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There has been plenty of unhappiness among Newcastle taxi drivers since Uber, the popular ride-hailing service, came to town a year ago. The company says it has enjoyed tremendous growth that has resulted in the hiring of some 300 drivers in the region. Uber now says it has set its eyes on further expansion in the North East. But with that expansion comes the ongoing question of the status of the company and its drivers. There are questions about the PSV licence and how drivers are vetted before being added to the platform.

It is normal to expect local taxi drivers and operators to be unhappy with companies like Uber. But above and beyond the obvious competition issues there are more serious things to think about. For example, a traditional taxi company has to have a PSV licence as an operator of private hire vehicles. Each of the drivers working for operators also has to have a locally issued PHV licence. How does all of this apply to companies such as Uber?

To be honest, there are no clear details that seem to indicate Uber’s status as a legitimate taxi operator. We don’t know if they have to have a PSV licence or not, given the fact that they do not own the cars and that their drivers do not have official worker status in the UK. Drivers themselves are considered private hire drivers, so they need a PHV licence to work legally. But those licences are easy to get. Just pay the fee and you are good to go, at least in Newcastle.

Issues Need to Be Straightened Out

The HGV Training Centre does not take any official position on the dispute between Uber and traditional taxi companies. But we do believe that the current system offers too much opportunity for misunderstanding and confusion due to what appear to be different standards. The government owes it to both traditional taxi companies and competitors like Uber to straighten things out as soon as possible.

We suggest taking the same kind of approach taken by the city of Tampa, Florida in the US. There, local officials grappled with the same kinds of issues now being dealt with in Newcastle. The city council set out to level the playing field by changing the rules.

What must be understood is this: they did not put additional restrictions on Uber drivers in order to force them to meet the same rules that apply to taxi drivers. Instead, they levelled the playing field by eliminating many of the onerous rules that prevented taxis from competing with Uber. That’s the right way to do it.

While the government figures out what to do with Uber, the HGV Training Centre will continue to offer industry-leading training to individual drivers who want to become professionals. While we have nothing to do with the issuance of a PSV licence for operators, we can train drivers to drive any type of commercial vehicle in a relatively short period of time.

Sources:

This Is Money – http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/pensions/article-3551559/Baroness-Altmann-says-turning-pensions-Isas-disaster.html

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