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What is a Taxi?

The Two Tier System
There are two types of taxi – hackney carriages which can be hailed at ranks or in the street without booking and private hire vehicles (or minicabs) which have to be booked in advance.  This is sometimes called the ‘two tier system’ and there are different standards for both, the vehicles and drivers of hackneys and private hire, with generally stiffer entry and quality requirements for the hackneys.


In some areas it is clear which is a hackney carriage taxi and which is a private hire because the vehicles look very different.
Ph and Hackney
However in other areas both hackneys and private hire are saloon cars and taxi users find it hard to distinguish.
PH and Hackney cabs
This leads to local authorities and the police spending a lot of resources prosecuting private hire drivers for picking up from the street especially when taxi users can’t see the point of the distinction.  This problem is increasing as people can dial a private hire taxi number as shown on the side of the vehicle on the street there and then so the distinction between hailing and prebooking is difficult to enforce.

One of the dangers for taxi users isUnbooked minicab warning poster getting into an unlicensed vehicle which is neither a licensed hackney or private hire vehicle. Over last Xmas 177 cases of 'touting' were recorded in London alone.   This is especially a problem at night in clubbing areas where there are queues for taxis and private car drivers (touts) lurk around offering rides.  Sadly there have been cases of rape, robbery and assault stemming from accepting such offers.

 

To some extent the use of mobile phones and apps is mimimizing this risk but it still goes on especially at busy times.

Boundary Problems
Another difficulty in relation to taxis is the issue of the boundaries in which taxis are licensed.  This means that a hackney taxi licensed in one local area is not allowed to pick up passengers in another area.  This leads to lots of empty return trips which is not good for taxi users, the taxi businesses, or the environment.  There is a lot of debate about what can be done about this with some arguing for national licensing rather than by local authorities.

 
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