The Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) has lost its case against TFL's proposals to increased fees for operators with over 11 vehicles to over £3,000, when they were previously under £3,000. It said the measures could "wipe out" operators, "leaving the futures of many drivers, industry suppliers and others connected to the industry in jeopardy".
The UK's largest private hire trade body, United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) applied to intervene in the case, which was heard in the High Court, but its application was rejected.
It has argued that the change in fees breaches the Equality Act of 2010 by forcing drivers to shoulder "unfair costs and regulatory burdens" while denying them representation in the stakeholder process.
TfL announced last year that it was increasing charges for private hire operators for the costs of licensing, compliance and enforcement to reflect the growth of the private hire industry and the costs required to regulate it.
The number of privately licensed drivers soared by 78 per cent from 65,000 to 160,000 last year, while the number of vehicles increased from 50,000 to 112,000 over the same period.
TfL expects the cost of enforcement alone to reach £30m - up from a previous estimate of £4m - over the next five years. With the costs of licensing and compliance taken into account, the total reaches £209m over the same period.
A TfL spokesperson said: “The licence fee changes reflect the increased cost of regulation and associated enforcement activity that has been driven by the huge growth in the private hire industry.
“The changes will fund the additional 250 compliance officers who do a crucial job in driving up standards and ensuring Londoners remain safe. After listening to the views of stakeholders during consultation we amended the fees structure to take into account the potential impact on small and medium-sized operators.
“We consider the changes to fees to be proportionate and will be defending our position.”
James Farrar, chair of the UPHD branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, said: "It's not surprising that gig economy bosses represented by the LPHCA are fighting tooth and nail to pass their cost and regulatory burden on to drivers. But it's dismaying to see TfL work so hard to avoid answering some troubling questions about how it discriminates against 117,000 mostly minority minicab drivers. We have followed this case very carefully and we'll continue to pursue other avenues to challenge institutional racism at Transport for London."
An Addison Lee spokesman said: “We fully support TfL’s efforts to improve safety in the private hire sector through better regulation and more enforcement officers. Addison Lee recognises that these measures need to be paid for and we are happy to play our part through the increase to our licence fee.”
TAXI LEAKS EXTEA BIT :
London's largest Minicab operator, Uber didn't get involved in the case as its alleged they feel they will benefit from the wholesale demise of the smaller operations, leaving them (with TFL's help) with a virtual monopoly of the Ride Hailing industry.