London's taxi service is recognised as one of the best in the world, with high vehicle standards, including disabled access and skilled drivers. By learning the world-famous "Knowledge" of London, London taxi drivers earn the unique right to ply for hire on the streets of the capital, helping to keep the city moving 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Boris Johnson, the previous Mayor of London, worked extremely hard to ensure that there is a sustainable future for London's iconic black cabs by helping to bring the trade into the 21st century and create a level playing field for both black cabs and minicabs in London. As a result of a consultation, the Transport for London (TfL) Board approved the following proposals to modernise private hire regulations, and to raise standards in the industry in London, which came into effect in June 2016:
· A formal English language requirement for drivers.
· Private hire operators to ensure that customers can speak to someone in the event of a problem with their journey.
· Even more robust 'hire and reward' insurance requirements.
· Improved record keeping and real-time provision of driver and vehicle information to TfL to make enforcement even easier and more effective
The then Mayor also asked TfL to investigate the impact and feasibility of removing the Congestion Charge exemption for private hire vehicles in central London to tackle pollution and reduce congestion. Boris Johnson and TfL took other action to improve service and safety standards in the trade, including introducing mandatory disability equality training and other improved training for drivers.
All of this action is being undertaken in order to preserve and boost the taxi trade, and I know that TfL will keep these regulations under review.