Mayor Sadiq Khan today published a new ‘Action Plan’ which he says will create a “vibrant” landscape in which London’s Taxi and mini cab trades can both thrive.
Tensions between the two trades have been increasing in recent years due, in part, to the growth in the number mini cab operators and drivers working in the capital and a belief among Taxi drivers that Transport for London is failing to uphold regulations.
Today’s plan contains 27 separate measures aimed at addressing many of these concerns, as well as increasing public safety, boosting the eco-credentials of black cabs and improving how TfL regulates and engages with both trades.
Headline commitments include opening up 20 additional bus lanes for use by taxis, boosting the number of taxi ranks by at least 20 per cent by the end of the mayoral term and adding taxi information to TfL’s journey planner by summer 2017.
Taxi drivers who scrap old and polluting vehicles will be able to claim up to £5,000 towards the cost of a new cab and a separate £3,000 grant will be available to the buyers of the first 9,000 Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) taxis.
And, in keeping with an earlier announcement by former Mayor Boris Johnson, no new diesel taxis will be licensed from 1 January 2018.
The help for London’s iconic ‘black cab’ trade sits alongside previously announced tougher regulations for the growing private hire and mini cab sector, including a requirement for drivers to pass a formal English language, new rules on vehicle insurance and an increase in the number of TfL compliance officers.
Publishing the action plan, Mr Khan said: “From my first day at City Hall I have been determined to drive up standards and improve safety for every passenger in London, while protecting the future of our iconic black cabs that provide a unique and invaluable service for Londoners.”
Val Shawcross, deputy mayor for transport, added: “A key part of our plan is to push ahead with important new measures to enhance public safety, including quadrupling the number of on-street Compliance Officers and requiring that private hire drivers pass an advanced driving test before they’re licensed.
“We must ensure every Londoner feels safe getting around our city, while creating a taxi and private hire market where all providers are able to thrive.”
Today’s action plan has been welcomed by Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, who said the organisation “recognises its commitment to raising safety standards in the Private Hire (PH) industry”.
However Uber, which is the largest private hire operator in the capital, says the Mayor’s announcement “favour black cabs and discriminate against drivers who use apps like Uber.”
Tom Elvidge, General Manager of Uber in London, added: “While black cabs will get £65m from the taxpayer, the Mayor is piling extra costs and red tape onto licensed private hire drivers.
“This plan will cost drivers who use Uber hundreds of pounds and thousands may lose their livelihoods as a result. Fewer drivers will mean longer waiting times for passengers.”