Taxi safety shock following checks in York

Another series of checks on taxis and private hire vehicles in York has been carried out in a multi-agency operation involving council and police officers, to ensure the vehicles are providing a safe service to passengers.

Officers from partners including City of York Council, North Yorkshire Police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) supported the operations. Bradford and Calderdale councils were also involved as they represent some of the neighbouring authorities which licence taxis and which can legally operate in the region.

The operations ran throughout the evenings and into the mornings of Friday 13 October and Friday 3 November. Over the two operations, a total of 44 private hire vehicles and hackney carriages which were operating in the city that evening were stopped and checked.

All vehicles underwent full mechanical examinations for defects by the DVSA at the council’s MOT test centre at Hazel Court or at the roadside. Checks were also made to ensure that the drivers were properly licensed, insured and that the vehicles they were driving were safe to carry customers on the roads.

As a result, seven vehicles were ordered off the road by the DVSA due to the faults found including:

  • a defective tyre (sidewall bulging/casing separated)
  • a tyre with less than the minimum tread requirement
  • defective or inoperative headlights or brake lights
  • a serious fuel leak.

Another seven vehicles were found to have faults and the drivers were given three days to fix them and get MOT approval. The variety of mechanical defects included:

  • defective
  • engine oil
  • split drive shaft cover
  • defective seat belt
  • anti roll bars inoperative

A further eight drivers were advised to repair minor vehicle defects and several others were also warned by taxi enforcement officers about breaches of taxi licensing rules.

In addition, eight private hire vehicles were suspended from working due to mechanical defects and other breaches of taxi and private hire licensing rules.

A pizza delivery vehicle was also seized by police for having no insurance.

“Anyone with concerns about the conduct of drivers or the condition of their vehicles should email public.protection@york.gov.uk so we can investigate.”

Inspector Andy Godfrey, of York City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have continued to conduct joint operations with City of York Council in an effort to improve safety for taxi customers.

“Members of the public who use taxis and private hires in York can be reassured that once again, the majority of vehicles are safe and in good order.

“Our most recent operation, however, has identified some issues and I would remind all taxi drivers that it is their responsibility to ensure their vehicle is in good order, and free of defects before they use it, regardless of if it is a company vehicle.

“We will continue to carry out similar operations in the near future to ensure that standards are being maintained.”

 

Uber taxi driver fined £546 for illegally plying for trade

Following action to enforce taxi regulations by the council, a driver was yesterday (29 March) ordered to pay a total £546 by York Magistrates Court for illegally plying for fares in the city.

Council officers investigated complaints from fellow members of the taxi trade that Mohammed Nawaz, aged 25 of Cark Road, Keighley, had been seen plying for hire in the early hours of 9 October 2016 on George Hudson Street.

Video evidence showed him accept a fare that was not pre-booked and which contravenes the terms of his license.

Following the council investigation with the full co-operation of private hire operator Uber, for whom Nawaz was driving at the time, he pleaded guilty to the offence at York Magistrates Court.

The court sentenced him yesterday to a fine of £79, a court surcharge of £30 and full prosecution costs of £427.

Evidence from the investigation included Uber’s confirmation that as a result of this incident it permanently closed Nawaz’s account with them on 1 November 2016. The conviction will also be reported to Rossendale Borough Council, the driver’s licensing authority.

Cllr Sam Lisle, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said: “While we are lobbying for greater clarity over aspects of private hire legislation, it is very clear that the law does not permit drivers licensed for private hire to pick up passengers on the street who haven’t pre-booked a journey.

“Thanks to the co-operation of the operator, members of the trade and our taxi enforcement team, this verdict sends a clear message to the trade to abide by the law.”

Future of UBER hire cars in York to be considered by Council

The York Council will decide on 21st December whether to extend the license of UBER hire cars to operate in York for 5 years.  The company has been operating with a 12 month temporary license.

uberA report to a Licensing Committee meeting says that only 3 local UBER drivers have been in operation but a significant number of drivers from other City’s have been operating in York.

The main difference between UBER and other private hire companies is that they are summoned by a customer using a smart phone app.

Uber, which is available in 60 countries, charges a base fare of £2.50 as well as 15p per minute and £1.25 per mile. This is without “surge pricing“, which increases the cost at times of high demand – on New Year’s Eve, for example

Typically UBER quote £4-£6 for a lift from the York Hospital to the Railway Station You an check by clicking here.

Strangely the Council report does not include details of local York UBER fares. They are contained in a private annex.

Uber was issued with a private hire operator’s licence on the 24th December 2015, having satisfied the Licensing Authority that the application met the statutory requirements.

Uber did not physically start operating in York until 9 September 2016. At this time Uber had 3 private hire vehicles and drivers licensed by this Council working through their York licensed operators site. There are presently 10 vehicles.

The Licensing Authority therefore has only experienced four months of Uber operating within the City.

Customers are most likely to be concerned that they have a safe journey and that fares are reasonable.

Since the Uber launch 110 complaints have been received relating to hackney carriage and private hire vehicles/drivers. 72 of these complaints relate to Uber vehicles/drivers, only one of which relates to an Uber vehicle/driver licensed by this Council, the other 71 relate to vehicles/drivers licensed by other authorities.

Uber have provided the following information:

  • Applicants who are not already licensed as a private hire/hackney carriage driver were required to provide a basic disclosure, criminal record check, from Disclosure Scotland.
  • appropriate public liability insurance and employer liability insurance, if they have employees, annually.

We suspect that booking taxis and hire cars using mobile apps will be the norm in future.

How quickly the idea will catch on in York remains to be seen.

Greener taxi licensing policy introduced in York

 Taxi-to-York-Castle-MuseumCity of York Council’s newly approved taxi licensing policy aims to cut pollution from York’s fleet.

The new policy which consolidates all previous taxi licensing decisions into one single formal document, restricts harmful emissions from taxis and private hire vehicles as part of an over-arching strategy to improve air quality in the city.

The council currently licenses183 hackney carriage and 580 private hire vehicles, this fleet of 763 vehicles has a significant impact on air quality in the city. So, York’s new policy focuses on requiring the purchase of replacement vehicles which meet certain emission standards. These will help cut levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulates in the city’s air that can damage health, as well as cutting down on carbon dioxide, a ‘greenhouse gas’ which has an environmental impact.

Zero emission taxi

Zero emission taxi

Vehicles applying to be licensed as taxis must meet European Standards known as minimum Euro 5 for petrol*,  Euro 6 for diesel*, or ultra low emission vehicles from 1 June 2017 for replacement hackney carriage vehicles, and from 1 November 2017 for replacement private hire vehicles.

Currently one in ten York taxis are a hybrid or electric taxi due to City of York Council establishing the UK’s first low emission taxi incentive scheme to encourage uptake and embed knowledge and confidence in these vehicles.

Following an eight-week consultation and representations from taxi and private hire operators, an amendment was made to the policy to reflect that the choice and costs of buying wheelchair-accessible vehicles is relatively limited.
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Council cautions against bogus taxis targeting young women

Taxi-to-York-Castle-MuseumCity of York Council has received a number of allegations relating to suspected illegal taxis operating in the city centre in recent weeks.

They have been seen on student nights and reports suggest that the drivers claim to work for a York private hire operator which has contracts with both universities. The drivers also appear to be targeting young women.

To help identify taxis properly-licensed by City of York Council, vehicles and drivers must display the following:

·      Private hire vehicles
  • o   Side plates on the rear doors stating ‘private hire vehicle pre booked only’, the company name and telephone number and/or website address;
  • o   Maroon licence plates on the front and rear of the vehicle, which state City of York Private Hire, the licence number, number of persons the vehicle is licensed to carry and the vehicle registration number;
  • o   A small plate giving the details above must also be displayed within the vehicle.
·      Hackney carriage vehicles
  • o   A ‘taxi’ roof light;
  • o   The York crest of the front doors;
  • o   Yellow licence plate on the rear of the vehicle which states, City of York Hackney Carriage, the licence number, number of persons the vehicle is licensed to carry and the vehicle registration number’;
  • o   A small plate giving the details above must also be displayed within the vehicle
  • o   A meter will be fitted in the vehicle.
  •  Private hire and hackney carriage drivers Photo ID badge issued by the council, which has the driver’s licence number, name and expiry date.

If you are approached by or believe an unlicensed vehicle is operating please don’t get in it. Unlicensed vehicles are not insured to carry passengers, they may not be roadworthy and drivers may not have passed a ‘fit and proper’ person test.

Please report your concerns to the council and/or police as soon as possible. Try to get as many details as possible about the vehicle (registration number, make, model, colour) and driver (sex, age, hair/eye colour, ethnicity, build), along with the location and time. Students can report it to the Student Union who will contact us or, please call City of York Council’s on 01904 551438 or email taxi.licensing@york.gov.uk or please call North Yorkshire Police on 101.