The BBC have recently published a video featuring interviews with taxi drivers in Northern Ireland who share their concerns for the trade due to huge changes resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Drivers comment on the amount of extra equipment they now require including masks, gloves, hand sanitisers and even screens. Many are finding the extra costs combined with the reduction in work due to the closure of pubs and clubs makes it barely profitable. You can view the video the BBC news website here:
As one of the drivers stated it could mean the extinction of the taxi trade and also the private hire trade, considering the word is generically used for both licences. I have noticed in the last two weeks in Southampton more taxis are sitting on taxi ranks, hoping for a job but making little or no money. Although Southampton City Council licensing department have extended the vehicle age limit for hackney carriages and private hires among other things to help our trade, we are also facing troubled times.
Southampton City Council are following government guidelines regarding COVID-19 and the licensing department send out notifications to the trade when possible.
There is exemption for drivers not to carry the full number of passengers as shown on their identification plate. For example, if the vehicle is licensed to carry 4 people, you are quite within your rights to carry one person, the same as a multi seater vehicle licensed to carry 7/8 passengers can carry less people, it is up to the driver to decide.
As long as screens do not foul airbags, the council is allowing them to be fitted but they are not compulsory. Travel safely.
The Southampton Hackney and Private Hire Association support TaxiPoint magazine, a leading taxi industry publication which has been providing the latest in taxi industry news on multiple digital platforms since 2017. The magazine features interesting editorial on topics such as finance, insurance, licensing, maintenance, legal issues and much, much more. This month's issue contains many informative articles covering a range of topics including the challenges facing our industry at this difficult time. Why not go and take a read?
You can view the latest Taxi Point digital magazine here.
On the TaxiPoint website you can also subscribe to get the free TaxiPoint digital magazine and updated news stories direct to your inbox each month.
On the 1st September 1939 Germany invaded Poland which led Britain and France to declare war on Germany. Not that I was around in those days but on the 31st August 1939 my parents got married. After a spell of rapid army training in Catterick, North Yorkshire my father went overseas luckily returning at the end of the war.
There was no internet, mobiles or any of the communications we take for granted in the age we live in today. So as concerning the spread of Covid-19 pandemic is to life we hope it will not last for a length of time.
The National Service (Armed Force) Act which was passed by Parliament on the 3rd September 1939 imposed conscription on all males aged between 18 and 41 who had to register for service. Men who were medically unfit were exempt, same as those in key industries and jobs, such as baking, farming, medicine and engineering. Women between the ages of 20 and 30 years were also liable to be called up, when in 1941 Parliament passed a second National Service Act which included unmarried women and childless widows.
If you were a London cabbie in the Second World War, you could join the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) and your cab would be converted into a fire fighting unit. These cabs were manned by a team of firemen and the driver being an experienced cabbie, on many occasions was at the scene of the fire before the larger engines arrived, simply because the driver knew all the shortcuts!
The cabs were fitted with ladders on the roof, buckets of sand for smothering incendiary bombs and small pumps to suck water from pails. Hoses were stored to the left of the driver, usually where customers' suitcases were situated. The most important piece of equipment was the large water pump trailer, attached to the back of the cab which had all the fittings and fire fighting equipment that could be set up anywhere.
Cabbies received £1 17 shillings and 6 pennies per week for the cab and £3 a week for their services as drivers.
Photo's courtesy of Philip Warren and Malcolm Linskey from the book of Photographic History of Taxicabs.
Today's pandemic is a public health crisis, which will most probably cause a recession that could become a financial crisis. We are unlikely to face World War II casualty rates but we fully understand the unprecedented times we are living in. It is of concern that taxi and private hire drivers who mainly live from hand-to-mouth have been told by the government to claim benefits which can take five weeks to come through (changes are being made to help self-employed persons) Whilst we stay at home to self isolate, or do not go out because there is very little work, it should also be noted that restrictions on the availability of taxis and private hire vehicles may have a negative impact on passengers safety by increasing the use of unlicensed, unvetted and uninsured drivers and vehicles.
I cannot speak for the rest of the country but Southampton as a city as I write this article towards the end of March 2020 is a ghost town. Southampton airport is virtually closed, cruise ships are tied up in the docks with a skeleton crew on board and railways are cutting back on trains, it is a dismal time.
It has been welcoming to see the Chancellor Rishi Sunak meeting with the unions saying the government will do whatever it takes to get us through this. This should be a bail-out in the form of a grant and not a loan.
Let us hope that this happens sooner than later.
Ian Hall from Southampton.
It was decided that the April 2020 edition of Private Hire & Taxi Monthly Magazine would not be distributed on the ranks in the usual manner due the lack of taxi and private hire vehicles working during the Coronavirus pandemic and resulting restrictions. However the publication has been made available in full to read online. No definite decisions have been made for the May 2020 issue.
The magazine contains the usual interesting articles, board members columns, advertising etc. You name it, they have got it! Why not go on and have a read? Simply click on the link below to take you to this month's issue:
Private Hire & Taxi Monthly Magazine - April 2020
Taxi law specialist, James Button, has recently released an article regarding Coronavirus and taxis in which he recognises the taxi industry as a vital part of our transport infrastructure. Despite the fact that there is currently a downturn in the use of taxis, they will remain an essential form of transport for those that need to attend hospitals, GPs and shops.
James Button also provides some useful advice for drivers which include:
- It is ultimately the decision of the hackney carriage or private hire vehicle driver to decide if they are happy to continue providing their normal services considering the potential risks.
- If a driver is suffering from the symptom of Coronavirus, a new, continuous cough and/or high fever, they should not continue working and follow government guidelines to self isolate.
- Although it is obviously not possible to disinfect a vehicle after each passenger, frequently cleaning areas which are often touched such as door handles and seat belts will help improve the environmental safety of your vehicle.
Hackney carriage and private hire drivers, whether employees or self employed, must adhere to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Both driver and proprietor have a responsibility to ensure, to the best of their ability, that the vehicle is safe.
You can read James Button's full article here. If you look at the conclusions on the last paragraph, page three, Mr Button is openly recognising our industry as being a vital part of the transport infrastructure.
Please find below some really useful information and tips for taxi drivers regarding how a learning disability or autism may affect someone travelling with you and how you can help.
Simple things like being patient, communicating clearly and explaining what is happening on a journey could make a big difference to someone with a learning disability and make a positive impact on their day by helping them travel independently.
Have you seen this open letter written by Jim Thomas from Taxi Leaks? Written to Shaun Bailey, Andrew Boff and Gregg Hands. It is interesting to read that chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot might be hearing Uber's case! Go and take a read by following the link below:
Ian Hall, Chairman of the SHPHA, is now an Executive Board Member of the National Private Hire Taxi Association (NPHTA). As a leading trade association, the NPHTA can offer support and a range of benefits to all taxi drivers.
This month you will find Ian Hall on page 30 of the January edition of Private Hire Taxi Monthly (PHTM). The magazine which is distributed to taxi drivers throughout the UK contains editorial on a range of taxi trade related issues, the bulk of which is provided by the NPHTA.
In his article, Ian Hall discusses the document: 'Guidance on Determining the Suitability of Applicants and Licensees in the Hackney and Private Hire Trades' which despite only being a guidance document is being adopted by some councils including Southampton City Council. Please see the full article below.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
The Southampton Hackney and Private Hire Association would like to wish all our members a very merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous 2020.
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