Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Policy Statement
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¬í 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¬ís 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:
- may contribute to reduced congestion if used as a feeder to other public transport modes
- may add to local congestion due to the usual 'double' journey of fetching and carrying passengers
- may compete with buses, delivery vehicles and disabled car parking for kerbspace in congested streets
- often the only form of point-to-point transport for people without access to a car
- operates at times before and after conventional bus and rail service operations
Improving air quality
- 'double' journeys lead to greater pollution than a single journey by car or public transport
Improving road safety
- drivers and vehicles are subject to regular checks
Taxis and PHVs also contribute to the LTP Objectives of ensuring that:
- the transport system underpins economic revitalisation of the Metropolitan Area
- transport contributes towards social inclusion by increasing accessibility for everyone; and
- all forms of transport are integrated with each other
The numbers of licensed taxis and PHVs and the general location of taxi ranks is set out in Table 1 ¬ĎNumbers of Licensed Taxis and PHVs and General Location of Taxi Ranks¬í
General Location of Taxi Ranks
Large number of ranks in city centre, including at New Street station, other railway stations and at shopping centres; about 200 in total
Several in city centre, one each at Coventry station and Warwick University campus
Several in Dudley town centre, one at Stourbridge Town rail station and others in Brierley Hll, Halesowen, Kingswinford, Sedgeley and Stourbridge centres
Four in West Bromwich plus others in Bearwood, Blackheath and Cradley Heath centres
Solihull town centre plus Solihull station, Birmingham International Airport and National Exhibition Centre
Four in Walsall town centre plus one night-time rank and ranks in Aldridge, Brownhills and Wlllenhall
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:
- Solihull has adopted a transitional arrangement with limits being raised incrementally during the year.¬† The Authority recognises the need to give a degree of protection to existing taxi operators whilst moving to a de-regulated position.¬† The aim is to remove all restrictions by August 2005
- Walsall has removed restrictions on licence numbers.¬† The Authority¬ís Licensing Committee consider issues concerning taxis and PHVs as an integral part of the transport system.¬† The Authority is overhauling testing and licensing procedures for licence holders, new applicants and all vehicles
- Wolverhampton reviewed its limit on licence numbers in 2000, following a study of unmet demand.¬† The current limit was set in November 2003, following a further demand study in spring 2003.¬† The Authority¬ís Licensing and Environmental Protection Panel agreed in principle in late 2004 to remove the limit on licences, in the public interest and in line with the Government response to the Office of Fair Trading report.¬† However it was agreed that it would be necessary to consider carefully the methodology and timetable and that a relaxation of the limit over a number of years may be most appropriate.¬† Wolverhampton will further consider and consult during 2005.¬† The benefit of this approach is that it meets the Government¬ís wish that quantity control policies should be removed but also ensures that others' interests are taken into account