14. Different accessibility considerations apply between taxis and PHVs. Taxis can be
hired on the spot, in the street or at a rank, by the customer dealing directly with a driver.
PHVs can only be booked through an operator. It is important that a disabled person
should be able to hire a taxi on the spot with the minimum delay or inconvenience, and
having accessible taxis available helps to make that possible. For PHVs, it may be more
appropriate for a local authority to license any type of saloon car, noting that some PHV
operators offer accessible vehicles in their fleet. The Department has produced a leaflet
on the ergonomic requirements for accessible taxis that is available from:
15. The Department is aware that, in some cases, taxi drivers are reluctant to pick up
disabled people. This may be because drivers are unsure about how to deal with
disabled people, they believe it will take longer for disabled people to get in and out of the
taxi and so they may lose other fares, or they are unsure about insurance arrangements if
anything goes wrong. It should be remembered that this is no excuse for refusing to pick
up disabled people and that the taxi industry has a duty to provide a service to disabled
people in the same way as it provides a service to any other passenger. Licensing
authorities should do what they can to work with operators, drivers and trade bodies in
their area to improve drivers’ awareness of the needs of disabled people, encourage them
to overcome any reluctance or bad practice, and to improve their abilities and confidence.
Local licensing authorities should also encourage their drivers to undertake disability
awareness training, perhaps as part of the course mentioned in the training section of this
guidance that is available through Go-Skills.
16. In relation to enforcement, licensing authorities will know that section 36 of the
Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) was partially commenced by enactment of the
Local Transport Act 2008. The duties contained in this section of the DDA apply only to
those vehicles deemed accessible by the local authority being used on “taxibus” services.
This applies to both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.
17. Section 36 imposes certain duties on drivers of “taxibuses” to provide assistance to
people in wheelchairs, to carry them in safety and not to charge extra for doing so.
Failure to abide by these duties could lead to prosecution through a Magistrates’ court
and a maximum fine of £1,000.
18. Local authorities can take action against non-taxibus drivers who do not abide by
their duties under section 36 of the DDA (see below). This could involve for example
using licence conditions to implement training requirements or, ultimately, powers to
suspend or revoke licences. Some local authorities use points systems and will take
certain enforcement actions should drivers accumulate a certain number of points
19. There are plans to modify section 36 of the DDA. The Local Transport Act 2008
applied the duties to assist disabled passengers to drivers of taxis and PHVs whilst being
used to provide local services. The Equality Bill which is currently on its passage through
Parliament would extend the duties to drivers of taxis and PHVs whilst operating
conventional services using wheelchair accessible vehicles. Licensing authorities will be
informed if the change is enacted and Regulations will have to be made to deal with
exemptions from the duties for drivers who are unable, on medical grounds to fulfil the
Duties to carry assistance dogs
20. Since 31 March 2001, licensed taxi drivers in England and Wales have been under
a duty (under section 37 of the DDA) to carry guide, hearing and other prescribed
assistance dogs in their taxis without additional charge. Drivers who have a medical
condition that is aggravated by exposure to dogs may apply to their licensing authority for
an exemption from the duty on medical grounds. Any other driver who fails to comply with
the duty could be prosecuted through a Magistrates’ court and is liable to a fine of up to
£1,000. Similar duties covering PHV operators and drivers have been in force since 31
21. Enforcement of this duty is the responsibility of local licensing authorities. It is
therefore for authorities to decide whether breaches should be pursued through the courts
or considered as part of the licensing enforcement regime, having regard to guidance
issued by the Department.
Duties under the Part 3 of the DDA
22. The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 amended the DDA 1995 and lifted the
exemption in Part 3 of that Act for operators of transport vehicles. Regulations applying
Part 3 to vehicles used to provide public transport services, including taxis and PHVs, hire
services and breakdown services came into force on 4 December 2006. Taxi drivers now
have a duty to ensure disabled people are not discriminated against or treated less
favourably. In order to meet these new duties, licensing authorities are required to review
any practices, policies and procedures that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for
a disabled person to use their services.
23. The Disability Rights Commission, before it was incorporated into the Equality and
Human Rights Commission, produced a Code of Practice to explain the Part 3 duties for
the transport industry; this is available at
_of_transport_vehicles_dda.pdf. There is an expectation that Part 3 duties also now
demand new skills and training; this is available through GoSkills, the sector skills council
for road passenger transport. Go-Skills has also produced a DVD about assisting
disabled passengers. Further details are provided in the training section of this guidance.
24. Local Authorities may wish to consider how to use available courses to reinforce
the duties drivers are required to discharge under section 3 of DDA, and also to promote
customer service standards for example through GoSkills.
25. In addition recognition has been made of a requirement of basic skills prior to
undertaking any formal training. On-line tools are available to assess this requirement
prior to undertaking formal training.
Specification Of Vehicle Types That May Be Licensed
26. The legislation gives local authorities a wide range of discretion over the types of
vehicle that they can license as taxis or PHVs. Some authorities specify conditions that in
practice can only be met by purpose-built vehicles but the majority license a range of
27. Normally, the best practice is for local licensing authorities to adopt the principle of
specifying as many different types of vehicle as possible. Indeed, local authorities might
usefully set down a range of general criteria, leaving it open to the taxi and PHV trades to
put forward vehicles of their own choice which can be shown to meet those criteria. In
that way there can be flexibility for new vehicle types to be readily taken into account.
28. It is suggested that local licensing authorities should give very careful
consideration to a policy which automatically rules out particular types of vehicle or
prescribes only one type or a small number of types of vehicle. For example, the
Department believes authorities should be particularly cautious about specifying only
purpose-built taxis, with the strict constraint on supply that that implies. But of course the
purpose-built vehicles are amongst those which a local authority could be expected to
license. Similarly, it may be too restrictive to automatically rule out considering Multi-
Purpose Vehicles, or to license them for fewer passengers than their seating capacity
(provided of course that the capacity of the vehicle is not more than eight passengers).
29. The owners and drivers of vehicles may want to make appropriate adaptations to
their vehicles to help improve the personal security of the drivers. Licensing authorities
should look favourably on such adaptations, but, as mentioned in paragraph 35 below,
they may wish to ensure that modifications are present when the vehicle is tested and not
made after the testing stage.
30. The minimum light transmission for glass in front of, and to the side of, the driver is
70%. Vehicles may be manufactured with glass that is darker than this fitted to windows
rearward of the driver, especially in estate and people carrier style vehicles. When
licensing vehicles, authorities should be mindful of this as well as the large costs and
inconvenience associated with changing glass that conforms to both Type Approval and
Construction and Use Regulations.
Imported vehicles: type approval (see also “stretched limousines”, paras 40-44
31. It may be that from time to time a local authority will be asked to license as a taxi or
PHV a vehicle that has been imported independently (that is, by somebody other than the
manufacturer). Such a vehicle might meet the local authority’s criteria for licensing, but
the local authority may nonetheless be uncertain about the wider rules for foreign vehicles
being used in the UK. Such vehicles will be subject to the ‘type approval’ rules. For
passenger cars up to 10 years old at the time of first GB registration, this means meeting
the technical standards of either:
- a European Whole Vehicle Type approval;
-a British National Type approval; or
- a Individual Vehicle Approval.
Most registration certificates issued since late 1998 should indicate the approval status of
the vehicle. The technical standards applied (and the safety and environmental risks
covered) under each of the above are proportionate to the number of vehicles entering
service. Further information about these requirements and the procedures for licensing
and registering imported vehicles can be seen at
32. There is considerable variation between local licensing authorities on vehicle
testing, including the related question of age limits. The following can be regarded as
Frequency Of Tests. The legal requirement is that all taxis should be subject to an
MOT test or its equivalent once a year. For PHVs the requirement is for an annual
test after the vehicle is three years old. An annual test for licensed vehicles of
whatever age (that is, including vehicles that are less than three years old) seems
appropriate in most cases, unless local conditions suggest that more frequent tests
are necessary. However, more frequent tests may be appropriate for older
vehicles (see ‘age limits’ below). Local licensing authorities may wish to note that a
review carried out by the National Society for Cleaner Air in 2005 found that taxis
were more likely than other vehicles to fail an emissions test. This finding, perhaps
suggests that emissions testing should be carried out on ad hoc basis and more
frequently than the full vehicle test.
Criteria For Tests. Similarly, for mechanical matters it seems appropriate to apply
the same criteria as those for the MOT test to taxis and PHVs*. The MOT test on
vehicles first used after 31 March 1987 includes checking of all seat belts.
However, taxis and PHVs provide a service to the public, so it is also appropriate
to set criteria for the internal condition of the vehicle, though these should not be
*A manual outlining the method of testing and reasons for failure of all MOT tested items
can be obtained from the Stationary Office see
Age Limits. It is perfectly possible for an older vehicle to be in good condition. So
the setting of an age limit beyond which a local authority will not license vehicles
may be arbitrary and inappropriate. But a greater frequency of testing may be
appropriate for older vehicles - for example, twice-yearly tests for vehicles more
than five years old.
Number Of Testing Stations. There is sometimes criticism that local authorities
provide only one testing centre for their area (which may be geographically
extensive). So it is good practice for local authorities to consider having more than
one testing station. There could be an advantage in contracting out the testing
work, and to different garages. In that way the licensing authority can benefit from
competition in costs. (The Vehicle Operators and Standards Agency – VOSA –
may be able to assist where there are local difficulties in provision of testing
33. The Technical Officer Group of the Public Authority Transport Network has
produced Best Practice Guidance which focuses on national inspection standards for
taxis and PHVs. Local licensing authorities might find it helpful to refer to the testing
standards set out in this guidance in carrying out their licensing responsibilities. The
PATN can be accessed via the Freight Transport Association.
34. The personal security of taxi and PHV drivers and staff needs to be considered.
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 requires local authorities and others to consider crime
and disorder reduction while exercising all of their duties. Crime and Disorder Reduction
Partnerships are also required to invite public transport providers and operators to
participate in the partnerships. Research has shown that anti-social behaviour and crime
affects taxi and PHV drivers and control centre staff. It is therefore important that the
personal security of these people is considered.
35. The owners and drivers of vehicles will often want to install security measures to
protect the driver. Local licensing authorities may not want to insist on such measures, on
the grounds that they are best left to the judgement of the owners and drivers themselves.
But it is good practice for licensing authorities to look sympathetically on - or actively to
encourage - their installation. They could include a screen between driver and
passengers, or CCTV. Care however should be taken that security measures within the
vehicle do not impede a disabled passenger's ability to communicate with the driver. In
addition, licensing authorities may wish to ensure that such modifications are present
when the vehicle is tested and not made after the testing stage.
36. There is extensive information on the use of CCTV, including as part of measures
to reduce crime, on the Home Office website (e.g.
imaging-publications) and on the Information Commission’s Office website
(www.ico.gov.uk). CCTV can be both a deterrent to would-be trouble makers and be a
source of evidence in the case of disputes between drivers and passengers and other
incidents. There is a variety of funding sources being used for the implementation of
security measures for example, from community safety partnerships, local authorities and
37. Other security measures include guidance, talks by the local police and conflict
avoidance training. The Department has recently issued guidance for taxi and PHV
drivers to help them improve their personal security. These can be accessed on the
Department’s website at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/crime/taxiphv/.
In order to emphasise the reciprocal aspect of the taxi/PHV service, licensing authorities
might consider drawing up signs or notices which set out not only what passengers can
expect from drivers, but also what drivers can expect from passengers who use their
service. Annex B contains two samples which are included for illustrative purposes but
local authorities are encouraged to formulate their own, in the light of local conditions and
circumstances. Licensing authorities may want to encourage the taxi and PHV trades to
build good links with the local police force, including participation in any Crime and
Disorder Reduction Partnerships.
38. Members of the public can often confuse PHVs with taxis, failing to realise that
PHVs are not available for immediate hire and that a PHV driver cannot be hailed. So it is
important to distinguish between the two types of vehicle. Possible approaches might be:
a licence condition that prohibits PHVs from displaying any identification at all apart
from the local authority licence plate or disc. The licence plate is a helpful indicator
of licensed status and, as such, it helps identification if licence plates are displayed
on the front as well as the rear of vehicles. However, requiring some additional
clearer form of identification can be seen as best practice. This is for two reasons:
firstly, to ensure a more positive statement that the vehicle cannot be hired
immediately through the driver; and secondly because it is quite reasonable, and in
the interests of the travelling public, for a PHV operator to be able to state on the
vehicle the contact details for hiring;
a licence condition which requires a sign on the vehicle in a specified form. This
will often be a sign of a specified size and shape which identifies the operator (with
a telephone number for bookings) and the local licensing authority, and which also
has some words such as ‘pre-booked only’. This approach seems the best
practice; it identifies the vehicle as private hire and helps to avoid confusion with a
taxi, but also gives useful information to the public wishing to make a booking. It is
good practice for vehicle identification for PHVs to include the contact details of the
Another approach, possibly in conjunction with the previous option, is a
requirement for a roof-mounted, permanently illuminated sign with words such as
‘pre-booked only’. But it can be argued that any roof-mounted sign, however
unambiguous its words, is liable to create confusion with a taxi. So roof-mounted
signs on PHVs are not seen as best practice.
39. Local licensing authorities, in discussion with those responsible for environmental
health issues, will wish to consider how far their vehicle licensing policies can and should
support any local environmental policies that the local authority may have adopted. This
will be of particular importance in designated Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs),
Local authorities may, for example, wish to consider setting vehicle emissions standards
for taxis and PHVs. However, local authorities would need to carefully and thoroughly
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested