There are important regulatory changes that private hire operators, drivers and registered keepers of private hire vehicles are required to make over the coming weeks and months.
These changes, which were approved by the Transport for London (TfL) board on 18 March 2016, are being made to raise standards in London’s private hire industry - improving safety and convenience for customers.
The majority of the changes to the regulations will come into effect on Monday 27 June 2016 for new private hire licence applicants. However, existing licensees have been given more time to prepare for some of the more significant changes. It is vital that you prepare now.
Please take the time to read the information in our notice – and the more detailed information at tfl.gov.uk/ph-regulations - carefully.
One of the first changes, which comes into effect for existing licensees on 11 July, requires all private hire vehicles in London to have hire and reward insurance in place both at the point they are licensed and for the entire time the vehicle is licensed - including when the vehicle is not in use as a private hire vehicle. Details of that insurance must be carried or displayed in the private hire vehicle at all times while the vehicle is licensed as a private hire vehicle.
Licensing action will be taken in cases where licensees are found not to be compliant with regulations.
I will also be writing to you separately, by post, to advise you of these changes.
General Manager, London Taxi and Private Hire
Extra Comment from Tom Scullion:
At first glance the long awaiting changes to the private hire regulations look encouraging.
The salient points in brief:
As from 27 June all new applicants or renewal must have hire and reward insurance in their cars at all times
From 1 October existing will have to comply I don't understand why the existing drivers have this grace period maybe a legal notice period.
English language requirement for all new driver applicants by 1 October 2016 to B1 level standard
National insurance details by 1 October 2016
Private hire operators new operators must provide a booking confirmation to the passenger before their journey starts via email, SMS and MMS and text.
With the vehicle registration
Drivers first name
Drivers PHV number
Photo of driver
Provision of contact facilities
This require new operators to have a call centre 24/7 or the operating times of business this is to allow customers to telephone a call centre and speak with an operator in a London based operating centre to resolve passengers queries, complaints, lost property etc. serious and urgent issues should be reported to the police. A SME call centre would have at least 40 operators per shift at any given time
or shift for larger companies with much more customers the number of call takers could run into the hundreds per shift.
Changes to private hire operating model
Any changes to the operating model must be reported to Tfl.
Basic disclosure check for some staff
If staff who have face to face contact it's the public in a mini van office for example must have proof of a Basic disclosure check.
Uploading driver and vehicle details to Tfl
As from 11 July 2016 new and existing operators must email all driver and vehicle details to Tfl.
Extended from 6 months to a year.
Operators must provide their customers with an accurate fare estimate or set price before the journey starts could this stop surge pricing ? Operators must record the main destination before the journey starts.
These new regulations are welcome and far reaching it currently doesn't cover the massive problem with identity fraud the easiest way to address is fingerprinting for every Taxi and PHV driver. Also PHV drivers licensed with EU drivers licenses what would happen if we were to leave the EU? Advanced driving test here in the UK should also be considered.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sadiq Khan, Caroline Pigeon and Val shawcross for keeping to their word and address the long overdue reform of the private hire regulations.
Let's get one thing straight. These may have the appearance of new regulations, but it's not new legislation. TfL have always been able to enforce these regulations under existing legislation. But on the watch of Leon Daniels, Garrett Emmerson, John Mason, Peter Blake and Helen Chapman, they just chose not to.
As far as these new regulations are concerned:
• The RMT London Taxi Branch were on this case in 2009, seven years ago but were excluded from the United Trade Group meetings by the LTDA, LCDC and Unite. TfL wouldn't meaningfully engage with any Taxi group or Union outside the UTG.
• The United Cabbies Group have been calling for these changes over the past eighteen month, but again were also excluded from the UTG, even though they were the second largest legitimate Taxi representative group.
After just one meeting with the new deputy mayor, the UCG were able to get the engagement policy torn up. With the new broom sweeping clean, many of the old ways are about to change.
Unfortunately, the implementation of this new batch of regulations come too late for many Taxi drivers, some of whom have lost their vehicles, lost their homes, lost their marriages, with many leaving the trader altogether. We've even had suburban drivers who have been in such a sorry state, they have taken their own lives.
WHY have we had to wait so long under the United Trade Groups's representation, for TfL to do the job our licence fee pays them to do?