In response to changes in the private hire industry and the many new services being offered, Transport for London (TfL) has released a new policy statement setting out how private hire and ridesharing services will operate in the UK capital in the future.
The Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) and ridesharing market has been transformed in recent years as new technology has made it easier and cheaper to book rides through apps, resulting in a significant increase in the number of people opting to use PHV services. An increasing number of services are also emerging in London that include ridesharing, in which passengers share vehicles and pay separate fares. Current legislation was introduced before these technologies were developed and TfL recognizes the need for clarity on what is now required to ensure the highest possible standards are kept, while maintaining the safety of passengers.
In response to a changing industry, and the advent of services such as Uber, Lyft, Gett, MyTaxi and Kabbee, TfL has already consulted on and implemented a number of changes to drive up standards and address safety concerns. The agency is currently progressing new regulations to assess private hire drivers and applicants on safeguarding, disability, equality and knowledge of PHV legislation, as part of an enhanced driver assessment package. TfL is also considering proposals for consultation in relation to an advanced driving test, PHV operator fleet insurance, and private hire vehicle signage.
TfL is also considering the impact of removing the Congestion Charge exemption for PHVs, and depending on the outcome of this work, it could be subject to a public consultation. Other areas under consideration include data-sharing arrangements, where operators would provide travel pattern information to improve TfL’s understanding of their services, while also improving management of London’s road network.
“The private hire market is unrecognizable from when current legislation was introduced. The growth of ridesharing and other advances mean that regulation has to be fit for the next decade and not the last,” explained Helen Chapman, TfL’s interim director of licensing, regulation and charging.
“Our vision sets out clearly how we will manage these new developments that improve convenience for customers, while ensuring safety remains our top priority. The document also makes clear that any new developments in the sector have to fit with the objectives of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy.”