Mayor seeks new powers over private hire trade and unsafe pedicabs
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today pledged to push for new powers to enable him to cap the number of Private Hire Vehicles in the capital. The Mayor has also confirmed he will be seeking powers over unsafe and unregulated pedicabs and rickshaws on the streets of London's West End. The Mayor, who has received clear advice from Transport for London, will be pressing for Primary Legislation from the Government to enable TfL to cap the number of Private Hire Vehicle drivers operating in the capital, which are rising by more than 1,000 each month. Currently there are 78,690 minicab drivers in London and over the past year that number has risen by 12,268. At this rate, over the next two years, there will be an additional 26,526 minicab drivers – bringing the total number to more than 105,000. The growth of private hire vehicle drivers in the last 18 months (from December 2013 to date) is approximately 18%. The Mayor is concerned that this unprecedented rise in numbers is causing increased congestion, particularly in central London, as well as more pollution and problems of illegal parking. The Mayor is of the firm view that London must be able to cap the number of minicab drivers – however, currently Transport for London does not have the ability to do so. He will, therefore, be seeking legislation to give the capital that power. In a separate move, the Mayor will press to obtain powers over the regulation of pedicabs. The Mayor believes these vehicles jam up roads in the West End and unnecessarily and consistently fail to ensure the safety of their passengers. Uniquely, London is not currently able to restrict or regulate pedicabs in any way, unlike the rest of the country. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “We must be able to take action against the threat posed by the massive increase we are seeing in the number of private hire vehicles. There are only 25,000 black cabs and 8,000 buses in London and yet there are already over 75,000 minicabs and rising. We’re starting to see a threat to free movement of traffic on the roads. “What we are proposing therefore is legislation, which I will be looking to take forward in Parliament, to restrict the number of minicabs that can come on the streets. “We will also be seeking powers for TfL over pedicabs – which so far have been completely immune from regulation. These vehicles jam up the roads and consistently fail to ensure the safety of their passengers.” Notes to editor Increase in private hire driver numbers in recent years: 2009/2010 59,191 2010/2011 61,200 2011/2012 64,063 2012/2013 66,975 2013/2014 65,656 2014/2015 76,249 Examples of traffic/parking congestion spots include: West End (Piccadilly, Mayfair, Leicester Square) during Thursday, Fridays and Saturday nights and residential streets around Heathrow. Particular streets/locations include: St Pancras International Dover Street Berkeley St/Dover St Piccadilly/Shaftesbury Avenue/Swallow Street and Wardour Street Portman Square and Grosvenor Place Knightsbridge/Hyde Park Corner Edgware Road/ Marylebone (includes both Praed Street (Paddington Station), Star Street, Bryanston Sq and Marylebone Road). Charing Cross Road/ Leicester Square Camden High Street Greenwich around 02 Clapham High St The Mayor is seeking to include the legislation in a London Bill in this year's Queen's speech. TfL currently has a major private hire review ongoing and will start making changes later this year. This includes an English language requirement and better geographic knowledge requirements for minicab drivers. Tfl is also increasing its enforcement against touting and other illegal activity, working with the Metropolitan Police Service to target known hotspots and better responding to real-time information to take swift action against touting, for example.