Taxi and Private Hire smartphone apps in London Letter to all drivers and private hire operators
This notice provides an update to all taxi and private hire drivers and private hire operators regarding the use of smartphone apps in London. The content of this notice has also been sent directly to all licensed drivers and operators.
The taxi and private hire trades play a vital role in London’s transport system, carrying over half a million passengers around the Capital every day.
I am conscious that the growth in the use of smart phones is changing the way many of us organise our lives, with passengers and drivers increasingly using apps that serve London’s taxi and private hire market. While apps offer tremendous potential benefits, TfL as the regulator has a duty to ensure that the way in which they operate complies with the licensing and regulatory framework in London. Over the last few months you will have seen a lot in the media about this, in particular about the Uber app, and I this note explains our current position on the use of smart phone technology.
As you will know, private hire vehicles in London are prohibited from being equipped with taximeters. However, it is not unlawful for a private hire operator to charge its customers on the basis of time taken and distance travelled in respect of journeys. TfL’s view is that smartphones that transmit location information (based on GPS data) between vehicles and operators, have no operational connection with the vehicles, and receive information about fares which are calculated remotely from the vehicle, are not taximeters within the meaning of the legislation (section 11 of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998).
The main taxi and private hire trade organisations fundamentally disagree with how the law should be applied to the use of smart phones in this way. TfL has no specific vested interest in which interpretation is correct, other than that we would like clarity so we can regulate the industry and enforce effectively where necessary and appropriate.
In order for us to resolve this issue as quickly and fairly as possible, allowing all interested parties to make representations, we consider the most appropriate way forward is to invite the High Court to issue a declaration as to how the law should be applied in this area.
However, we are now aware that the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) has commenced private prosecutions in the Magistrates’ Court against a number of individual drivers who use the Uber app. These cases will delay the resolution of this issue as the High Court cannot be invited to issue a declaration while there are ongoing criminal proceedings. Nor will the private prosecutions provide a definitive legal position on this issue, as the decisions of one Magistrates’ Court are not binding on another.
Rather than resolving this issue quickly and fairly, we believe that the LTDA actions are prolonging the inherent uncertainty on this issue and are unfairly pursuing a small number of licensed private hire drivers which we are of the view is not in the public interest.
It would be preferable for the LTDA to withdraw their private prosecutions and work with us to get the issues before the High Court as soon as possible in order to get a definitive resolution.
Record keeping and recording of destination
The Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) assert that the regulations relating to record keeping for private hire operators require a destination to be recorded before the commencement of a journey on all occasions.
TfL is of the view that the law as it currently stands only requires operators to record a destination if a passenger specifies one at the time of booking and not otherwise.
We do however agree that these regulations are unclear on this point.
The power to make the regulations is now vested in TfL. We therefore intend to consult on potential revisions to the regulations to provide clarity and help ensure the highest standards of public safety and customer service are maintained.
More details of this consultation will be publicised later this year.
Uber’s operating model
Concerns have been raised regarding the nature of Uber’s business operating model in London. While it is right that TfL takes into account the reasoned views of others as to how the law should be applied, our role as regulator is to reach an independent view of the law, without improper influence, taking into account all relevant considerations.
In April we carried out TfL’s largest ever compliance inspection and at the time of that inspection Uber met all requirements for a private hire operation in relation to record keeping. We have also been in extensive correspondence with Uber to understand precisely how their business model operates in London
.Following this review, we have reached the conclusion that the way Uber operates in London is in accordance with the law as it applies to private hire operators and specifically in the way bookings are accepted and invited.
However, TfL is aware of one incidence where it appears that a driver may have carried out private hire bookings for Uber using a vehicle without insurance and that matter is being dealt with appropriately.
Technology continues to advance quickly and we will continue to monitor developments in way that the market develops in London to ensure that operators and drivers remain compliant.
I would like to emphasise that TfL continues to recognise, and defend, the important distinction between the services provided by taxis and private hire vehicles. TfL is therefore continuing to defend the right of taxis to utilise bus lanes in the ongoing litigation including at the European Court of Justice.
Managing Director – Surface Transport
Transport for London
TfL and Tower Hamlets has recently conducted a review of the taxi service provision at Victoria Park during the Field Day Festival which took place earlier this year. This is in response to concerns raised that there is not an adequate enough supply of taxis to cope with the volume of passengers leaving the event via the exit to the North of the park.
Victoria Park is located within an All London area and as such only green badge drivers are usually able to serve the taxi rank at Royal Gate West. However, in 2013 TfL announced that this rank would be treated as an ‘Island rank’ for special events and that Suburban drivers with the Hackney Extension would also be able to use the rank to cover large festivals or events taking place at the park. Observations at the recent Field Day Festival showed that only one green badge driver worked this rank each day of the two day festival and only 100 taxis in total used the rank.
It has now been decided that a trial will take place to also allow taxi drivers licensed for the London Borough of Newham to use the taxi rank at Royal Gate West in Victoria Park. This trial will be for the weekend of 18 & 19 July 2014 to cover the Lovebox festival.
The taxi rank, shown on the map below by the red star, can be accessed via Lauriston Road and taxis will be allowed past the road closure opposite The Royal Inn on the Park pub.
This arrangement is being made on a trial basis only and the service at the taxi rank will be monitored during the festival in order to assess whether this arrangement should be made permanent for large events or the trial extended.
The taxi rank will be operational and marshalled between 21:00 and 00:00 on Friday and Saturday. Drivers licensed for the Hackney Extension area or for Newham are not permitted to ply for hire anywhere else outside of their licence area and should only use the taxi rank at Royal Gate West.
Although taxi drivers will be allowed past the road closure to access the taxi rank the area around the taxi rank and in Lauriston Road will be extremely busy with pedestrians following the end of the festival.
TfL’s taxi and private hire enforcement officers will be conducting compliance operations in the area to help prevent touting and illegal cabs.
On Friday 18 July and Saturday 19 July 2014the Lovebox Festival is taking place in Victoria Park and special taxi and private hire arrangements have been put in place for the duration of the festival.
The arrangements are the same as those in place during the recent Field Day festival and are as follows:
Amarshalled taxi rank will operate at Royal Gate West, opposite The Royal Inn on the Park pub with access via Lauriston Road. This is the same location as was used last year and taxi drivers who hold the Hackney Extension as well as All London drivers can use this rank. However drivers licensed for the Hackney Extension area are not permitted to ply for hire anywhere else outside of their licence area or the Hackney Extension area.
The taxi rank will be marshalled between 21:00 and 00:00 onFriday and Saturday.
The taxi rank at Mile End Station will also be available throughout the weekend.
A marshalled private hire pre-booked pick-up area will also be available. This area is only for use by pre-booked private hire vehicles (PHVs) and the marshals will be checking booking details with drivers and passengers to ensure that passengers only take PHVs they have pre-booked.
Private hire operators with bookings to pick-up passengers from Victoria Park should direct passengers and drivers to this dedicated pre-booked pick up area at Royal Gate West, opposite The Royal Inn on the Park pub with access via Lauriston Road. All private hire drivers must follow the directions of the marshals at the pick-up area.
The pre-booked private hire pick-up area will be marshalled between 21:00 and 00:00 on Friday and Saturday.
TfL’s taxi and private hire enforcement officers will be conducting compliance operations in the area to help prevent touting and illegal cabs.
Jim Thomas has posted a very good article on Taxi Leaks, and he makes some really good points, it appears that TFL have taken issue with drivers having posters in their Taxis regarding Hailo and TfL, or is it that Hailo have complained to TfL regarding the Failo stickers?
Unauthorised Signage On Taxis.
It has recently come to our attention that some taxi drivers are choosing to display stickers or printed papers in their vehicles which include use of the Transport for London (TfL) roundel (which is an unauthorised use of a registered trademark) and which may state the driver’s negative opinions about taxi and PHV apps.
The London Cab Order 1934 paragraph14 (l), states the licensee shall not, otherwise than in accordance with the directions of TfL, cause or permit any object, or any printed, written or other matter to be displayed on the outside or inside of the cab, or be presented to any passenger by way of advertisement.
Drivers and owners of taxis are able to place advertising and other material on their taxis as long as it meets the TfL taxi and private hire guidelines for advertising.
Anyone wanting to display or provide any printed or written material (including advertising or other signage) on the inside or outside of their vehicle or to passengers, which does not meet the advertising guidelines, is required to seek prior approval from TfL before doing so.
Additional information and guidance for drivers and owners regarding stickers and official signs in licensed London taxis is attached to this Notice.
In light of the above, TfL requires that all drivers/owners remove all unauthorised objects, printed, written or other matter from their taxis with immediate effect. The licence of any taxi found to display any such material that has not been authorised by TfL may be liable to suspension or revocation.
Chief Operating Officer, Surface Transport
Transport for London
4 July 2014
EDITORIAL COMMENT: by Jim Thomas
The above notice is a blatant attempt to intimidate Taxi drivers. TfL have made no attempt to stop PHVs advertising unauthorised signage on their vehicles and so far have not made threats of this nature towards them.
Let’s hope that TfL notice 07/14 will be the one that reminds PH that advertising themselves in hospital waiting areas as Taxis is illegal. Or using signage in their operating centre with the word Taxi attached is a contravention of the PHV act 1998.
And how about the wealth of misleading advertising on the Internet Garret? Just type into Your search engine “London Taxi” and see what results you get;
These are paid for placements…do you threaten these companies with the revocation of their licenses Garret, or is it just Taxis you threaten?
Also Garret I would like to draw your attention to the attached booklet which comes with this notice
Guidelines for Advertising on licensed London Taxis and
Signs on licensed London Private Hire Vehicles
11.4 No signs are permitted on the sides of PHVs.
Is this legally enforceable?
As I seem to be seeing many PHVs running around with door adverts of late.
Is this just another case of one rule for us and just guidelines for them?
In the past, before the wording text was changed, when we complained that PH were using back screen adverts bigger than the prescribed area allowed, we were told that this TfL policy was not in fact a rule or legally enforceable and that it was just guidelines.
Are we then to take it that when it comes to PH, their livery/unauthorised material indiscretions, are only covered by guidelines, yet with Licensed Taxis, liveries/displaying of unauthorised material is legally enforceable by revocation of vehicle licence?
We wait with baited breath for the publication of TfL notice 07:14.
The Wimbledon Tennis Championships are due to start shortly and special arrangements are in place for taxi and private hire vehicles (PHVs) for the duration of the tournament which runs from Monday 23 June to Sunday 6 July 2014.
Taxi and private hire services play an important role in helping spectators get to and from the Championships. It is important that all taxi drivers plus all private hire operators and drivers who are planning to serve the Wimbledon Tennis Championships this year read this notice, are aware of the designated areas where taxis and PHVs may stop to drop-off and pick-up passengers and also do not stop or park in areas where this is not permitted, as there will be local police, borough enforcement officers and Transport for London (TfL) compliance officers working during the Championships.
This notice sets out the arrangements for drop-off and pick-up locations, fixed- fare, shared-taxis and taxi ranks.
Taxi drop-off arrangements
Taxi passengers requesting a drop-off at the Championships should be taken to the taxi rank in Church Road which is outside Gate 4 of the venue.
This is the only drop-off location for all taxi passengers going to the tennis and stopping elsewhere on Church Road is not permitted.
Taxi rank arrangements
− A taxi rank in Augustus Road, near Southfields Station, will operate during the championships and fixed-fare, shared-taxi trips to the Championships will operate from this rank
− The taxi rank in Wimbledon Park Road, near Southfields Station (rank no. 5619) will not be operational for the duration of the Championships
− Fixed-fare, shared-taxi trips from Wimbledon Station to the Championships will be operating for the duration of the championships
Church Road, Wimbledon Tennis Club
− For the duration of the Championships, a temporary taxi rank will operate in Church Road (outside Gate 4) where fixed-fare, shared-taxi trips will operate for passengers going to Southfields or Wimbledon stations
− The taxi rank will also operate normally for passengers wishing to travel to central London and other destinations
Somerset Road, Wimbledon Tennis Club
− During the Championships a temporary taxi rank will operate in Somerset Road (outside Gate 13) offering fixed-fare, shared-taxi trips to Wimbledon Station
− The rank will also operate normally for passengers wishing to travel to central London and other destinations
Fixed-fare, shared-taxi fares
The fare for fixed-fare, shared-taxi trips between Wimbledon or Southfields stations and the Championships is:
− £2.50 for adults
− £1.25 for children between 2 and 10 years old
− Children under 2 travel free
It is illegal to charge more than these fares.
Journeys to other locations
− Fixed-fare, shared-taxis are also available from outside Gate 4 to a number of different locations. These fixed-fares have been reviewed and increased this year and were agreed by the TfL Board in February 2014.
The table in Appendix 1 provides further details of the prescribed fares for each location.
− Any fares negotiated in advance must not be more than the fare shown on the meter at the end of the journey. As is usual, taxi drivers must start their meter at the commencement of the journey and any fare agreed in advance must not exceed the metered fare at the end of the journey.
− If a passenger or a group wants a normal (unshared) taxi service, a marshal must ask drivers in the taxi queue if they are willing to take the passengers
− However, if a driver cannot be found after a reasonable time normal rules on refusals will apply and the first free taxi on the rank should accept the hiring
− Refusing these fares or loitering to wait for a shared hiring is not allowed and the driver could be subject to action by TfL
− All taxis on the rank must be available for hire and no taxi must be left unattended on any taxi rank
All taxi drivers who hold an All London taxi driver’s licence or hold a Merton and Sutton Suburban taxi driver’s licence can use the taxi ranks at Wimbledon Station, Southfields Station, Church Road and Somerset Road.
− Space for pre-booked radio taxis to wait for their passenger has been allocated in Marryat Road
Private hire arrangements
Space for PHvs to drop-off passengers or pick-up passengers who have pre- booked is at:
− Wimbledon Park Road: on the east side of the road, parking bay 4092 opposite 418 Wimbledon Park Road (just north of the junction with Bathgate Road and Victoria Drive)
− Marryat Road: on the west side of the road from 10 metres north of Burghley Road to a point opposite 66 Marryat Road
However, parking and waiting at these locations is not permitted and PHVs waiting for passengers must use the car parks and make arrangements to be called by the passenger to drive to the pick up location once their passenger is ready for collection.
Stopping on Church Road and Somerset Road is not permitted for PHVs and stopping and waiting around the ground is also prohibited and we have been advised that these parking controls will be strictly enforced. PHVs must not stop on the designated taxi ranks.
During the Tour de France, there will be road closures and changes to the road layout to accommodate the event. As part of this, access arrangements for London City Airport for all vehicles, including taxi and private hire vehicles, will be different on Monday 7 July.
Road closures will be implemented from 10:00and different arrangements at the airport will be in place between 10:00 and 15:00 and then from15:00 until it is safe to re-open the roads. Should you wish to access London City Airport during these times then please use the following routes:
Drive south from the A13 Newham Way along the A1020 Royal Docks Road, turn right onto Albert Way. At the roundabout at the north end of Connaught Bridge, vehicles will be guided through the road closure by marshals onto the race route. Vehicles will continue onto the southbound carriageway of the bridge and then through to the airport – the cyclists will travel the wrong way down the adjacent northbound carriageway later in the day.
· Leaving the airport
You should turn left as you leave the airport and follow the A112 Connaught Rd/Albert Rd through to Woolwich Manor Way and the Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge. This leads onto the A1020 Royal Docks Rd northbound which will take you to the A13.
Drive south from the A13 Newham Way along the A1020 Royal Docks Rd and continue straight on via the Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge onto Woolwich Manor Way. At the traffic lights at the junction with Fishguard Way turn right into the industrial estate. There will be marshals present to direct you onto an airport access road, which leads onto Hartmann Road and then into the airport. Please drive carefully on this access road, which is not usually open to general traffic.
· Leaving the airport
You should turn left as you leave the airport and follow the A112 Connaught Rd/Albert Rd through to Woolwich Manor Way and the Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge. These leads onto the A1020 Royal Docks Rd northbound which will take you to A13.
Although the event will cause disruption we have tried to minimise this and the arrangements in place should ensure that you can continue to access London City Airport throughout the day.
Further information on the Tour de France
The Tour de France is the world’s largest annual sporting event. The race, which attracts around 12 million spectators along the full length of the route, as well as a huge global TV audience, occasionally visits neighbouring countries and this year’s event will get underway in the UK.
Transport for London – London Taxi and Private Hire