Gulf widens between number of PHV drivers and cabbies in the capital

Big Ben in the evening

The number of private hire drivers in London continues to rise and there are now five times more PHV drivers than black cab operators – but both groups have people driving in their 90s!

The latest Transport for London figures show the gulf between black cabs and PHVs continues to widen and Taxi Point has looked at the latest for the taxi industry in the capital.

Widening gulf

It found that the private hire industry in London continues to surge ahead in driver numbers, with new figures released by Transport for London (TfL) for the week ending November 19 revealing there were 106,176 licensed private hire drivers in the city, contrasting the significantly smaller number of 17,720 licensed black cab taxi drivers.

Looking at TfL’s taxi demographic figures, of the total 18,088 drivers licensed in June this year, 17,675 were male and just 413 were female. The total was made up of 11,227 being white British, 971 Asian or British Asian, 1,478 were black or black British and 3,083 declined to answer.

The majority of drivers were aged 40 to 60 with 2,334 aged 63-67; 895 aged 68-72; 454 aged 73-77; 131 aged 78-82; 17 aged 83-87 and four aged 88-92.

In the private hire sector for the same period, 103,322 drivers were male and 2,274 were female, with a total 105,596. Of these, 3,794 were white British, 9,721 were white other 42,905 were Asian or British Asian, 15,921 were black or black British and 30,855 declined to answer.

And while the majority of drivers are in their 40s and 50s, there were 1,785 aged 66-70; 404 aged 71-75; 62 aged 76-80; 12 aged 81-85 and two aged 86-90!

Key differences

While the travelling public might not be aware of the significance between public and private hire taxis, there are key differences that separate the way they operate.

Taxi Point explains: “A private hire driver, often referred to as a minicab driver, is an individual who provides transportation services to passengers in a private vehicle, typically booked in advance through a private hire operator. These include big operators like Uber, Addison Lee and Bolt.

“These drivers differ from black cab taxi drivers, who are permitted to pick up passengers without pre-booking. Private hire drivers must hold a valid private hire driver’s licence, which is issued by TfL after meeting specific requirements.

“Licensing to become a black cab driver involves a more rigorous process to ensure passenger safety and high standards. To obtain a licence, applicants must fulfil several criteria, including a thorough background check, medical assessment, and completion of the Knowledge of London test, which examines their understanding of the city’s routes and landmarks. They must also have the appropriate taxi insurance coverage for their vehicle.”

As the gulf in numbers continues to grow, in the week leading up to November 19, TfL reported a decrease in the number of licensed private hire drivers by 57, with 131 new licences issued. Alongside this, the number of licensed private hire vehicles increased by 160, reaching a total of 91,327, with 397 new licences granted.

Meanwhile, taxi driver licences decreased by 26 on the previous week to 17,720 with just two new licences issued.

The number of black cab vehicle licences dropped by 11 from the previous week to 14,600 with 35 new licences issued.

Despite the iconic status of the London black cab, with people’s continuing reliance on mobile phones and booking apps, many expect the gap between licensed private hire drivers and black cab taxi drivers to continue to grow in London.

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.