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Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Policy Statement

Introduction

Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle services are important elements of public transport.  Both are licensed by the Metropolitan Authority for the area within which they operate.

There are differences between Hackney Carriages (taxis) and Private Hire Vehicle (PHVs).  Taxis are often associated with the traditional black cab.  Many firms use such vehicles but this is not a defining factor.  Taxis must have meters, with maximum tariffs set by the licensing authority.  They can use taxi ranks and, subject to local rules, ply for hire and be hailed on-street.  Taxis may be hired on demand or by pre-booking.

Private Hire Vehicles are often, but not necessarily, ordinary cars.  The essential differences are that they must be pre-booked, cannot ply for hire or be hailed on-street and cannot use taxi ranks.  PHVs are not required to carry meters and the cost of a journey is normally set in advance.

Purpose of this Statement

This Statement reports on the provision of Hackney Carriage and PHV services in the Metropolitan Area and on the relevant Authorities’ review of their Quantity Control policies.

Taxis and PHVs provide a link in longer journeys or act as an alternative to the car, bus or rail for local journeys.  Taxis and PHVs help people without access to a car.  They are also important when and where public transport services do not operate.

The location of taxi ranks is a significant factor in accessibility.  There are ranks in most city and town centres, at strategic locations, such as principal railway stations and Birmingham International Airport, and at theatres, concert halls and other major leisure locations.

Authorities have qualitative policies for taxis and PHVs, to ensure the best possible service to the public.  Requirements include checks on the driver’s competence and quality of the vehicle, which are designed to ensure passenger confidence and safety.

Taxis and PHVs relate to the four themes of the Transport Shared Priority as follows:

Reducing congestion

Improving accessibility

Improving air quality

Improving road safety

Taxis and PHVs also contribute to the LTP Objectives of ensuring that:

The numbers of licensed taxis and PHVs and the general location of taxi ranks is set out in Table 1 ‘Numbers of Licensed Taxis and PHVs and General Location of Taxi Ranks’

Table 1 Numbers of Licensed Taxis and PHVs and General Location of Taxi Ranks

Licensing
Authority

Taxis

PHVs

General Location of Taxi Ranks

Approximate Numbers

Birmingham

1,200

4,500

Large number of ranks in city centre, including at New Street station, other railway stations and at shopping centres; about 200 in total

Coventry

548

254

Several in city centre, one each at Coventry station and Warwick University campus

Dudley

75

650

Several in Dudley town centre, one at Stourbridge Town rail station and others in Brierley Hll, Halesowen, Kingswinford, Sedgeley and Stourbridge centres

Sandwell

26

800

Four in West Bromwich plus others in Bearwood, Blackheath and Cradley Heath centres

Solihull

150

1000

Solihull town centre plus Solihull station, Birmingham International Airport and National Exhibition Centre

Walsall

93

540

Four in Walsall town centre plus one night-time rank and ranks in Aldridge, Brownhills and Wlllenhall

Wolverhampton

92

460

Five in city centre, three night-time ranks, one at Wolverhampton station

Quantity Control Policies

Authorities can restrict the number of licensed taxis, but can impose no limit on the number of licensed PHVs.  The Office of Fair Trading recommended in 2003 that quantity controls on taxis and PHVs be abandoned.

Recent statistics showed that 45% of licensing authorities in England and Wales (outside Greater London) have taxi quantity control policies. The average in the six Metropolitan Areas was 69%.  In the West Midlands Metropolitan Area, three of the seven (43%) Authorities have such policies.  They are each reviewing the situation in line with guidance from Government.

Until recently, three Authorities had quantity restrictions on numbers of Hackney Carriage licences.  Each Authority has reviewed its position and the situation at January 2005 is set out below: