be identified?
Proposal (3) Increasing the visibility of PHVS: TfL takes the view that increasing the visibility of PHVs to indicate they are appropriately licensed, would improve public safety, by enabling compliance and enforcement officials and police officers to recognise unlicensed vehicles easily. Options to make PHVs more easily identifiable while .also allowing the pre-booked signage to be removed, include:
- Replacing the existing licence disc and pre-booked disc with a new sign that will provide passengers and other road users with a clear understanding that the vehicle is licensed.
- Introducing a licence plate fixed to the vehicle body or attached to a bracket using the number plate fastenings. Introducing a single separate licence plate at the rear of the vehicle containing all the relevant information.
- Introducing a combination of rear licence plates and vehicle signage on both sides of the vehicle.
- Any additional signage could potentially include the TfL roundel, operator’s name, PHV licence number and message such as ‘Pre Booked Only’, ‘No Booking, No Ride,’ ‘TfL Licensed PHV’.
Do you support the proposal that private hire vehicles should be more identifiable and do you have any comments on the options listed above?
Proposal (4) Exemptions from displaying the PHV licence disc: Some PHVs have an exemption from displaying a PHV licence disc and these are granted on a case by case basis.
At present, there are only nine PHVs with an exemption from displaying their rear licence disc, due to vehicle design and 1,354 PHVs with an exemption from displaying both licence discs.
It is proposed that exemptions from displaying the new signage would still be considered on a case by case basis and vehicle owners would have to clearly demonstrate why the new signage should not be displayed inside their vehicle.
Do you agree with the proposal that exemptions from displaying the proposed mandatory signage should be considered by TfL on a case by case basis?
Proposal (5) Private hire driver ID: All licensed PHV drivers are issued with an ID card showing a photo of the licensed driver, the driver’s name, their licence number and the expiry date of their licence. PHV drivers are required to wear their ID card at all times when they are working.
We are not planning any changes to the driver ID card, however, we are proposing that a version of the PHV driver’s ID card should be displayed on the nearside of the PHV on the front windscreen in the top corner.
We are interested in your views on whether the information contained on PHV driver ID cards should be more visible from outside of PHVs.
(1) Do you agree or disagree that the information contained on PHV driver ID cards should be more visible from the outside of PHVs?
(2) Do you agree or disagree with the proposal that a version of the PHV driver’s ID card should be displayed on the nearside of the PHV on the windscreen in the top corner?
(3) If you do not agree that the information contained on PHV driver ID cards should be more visible from outside of PHVs or support our proposal please specify.
SEEKING VIEWS ON PHV INSURANCE ARRANGEMENTS AND WHAT MEASURES COULD BE ADOPTED RELATING TO DRIVER APPLICANT CHARACTER AND CONDUCT CHECKS
HIRE & REWARD AND OPERATOR FLEET INSURANCE
Background – The mayor’s Taxi & Private Hire Action Plan included measures to implement and ensure compliance with changes arising out of the Private Hire Regulations Review, including: “Robust Hire & Reward insurance requirements that will mean a policy has to be in place for the duration of the vehicle licence, including when the vehicle is presented for inspection.”
The Action Plan also included a commitment to: “Explore the potential for private hire operators to have their own Hire & Reward or Fleet insurance, covering all their registered drivers and vehicles.”
TfL is now considering the necessity for PHVs to have Hire & Reward insurance at all times in light of the role played by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). It remains the case that vehicles must be covered by Hire & Reward insurance when being presented for licensing and when in use as a PHV.
We welcome consultee’s views as to whether there should be a requirement for PHVs to have Hire & Reward insurance at all times, taking into account the protection provided by the MIB in relation to any uninsured losses. Please explain the reasons for your view.
OPERATOR FLEET INSURANCE – TfL is considering whether it would be appropriate to introduce a requirement for private hire operators to have their own Hire & Reward insurance, as primary cover for all of the private hire drivers and vehicles available to them and welcome your views on this.
By introducing such a requirement, it will ensure that all licensed PHV operators take a greater role in ensuring that all private hire vehicles have appropriate insurance when licensed.
Do you think any changes are needed to the existing PHV Hire & Reward insurance requirements?
- Don’t know
- No opinion
If you answered yes, what changes do you think need to be made?
- Hire & Reward insurance should be in place at all times the vehicle is licensed as a PHV
- PHV operators should be required to have Hire & Reward insurance in place, covering all of the private hire vehicles available to them
- Other (please specify)
- What evidence do you have to support the changes you think are needed and why do you feel this enhances public safety?
CARRY OR DISPLAY OF INSURANCE DETAILS – Following the Private Hire Regulations Review, we introduced a licence condition for insurance details to be displayed in PHVs at all times for the duration of the licence. This was intended to assist our compliance officers when carrying out on-street checks.
We are now reviewing the requirement for insurance details to be displayed in all PHVs having regard to the practicalities of its implementation. There are a variety of vehicle types licensed as PHVs and this means it can be impractical to specify where and how the details should be displayed.
Should PHV drivers be required to produce evidence to TfL Compliance Officers that they are covered by the applicable Hire & Reward insurance policy for inspection?
- Don’t know
- No opinion
If so, what form should the evidence they produce take?
- Photocopy of original certificate
- Letter from insurer or insured person
- Electronic copy of original certificate
- Other (please specify)
BACKGROUND CHARACTER CHECKS FOR PHV DRIVER LICENCE APPLICANTS
Background – The mayor’s Taxi & Private Hire Action Plan included a proposal to investigate: “The feasibility of introducing a minimum three year Enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service check for drivers, to guarantee that a full and comprehensive period of criminal history is available for consideration as part of the licensing process.
Character / DBS checking process – In order to determine whether taxi or PHV applicants satisfy the ‘fit & proper person’ test, TfL requires all applicants to request an enhanced DBS check via TfL’s approved service provider.
The information comes from the Police National Computer and the Enhanced Check is the higher level of DBS check and is only available for those in certain roles that involve working with children or vulnerable adults. This is appropriate for taxi and PHV drivers as the role can, at any time and without prior knowledge, involve being in sole charge of customers under 18 and vulnerable adults.
The Enhanced Check is considered vital to how TfL determines that an individual is suitable for a licence because it allows TfL to consider patterns of behaviour evident in information that is unavailable through other checks.
Overseas criminal record checks – Any applicant who has lived in a country other than the UK for one or more continuous periods of three or more months (other than periods of extended vacation) within three years of the date of application is required to produce a Certificate of Good Conduct (COGC) from the relevant country. This is in addition to the enhanced DBS check that we require for all taxi and private hire applicants.
TfL has been concerned that not all countries provide a COGC and where provided, the information is of less detail than that contained in the Enhanced DBS check. In particular, a COGC does not supply the ‘approved’ and ‘additional information’ that is made available by the Enhanced DBS check. As a result, TfL may not be aware of convictions or misconduct by people who have lived overseas.
Asylum seekers – Any applicant who has been granted or is awaiting a decision to be granted asylum / refugee status will not be required to produce a COGC from the country they are claiming asylum from.
To gain this exemption, the applicant must provide a clear and legible photocopy of either their Certificate of Registration or a letter issued by UK Visas & Immigration, an executive agency of the Home Office.
Consideration of disclosed criminal history – Where an applicant has lived in a country other than the UK, TfL will consider any previous convictions detailed in a COGC. However, one of the main issues with a COGC is the difficulty in verifying its authenticity and the fact that the information is generally of less detail than that contained in an Enhanced DBS check.
TfL needs to have confidence that an applicant’s past criminal behaviour is known if individuals have lived outside the UK and is seeking to improve the vetting of private hire drivers, to ensure a full and comprehensive period of criminal history is available, as part of the licensing process.
A number of steps could be considered to address this issue, including self-declaration of criminal convictions by applicants, references from professionals or those of standing in the country of origin, or a minimum residency in the UK requirement, for example.
Please provide your views on how TfL can best establish background character information for persons who have lived for an extended period outside the UK or come to the UK from another country. Please provide any evidence to support your comments.
HOW TO RESPOND TO THIS CONSULTATION – This consultation seeks views on issues relating to the licensing of private hire vehicles in London. Respondents are invited to comment on the proposals and are also invited to provide relevant information to support our decisions on this issue.
Please let us know your views on these proposals by visiting our consultation website at the following address: consultations.tfl.gov.uk//taxis/improving-phv-safety. All responses must be received by 18 June 2018.
You can also contact us by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org, stating ‘Improving Safety in Taxis & Private Hire Vehicles’ in the subject line.
Alternatively, you can contact TfL by post at:
Improving Safety in PHVs Consultation, FREEPOST TFL CONSULTATIONS