It’s hard to remember ever having seen an industry regulator in such disarray! Whilst Brexit has been occupying the news for the last 2 years, it has allowed TFL to reveal a flurry of detrimental new changes, which they hoped would go unnoticed. They may have come to the realisation that they have a financial black hole, but we, the wider PHV industry, implore our regulator not to treat the PHV industry as a cash cow and to rethink some of their plans.
A new legislation has recently come into force dictating that all TFL Licensed Private Hire Drivers must comply to an unduly high standard of written English language if they would like to continue working. “Satisfactory documented evidence” will now be essential if you wish to drive a Private Hire Vehicle on the streets of London. Not only is this for new drivers wishing to apply for a licence, but also for existing licensed TFL PH Drivers looking to renew.
The English language requirement is a measure that Transport for London have recently enforced to ensure all drivers have a creditable qualification by September 2020, a deadline which was thankfully extended presumably because they may have recognised how absurd it actually is.
BUT, do London Black Taxi drivers have to do the same examinations in order to contribute to their livelihood? In a word, no. This reeks of discrimination from a regulator that is supposed to regulate a two-tier system of Taxi and Private Hire in an unbiased way.
With one rule for the Private drivers and another for the Black Cabs there really is an ongoing issue with this divided thinking that is being fuelled by City Hall.
Although, it is not just ‘limited’ English speaking drivers that are being affected. Drivers that have spoken English all their life who work for Private Hire Operators, will indeed also be forced to pay the mandatory £200 to take the exam and prove their worth, unless of course they can find their ‘O’ Level Certificate from (perhaps) 40 odd years ago. This is on top of the day of lost earnings when having to actually go and sit the test itself.
Along with this, we still have the ULEZ zone enforced as well as the removal of Congestion Charge exemption. These are both applying to PHV’s and not Black Taxis. The problem is the more these types of double standard legislations apply, the more disconnected our capital city will become.