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Deregulation of the black cab trade #Taxis4u


 

The word deregulation seems to be banded about by everyone with even the basic knowledge of the black cab trade in London, very few people actually know what they are talking about but seem to use the word as a way of justifying Uber just riding rough-shot over current regulations.


Before I get into the details of the black trade, lets look at other industries where de-regulation has occurred and in the interests of fairness I will only use an example from the UK.


Anyone remember the Milk Marketing Board? its goal was to control milk production and distribution Wikipedia article whilst not perfect it did keep the industry running and kept the prices right so that people could earn a living and it was sold at a fair price, 2002 saw the Milk Marketing Board close and allow the 'free' market to do its magic.


Where are we today in milk production and distribution in the UK, well we have dairy farmers going out of business at an alarming rate, they are selling their milk at below cost because that is what the market has decided, so the farmers are slowing going under, at some point all the dairy farmers will be gone and we will be importing milk if something does not change. Suddenly our milk markets will be controlled by companies from abroad. I hear some people say "We as long as my milk is cheaper I don't care".


The above example is just one of many examples that could be used for why deregulation needs to be fully contemplated not just in the short term but in the long term too, don't get me wrong I am all for improving things, I am all for cutting costs, I am all for cutting red tape, but this should be done keeping one eye on why the regulations are there in the first place.


So onto the black cab trade and private hire trades, both trades have a lot of overlap in their regulations and then there are regulations that apply to one and not the other, most of the regulations are there to safeguard the public, for example DBS checks, these check peoples criminal pasts, they check that people are not on sex offenders lists as well. These checks are vital for the travelling public, but some shortcuts are being done that is not in the best interests of public safety, I will give you one example, so a man comes from Afghanistan he takes up residence in the UK, a few months after moving here he decided he wants to become a private hire driver, the process is pretty straight forward, apply to TfL, they might want to do a medical but they will definitely want to do a DBS check, so they do the check, it can only check back for their time in the UK, so this will only go back 3 months. This individual maybe claiming asylum so asking the Government there for a reference of good conduct will be pointless so it is not done in his case. So the guy in the absence a bad report is given a TfL private hire licence.


Whilst the above example does not happen all of the time it does happen, there are people driving mini cabs in London that only have a minimal DBS check done that are driving you around, whilst the same could be potentially true of a Black Cab driver, the simple fact they have to do the knowledge means that the 2+ years of doing the knowledge and appearances means you get a longer period of time to assess someones suitability, also the appearances (which most people sit at least 12 of these) are 15 minutes one to one exams with an examiner, so some less than perfect people are spotted in this process and will not pass the knowledge until the examiners believe this person has the right character to be a Black Cab driver.


So other parts of the regulations that Black Cab drivers have to adhere to are, driving a very specific custom built taxi, these cost around £65,000 from new currently, these taxis have to be able to take a wheelchair (not folded) with a passenger in the wheelchair, the other main requirement is the turning circle, whilst there are other things very specific about a Black Taxi these two alone add significant cost to the cost of a Taxi, other things like the overhall, services are more expensive to do on a Taxi than a normal car.


So lets deregulate Taxis, let the drivers decide what Taxi they want to buy, lets forget about the disabled passengers and let them fend for themselves, I for one don't want this, this is not why I did the knowledge, I did the knowledge to provide a world beating service and to provide that service to anyone regardless of their disabled status who wants to use my service.


The Taxi trade does not do a brilliant job of promoting the good things it does, but that is mainly because Taxi drivers are not doing charitable work for a pat on the back, they are doing it because it's the right thing to do.


So I get pretty sick and tired of the trade being labeled as greedy and grumpy, come to remembrance day and see us in action, not a penny changes hands it is the trade giving up its time to help others.


All these things are possible because we can earn a fair living, if we are reduced to fighting a race to the bottom these are the types of things that will be lost for good.


So next time you use the phrase "Deregulate Taxis" please consider what that will mean long term.


Its not all about the money, it not just about how cheap can you get from one place to another.


Written August 2015.