Wednesday July 3rd RMT LTDB met with Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross to discuss Labour Mayor Sadiq Khans’ plan for the licensed taxi trade.
Under the disastrous Mayoralty of Boris Johnson, RMT were subjected to exclusion from all industrial level meetings. The union welcomed the change in administration and seeks to build upon the open communications under Mayor Khan.
The Deputy Mayor set out short term policy that sought to address some of the issues currently facing the licensed taxi industry in London. These were;
-Increase of on-street TFL enforcement personnel to 250
-Increase in taxi rank provison: Night tube
-Increase of access to Bus lanes
-Revision of Private Hire Regulation Review consultation.
-Revision of TFL method of consultation with industry
However, when pressed upon the Deputy Mayor confirmed that Proposal 8 of the Private Hire Regulation Review was not to be revised.
RMT strongly objected to the lack of will shown by City Hall to restrict PHVs being visibly shown via an application. The union considers the activity an affront to the licensed taxi drivers right to ply for hire and believes failure to address the practice hurtles both PHVs & licensed taxis towards a one-tier system!
Once again RMT listened to what appeared to be a regulatory authority reluctant to carry out its remit. To regulate.
Despite the union highlighting that the increase of touting and illegal plying for hire is directly linked to the failure to address PHVs from exhibiting availability, the conclusion remained to not carry the proposal forward.
Mayor Sadiq Khan responded to questions over alleged 154 cab related rapes and sexual assaults in London last year. Of this figure, 32 were alleged to have been Uber drivers of which the Mayor confirmed was in fact 29 and broke down as follows;
-3 arrested awaiting CPS action
-3 declined to charge
– 1 victim unwilling to prosecute
-1 false allegation
– 5 No further action taken
It was acknowledged by the Mayor the exponential growth of PHV numbers contributed to the increase of offences. However, he pointed out that numbers had remained ‘stable’ (12 per month approx).
RMT believe that the safety of the traveling public is paramount and immediate action must be taken to prevent such assaults from happening.
The ability of PHVs to exhibit availability must be restricted and RMT urges the Mayor to revise Proposal 8. This should be viewed as a means to tackling illegal plying for hire and touting. Further, RMT advocates that only licensed PHV drivers be permitted to drive licensed PH vehicles, reflecting the law outside of London, eliminating the potential of unlicensed drivers being able to appear legitimate.
RMT interpret further regulation of PHV drivers such as topographical and DVLA driving standards testing as not going far enough in regulating the two-tier system of licensing.