The new Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Disabled Persons) Act 2022, which came into force on 28 June 2022, is the most significant change to taxi accessibility legislation since the Equality Act 2010.
The 2022 Act amends the Equality Act to place duties on taxi drivers and PHV drivers and operators, so any disabled person has specific rights and protections to be transported and receive assistance when using a taxi or PHV without being charged extra.
As part of the amendments, taxi and PHV drivers could face fines of up to £1,000 if they fail to provide reasonable mobility assistance to disabled passengers taking a pre-booked vehicle.
Although the issue of licensing taxis and PHVs is a matter for local authorities, it is important that all transport operators meet appropriate standards to ensure a safe and quality service for all passengers. Transport operators can appeal against a licensing authority’s decision if the authority refuses to renew its licence and can continue to operate while that appeal is ongoing.
Furthermore, the Government published new, more robust Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards in 2020, which local authorities are expected to implement. The standards were designed with the intention of improving consistency within the licensing system, reducing the risk of harm posed to children and vulnerable passengers.
Criminal record checks for drivers every six months are a key part of the new standards, as is safeguarding training. The standards also include a recommendation that licensing authorities consider whether using CCTV would be beneficial or proportionate in their areas and set out that potential privacy issues must be taken into account.