Taxis – Protecting the industry and passengers. Need for statutory definition of “Plying for Hire”
Under existing regulations, private hire vehicles (PHVs) may only pick up passengers when pre-booked, rather than from a rank or in response to being hailed. Such regulations provide passengers with important safety protections against unregulated drivers. However, Smartphone apps such as Uber are circumventing the law governing the taxi and minicab industry.
Transport for London’s stated position is that the distinction between the two services must be maintained. However, in spite of this, TfL is failing to carry out its licensing and enforcement functions. Specifically, TfL is allowing PHVs to operate within the immediate hire market.
This situation can only be addressed by clarifying existing case law and updating the concept of plying for hire to explicitly extend its coverage to virtual hailing on mobile phone app platforms such as Uber – we therefore demand a statutory definition of plying for hire.
In its recent Taxis Action Plan, TfL stated that it agrees with the new Mayor of London, re-iterating its support for a statutory definition of plying for hire. However, TfL prefers to shirk its responsibility and instead leave the heavy lifting required to achieve this to central government. In fact, TfL has the power to introduce legislation via a private members’ bill itself, as it has done many times before. We must keep up the pressure on TfL to do more to introduce a statutory definition of plying for hire.
Please contact your MP and urge them to sign Early Day Motion 587 https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2016-17/587