Following Tfl's consultation, public feedback has led to proposed restrictions to taxi-hailing apps being scrapped.
After collating feedback collected from their consultation that was held in December 2015, in which more than 16,000 responses were received, TfL have released revised proposals that will be presented to their board for approval on March 17th.
The aim of these proposals - as outlined in TfL's recent press release - is to "modernise and enhance London's Private Hire industry".
Some of the abandoned suggestions include forcing taxi-hailing apps, such as Uber, to wait 5 minutes before picking up passengers after providing the booking confirmation.
Other restrictions that could have severely affected the way that Uber and similar companies run would have required private hire drivers to only be registered to a single operator at any time, and operators would have been prohibited from "showing vehicles as available for immediate hire, either visibly, for example by signage on the street, or virtually, for example via an app."
The proposals would have required Uber to completely over-haul their app as we currently know it, by having to scrap the visibility of available drivers on the map. Had the suggestions been made mandatory they would no doubt have had a significant impact on Uber's business model?
No wonder Jo Bertram, Uber’s UK regional general manager is happy with the outcome:
We’re pleased that Transport for London has listened to the views of passengers and drivers, dropping the bonkers ideas proposed last year like compulsory five-minute wait times and banning showing cars in apps.
The proposals that are being moved forward are not quite as severe:
Key proposals from TfL Press Release
Borris Johnson is keen for the congestion charge exemption for private hire vehicles to be scrapped, in a bid to further encourage congestion -
Private hire vehicles now represent over 10% of vehicles entering the congestion charging zone on a daily basis and I have asked TfL to investigate the impact and feasibility of removing the congestion charging exemption for private hire vehicles with a view to cutting congestion in central London.
General secretary of the Licensed Taxi Driver's Association, Steve McNamara who represents a number of our black cab insurance policy holders was not impressed. The Financial Time's reported his response as being 'angry' at Uber's 'victory';
In the latest article from thechauffeur.com on the topic, Steve Wright from the Licensed Private Hire Car Association commented;
We believe it would be madness to ‘congestion charge’ a mode of transport that reduces congestion and emissions, especially as the industry runs some of the cleanest vehicles in the capital and will be subject to the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) rules from 2020.
We've been following the topic here at Plan, as we are keen to understand the current issues our private hire and taxi clients are facing. Director Grant Georgiades is concerned that TfL need to act quickly in two ways to allay public safety concerns.
As specialist private hire insurance brokers, we believe its crucial that both the industry regulators and police have access to real time information regarding Private Hire drivers' insurance details.
Following the surge in driver numbers from 59,000 to 95,000 in the last 5 years current systems can no longer cope. Its vital for the public's protection that PH drivers are who they say they are and have valid insurance in place that is fit for purpose. TfL aren't able to limit driver numbers but cracking down on the issue of insurance fraud will naturally remove rouge operators from our roads.
We also feel it is important for TfL to implement measures that monitor and restrict the number of hours drivers are allowed to work in a shift without a break - thus safeguarding both the public and the drivers themselves.
It seemed the proposal to prevent drivers from working for one operator was aimed at achieving this. It's been scrapped seemingly without an alternative in its place. With current technology available to track these factors, we believe that it could be easier than some might think to put into practice.
Scrapping the congestion charge for private hire drivers also appears contentious. It's not clear from TfL's press release whether this measure is targeted at improving air quality in the capital or reducing congestion?
Clarification is need as to whether low emission private hire vehicles will also have their exemption revoked? If not we could see many more motorists being forced to drive into the zone in polluting vehicles due to a lack of supply from the private hire industry as drivers refuse to pay the fee.
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