LPHCA slams TfL over “illegal” cab app operators

PD web news LPHCA steve wright 300 headThe Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) says Transport for London is no longer fit to regulate the London taxi and private hire market, and tabled a motion of no confidence in the regulatory body at a meeting last week.

The move is the latest escalation of LPHCA’s demands that TfL should crack down on cab app operators, many of which the private hire trade association believes are illegal.

In a statement, LPHCA said: “LPHCA has lost confidence in the ability of TfL to safeguard public safety as regulator of the London taxi and Private Hire car market. The LPHCA is concerned about those cab app providers which are operating illegally in the capital - putting London's world-class safety record at risk. The body is questioning TfL's fitness to remain the regulator after it has done little to address the activities of some offshore technology companies which provide cab services via apps.”

LPHCA recently carried out a public poll of 1,014 London residents with research company Populus, which indicates that Londoners do not understand that some cars booked through new smartphone apps are not fully compliant with TfL regulations. 

The poll results showed that:

89% of people said it is very/fairly important that newer app-based cab companies should be required to use TfL-licensed operating centres

80% of people weren't aware that some cars booked through new smartphone apps are not fully-licensed and compliant with TfL regulations

LPHCA chair Steve Wright said: “The Private Hire Vehicles Act ensures the safety of the travelling public. There is deep-rooted concern and evidence that new app-based operators are not playing by the rules. TfL appears to be changing its approach to suit offshore app companies rather than putting the public's safety first.”

Private Hire companies (minicabs, chauffeur and executive cars) in London are regulated by TfL under the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998. The Populus poll highlighted public concern that app companies that have been subject to regulatory action elsewhere should be subject to stringent scrutiny in the UK: 

70% of people are a lot or a little less likely to use the services of a smartphone app operator that's been the subject of a complete ban on operation somewhere in the world

87% of people agree that TfL should investigate all smartphone app operators to assess their compliance with UK regulations

“Some of these app providers are being allowed to operate in London when they have already been convicted of serious licensing offences in other cities around the world and in some cases, we have even seen evidence of them using drivers without insurance,” said Wright (pictured above). “We want to see TfL fulfil its legal obligations to enforce the law effectively, fairly and consistently and so does the travelling public.”

“There have been considerable problems worldwide with these new app providers - including a passenger alleging she had been raped by a driver booked via an app and the death of a young girl on a street crossing by a driver engaged by an 'app-based' company,” Wright added.

LPHCA has also launched a ‘Keep Cabs Safe’ Facebook page to raise the awareness of what it calls “Cowboy Cab Apps masquerading as technology companies alongside the indifference and intransigence that regulators seem to be greeting them with”.

“Alongside ‘Bogus Cabs’ (both Taxi & PHV) the ‘Cowboy Cab Apps’ pose a threat to the good reputation of the Taxi and Private Hire sector in the UK. Our Facebook Page is open to all sides of the industry and anyone who has an interest in it, so we please ask everyone to ‘like’ it to spread the word,” LPHCA said in a statement.

To read more about the campaign go to: www.facebook.com/keepcabssafe

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