The biggest private hire fleets in the UK are concentrated in the North-west and South-east outside London. The region has the highest proportion of ProDriver 100 companies, which have all outperformed the national average growth rate of 1.94%. Scotland and Northern Ireland have seen growth plateau in the last two years, and South-east England has experienced the greatest volatility, reporting strong growth in 2016-17 and a decline in 2017-18. However, the sector continues to see strong growth this year, with the region’s fleet size rising by 5.8% in 2018.
While hackney carriages are regulated by the local authority, private hire companies can run a much cheaper service. To make sure that you are getting the best return on your investment, you should establish a presence in the locality, ideally near a business district with a high volume of customers. Also, a website can help you spread the word about your business, so that potential customers can easily book a taxi. Your website should be easily accessible to customers and should be compatible with e-commerce.
A minicab business is an excellent way to start a career in driving. It offers flexible and varied work and is easy to run. The number of cabs has increased over recent years in some places due to smartphone cab booking apps. Companies such as Taxify, Bolt and Kapten, as well as share-ride apps like Via Van, have sprung up. Even local authorities have entered the industry to provide cabs.
There are two different types of vehicle licences: taxi and hackney carriage. Private hire vehicles are legally permitted to operate within the borough, and have a meter calibrated to the fares set by us. Hackney carriages and private hire vehicles cannot share a taxi rank. In London, a hackney carriage can be hailed on the street. In other areas, a private hire vehicle must be pre-booked and operated by a licensed operator.
Private hire vehicles
Licensed private hire vehicles in the UK can be classified as a taxi or a minibus. The license is issued by the local council. The private hire vehicle must have a private hire licence plate on its rear and a smaller internal plate. Roof signs are not permitted. Private hire vehicles must also be mechanically sound and undergo a rigorous compliance test to current MOT standards. Licensed taxis must undergo the compliance test at least twice a year and have a full inspection of the vehicle.
Before starting a private hire business, you must obtain a driving licence from a relevant authority in the UK. Depending on where you are based, you may be required to complete a theory and practical test. In addition to passing these tests, drivers must have excellent communication skills. Some areas require English language tests for private hire drivers. Depending on the company you work for, you may also need to pass a medical exam.
Despite the Brexit crisis and new entrants, Britain’s private hire industry has managed to stay afloat. While takeover activity has slowed, big operators have acquired smaller rivals. V-Cars, for example, recently acquired a rival in Swindon and added 100 vehicles to its fleet. Despite the decline in takeovers in the last year, fleet size has risen across Britain’s 100 largest private hire and taxi operators.
While private hire vehicles may not fall within the legal definition of a taxi, they are still considered a form of transport, and as such, must be pre-booked in advance. Private hire vehicles may not use taxi exemptions, and cannot be flagged down in the street. Taxi and private hire company regulations in the UK vary from region to region, and you should check with your local regulator for details. You can download the necessary forms below.