TRANSPORT FOR LONDON (TfL) commissioner Peter Hendy defended the licensing authority’s position on the capital’s cab trade in front of hostile questioning from the London Assembly’s transport committee and a public gallery full of taxi drivers who booed and jeered his answers.
PHC highlights several of the commissioner’s replies below. The full 90 minute webcast is available at: www.london.gov.uk /mayor-assembly/london/webcasts
The ability of both parts of these two trades to sit down and discuss some of these serious issues together is limited. It is quite difficult to find a real representative body of people.
With regards to the ‘cabbies cabinet’, we established, with some difficulty, criteria for which groups of people we could deal with, bearing in mind that most membership based organisations are very reluctant to tell you how many members they have got.
“There are some groups that are included in the cabbies cabinet, but don’t seem able to demonstrate any real level of membership in the cab trade.”
In the private hire trade, there are some quite large companies who are not in the one main representative body. And the GMB represent some of the PHV drivers. But overall within the two trades, representation is quite fragmented.
We are supportive in principal of the (private hire numberplate identifier) proposal by the PHV trade over vehicle signage.
What the TfL response to this committee’s report doesn’t say, is that we had a go at this some years ago and the DVLA and Department for Transport were adamantly opposed to it.
And because of that, we couldn’t get anywhere with it.
Which is why we came up with, first the yellow sticker on the front and rear windscreens and then subsequently the prebooked only sticker, that allows vehicles into the bus lanes for the purposes of picking up and setting down passengers.
“We are going to have another go, because we want to be very clear about which vehicles are licensed.”
It seems to me absurd that you can have the stars of the EU on your registration plate, but you cannot put something that is fixed, with the registration number of the vehicle, to identify it as a private hire vehicle.
The other thing to remember is there is one part of the PHV trade that is not keen on recognition, which is the executive, chauffeur side of things.
So we have got to be a bit careful about anything that is mandatory.
After a lot of discussion, we have just heard from the LTDA that they have withdrawn their criminal prosecutions.
Which means we can now go to the High Court to seek a declaration about what the law actually is with regards to taximeters in vehicles.
“As a regulator, I am content with any view of the law which is binding. The problem is that none of this legislation was written in the era of the mobile phone, 4G technology etc.”
So what we have got to get our heads around, in the 21st century, there is a load of modern technology that is not in the legislation, which stated that a taxi meter was defined as a mechanical device fitted to a vehicle and attached to the back axle of a hackney carriage.
Because it is manifestly unsatisfactory, that on the one hand, you’ve got something that people are using, one million people are signed up to Uber and on the other hand, you have people who are reliant on legislation that never contemplated that you could have something in your pocket that could calculate time and distance.
So, if we can get to the High Court and decide that, then we can find out if Uber’s operation is legal or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, they will have to change