A survey of Taxi and Private Hire passengers conducted by the London Assembly has found that less than half of passengers know whether a minicab is licensed, while only two thirds of black cab passengers know how to identify whether their taxi is licensed.
85 per cent of taxi and private hire passengers say it is important to know if a taxi or minicab is licensed to feel safe travelling in it.
Over the past six months, the London Assembly Transport Committee has conducted an in-depth investigation into the London cab industry – surveying both passengers and drivers.
The investigation has highlighted some worrying problems.
‘Future Proof’, is the Transport Committee’s report into the Taxi and Private Hire industries.
Caroline Pidgeon AM, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee said;
“The interest in and focus on the arrival of Uber in London has become a distraction from some very serious issues facing the Taxi and Private Hire industries. Transport for London’s (TfL’s) performance as regulator and enforcer has been woefully inadequate and the interests of the passenger are being largely ignored. A strategy and vision for the future is essential in order to support the industry and provide the service that passengers require.”
“TfL needs to get to grips with the basics – such as improving signage, installing more taxi ranks and staying ahead of the rapid technological advances, putting the passenger first – which is what Londoners and our visitors expect and deserve.”
The Committee has made nineteen recommendations to the Mayor and TfL.
Those recommendations include;
- Publish a long term strategy for the development of the taxi and private hire industries, strengthening enforcement and clamping down on touting.
- Improve vehicle and rank signage and develop specific public awareness campaigns which show how to correctly identify whether a driver/vehicle is licensed.
- Set out plans to ensure that all Underground stations located on the 24-hour Tube network have a taxi rank in place by the launch of the programme in September 2015.
- Incentivise the uptake of cashless payment options.
- Provide incentives to Private Hire vehicles to become wheelchair accessible.
REPORT FINDINGS SUMMARY:
2207 rank spaces in Greater London – 1399 in inner London, 808 in outer London.
74 per cent of rank spaces are north of the river.
Westminster has the highest number of rank spaces with 805.
Bexley has the lowest number of rank spaces with 2.
Brent has the worst rank space to tube station ratio, with 20 tube stations but only 26 rank spaces.
***TfL currently has 77 open rank location requests and is unable to provide information on how long these requests have been outstanding.
40 per cent of passengers told us they would be more likely to use cabs if they could pay by means other than cash. There is significant appetite for new technology from both passengers and drivers, especially when it comes to booking and paying. TfL must ensure that it has the regulatory muscle, and the political will, to hold the line against developments which threaten the interests of passengers.
Touting is viewed by both industries as the single biggest enforcement and passenger safety issue affecting the trades. Enforcement numbers are ‘outstandingly low’, compared with other world cities. New York City has around five times more enforcement officers than London.
Effective communication between TfL and the trades is vital to implementing changes to the industry that will benefit passengers, but communication appears to have hit rock bottom in the last year.