Taxi driver representatives say Transport for London’s (TfL) new six-point taxi license ban will undermine efforts to replenish dwindling driver numbers.
Taxi drivers in the capital have made clear their disdain at the new policy changes for drivers who could see their licenses SUSPENDED or REVOKED for racking up just 6 driving license penalty points.
TfL’s latest taxi and private hire driver policy includes new policies on how TfL will deal with licensed drivers and future license holders who receive penalty points and convictions for breaches of the Traffic Laws.
Under new rules, drivers who receive convictions for certain offenses such as using a mobile phone or rack up 12 penalty points on their DVLA driving license risk having their TfL taxi license revoked.
For a driving offense without reasonable consideration, if the courts award 6 points or more, TfL’s sanction could be a license revocation. If the courts awarded less than 6 points, TfL could issue a three-month license suspension.
For a handheld cellphone use offence, which carries a mandatory 6 points, TfL could revoke a license.
More than one conviction for a major driving offense in the past five years would warrant a license denial and no further application would be considered until at least seven years after the most recent conviction.
Any driver accumulating nine or more penalty points will receive a warning that incurring additional points is likely to result in the loss of their taxi licence.
Licensed taxi drivers who accrue 12 penalty points from 20 December 2021 will have their taxi license suspended for six months whether or not they are banned from driving and lose their DVLA driving licence.
Alarm bells have been ringing in the taxi driving community after data from last year revealed that the number of students currently being tested to become London taxi drivers fell to its lowest level yet, at just 552.
In November 2019, the number of applicants studying Knowledge of London (KoL) in the testing phases, also known as “Appearances”, fell below 1,000 for the first time and stood at 943. there were 714 candidates who had not yet reached the test stages, but were enrolled in the KoL and learning the capital road network.
Fast forward post-pandemic restrictions to August 2021 and the number of KoL applicants at testing stages drops to just 552, and worryingly, only 363 other applicants are currently waiting to reach testing stages.
The KoL taxi driver test has recently come under intense scrutiny as industry officials look for ways to increase the number of students taking the training.
However, it has been argued that the introduction of overly strict new policies, such as the six-point license bans, would deter new applicants from applying to become taxi drivers.
Paul Brennan, president of the LTDA, said via TAXI Newspaper: “It probably won’t matter to the superiors (senior officials of TfL), that it will no doubt discourage some potential candidates from getting to know each other now. Or that it will undermine efforts to replenish our pool of drivers by decrease and to ensure the availability of taxis for our great city, its residents and visitors, which is an issue that their colleagues elsewhere at TfL are trying to address. I also doubt anyone considers how this decision alone could curb uptake and the quite remarkable resupply of our fleet of diesel taxis to clean ZECs – a goal they claim to want.
“They won’t see the irony that by getting the Safer Travel at Night (STaN) message out, they’re introducing a policy that will have a ripple effect on our numbers. They also probably won’t recognize the hypocrisy of another TfL advertising division for someone to drive a 15-tonne-plus bus carrying over 60 people, with a job description saying the candidate shouldn’t not have more than six people.
points on their license, while threatening to withdraw their taxi driver’s license for having exactly the same amount.
“I’m sure they will also continue to claim that the changes are ‘all about safety’, despite the fact that for over half a decade they have failed to reinstate the driving test of taxi, to ensure that those who take the wheel of a taxi, or elsewhere
a private rental vehicle, have the necessary skills and can demonstrate a higher standard of driving than public Joe. Nor do they acknowledge the fact (after years of covering the waters by releasing joint accident statistics for the taxi and PHV trades) that we have a remarkable safety record, which puts everyone else to shame.
“This won’t hold up, I know anyone reading this will know all of the above, but let me say it very clearly, the LTDA will not stand by and let any of our members face this shameful attack without fighting back. The LTDA legal team is already on the case and we are also contacting MPs and other decision makers in London and nationally for support.
“Let me also assure you that if I have anything to do with this, we will do everything possible to ensure that we also work with the other professional organizations and that we form a united front. To this end, we We have already set up a meeting to discuss this with UCG and LCDC and we will have further discussions with RMT and Unite to see what can be done jointly.