Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change
Today we are publishing a white paper on the Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (Wales) Bill. Our proposals will deliver on our Programme for Government commitment to modernise the taxi and private hire vehicle sector - addressing cross-bordering and reforming licensing to make services safer, greener and fairer.
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) play a vital role: making public transport a more practical choice by providing connections for the first and last mile of journeys and moving people at times when other transport services are not operating or in places where they are not available.
This is also about social justice. Taxis and PHVs are particularly important in communities with low levels of car ownership and they play a crucial role in school, social care and patient transport where there isn’t a suitable public transport alternative.
Given the importance of the sector, we should expect consistent standards across Wales. Currently, there is far too much variation in terms of suitability checks and training requirements for drivers, vehicle age and emissions standards, and the requirements to become an operator.
This leads to an inconsistent service and is unfair on drivers and operators facing competition from drivers licensed to lower standards in neighbouring local authorities.
We recognise that we need to level that playing field and our proposals will deliver better, safer, more consistent services. We will achieve this through the introduction of national minimum standards for licenced taxis, PHVs, drivers and operators, improved local authority enforcement powers, and better information sharing.
As the taxi and PHV sector has modernised rapidly in recent years, the legislative framework has simply not kept up with the pace of change. Our proposals are based on extensive engagement with the industry and key stakeholders on the most pressing issues facing the sector, but we recognise that some issues will need to be re-visited as the industry landscape continues to evolve.
I welcome views from drivers, our social partners, the wider industry and all of those who want to see a thriving, safe and reliable taxi and PHV sector in Wales.