Thank you for your email regarding my new Taxi and Private Hire Action Plan. London deserves the best taxi and private hire services available and I am determined to create a vibrant market, with space for all providers to flourish. In order to achieve this, we must make every effort to drive up standards, enforce regulations fairly and improve safety for every passenger in London.
We’ve experienced a period of phenomenal change in the industry in recent years, in particular the role of new technology in enabling more private hire journeys. This new technology has proved popular with customers, while the number of private hire licensees has almost doubled, leading to concerns around congestion, air quality and safety. My Action Plan will ensure that all of our private hire trade is of the highest standard, both in terms of safety and quality, for the benefit of customers.
The new requirement for hire-and-reward insurance to be in place at all times a private hire vehicle is licensed will help ensure that all vehicles and drivers have the correct insurance, meaning that both the passenger and driver are properly covered should an accident occur. The initiative received overwhelming support from the public during Transport for London’s consultation and is already a requirement for all black cab drivers. However, I have asked TfL to keep the insurance issue under review, taking into account the impact on those drivers who do not work full time.
The English language requirement – of a similar standard to that achieved in the early years of secondary school – will improve passenger safety and communication with drivers, for example when a passenger requires medical assistance or needs to direct a driver to take an alternative route. This also received overwhelming support, with 80 per cent of consultees in favour of it.
The introduction of an advanced driving assessment will raise the standard of driving across the private hire industry, improving safety and customer service standards while ensuring that private hire drivers are offered a secure working environment with a pathway to appropriate vocational and educational training.
TfL requires taxis to be purpose designed for London’s unique street network and to be fully accessible to wheelchair users. This means it is a specialist vehicle, which has resulted in limited choice for black cab drivers. From 2018, TfL will no longer license new diesel taxis and taxi drivers will need to have a Zero Emission Capable taxi instead to help clean up the city’s killer air. £65m funding will help drivers to buy cleaner vehicles and rid the oldest, most polluting taxis from our streets much sooner than planned.
I have made clear my intention to maintain and reinforce the two-tier system between taxis and private hire services. Each trade provides an important and unique service in London and I am determined to ensure that standards across both industries reflect the level of safety and quality that passengers expect, and that both can flourish.
Thank you again for writing to me.
Mayor of London