Taxis have been a common site on UK roads since the mid-19th Century. Public hire vehicles were first introduced to provide a necessary service for passengers operating in places and at times when other modes of public transport were not available.
Private hire vehicles were introduced later, around the 1960s. These taxis were designed to cater for passenger demand for suburban and pre-booked journeys. Licencing and regulation of private hire taxis began in the early 2000s, along with the diverse hire of chauffeur and more specialist vehicle services.
Both public taxis and private hire vehicles play a vital role in passenger transport networks throughout the country. The industry is able to operate and continually change through the application of new expertise. And with the recent introduction of low emission vehicle and mobile technology, the face of the industry is constantly improving.
There are a number of Apps, such as Uber, Lyft, Hailo and Gett which enable private hire customers to request a vehicle, book a journey and even to compare journey prices between different providers. These Apps provide significant customer benefits but also present challenges to the industry. Although there are less restrictions in place for these taxis, Uber drivers are still required to have adequate taxi insurance in place.
Next Generation Taxis
It is the aim of local authorities, through regulation and licencing laws, that all vehicles will be modern, environmentally clean and suitable for the needs of all passengers. In addition, the vision is for taxi vehicles that meet the following criteria:
- Licenced vehicles that can be either pre-booked, boarded at a taxi rank or hailed on the street
- Offer regulated fares to protect passengers
- To comply with CoF (Conditions of Fitness). This specifies that all taxis must be wheelchair accessible and capable of suiting the diverse needs of all passengers.
- Possess a range of accessibility features to benefit elderly and disabled passengers.
- That drivers have the ability to quickly navigate all road networks, with the route knowledge to do so. In London, they must undergo the KoL (Knowledge of London) taxi driver test.
- To ensure that all public and private hire vehicles become cleaner and greener and from 2018, with emission results less than 50g/km Co2, with a minimum 30 mile zero emission range.
With technology advancing fast who knows what the future holds for public and private hire taxi drivers? The introduction of self driving cars, electric vehicles and an increasingly connected world suggests there are exciting times ahead! However many taxi drivers are likely to feel financial pressures from increasingly price sensitive customers. If your insurance is due for renewal then why not compare taxi insurance online and see how much you could save.