AFTER MUCH SPECULATION and comment, Transport for London (TfL) has published its proposals, in response to last year’s consultation, to take the capital’s private hire trade forward into the 21st century.
TRANSPORT FOR LONDON PHV PROPOSALS TO BE TAKEN FORWARD
- Operators must have the facility to provide a booking confirmation to passengers containing the photo ID and details of the vehicle being used to discharge the booking, where passengers are able to receive that information.
- TfL will no longer issue licence variations to private hire operator licences to add a late-night or temporary event operating centre.
- Operators will be required to provide specified information to TfL at specified intervals, including details of all drivers and vehicles registered with them.
- Operators must record the main destination for each booking before the journey commences.
- Operators to retain all records for a period of 12 months.
- TfL to control the names under which operators offer private hire services to the public.
- Private hire drivers to be required to demonstrate a certain standard of English, with particular emphasis on the ability on spoken communication – in line with the Home Office requirement for a B1 qualification when applying for citizenship.
- Individual licence applicants to provide National Insurance numbers to TfL.
- A driver’s private hire vehicle licence to be considered for revocation if the private hire driver’s licence is revoked.
- TfL will liaise with the Home Office on introducing DBS checks on private hire operating staff who have contact with the public.
- TfL to stop accepting payment for licence fees by postal order and cheque.
- Drivers to carry a copy of insurance details at all times.
- Introduce new operator licence fee structure to better reflect operator licensing costs, based on operator size. The specific revisions to the licence fee structure will be consulted on separately.
- Amendment of regulations to give TfL the power to control advertising inside, from, or on the outside of a private hire vehicle.
- Operators will be required to notify TfL before changing their operating model.
- Operators must ensure that customers can speak to a real person in the event of a problem with their journey.
- Private hire drivers will be required to have Hire & Reward insurance in place at all times while registered to an operator.
PHV PROPOSALS THAT WILL NOT BE TAKEN FORWARD
- Operators having to provide booking information details to passengers at least five minutes prior to their journey commencing.
- Operators having to offer the ability to pre-book up to seven days in advance.
- Operators being prohibited from showing vehicles as available for immediate hire, either visibly, for example by signage on the street, or virtually, for example via an app.
- Private hire drivers only being able to be registered to a single operator at any time.
WHAT NEXT? TfL will now undertake a regulatory impact assessment consultation on the proposed changes. The results will be put to the TfL Board with a final decision being taken at the Board’s meeting on 17 March.
A TfL spokesman said:
These measures, which will be put to the TfL Board for approval in March, will enhance standards of safety and customer service in light of new technology and the rising numbers of private hire vehicles in London.
In addition, the mayor also secured a commitment to enable TfL to regulate pedicabs, helping to tackle fare abuses and the congestion they cause in Central London.
GARRET EMMERSON / TFL CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER FOR SURFACE TRANSPORT: “Londoners have given a very clear indication of how they would like us to shape the regulation of the PHV industry to deliver improved safety and customer service.
“We had an overwhelming response to the consultation with 16,000 responses and all of the proposals we are taking forward received majority support.
“The final package includes formal English language requirements for drivers, guaranteed fare quotes for customers to complain if they need to, and more information given to customers about the car they are about to get into.
“This will create the environment for a flourishing private hire industry and wide choice for customers alongside London’s iconic and world class taxi service.”
STEVE WRIGHT / LICENSED PRIVATE HIRE CAR ASSOCIATION: “The LPHCA welcomes the announcement of proposals from TfL for modernising and enhancing London’s private hire industry, following consultation.
“The LPHCA is broadly supportive of most of these proposals, but on some we believe that they do not go far enough. Whilst on others, we believe they are over-regulatory and unnecessary.
“Very importantly we believe that some could compromise public safety, specifically the proposal for TfL to no longer issue licence variations to private hire operator licences to add a late-night or temporary event operating centre.”
JO BERTRAM / UBER: “This is good news for Londoners and a victory for commonsense.
“We’re pleased Transport for London has listened to the views of passengers and drivers, dropping the bonkers ideas proposed last year, like compulsory five minute wait times and banning showing cars in apps.
“It means Uber can continue to keep London moving with a convenient, safe and affordable ride at the push of a button.”
STEVE MCNAMARA / LICENSED TAXI DRIVERS ASSOCIATION: “The majority of the mayor’s response to the private hire regulations review is an exercise in pandering to the extensive lobbying power of Uber.
“It is a missed opportunity to tighten up the rules appertaining to the minicab industry, especially those around insurance issues and it is a disgrace that there will continue to be no guarantee that a minicab licensed by TfL is insured.”