The London taxi and private hire regulator is requesting additional powers from the Government.
A spokesman for TfL stated;
There are a number of measures we would like to introduce to enhance public safety and to support law-abiding drivers. However, these will require changes to current legislation.
The licencing authority is hoping to increase its clout in the following ways:
A New Definition of Plying for Hire
In the conjunction with the Mayor of London, TfL are pushing firmly for a statutory definition of plying-for-hire and pre-booked services that will remove unnecessary ambiguity.
Currently it is difficult to prove that someone is plying for hire. Convictions require large amounts of enforcement and compliance resources.
For this reason TfL are chasing a statutory definition of plying for hire. It is felt that a clear definition that clarifies the difference between taxi and private hire services will help preserve the current two tier system.
In the mean time Transport for London will carry on enforcing the existing rules to the full extent of their ability.
TfL are of the opinion that the introduction of legislation to control and regulate rickshaws in London is needed in order to ensure the safety of passengers and other road users.
At present TfL does not have the authority to regulate and licence pedicabs in London. The Government has announced that it will fast track legislation aimed at bringing these pedal powered people carriers within TfL’s licensing jurisdiction.
There is a widely held belief that the ability to control, regulate and even ban unsafe pedicabs will benefit the London economy by reducing the congestion they cause. Distribution is particularly severe in parts of the West End.
During the interim period TfL will continue to liaise with Westminster to oversee enforcement operations that tackle irresponsible pedicab rider behaviour.
Greater Enforcement Powers
Changes are being sought to address common issues experienced by enforcement teams in London. They have requested the power to seize vehicles that are found to be transporting passengers without appropriate private hire insurance cover.
Under the desired regime such an offence could lead to an automatic disqualification from driving. Additional beefed up enforcement would include the authority, as per the Police, to take DNA samples of any driver found to be touting or unlawfully plying for hire.
Restrictions on Cross Border Hiring
The problem of cross-border hiring is becoming increasingly contentious for the London regulator. Reports point towards a trend where-by PH drivers from outside the Capital work entirely within its borders.
This practice makes it increasingly difficult for licencing authorities outside of London to ensure demand is met in their geographical location.
There are also concerns that traffic volumes within the city centre have been adversely affected. TfL are requesting the introduction of a requirement for every journey to either begin or finish in the area that the driver and vehicle are licensed.
Such an arrangement would prevent drivers operating entirely outside of their licencing authority whilst still allowing them the flexibility to undertake return journeys. However it could have a significant impact on the business model of online app operators such as Uber.
Fixed Penalty Notices
Tfl are seeking approval from the Transport Secretary to allow them to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs.) The power would used for offences such as a driver not wearing their badge.
It is hoped that it could help prevent minor offences whilst aiding compliance and enforcement officers in their duties that are aimed at ensuring passenger safety in the taxi and private hire trade.
Currently the above are only at the proposal and planning stages. We will provide updates accordingly as soon as we have more information. In the mean time we’d love to hear your opinion as to whether TfL should be granted the additional powers that it is seeking?
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