Transport for London (TfL) has published a new policy statement to ensure private hire and ride-sharing services remain safe, secure and convenient in the Capital.
The policy has been written in response to changes in the private hire industry and the many new services being offered as new technology has made it easier and cheaper to book rides through apps, resulting in a significant increase in the number of people opting to use private hire vehicle (PHV) services.
An increasing number of services are also emerging in London that include ride-sharing, in which passengers share vehicles and pay separate fares.
Helen Chapman, interim director of licensing, regulation and charging, said: “The private hire market is unrecognisable from when current legislation was introduced.
"The growth of ride-sharing and other advances mean that regulation has to be fit for the next decade and not the last.
"Our vision sets out clearly how we will manage these new developments that improve convenience for customers, while ensuring safety remains our top priority.
"The document also makes clear that any new developments in the sector have to fit with the objectives of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy.”
TfL has already consulted on and implemented a number of changes to drive up standards.
It said it is progressing new regulations to assess private hire drivers and applicants on safeguarding, disability, equality and knowledge of PHV legislation as part of an enhanced driver assessment package.
It is also already considering proposals for consultation in relation to an advanced driving test, PHV operator fleet insurance and private hire vehicle signage.
TfL is also considering the impact of removing the Congestion Charge exemption for PHVs and depending on the outcome of this work this could be subject to a public consultation.
New regulations could include strengthened requirements for operators to:
- Make a strong commitment to safety as a high priority, and to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of their passengers but also for drivers when dealing with difficult situations
- Clearly state policies and action plans for the prevention and reporting of offences and for clear, named accountability at senior management level for safety, reporting and protection of personal data
- Provide mechanisms to allow passengers to choose who they share vehicles with and establishing how passengers might be able to decide on this before accepting a ride
- Put in place insurance for the use of all PHVs with contingency insurance cover for ride-sharing and fleet insurance where appropriate
The policy statement sets out TfL’s expectations for private hire and ride-sharing services in London, and its principles will inform future consultations on specific regulations.
To ensure regulation keeps with the rapidly evolving private hire sector, licences may be issued for shorter periods during the programme of regulatory reform.