Taxis and private hire vehicles: the road to reform - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from the City of London Corporation (TPH 58)

This letter responds to the Committee's call for evidence as part of the inquiry into issues surrounding the licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles. As the Public Carriage Office now performs the licensing role in London, the City Corporation is not in a position to respond fully, to the Committee's questions. Nevertheless, the following comments in the context of the night time economy may be useful to the Committee as background.

The City of London has witnessed considerable growth in the night time economy with now over 400 licensed premises within the Square Mile. As the City only has a small residential population, most of the people making use of the night-time economy in the City live elsewhere and therefore require late night transport home.

The City of London Corporation and City of London Police together with other partners have been working closely together to mitigate certain negative aspects of an increased night-time economy in the City area. These can arise during weekdays when office workers seek entertainment after work hours, but are increasingly also being felt on Friday and Saturday nights with the increase of promoted events in licensed premises. Where there are numerous premises with late licences, there are often large numbers of people dispersing onto the streets in the small hours. The City benefits from a variety of transport options, including overground (main line) rail services, Underground lines and bus routes. Taxis however remain a very popular method of returning home after a late night out.

Recognising that using public transport at night when transport options are more limited can be intimidating for some groups of people, the Safer City Partnership—the City of London's Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership - launched a marshalled taxi rank at Liverpool Street Station. The scheme is operated by Taxi Marshalls, who are licensed taxi drivers supported by police officers, aid passengers to get a taxi to their destination and provide a safe waiting environment. They help to ensure that the supply of taxis meets the demand at any given time, and that taxis are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis helping to avoid disputes in the queue. The rank operates on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings from 10.00 pm to 2.00 am with additional provision in the run up to Christmas.

This scheme is funded and supported by the City of London Corporation, the Safer City Partnership and Transport for London. Additional locations are considered when demand arises, although Liverpool Street has thus far proven to be the only appropriate location for a permanent site. 121,475 people have used the rank since January 2010, bringing the total number of passengers through the scheme since it started in June 2006 to 581,134. These passengers have been transported from the area in 245,286 licensed black cabs (as of 30 November 2010). The numbers of passengers being moved from the area has increased by approximately 11,000 per year for the last 3 years showing the popularity of the scheme.

The City Police also participates in Operation Regina in partnership with the Police Support Group, the Roads Policing Unit, TfL and the Public Carriage Office (PCO). This operation is carried out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and involves stopping minicabs and black cabs and checking drivers' details against the Police National Computer and the Criminal Record Office. Vehicles are also checked to identify whether any offence has been committed. If any offence is disclosed the details are then handed to the PCO. The PCO have a policy of one strike and out when it comes to touting offences and approximately 20 vehicles per month are being removed from the road through this operation. Operations with PCO officers and examiners are run at least two or three times per month in the City.

January 2011

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Prepared 19 July 2011