Tag Archives: private hire regulations

London Lib Dems to debate private hire regulations – how they should get it right

Upon moving to London my first ‘culture-shock’ moment – so much as an Aussie can have them – was discovering that many black cabs only take cash payment. In 2015 it is hard to imagine another industry where a regulator must step in to ensure more than half of all operators provide a facility as basic as card payment.

This matters, as this weekend our London conference will debate a motion on Transport for London’s (TfL) recently released proposals to regulate the private hire car market. While many of the proposals are sound, several will sabotage successful business models and reduce competition, further breeding the kind of apathy to consumer preferences that sees many black cab drivers refuse card payment.

There are three proposals Liberal Democrats should be most concerned with. The first, a mandatory waiting period between requesting a private hire vehicle and pick-up, is hard to square with any consumer interest rationale. TfL is proposing a mandatory 5 minute wait, about 1.5 minutes more than the average time it takes for an Uber driver to arrive. Apparently this would reduce the risk of a customer getting into the wrong vehicle, a problem TfL provides no evidence to suggest actually exists. Even if it does, it appears not to have been weighed against the risk of extending the time in which people may have to wait alone on a street corner late at night. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments
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