The draft national transport delivery plan published on 13 July 2022 includes references to intended developments for hackney carriage and private hire licensing including:
Paragraph 22.214.171.124 of the draft national transport plan states
‘…Through the Wales Act 2017, the licensing of taxis and PHVs is a devolved matter and work to develop a Bill that would ensure taxi and PHV services were safer, fairer and greener is planned during the NTDP period…’
Section 4.6 which concerns taxi and private hire licensing is reproduced below for easy reference:
4.6 Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles
We want a taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing system that is fit for a modern Wales, promotes safety for passengers and drivers, contributes to a cleaner environment, improves the customer experience and is accessible by all.
We have committed to a series of actions on Taxis and PHVs including reforming legislation and licensing, a target for rolling out a zero-emissions taxi fleet in Wales, and commitments on customer services.
We recognize that Taxi and PHVs are a vital form of public transport. They deliver a practical direct transport solution and provide an essential service to: people living in rural communities where other forms of public transport may be insufficient; the night-time economy; passengers with disabilities; and have an important role in facilitating social inclusion. They are often the first means of transport a visitor from another country or part of Wales experiences when they arrive here and as such can be a flag bearer.
4.6.1 Legislation and policy reform
Private hire vehicles (PHVs) must be pre-booked through a licensed operator. The licensed driver, vehicle and operator must all be licensed by the same authority, but journeys can take place anywhere in the UK. Private hire fares are not regulated, they are an agreement between the hirer and operator.
126.96.36.199 Licensing reform
Local authorities are currently responsible for setting licensing requirements for drivers, vehicles and operators. These requirements vary across the country which can lead to inconsistencies in the standard of services experienced by customers. Problems include inconsistent standards, public safety concerns, cross border hire problems, fare refusals, inconsistent enforcement, public confusion around the difference between taxis and PHVs and polluting vehicles, lack of services in rural areas, poor affordability and accessibility.
Our plan is to introduce one set of national licensing standards for drivers, vehicles and operators will improve safety and will ensure a consistent approach across Wales. We will ensure regulators have the necessary enforcement powers and create a national licensing database and public register. This approach will reduce local variance in standards will also help to solve problems of cross-border hire. Other safety measures that may be added to the national standards include mandatory vehicle CCTV, standardised medical checks, criminal record checks for applicants and licence holders, Welsh language standards and standardised specifications for vehicles and the vehicle testing regime.
4.6.2 Integrated journeys
There are currently around 11,000 drivers, 4,500 taxis and 4,500 PHVs licensed in Wales. The diagrams show how important this sector is for social and economic inclusion in Wales. Lack of available, affordable or nearby transport can be a barrier accessing employment, services and leisure to some individuals, in particular the older and disabled people who may also require a door to door service. We see taxis playing an important role in integrated public transport. We will explore how taxis/PHVs can better integrate and supplement other forms of public transport such as local bus services by providing taxi-bus services or another form of shared demand responsive travel options. We will develop a plan on how taxi-bus arrangements can be formalised to supplement public transport services.
4.6.3 Strategic initiatives
188.8.131.52 Decarbonising the fleet
Our ambition is that all taxis and PHVs should be zero emission at tailpipe by 2028. To help to achieve this ambition, we will develop and implement a taxi decarbonisation action plan which will include details on ways we can assist the industry in making the transition to zero-emission vehicles. Stakeholder engagement will inform this plan and will determine the most suitable forms of incentives, which may include a loan or lease scheme. As part of the development of the decarbonisation strategy the Welsh Government have funded the purchase or 50 zero emission taxis. These vehicles will be operated in Denbighshire, Cardiff Capital region and Pembrokeshire on a try before you buy scheme where drivers and use the vehicle for one month free of charge. Welsh Government are also developing plans for electric vehicle charging provision across Wales which may include exclusive or times periods reserved for taxi/PHV charging only. The roll-out of taxi-only charging points has started in the Cardiff Capital Region, Pembrokeshire and Denbighshire.
184.108.40.206 National standards for taxis and PHVs
It is important that regardless of where customers live in Wales, they experience a good level of taxi or PHV service with readily available accessible, safe vehicles and suitable and trained drivers that provide good customer service and make passengers feel welcome. We will consider ways in which to ensure that licensed taxis/PHVs are easily recognisable to the public and any other measures that may improve understanding for consumers. Through stakeholder engagement we will shape national standards to ensure that as well as being safe, licensed vehicles are comfortable and suitable for all passengers. The engagement on these standards will consider the introduction of mandatory CCTV and minimum specifications for vehicles. Also, as part of these standards we aim to introduce a training course to make certain that individuals have the necessary skills to undertake the role of licensed driver.
We will protect the existing investment in accessible taxis with cleaner engine technology during the transition to a zero emission fleet. We will ensure that we do not reduce the supply of accessible vehicles and that we explore opportunities to enhance the provision.
220.127.116.11 Simpler fares
We will seek to simplify taxi fares, so that they are fair and clear to customers and there is a consistent approach across Wales. We will also ensure that customers are able to pay for taxis in a variety modern and traditional methods and address customers concerns regarding fare refusal and booking cancellations to improve confidence in using these service