Drivers of private hire vehicles - which include minicabs and limousines - would need to meet a formal English language requirement and be able to provide guaranteed fare eslimates for customers in advance, if proposals are approved. Other measures include more robust insurance requirements and providing driver and vehicle details to customers, including a photo of the driver, before the start of each journey. The proposals come after a public consultation and review of private hire regulations, which attracted more than 16,000 responses late last year. They will be put to the TfL Board for approval in March.
TfL's chief operating officer for Surface Transport, Garrett Emmerson, said: 'Londoners have given a very clear indication of how they would like us to shape the regulation of the private hire industry to deliver improved safety and customer service. We had an overwhelming response to the consultation and all of the proposals we are taking forward received majority support.'
The number of private hire drivers in the capital has soared in recent years from 59,000 in 2009/10 to more than 95,000 today. This has contributed to growing traffic congestion, illegal parking and areas of poor air quality. TfL estimates that one in ten vehicles entering the zone is now a private hirevehicle.
Mayor Boris Johnson has asked TfL to investigate removing the Congestion Charge exemption for private hire vehicles in the city.
He said: 'New technology has revolutionised the private hire industry in recent years, bringing with it quantum leaps in terms of faster, better and cheaper services for customers. However it has also meant a rapid increase in the number of private hire vehicles on our streets.
These vehicles now represent more than 10 per cent of vehicles entering the Congestion Charging zone on a daily basis and I have asked TfL to investigate the impact and feasibility of removing the exemption for private hire vehicles.'
The Mayor is also progressing legislation to enable TfL to regulate pedicabs, or rickshaws, which will help to tackle fare abuses prevalent among some drivers.