ANNEX - WRITTEN EVIDENCE
ORDER: TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE CARS
LONDON TAXI BOARD'S
We oppose the proposal for
private hire cars to be used as railway substitution services
because necessary protection would be removed as:
Licensed taxis in London
can cater for disabled passengers due to statutory requirements
to be 100 per cent wheelchair accessible by the year 2000, private
hire cars are not currently anticipated to be required to comply
with such criteria.
Passengers on a train do
not have a choice - they have to accept the service which is given
by the train operating company. This situation is directly comparable
to when a customer hails a cab in the street - and they should
therefore be able to expect the highest reasonable levels of safety
and accessibility. The principle when providing a railway substitution
service is thus equivalent to requirements for plying for hire.
We understand that the Government
is due to stipulate that all new trains and buses should also
be 100 per cent wheelchair accessible, taxis have already been
regulated in this fashion. As the entire integrated transport
network becomes 100 per cent wheelchair accessible it would seem
to be a backward step in necessary protection to allow railway
substitution services to utilise a non accessible means of transport.
Standards of passenger safety
would be at risk due to the uncertainty as to whether private
hire car drivers, when licensed in London, will match the standards
currently expected of London.
This order would not
give the necessary protection to consumers if applied and specifically
would be premature in London, where the conditions under which
the minicab industry will operate have yet to be determined.
It should be reconsidered after the issue of licensing London's
private hire cars has been resolved, and dependant on a requirement
for wheelchair accessibility for all private hire cars.
Our proposal is that,
at the very least, London be exempted from the order at this time.
The issue of its application in London should be addressed once
the conditions of licensing minicabs in London are confirmed in
legislation. Only at that time will it be possible to judge its
effect on passengers and the licensed taxi trade.
Geoff Trotter OBE
Chairman, London Taxi
14 January 1998
Memorandum by Newcastle
Hackney Drivers Association
[The first two sections
of the memorandum have not been printed because they refer to
matters which were consulted on but were not included in the final
Northern Ireland Driving
The principle of this former
recommendation would allow any person whether a member of the
EEC or Northern Ireland to find that they have the same rights
and opportunities as any person in this country to apply for a
badge, that is our view because
1) It avoids discrimination
2) It protects the taxi and
private hire trade from "cowboys" etc
3) It gives the public the
service they deserve
Private Hire Vehicles
and Substitute Rail Service
The Government we note wishes
to increase competition by allowing private hire to compete in
this segment of the industry.
The Government's future
proposals will be recommending that all taxis are to be wheelchair
accessible, at present these vehicles are costing £22,000
plus and over. The next few years it is highly probable that the
whole fleet in England and Wales may be renewed.
We do not believe and nor
can it be shown that a person who has invested £22,000 in
a wheelchair accessible vehicle can compete on a fare basis with
a person who has a vehicle costing £1,000 or less.
report of 1992 states that all taxis at station termini will consist
of wheelchair accessible vehicles.
How do we compete? - unless
of course the Government is to recommend that all private hire
vehicles must also be wheelchair accessible or only those vehicles
that are designated to carry rail passengers, that is fair competition.
The other alternative of
course would be for the local authorities to end licensing of
private hire vehicles as in London, therefore those who have invested
in the taxi trade as in London will face no competition.
Never in Newcastle has British
Rail had to wait for taxis to carry passengers onwards to finish
their journey, nor can we see the scenario of the Station Manager
telephoning around various private hire companies to find out
on the night who will be able to take his 50 plus passengers to
various locations and at what price.
Private hire companies work
on a pre booked system, if a train arrives late, say at midnight
or 02.00 hours, no private hire company will be able to accommodate
until their existing bookings are clear, normally within one hour.
Can one really call that
a service, would the then rail company be held to ransom by a
company that can accommodate.
As far as we understand
the system at present works and gives the public the service they
require, any tinkering with it will only create instability for
all who use and rely upon it.
This association believes
that the Government's proposals are full of inadequacies detrimental
to the future of the hackney carriage trade and most of all offer
no real benefit at all to the public who are the fare paying customer,
the most important "goods" of any form of transport.
If the questions we have
asked cannot be met with conditions then the four proposals should
be discarded forthwith.
11th December 1996
Letter from the Office
of the Rail Regulator
1. Thank you for your letter
dated 8 December 1997.
2. You have asked me to comment
on the proposal by the Department of Environment, Transport and
the Regions to allow the use of licensed private hire vehicles,
as well as taxis and buses, where train services have been discontinued.
3. I have not been consulted
by DETR in relation to this proposal but I assume that what is
proposed is an amendment to section 4A of the Transport Act 1962
(the "1962 Act"). Section 4A provides that the British
Railways Board (the "Board") shall have power to secure
the provision by other persons of services for the carriage of
passengers by road, where a railway service has been temporarily
interrupted, or has been discontinued. However, section 4A(7)
provides that such services are not to be provided otherwise than
by means of public service vehicles or licensed taxis. Section
4A was inserted into the 1962 Act by the Transport Act 1985 (the
"1985 Act") and replaced much wider powers, previously
conferred on the Board, to provide services for the carriage of
passengers and goods by road. The Board's powers under section
4A have been, by virtue of section 47(1) of the Railways Act 1993,
transferred so as to be exercisable concurrently with the Board,
to the Franchising Director. However neither the BRB nor the Franchising
Director currently run any rail services (all services being provided
through contracts which do not restrict the ability of operators
to use private hire vehicles).
4. In principle, if BRB or
the Franchising Director were to operate section 4A of the 1962
Act rail services would be applicable to two situations. The first
is in relation to the provision of so called bus substitution
services under section 119 of the 1985 Act. These are services
which are required to be provided by the Board, its successor
companies, or the Franchising Director as a condition of a consent
of the discontinuance of a railway passenger service. Section
119(2) of the 1985 Act provides that such services are to be secured
by the Board or the Franchising Director in exercise of their
powers under section 4A of the 1962 Act, but section 119(2) of
the 1985 Act further provides that the provision of the bus substitution
service "shall be subject to the condition requiring the
bus substitution service and to any other condition imposed by
the Secretary of State [or the Regulator] in connection with the
closure". This would appear to allow the Regulator and/or
the Secretary of State to continue to require the provision of
such services using licensed taxis, notwithstanding the removal
of the obligation in section 4A(7) of the 1962 Act if he considered
that was desirable.
5. It is my understanding
that the only service currently being provided pursuant to section
119 of the 1985 Act, is from Tilbury Town to Tilbury Riverside.
6. The second situation where
section 4A may be relevant relates to the provision of services
where a railway service has been temporarily interrupted. This
commonly occurs where lines are closed to allow engineering work
to take place. However, although the provision of such services
by the Board or the Franchising Director must comply with the
requirements of section 4A, it is my understanding that other
train operators, including the successor companies of the Board,
would not be similarly bound. Since such operators are not currently
required, by section 4A, to use taxis to convey passengers the
relaxation of the requirements will have no practical effect.
An obligation to comply with the previous practice of the Board
could be required under a franchise agreement.
7. For the reasons set out
above I do not think that the proposal will have any practical
effect and therefore I do not see that any necessary protection
will be lost as a result. I am copying this letter to the Franchising
Director in case there is anything which he wishes to add.
J A Rhodes
Passenger Services Group
16 January 1998
Letter from Castle
Harman Solicitors on behalf of the Plymouth Hackney
Taxi and Private Hire
Vehicle Licensing Deregulation Proposals Substitute Train Services
We act on behalf of the
Plymouth Licensed Hackney Carriage Association. The Association
are very concerned about the above proposals and we enclose their
Response to the proposals for your consideration.
If any aspect of the Response
requires clarification, do not hesitate to contact us.
4.1 It is relevant to note
that the proposal will have little impact in London because minicabs
are not licensed. Thus the taxi driver licensed by the Metropolitan
Police will retain a degree of protection. In provincial areas
where a Mandatory Order is in place (and therefore London type
cabs are required) there will be no such protection as against
the licensed private hire vehicle. A Mandatory Order is in place
in the City of Plymouth licensing area. The Association's response
is therefore directed particularly towards the effect of the Government's
proposals in mandatory areas.
4.2 Many train passengers
are likely to be accompanied by substantial amounts of luggage.
It is also common for people to be travelling in family groups.
Pets often travel by rail. The purpose built taxi is able to accommodate
these types of travellers. Not so the private hire vehicle. There
will be instances where two or more private hire vehicles are
required and other instances where because the saloon is unable
to cope with the load, passengers will simply have to make their
own arrangements. The suitability and adaptability of the London
cab is a good reason for continuing to exclude private hire vehicles.
4.3 It should be in the train
operator's interest to keep replacement road services to a minimum.
Licensed taxis are generally on hand at station premises and indeed
usually pay a substantial annual fee for the privilege of being
available to the rail user. In Plymouth (and elsewhere) the taxi
trade provides an excellent service to Rail Stations. In the Association's
experience, excess passenger demand can be met by the taxi trade
without difficulty. If not available immediately additional taxis
can be summoned within minutes. If train operators are concerned
at whether demands can be met taxis can be booked in advance through
a radio office.
4.5 The Association notes
that the proposal is concerned with the removal of a burden on
the train operating companies rather than the effect on the licensed
taxi trade. The Association invites the Government to consider
the effect of the proposal on the licensed taxi trade and any
increase of existing or additional burdens which will be felt
by the taxi trade including financial burdens.
4.6 This paragraph ignores
essential differences between the licensed taxi and private hire
trades. The former is operating under considerable additional
regulatory burden - notably the requirement for a London type
cab and metered fares. The statement referring to the introduction
of a `a healthy element of competition' is misleading. The licensed
private hire trade is not required to comply with these regulatory
burdens, and if Mandatory Orders and fare regulation remain in
place, it will be impossible for the taxi trade to compete. The
Association notes that there is no collateral proposal to remove
Mandatory Orders or taxi fare regulation for journeys inside the
district in which the taxi is licensed. It is hardly helpful to
suggest that taxi drivers `can refuse to make such a journey'.
The Association's members are self employed businessmen trying
to make a living in an extremely difficult market. Most businesses
are able to target particular businesses and make themselves more
or less appealing to specific customers. This is not an additional
benefit. The taxi trade is burdened with inbuilt costs which it
cannot avoid. If taxis refused to make journeys then such action
will certainly make the private hire trade healthier. Taken to
its extreme, such action would achieve the extinction of the taxi
Cost Savings And Financial
4.7 The benefits to train
operating companies and to the private hire trade are clear. There
is no benefit to the licensed taxi. The statement "allowing
private hire vehicles to be used for substitute services is unlikely
to make any significant financial difference to taxi drivers..."
is we suggest rather presumptuous. It will have a significant
effect on some of our members. The suggestion that the public
may well get a better service, particularly in emergencies, is
again supposition not based on fact. We have already pointed out
that there is no shortage of licensed taxis available at many
Rail Stations. The ability to summon additional taxis is not a
problem we recognise. If the train operators can point to locations
where the supply of taxis is a particular problem, perhaps the
Government could look at ways of encouraging and increasing the
number of licensed taxis in those areas. We rather doubt that
the train operators yet have sufficient data in view of the short
time for which many of them have been in existence.
4.8 The licensed taxi trade,
particularly in mandatory areas, will be the first to confirm
that they can be easily undercut by the private hire trade. Undoubtably,
there would be cost savings to the train operators in employing
private hire vehicles. However, the service provided would not
be the same service that is provided at the present time. A private
hire car is not a taxi. As far as cost savings to the licensed
taxi driver are concerned, while he or she is required to drive
a purpose built vehicle, fuel costs alone will mean that the taxi
will always lose on price. A purpose built vehicle averages twenty-four
miles per gallon according to our Association members. A saloon
car averages anything from thirty-six miles per gallon upwards.
4.9 This is another stark
example of somewhat blinkered thinking on taxi and private hire
matters. No doubt the proposal has the full backing of the private
hire lobby. The effect will be that the taxi trade's position
is further eroded and that more businesses will transfer from
the licensed taxi to the licensed hire car. Time and again our
members make it clear to us that they are not competing on a level
playing field while operating under a Mandatory Order. There are
two important aspects to protection:
(a) Protection of the
Licensed Taxi Trade - we would argue that while a Mandatory Order
is in force reducing the competitiveness of the taxi, the Government
owes the trade a duty to protect it against unfair competition
from others - whether they be licensed or unlicensed - who are
not required to adhere to the same stringent rules. If the Government
do not accept this principle, then they must realise that the
licensed taxi is a condemned species. Why should anyone choose
to add to their costs if they can achieve the same or a better
standard of living operating under a different banner, without
the additional cost burden, and at the same time enjoy the same
benefits available to the licensed taxi driver?
(b) Protection of the Travelling
Public - the introduction of Mandatory Orders in City areas was
in part motivated by the principle that the purpose built vehicle
gives the public a degree of safety which the saloon is unable
to match. From the early days of the Hansom cab, it was accepted
that uniformity of appearance protected the public against interlopers.
Passengers travelling from different parts of the country will
arrive in any given licensed area without any knowledge as to
the appearance of the licensed taxi in that area. Purpose built
vehicles are instantly recognisable as licensed taxis to allcomers.
It is not difficult to `dress up' a saloon car to give it the
appearance of being a licensed private hire car. The Association
do not believe that the licensing of private hire cars affords
sufficient protection to the rail travelling public.
The Government must not
look at this issue in isolation but should take an overall view
of trends in the taxi and private hire trades. It is fair to say
that in some areas where Mandatory Orders are in force, the taxi
trade find that one by one the privileges they were afforded in
return for operating under the burdens of regulation are being
progressively whittled away. The Government white paper rejected
proposals to introduce a one tier system of licensing. The two
tier system therefore remains. This Association has seen its members
forced to accept competition from licensed private hire vehicles
who are now permitted considerable signage suggesting to the public
now well aware of their presence on the street that they are taxis.
In some districts they are allowed to use bus lanes. Some private
hire operators fit meters, giving the appearance of a taxi meter
and private hire vehicles openly form `quasi ranks'. Use of the
word "taxi" is blatant. Touting is commonplace and largely
unchecked in many licensing districts. The current proposals amount
to yet another incentive to desert the taxi trade and join the
private hire bandwagon.
Non implementation of the
proposed amendment to the Transport Act 1962 will go a little
way to reverse the apparent trend from taxis and give our members
some hope that their trade does enjoy a worthwhile future.
18 February 1997
Letter from the Rail
Users' Consultative Committee for Wales
1. Thank you for your letter
of 18 December to our Chairman Mr Charles Hogg, on the issue of
2. The Committee believes
this is a subject which should cause some concern. As the law
stands now, the Licensing Authorities for Hackney Carriages (commonly
called `taxis') and Private Hire Vehicles are, in so far as Wales
is concerned the Unitary Authorities. Hackneys tend to be subject
to stricter conditions than private hire vehicles. Also the standards
applied to drivers tend to be higher but the Committee would stress
that as each authority is autonomous the practices may vary considerably
across the Principality.
3. In Conway the Authority
carries out significant Police and DVLA checks on aspiring drivers.
Those for Hackney Carriage licences are actually interviewed by
a panel of Councillors and tested on their knowledge of the streets
of the locality applied for and on the Bye-Laws. About 10 per
cent are refused a licence for having an unsatisfactory criminal
record or poor street knowledge. Sometimes a combination of both.
4. Regarding vehicles some
authorities impose quite stringent conditions on Hackney Carriages
which can have the effect of ensuring only the conventional "London"
type taxis are used. It is difficult to introduce this provision
especially in the more rural areas. Therefore the vast majority
of vehicles in use (both Hackney and Private Hire) are not disabled
5. The Committee would be
opposed to any reduction in current standards. As it is likely
that licensing authorities apply less stringent standards (generally)
for Private Hire Vehicles and Drivers we would feel, on balance,
that this proposed relaxation would not be of benefit to vulnerable
groups. The public needs more information about what a licensed
private hire vehicle is. Some passengers ask whether it is a
car, a minibus etc. and also what insurance does it have. Could
we therefore query and define the use of the word `taxi' as the
public uses this term to apply generally to both Hackneys and
Private Hire vehicles? If they mean Hackney Carriages we suggest
they should say so.
6. There must be accountability
to a regulatory body should private hire vehicles be given this
opportunity. This regulatory body could be the local licensing
authority or a statutory strategic transport authority, enabling
complainants to follow up any problems encountered. There should
also be a recognition that both taxis and private hire vehicles
become included in any local `integrated transport policy'.
7. The Committee is concerned
about the protection now given to potentially vulnerable groups
of passengers when they are transferred from trains into minibuses
and taxis, when trains do not run or last connections are ignored.
How does the hapless passenger know that the taxi driver is not
an alcoholic, or sex offender.
8. We need to persuade the
Train Operating Companies to provide details of their procedures
and methods of selecting companies they employ when train services
are disrupted and connections missed. These must be sensitive
to the needs of the rail user.
9. Whatever their purpose
all vehicles employed for taxi or private hire work should
be required to meet the highest standards of safety and should
offer a reasonable level of comfort to their passengers - including
any who are disabled. It is also imperative that all operators
and drivers should be entirely reliable and trustworthy
in every aspect of their work.
10. I am copying this letter
to Mr James Rhys, the second Clerk to the House of Commons Deregulation
Clive G Williams
14 January 1998