The number of total licensed private hire and taxi vehicles in England increased by 1.7% (4,900 vehicles) to 285,400 in 2018 compared to 2017, according to new Government statistics.

This is the highest number since comparable records were first collected in 2005. In 2018, almost three quarters (74%) of all licensed vehicles in England were PHVs.

The number of driver licences in 2018 also increased 1.6% (5,600 licences) to 361,500 compared to the previous year. Of the total licences, 62% were PHV-only licences, 16% were taxi-only licences and 22% were dual taxi/PHV licences.

Overall there has been a 54.7% increase in total licensed vehicles since 2005 and a 120% rise in London private hire vehicle numbers in the same timeframe. Private hire vehicles increased nationally by 3.4% to 212,300, while hackney taxi numbers fell 2.7% to 73,100. In London, black cab numbers fell 1.3% to 21,000, while taxi driver numbers fell 2.7% to 23,800.

The data also lays to rest Uber’s fanciful claims about having more than 100,000 London drivers – in total, there are only 113,600 London-licensed PHV drivers and 87,900 cars. The number of drivers fell 3.5% against 2017, though the number of cars increased slightly, by 0.6%.

The biggest rise in private hire driver numbers came outside London, up 10.2% to 109,700. This is a reflection of the rise of Uber and other ride-hailing apps in cities outside London. Licensed PHV numbers in England outside London increased by 5.4% to 124,400.

The number of licensed PHV operators increased by 3.4% to 15,000. This was still a decline of 9.2% since the peak in PHV operators at 16,500 in 2009. PHV operators declined by 2.3% to 2,400 operators in London and increased by 4.5% to 12,600 in England outside London.

There were 5.1 licensed taxi and private hire vehicles per 1,000 people in England, a similar number to 2017. In London there were 12.3 licensed vehicles per 1,000 people, more than double the national average, with 10 licensed PHVs and 2.4 licensed taxis per 1,000 people.

 

Summary of taxi and private hire vehicle licensing, 2018 vs 2017  

Figures in thousands

  London Total %chg Ex-London Total %chg England Total %chg
Total licensed vehicles 108.9 0.20% 176.5 2.70% 285.4 1.70%
Taxis 21 -1.30% 52 -3.30% 73.1 -2.70%
Wheelchair accessible taxis 21 -1.30% 21.7 -1.90% 42.7 -1.60%
Private Hire Vehicles 87.9 0.60% 124.4 5.40% 212.3 3.40%
Wheelchair accessible PHVs 0.5 20.60% 3.9 2.60% 4.4 4.30%
Licensed PHV operators 2.4 -2.30% 12.6 4.50% 15 3.40%
Total licensed drivers 137.5 -3.30% 224.1 4.80% 361.5 1.60%
Taxi only licences 23.8 -2.70% 34.1 -4.00% 57.9 -3.40%
PHV-only licences 113.6 -3.50% 109.7 10.20% 223.3 2.80%
Dual licences 0 0.00% 80.3 1.90% 80.3 1.90%

Source: Department for Transport

 

In England in 2018, total licensed vehicle numbers increased in all regions. This was driven by an increase in the number of PHVs in all areas. The number of taxis declined in all regions with the exception of East Midlands which saw an increase of 2.6%.

In England, all regions saw an increase in the total number of driver licences with the exception of London. The largest increase (8.2%) was seen in West Midlands (2,600 driver licences) since 2017, largely as a result of Wolverhampton Council’s policy of issuing large numbers of licences to drivers planning to operate outside its area.

Since 2017, PHV-only driver licences increased by 2.8% to

223,300 whilst the number of taxi-only driver licences decreased by 3.4% to 57,900. South West and Yorkshire and the Humber were the only regions to see an increase in the number of taxi driver licences.

The total number of licensed drivers increased in 182 out of 293 licensing authorities in England. The number of taxi-only driver licences increased in 53 areas. The number of PHV licensed drivers increased in 120 areas. The number of dual driver licences increased in 130 areas.

The largest increases from the previous year in total licensed drivers were seen in Norwich, Wolverhampton, Worthing, Oadby and Wigston.

The majority of drivers were male (96%) in 2017/18. These proportions are similar to the previous year. The average age of a driver was 48, with 26% of drivers being aged under 40. Those aged 60 or over made up 19% of drivers. There has been a slight shift in the age profile of drivers over the past ten years, with those aged 40 to 59 making up 55% compared to

48% ten years ago.

The two main ethnic groups of drivers were White and Asian or Asian British in 2017/18, making up 49% and 38% of drivers respectively. There was an increase in the proportion of non-UK nationals working as drivers in England, rising to 21% in 2017/18, compared to 13% in 2007/08, suggesting there may be problems for the trade if Home Secretary Sajid Javed imposes a £30,000 post-Brexit minimum wage for immigrant workers. 

 

Change in licensed vehicles by region, 2017 vs 2018, England

Figures in thousands

  Licenced vehicles Total %chg Taxis Total %chg Private Hire Vehicles Total %chg
England 285.4 1.70% 73.1 -2.70% 212.3 3.40%
North-East 11.1 0.50% 4.3 -1.30% 6.9 1.70%
North-West 35.9 0.50% 8.3 -14.90% 27.6 6.40%
Yorkshire 22.5 2.80% 3.9 -0.30% 18.5 3.50%
East Midlands 14.7 1.00% 5.4 2.60% 9.3 0.10%
West Midlands 26.6 9.10% 6.3 -1.90% 20.3 13.00%
East England 19.9 2.60% 7.1 0.00% 12.8 4.10%
London 108.9 0.20% 21 -1.30% 87.9 0.60%
South-East 30.6 1.20% 10.5 -0.80% 20.1 2.30%
South-West 15.2 3.80% 6.3 -2.70% 8.9 8.80%

Source: Department for Transport