Next week, the Council’s Licensing Committee will meet to discuss the future of Derby’s licensed taxis and private hire vehicles.  A new draft Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Strategy will be considered by committee, proposing some of the biggest changes to Derby taxis since horse drawn carriages.

As well as going ‘back to black’, the ambitious strategy focusses on modernising the city’s taxi and private hire fleet; making them environmentally cleaner, improving safety, and enhancing customer service and experience.

The proposals set out a series of measures that would be introduced, working with vehicle owners and other stakeholders to bring a new fleet to Derby by 2020.

New Hackney carriages would continue to be 100% wheelchair accessible, and most would have a minimum of six seats as standard.

Greener fleet

A key driver for the change is the need nationally to address roadside Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) air quality issues.

The Council is already proposing a package of measures to help tackle this, but wants to continue to lower the amount of NO2 in the air even further where possible.

The new strategy sets out vehicle age and emission requirements proposed from 2020 and 2025; all licensed vehicles would have to be ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) by 2030.

Savings and incentives

The proposed strategy contains some big changes. New vehicles would offer customers an excellent experience; one that is clean, safe and much friendlier to the environment.

The Council will be consulting with stakeholders  on the proposals to ensure the final strategy is right, and will support the trade in a number of ways.

Hackney owners who change their vehicle early would be offered vehicle licences free of charge for up to three years. There are also plans to introduce priority ULEV ranks.

Savings of up to £100 in fuel per week, as well as reduced maintenance costs are another key benefit.

The Council is planning to offer a ‘try before you buy’ scheme, so the benefits of the new Hackney vehicles can be seen by drivers first hand.

Information on vehicle leasing options and flexible finance schemes would also be offered.

There are also a number of government schemes for owners of low emission vehicles that drivers can apply for.

Back to black

New Hackney Carriages would be re-branded, in a ‘back to black’ scheme, which would see black cabs returning to the city, keeping a flash of Derby’s iconic yellow on the bonnet, roof and boot – something that drivers have supported for some time.

In addition, Derby’s crest is planned for the front doors.

Dedicated taxi infrastructure

In order to support the influx of new electric vehicles, we have bid for, and won Government funding, allowing us to invest over £500,000 on infrastructure solely for the new taxi fleet.

New electric vehicle charging points would be installed at locations around the city, exclusively for Hackney carriages. This is in addition to the 230 charging points being installed in Derby, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire over the next few years, which are available for all vehicles to use.

Sites like ZapMap make it quick and easy to find charging points across the country, and Derby’s new charging points will be added.

New technology

The ambitious strategy includes a key focus on new technology, set to benefit both drivers, and passengers.

Whilst there will still be the option to pay by cash, all new Hackney carriages would have to accept card payments, at zero cost to passengers.

The option of card payments as standard would make the vehicles more accessible and increase flexibility for passengers – you won’t have to stop at a petrol station after a night out!

In addition, the Council plans to launch free WIFI in all new Hackney carriages, and a booking app that will provide ratings for passengers and drivers, as well as journey sharing – let your friends and family know where you are – and improved safety by having access to driver and passenger details.

The introduction of this has seen drivers participating in similar schemes gain additional work that simply plying for hire may not have offered, giving them extra income.

Consultation and practical guidance

The draft strategy will be discussed at the Licensing committee on Thursday 17th January, and if accepted, will go out to consultation, when trade representatives and public can have their say on the proposals.

Open days are also proposed, to talk to the trade, featuring practical guidance and advice on topics like finance options, charging points, working new technology, and picking the vehicle that’s right for them, as well as demonstrations from a number of manufacturers, retailers, Council officers and more.

Councillor Mick Barker, Cabinet Member for Governance and Licensing said;

“This is an extremely exciting piece of work, which I am proud to be working with officers on.

“The importance of Derby’s taxi and private hire fleet cannot be underestimated. They are an integral part of our city’s transport system, and we’ll be offering support and advice throughout this process.

“With the government imposing further clean air demands, we want to ‘future proof’ emission levels beyond that already demanded of us [in specific areas], whilst finding a way to benefit drivers, their businesses, and customers.

“The health benefits of citizens is paramount in our minds, and as it stands, we don’t have one euro 6 vehicle in the city.

“This strategy is about resetting the trade’s standards, ensuring our loved ones are safe when they make a journey, prioritising citizens’ health, and moving with the times.”

Background

In a typical day, they will make around 10,000 trips. They are a huge part of our city’s transport system, providing 24 hours a day service, seven days a week all year round, and are one of the most flexible aspects of our transport system. They are integral to supporting businesses to thrive by transporting people and goods around and outside of the city.

There are currently around 270 taxis (all of which are diesel vehicles), and 1,000 private hire vehicles licensed within Derby. With no age limit restrictions on either, Derby has been left with an ageing fleet in poor condition, with high emission levels.

The Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Strategy offers a solution to this, revolutionising the trade, and bringing it firmly into the 21st century, while allowing drivers to remain operating on a fully commercial basis, and offer customers an excellent, and safe experience.