Following the Mayor of London’s announcement back in March, to introduce an English language test saying “I have asked TfL to bring forward regulations to require a certain basic knowledge of English for all minicab drivers.”
Along with this he hopes to encourage Transport for London to also introduce a geography test to insure minicab drivers know major landmarks such as hotels, train stations and ports.
In May, Boris Johnson added to his plans to make further reforms to the private hire industry by stating on LBC radio that he wants to introduce new legislation that will limit the number of minicab drivers in London.
Why is this happening?
According to official TfL statistics, the number of minicabs has grown from 65,000 to 76,000. This is an increase of 13,000 drivers in the last 18 months, which is an increase of around a 1,000 drivers per month. In comparison the number of people applying to become black taxi drivers has gone down and in total there are around 25,000 black taxi drivers in London currently.
Black Taxi drivers are worried that the rise in the number of minicab drivers in London is putting their trade at risk of becoming redundant. They are also laying blame on the increase of minicab drivers due to new disruptive technology companies that are offering mobile phone apps that allow people to book minicabs at the press of a button.
Boris Johnson has stated in his press release that having so many minicab drivers in London will add to its congestion and in turn pose as a threat to free movement of traffic and safety on London roads.
What will actually change?
The changes that may come in to effect will most likely be in a few months time, after TfL has reviewed the results of their Private Hire Regulations review. If the new legislation is introduced to limit the number of minicab drivers in London we will see a cap on the number of people who are allowed to apply for their PCO licence.
It will also become much harder to get a minicab licence in London and the process may include additional tests on top of the current Topographical Skills assessment.
Currently there is no clarity on how TfL will introduce these new rules, but it may be combined with the current topographical skills assessment.
Driver View training on 116 Mile End Road who help drivers get their PCO licence and offer the topographical skills assessment have seen a rise in the number of candidates who are applying for their PCO licence now to avoid the risk of not being able to get a licence once the new legislation comes in place. We asked one of the trainers at Driver View Training what they think of the proposed changes, Mr Latif said “We understand the private hire industry needs to see some changes, especially with the advance in modern technology, but limiting the number of people who want to work as professional drivers in a time when unemployment is at it’s highest it is a risk which may lead to more people who are jobless”.
Have your say
Transport for London is currently running consultation to review Private Hire Regulations. You can go onto the TfL consultation website and answer the questionnaire to share your opinions on how you think the future of minicab in London should be regulated. Consultation ends on 19 June 2015.