• Greater Manchester’s 10 councils have published a set of minimum vehicle standards for hackney and private hire vehicles that are licensed by GM local authorities.
  • This builds on the driver, operator and local authority standards endorsed by GMCA in September, and now approved by all GM local authorities.
  • Together these Minimum Licensing Standards are designed to make taxi and private hire services safer and more customer-focused, with high environmental and accessibility standards.
  • The standards will give peace of mind to every customer that every vehicle, driver and operator that is licensed by a Greater Manchester local authority has been checked to a high standard.
  • Greater Manchester will pursue a single colour vehicle policy, but on a longer timeframe following public consultation.
  • Nine in 10 residents in Greater Manchester are in support of the standards, and the driver standards received good levels of support from the taxi and private hire industry.
  • Greater Manchester is calling for the government to close a legal loophole to end ‘out of area’ operation, which allows drivers and vehicles not licensed and regulated locally to operate in the city-region, despite not meeting the standards.

Greater Manchester’s Leaders have published the final set of standards that taxis and private hire vehicles that are licensed by GM local authorities will be expected to meet by 2024. There will be local transition arrangements to help smooth the path for owners of vehicles, as well as funding from the GM Clean Air Plan to help locally licensed vehicle owners to upgrade to lower emission vehicles.

Taxi and private hire vehicles play a vital role in keeping Greater Manchester moving, support the night-time economy and fill the gaps in the transport system for those who need it.

The Minimum Licensing Standards for vehicles, which were presented for endorsement at the 29 October Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) meeting, have been designed to make taxi and private hire services safer and more customer focused as well as meeting high environmental and accessibility standards.

The standards, which together cover drivers, operators and vehicles, and local licensing authorities, also aim to strengthen public confidence in a well-regulated and locally licensed taxi and private hire sector and help secure their long-term future.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The hackney and private hire sector in Greater Manchester is huge. Together they provide more trips than Metrolink or local rail. And it’s a vital transport service for many, and often serving vulnerable people, such as taking children to school or people back from a night out. That’s why it’s so crucial that we ensure services are safe so that passengers know that every Greater Manchester-registered vehicle, driver and operator have been checked to a high standard.

“We’ve considered all the views, suggestions and insights given during the public consultation last year and amended the proposed standards to ensure that they work for everybody. It’s now really important to see them soon come into force. We want to support the sector as we are absolutely committed to improving air quality, reducing carbon emissions and improving standards for our locally licensed fleets

“Now we are fully focused on our next challenge which is to close the legal loophole that allows out of town private hire vehicle drivers and vehicle owners to operate here, dodging these regulations. We’re taking action locally, but we need the right regulatory tools to support the trade move to cleaner, more accessible vehicles and that customers are protected by having private hire locally regulated.

“One way that people will be able to recognise a Greater Manchester licensed vehicle is to look out for the prominent branding on the sides and on the bonnet. We want to encourage people to insist on using a GM licensed vehicle, when they book a private hire by phone or via an app.

“We also agreed that Greater Manchester will pursue a single colour vehicle policy for Greater Manchester-licensed private hire vehicles. This would make the locally licensed fleet more immediately visible, as a crucial part of an integrated transport offer, and help visibly reassure passengers that the vehicle and driver meet our high licensing standards.  But we do recognise the strong response from the trade to this issue, and as a result we will move progressively toward this ambition.”

Leader of Tameside Council, Brenda Warrington, said: “The publication of the vehicle standards is an important step on our journey to improving the safety and customer experience of using a taxi or private hire vehicle in Greater Manchester. This is about consistency of public safety of the industry across Greater Manchester, and I’m delighted to say that Tameside Council were the first to update our licensing policies relating to driver standards back in the Summer.”

Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Bev Hughes, said: “Everyone who uses a taxi in Greater Manchester should feel safe doing so and that’s exactly what these standards set out to achieve. It is a really important milestone to see the final standards being published and soon coming into force. We look forward to working with all partners to implement these new measures.

“The co-operation we’ve had from taxi and private hire vehicle owners has been invaluable, and I would like to thank them for their insights and contributions to the public consultation and engagement events that have helped us shape these final standards.”

The Minimum Licensing Standards focus on four areas:

Vehicles

  • Vehicle emissions (diesel Euro 6 and above, petrol Euro 4 and above, with an ambition for a zero-emission capable fleet)
  • Vehicle age (Private Hire Vehicles – under 5 years on to fleet and 10 years off; Private Hire Vehicle wheelchair accessible vehicle – under 7 years on to fleet and 15 years off; Purpose built Hackney Carriage Vehicle – under 7 on to fleet and 15 years off)
  • To implement/retain the policy standard that all Hackney Carriage Vehicles should be black in colour with the following exceptions: Purpose built Taxis may be of the manufacturer’s colour, Advertising is allowed on London Style Taxis.
  • Vehicle livery (common Greater Manchester design with local authority council logo incorporated) on bonnet and sides of hackney and private hire vehicles.
  • No immediate specific colour requirement for Private Hire vehicles as part of vehicle livery at this stage. Research to be commissioned to further consider a single colour for private hire vehicles, which remains a commitment for adoption in the future. 
  • Accessibility (all hackney vehicles to be wheelchair accessible)
  • Vehicle testing
  • Specific standards for executive hire
  • Vehicle design and licensing requirements

Drivers

  • Common standards on criminal record checks
  • Medical examinations
  • Knowledge tests (including local area knowledge, licensing law and road safety)
  • English language proficiency
  • Driver training on safeguarding and disability and dementia awareness
  • Driving proficiency
  • Dress code

Operators

  • Basic criminal record checks for all private hire operators and staff
  • More stringent requirements related to booking records
  • Operators taking more responsibility for driver and staff behaviour

Local authorities

  • Submission of licence applications up to eight weeks in advance of licence expiry
  • If approved, licence to be issued within five working days
  • Common enforcement approach and framework to which licensing fees are set
  • Training for councillors reviewing licence applications

Greater Manchester held a public consultation exercise on Minimum Licensing Standards in 2020 (opens in new window). The consultation revealed that there was very strong support from the public (94%) for the proposals about driver standards as well as a clear majority from the taxi trade representatives. There was majority support for the Local Authority and the Private Hire Operator standards. 

Following feedback from last year’s consultation and the impact of COVID-19, this Summer GM’s local authorities approved the city-region’s Clean Air Plan giving GM-registered taxi/private hire owners more time, money and options to upgrade ahead of the introduction of the Clean Air Zone.

This includes temporary exemptions for an additional year (until 31 May 2023) for all hackney and private hire vehicles (PHV) licensed by a GM District.

Greater Manchester has also secured over £20m to help GM-licensed taxi and private hire vehicle owners, drivers and operators to switch to cleaner vehicles. Financial Support Scheme funding applications are due to open at the end of January 2022. GM has also secured funding for over 30 taxi-only electric vehicle (EV) charging points at strategic sites across the city-region.


Article Published: 29/10/2021 17:10 PM