What's next for the UK taxi industry?

2 May 2016

What's next for the UK taxi industry?

The basis of the UK’s current licencing organisation for public hire taxis was first introduced in the mid-19th Century to provide a necessary service for passengers operating in places and at times when other modes of public transport are not available.

Private hire vehicles were introduced later, around the 1960s, to cater for passenger demand for suburban and pre-booked journeys. Licencing and regulation of private hire taxis began in the early 2000s, along with the diverse hire of chauffeur and more specialist vehicle services.

Both public taxis and private hire vehicles play a vital role in passenger transport networks throughout the country. The industry is able to operate and continually change through the application of new expertise. With the recent introduction of low emission vehicle and mobile technology, the face of the industry is constantly improving.

 

Smartphone Apps

There are a number of Apps, such as Uber, Hailo, Gett and more recently, Karhoo that enable private hire customers to request a vehicle, book a journey and even to compare journey prices between different companies. While still complying with the private hire licensing condition of pre-booking, these Apps provide significant customer benefits including the instant hailing of a taxi vehicle.

 

Next Generation Taxis

It is the aim of local authorities, through regulation and licencing laws, that all vehicles will be modern, environmentally clean and suitable for the needs of all passengers. In addition, the vision is for taxi vehicles that meet the following criteria:

  • Licenced vehicles that can be either pre-booked, boarded at a taxi rank or hailed on the street
  • Offer regulated fares to protect passengers
  • To comply with CoF (Conditions of Fitness) specifying that all taxis must be wheelchair accessible and capable of suiting the diverse needs of all passengers such as guide dog users
  • Possess a range of accessibility features to benefit elderly and disabled passengers, such as minimum vehicle dimensions, grab handles and an induction hearing loop
  • That drivers have the ability to quickly navigate all road networks, with the route knowledge to do so. In London, they must undergo the KoL (Knowledge of London) taxi driver test.
  • To ensure that all public and private hire vehicles become cleaner and greener and from 2018, with emission results less than 50g/km Co2, with a minimum 30 mile zero emission range.

In the coming years with the prospect of more exciting technology developments and the introduction of the google self-drive car, the possibility of a universal booking system connected to all taxi companies and smart phones and internet devices, who knows what the future holds for public and private hire taxi drivers and companies. There are exciting times ahead!

 

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