Can you tell what type of taxi you are getting into in South Ribble?

The proposed new sign to be displayed on private hire vehicles in South Ribble
The proposed new sign to be displayed on private hire vehicles in South Ribble

It could soon become easier to distinguish between Hackney cabs and private hire vehicles in South Ribble.

A public consultation is set to take place over plans to standardise the type and positioning of signage which should be carried by private hire cars, amid concerns that the current system is confusing for passengers.

The new livery will also carry a warning that private hire customers are not insured for their journey unless they have pre-booked the service. Only Hackney carriages are allowed to be hailed in the street, but a meeting of South Ribble Borough Council’s licensing panel heard that it is often difficult to tell the difference between the two types of vehicle.

Currently, there are few stipulations about private hire signage other than a requirement for the vehicle to be described as a car rather than a taxi and to display a council-issued sticker on a door on the passenger and driver side.

“There are some private hire vehicles that [also] exhibit names or phone numbers,” a report to the committee states.

“This does help a passenger who has booked [to] identify they are being picked up by the…company which they have made their booking with. However, in some cases, [they] can provide too much information, which can reduce the ability of the customer to identify the vehicle clearly.”

Under the new proposal, a redesigned council sticker would have to be applied to the rear doors on either side of the vehicle and the company’s own logos could be no more than 50cm by 50cm in size – and would have to be approved by the council.

TAKING OLDER TAXIS OFF THE ROAD?

A separate consultation is also to be launched on reducing the maximum age of taxis on South Ribble’s streets.

Currently, saloon vehicles must be retired from service when they are eight years’ old, but there is an exemption for wheelchair-accessible vehicles which are allowed to run for up to 12 years.

Analysis by the council revealed that out of 231 Hackney and private hire vehicles licensed in the borough, 89 would not meet EU emissions standards for new vehicles – 77 of which are vehicles classed as having disabled access. The majority of the cabs falling short of the air quality criteria are in the private hire fleet.

Licensing panel members heard that only a reduction in the maximum age of wheelchair-chair accessible vehicles would be compatible with the borough’s commitment to improve air quality.

The consultation will be based on a proposal to bring such vehicles in-line with the rest of the fleet, so that none could be older than eight years by January 2022. However, those taxis which provide disability transport alone – and are not available for general hire – would have an additional 12 months to meet the proposed new regulations.

TAXI TRANSPARENCY

Changes could also be coming to the level of tint allowed on taxi windows – because operators are finding it difficult to source vehicles which meet the council’s current criteria.

At the moment, the “transparency level” of a taxi’s windows must be at least 70 percent.

But cab companies are to be consulted about whether they would like to see that reduced to 50 percent – or as low as 30 percent. If the latter level were adopted, taxis would have to be fitted with an approved CCTV system to compensate for the change.

None of the planned consultations can begin after the general election.