Changes to taxi and private hire regulations - your impact

Thank you to all Talk London members who took part in the recent consultation on changes to private hire vehicle regulations. Over 850 of you responded to this important consultation on the future of taxi and private services, providing vital information to Transport for London (TfL) on the views of taxi and private hire passengers.

TfL have now set out plans to modernise London’s private hire industry by updating regulations to account for the impact of new technology and the rising numbers of private hire vehicles in London. Here's TfL's announcement.

Advances in technology and new business models in recent years have offered customers greater choice and convenience. These changes have also led to a massive growth in the number of private hire vehicles on London’s roads – there are now 95,000 drivers in the capital, up from 59,000 in 2010. This has contributed to wider challenges for London such as growing traffic congestion, illegal parking and areas of poor air quality, especially in central London.

Talk London community members were most in favour of the following recommendations, which will now come into effect following approval by TfL’s board in March. 

TfL proposes to take forward 13 of the proposals as set out in the public consultation and a further five amended proposals.  The following ideas – where our poll showed greater levels of disagreement among Londoners - will not be taken forward:

  • Operators having to provide booking confirmation details to passengers at least five minutes prior to the journey commencing.
  • Operators having to offer the ability to pre-book up to seven days in advance.
  • Operators being prohibited from showing vehicles as available for immediate hire, either visibly, for example by signage on the street, or virtually, for example via an app.
  • Private hire drivers only being able to be registered to a single operator at any time.

In addition, the Mayor and TfL are considering action to improve service and safety standards in the trade, including:

  • Introducing an enhanced topographical test for new private hire drivers, requiring drivers to demonstrate enhanced map reading abilities and English language comprehension.
  • Introducing a new complaints system so that customers can contact TfL if they have received poor service from a private hire company or driver.
  • Introducing mandatory disability equality training and other improved training for drivers.

The Mayor has also asked TfL to investigate the impact and feasibility of removing the congestion charge exemption for private hire vehicles to reduce congestion and pollution in central London. TfL estimates that currently, private hire vehicles account for 1 in 10 vehicles entering the Congestion Charging Zone.

Feedback from Talk Londoners is vital to help the Mayor and TfL understand the impact of private hire regulations on passengers. Let us know about your experiences. What things are most important to you about London’s private hire and taxi services?

Update, 14 Sept: Yesterday the Mayor announced that several new measures are being introduced to update regulations for private hire vehicles. 

21st Jan 2016
1 year ago (11:49 AM)


Terry Vaughan

I would like to see an end to privileges for taxi drivers and their passengers. That means they should pay the congestion charge and should be kept out of bus lanes.

I would also like more emphasis on reducing emissions and improving driving standards. The licensing authority should respond to complaints about unsafe driving.


Why do people have such hatred for taxis?!! We are just providing a service as PART of London's transport system trying to earn a living like everyone else. We earn the right to do that job and use those privelages by studying for 3-5 years off our own backs and invest time and £££'s in doing so. Seeing as cab numbers are limited to 25000 maybe a good place to start would be limiting the number of mini cabs to the same figure (down from the current ludicrous 80000),cutting congestion and leveling the playing field for those of us who have bothered to do the Knowledge. London can't be navigated successfully long term with a sat nav,there is too much traffic and it changes too often. Those people who want to see the demise of black cabs will be cursing themselves when London is completely gridlocked by guys staring blankly at sat nav screens.

Terry Vaughan

I can drive into town or take a taxi. In the taxi I can swan along in the bus lane holding up other traffic. Why should I be allowed to do that?

Diesel taxis are a big source of air pollution in the city. That urgently needs fixing. And some of their drivers have a very cavalier attitude to the Highway Code. I wouldn't miss them.


ALL taxis licenced after 2018 will be fully electric so thats the pollution argument dealt with. In fact pollution levels have hit new heights since they started building the cycle lanes because the traffic is so bad!! (I thought cycling was meant to be GOOD for the environment?!!)
So because "some" taxi drivers don't follow the highway code to the letter (does anyone?) thats your reasoning for us ALL to go out of business,lose our homes,families and livelihoods and put thousands of mechanics,taxi dealers,and other associates out of business at the same time?
Now correct me if I'm wrong here but if i in my taxi am in a bus lane how exactly am I holding up other traffic? Don't get it!! And the reasons are that i have earned the right,through my study and qualification,to drive in the bus lane and my passengers are paying money for the privelage of that right, along with my knowledge and experience of London.

Terry Vaughan

The move to electric taxis is good news, though rather slow in implementation. Will all diesel taxis be taken off the road in 2018? I doubt if you can quote figures to show that bike lanes make the air pollution worse. But even if you can, it doesn't come from the bikes,does it?

No, the fact that some taxi drivers are dangerous on the road doesn't mean all should be treated alike. I would like the licensing authority to respond to safety complaints though. Dangerous drivers should be warned and if necessary lose their licence.

Vehicles in bus lanes hold up the buses. That's why I'm not allowed to drive my own car there. Why should your licence give me the right to do that in a cab? If I want to use the bus lane, I should get on a bus. If I want a lift in a taxi, it should be in the private vehicle lane. If buses were faster, more people would use them instead of driving, and congestion (and air pollution) would go down.


It is slow yes i concede,but that is down to the fact that brand new taxis cos in excess of 50k to buy,it will be a long process but the trade IS doing it.
I don't have figures for the pollution levels,i am going by the fact that i see the traffic every day,snaking in huge,stationary queues,pumping exhaust fumes into the atmosphere while 2 men in high vis jackets stare at the giant 20 mile hole they have created. Segregated cycle lanes are a good idea,but they did not need to cause the havoc that is happening at the moment.
Your point about safety and the licensing authority is a good one however i can assure you that taxi drivers are so heavily regulated and monitored that 99.9% do their jobs as well as they can. You do however get bad apples in every box!
Trust me,buses hold up buses!!! There are far to many of them. All it needs is a bit of common sense to get say 25% of them off the road during quiet times of the day/weekends etc. Although i'd like to point out that a taxi is a PUBLIC VEHICLE and i have a public hire license which is why i am allowed in the bus lane.

Terry Vaughan

I don't dispute that a taxi is a public vehicle and that you have the legal right to use the bus lane. My point is that you will often have only one passenger, or none. like many or most of the private cars on the road. Buses carry many more. If taxis don't hold up buses, why can't i drive my car in a bus lane? I see no justification for preferential treatment for taxis.

As for the bike tracks, I understand that the possibility of temporary increase in vehicle pollution was considered and discounted. Huge stationary queues are nothing new in London. In any case, more bike tracks will reduce congestion later. No gain without pain! Meanwhile, fewer smoky cabs in those queues will be no bad thing.

Matt Blake

yesterday with 4 passengers in my cab, I overtook 6, yes 6 buses, the first 4 had no passengers on, zero, the next two had 2 on each, your argument is irrelevant as I see it daily, empty bus after empty bus after empty bus. if you look up the air quality results during the last bus strike, you can see for yourself which vehicles are responsible for the worse pollution.

your attitude to yourself not being allowed to use bus lanes reminds me of my teenage son complaining, Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see why bus lane use is limited.


Dear sharky79 the reason everyone hates black cabs is because they are a monopoly - and like all monopolies they charge grossly inflated prices and provide shockingly poor customer service. Uber drivers do not make you stand in the street for hours, drive past you without reason, refuse to go South of the river, charge you rip off prices, seek out every traffic jam in town or bore you to death with their tedious stories. Uber drivers turn up quickly, go the direct route to your destination and charge a fraction of the price a black cab would charge. If I hear the notion that black cabs are better because drivers have taken the knowledge I will split something laughing. You know full well the knowledge is simply a device to reinforce your monopoly. In my experience almost no black cab drivers can get you to your home destination in the suburbs unaided. You should just face the fact that black cabs are an anachronism, overtaken by technology. Nobody wants the excruciatingly poor, overpriced service they offer any more (try implementing a star rating service for black cabs and see what happens!). Soon black cabs will be as common as the rotary dial telephone; and we will miss them about as much.


This might be the right time to do away with both the myth and the privileges of Black Cabs. Black cabs are overpriced, polluting, technologically outdated, and scarce in many parts of London compared to both minicabs and Uber. In fact, Black Cabs have set a price level which Minicabs have converged to for short to medium distances, not so much for airport rides. The real change in London has been Uber, which is mostly very price competitive, incredibly easy to order, available and frankly a perfect match in speed and comfort of journey to Black Cabs and Minicabs. The Knowledge has been a myth for a long time. It has always been used as a barrier to entry to the Black Cab business, and has provided little benefit to customers for a long time. Today the Knowledge has become close to irrelevant and will be fully irrelevant in a few years' time. Let me explain. The key thing about driving a customer in London is a fast journey which avoids detours and congestion. Navigation systems which are aware of actual congestion and observe avoidance of bottlenecks etc. today provide drivers with the tools to accomplish the goal of fast and direct journeys. The encyclopedic knowledge of little streets in neighbourhoods was never really that impressive among Black cab drivers and was not really essential to customers in the past (either the customer knew or she did not mind if the driver quickly consulted the AtoZ for non central locations). It has certainly become completely obsolete today. There is no aversion to Black Cabs, certainly not among the affluent part of the population. The rest of Londoners have experienced a much improved level of service since many more private hire vehicles have been on London roads. We hope regulation does not pay excessive attention to the vested interests of the cab trade and look at longer term efficient transport for London. As regards tourists: I bet they too prefer being able to use the app which they use in their home city to order a lower priced ride instantly, over the quaint and expensive traditional cabs which may or may not be available at the street corner they stand on.


Fully agree - the clogging up of bus lanes by taxis carrying just one passenger has a detrimental effect on journey times for bus passengers, and it also makes things a lot less safe for cyclists if taxis pull in and out of the bus lanes. They should also prevent motorcycles from using these lanes as well.


Sorry, but what affect does it have on you if motorcyclists use bus lanes??? We aren't slowing anyone down, cyclists can get past us so what you are suggesting is just plain mean-spirited. And if we can move around quicker, we cause less pollution, we already cause far less than cars anyway so its a sensible mode of transport encouraged in other European countries. Added to which, since the road layouts have changed with the introduction of cycle lanes, motorcycle deaths have leapt from 23 a year to 37!!! So surely we deserve protection too? What have I learnt from the introduction of cycling lanes: your life only matters if you share the same transport as the Mayor and while these lanes were built in response to the 12-14 people dying cycling each year at a cost of billions to the rest of us and yet the motorcycling death increases actually counteracts the decrease in cycling deaths. Never mind that cyclists make up 12-14% of road users compared to 1-2% of motorcyclists. Your spitefulness serves no-one or maybe you just need to see a dead motorcyclist on the road and his grieving family to change your mind.


It seems that some people have a fixation about taxis in bus lanes. There are many things wrong with the traffic situation in London which can only be corrected by democratic process, this takes time and needs to be fair. Taxis in bus lanes are not a problem, the pollution factor is. The number of PHV in London is now some 90,000. Do people not consider that this alone adds to congestion and pollution. Delivaries during daylight hours by parcel vans cause congestion. I say restrict PHV to the same nos as Taxis and pedestrianise parts of Oxford Street and reduce the number of (empty) buses on the central area outside the rush hours. Forget the issue with Taxi Cabs they are not the problem.


Agreed! Everyone wants to be able to order everything online and have it delivered to their door but then they want no cars on the road and no pollution! I don't think delivery fairies exist.

Marcus Kirby

A simple solution to this would be the system whereby you get the parcels delivered to the nearest Post Office (or other similarly suitable pick-up point) and a card through your letterbox telling you that it is available to pick up. Then parcel deliveries would be to much smaller number of large parcel pick-up points (and not every home in the city), drastically reducing parcel van mileage. However a load of people would then jump in their cars and go and pick up their parcels .. but hopefully many would combine it with other needs and combine them all into the same journey.

Amore R

What about those of us who don't have cars? Could Postman Pat deliver the washing machine to my door then to the kitchen?


I think it's important that private hire drivers know the streets of central London well, so that they don't cause more congestion by using unsuitable routes.
I think all vehicles should pay the congestion charge.


I have been a chauffeur in London for the last 10 years , and have seen the level of traffic rise dramatically, however not in my view caused by an increase in the number of vehicles. As others have said i see 3 main problems
1. The ridiculous way the traffic lights are currently set, ie 3 second green lights allowing only 2-3 cars to get through. The lack of sensors on lights meaning the system is timed only with vehicles being stopped even if nothing is coming from other directions. The system where there is a green light for pedestrians between every traffic movement. The way you leave one green light to travel 200 yds only to be stopped by the next red. The government have apparently spent £500 million on a new system but it is only being utilised to around 10% of its capability
2 Yes , reduce the number of buses, i drove past 8 buses the other day with none having more than 4 passengers.

3. Redsign the cycle lanes to allow for 2 lanes of vehicles, it could and damn well SHOULD have been done better first time round.

It seems to me that everything is being done to reduce traffic flow , so they can say pollution is worse and therefore charge us more . IE they want to TAX the driver for there stupid and badly thought out choices.

Me i cant wait to retire !


I was an Assesor for Road Passenger Vehicle & Driving NVQ at a London college. Minicab drivers were pushed through regardless of their level of English or Geography. How will the regulations ensure that standards are NOT compromised by test centres or operators. Will enforcement officers be giving roadside Geographical & Enuglish tests...?

London's Taxis are essential for getting around the City. Access to bus lanes is essential for picking up and dropping off safely.


I don't know how many of the comments about numbers of taxis, e.g. 'clogging up bus lanes' are based on evidence. It would be helpful to know, say on a radial-from-centre basis, how much space is taken up by buses, taxis, delivery vehicles and private cars, and how these affect average speeds. Transport professionals measure the capacity taken up by vehicles in PCUs, which broadly reflect their length, average 'passenger car' being 1. Buses have a surprisingly small value of 2-2.5, but in London may carry ten times as many people. On the other hand, how many extra buses would be needed to serve those who now use taxis and could they achieve the same door-to-door speeds? The problem with a 'commons' like the road network is that making the system as a whole more optimal is always going to make someone worse off. The problem with defining any transport system is that it may lock in characteristics that later become restricting when technology has advanced. Eventually taxis will be replaced by small autonomous electric vehicles, and (one hopes) private cars will disappear altogether. The PCU factor argument suggests that it may be difficult to replace high-capacity public transport (and why would one wish to?). Speeds in the centre are unlikely to change, and may be reduced in the suburbs for environmental/severance reasons. So the task is to balance the travel modes. As for 'too much traffic' the argument is twofold: because congestion is the only intrinsic limit on traffic, it will increase to the level of toleration; any effective economy will necessarily involve some conflicts and delays because the perceived benefits outweigh them.


Number of private hire vehicles have risen dramatically over the last 8 years causing pollution and traffic in every London Borough. Congestion charge - is it a congestion charge as it implies and if so why are hybrids exempt?? defies the objective. HGVs cause hell a lot of congestion (HGVs are not exempt from CC). Reason is quite simple: An HGV has most probably go around the block twice of three times to find appropriate parking to make a delivery (there is no other reason for any HGV to be in London). If there was ample parking for HGVs whilst delivering goods to businesses and local Boroughs weren't too greedy to penalise the HGvs, things may be quite different. Firstly there will be less pollution as HGVs will not have to go around the blocks to find parking and secondly remarkable improvement in air pollution will be noticed. It is simple.


I would oppose removing the exemption enjoyed by PHVs from the congestion charge because there should be a level playing field between PHVs and Black Cabs and it is always the public who pays in the end anyway. No good reason of yet another tax on consumers.

As for access to bus lanes for either taxis or PHVs, again a level playing field please, but I tend to prefer that both Black Cabs and PHVs be excluded from bus lanes for road safety reasons.

The key consideration for me is to treat Black Cabs and PHVs equally.


Perhaps the pollution would reduce if councils issued the £20 fixed penalty fines more often, at congestion hot spots, where vehicles are stationary with engine running?


Vehicles in bus lanes hold up the buses. That's why I'm not allowed to drive my own car there. Why should your licence give me the right to do that in a cab? If I want to use the bus lane, I should get on a bus. If I want a lift in a taxi, it should be in the private vehicle lane. If buses were faster, more people would use them instead of driving, and congestion (and air pollution) would go down.

also read :


I think to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, many cities in developing countries have considered restricting vehicle ownership. Contrary to past research, we find that adding a taxi has little impact on total distance traveled or time spent traveling.

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