Survey finds drivers and passengers unhappy with number of taxis in Watford

An over-abundance of taxis on Watford’s roads is leading to unhappiness from passengers and drivers alike, a report has said.

A survey of the state of the town’s hackney carriage and private hire services found that residents considered taxi drivers to be more focused on their fares than service.

One respondent to the report, commissioned by Watford Borough Council, even raised concerns about cabbies falling asleep at the  wheel.

However, taxi drivers have said too many licences have been granted forcing them to work longer hours to make ends meet.

The main taxi driver association in Watford has also backed proposals to re-introduce a limit on the number of licences in the town.

The release of the report comes as the borough council, which oversees taxi licensing, prepares to debate how the service should be regulated in the future.

This week the council has launched a consultation asking people their views on the town’s overall taxi service.

According to the traffic consultancy firm CTS Traffic & Transportation, which carried out the survey, the number of hackney carriages on Watford’s streets had increased fourfold since the  removal of the licences cap in 2006.

At the time of the survey there were over 400 taxis in Watford, with 303 hackney carriages and 115 private hires.

The report said that Watford had the highest ratio of taxis provision compared to population in Hertfordshire.

The survey said that taxi ranks in the town were over-crowded and in general seeing less custom then when last assessed in 2001.

However, when the company surveyed members of the public the main issues raised were about the services from taxi drivers, with one responder raising concerns about cabbies falling asleep at the  wheel.

The report said: “In general, the main issues people had were need for better service from the drivers.

“For the first time in a study of this nature, one person stated they preferred if drivers did not fall asleep at the wheel.

“Some 6 per cent were concerned they had been refused short journeys.”

When surveyed taxi drivers also said they were also unhappy with the situation in Watford, saying over-supply was forcing them to work longer to earn enough money.

The sentiments in the report were backed by Shafiq Ahmed, the chairman of the Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association.

He said: “There is no unmet demand in Watford and therefore drivers are struggling to make a living.

“We strongly want a cap at the moment.”

The reported concluded that there was no significant unmet demand for cabs and there is a large over supply of hackney carriages in the town.

It also said that public support for taxi drivers in Watford was eroding as passengers felt service was diminishing as drivers become more focussed on making a living.

Next month councillors will have to decide to whether to cap the number of cabs on the roads or try to reduce growth in taxi numbers by other changes to licensing policy.



Views sought on whether to cap Watford taxi numbers

Views sought on whether to cap Watford taxi numbers

People in Watford are being asked for their views on whether the number of taxis in the town should be capped.

Following an independent report, Watford Borough Council’s licensing committee will be considering whether to limit the number of  taxi licences it issues next month.

The number of licences is currently unlimited and will only be capped if councillors believe there is no unmet demand for taxis in the area.

The independent report and the draft action plan can be viewed at the Watford Town Hall Customer Service Centre, or on the council’s website at:

Comments can be made by March 5 either at  or by writing to: Licensing, Watford Borough Council, Town Hall,  Watford, Herts, WD17 3EX or emailing


Southampton taxi chiefs hit out at £15K transport review

Taxi trade survey 'flawed'

Taxi trade leaders have called a survey that could flood Southamptonwith more cabs “flawed”.

Trade representatives have spoken out as consultants prepare to release the findings of a review into the number of hail and ride cabs in the city. They fear more taxis will make it even harder for  struggling cabbies to make ends meet.

Transport consultants Halcrow have been paid £15,000 to recommend whether or not a limit of 282 Hackney Carriages in the city should be raised.

Three years ago the council agreed to issue 19 more lucrative taxi licences – worth up to £35,000 on the open market – in a controversial secret lottery exposed by the Daily Echo.

But trade bodies said the findings of the latest survey will be skewed because it was carried out before the last eight new plates were issued in December.

Perry McMillan, from the taxi section of the Unite union asked: “Why commission a survey out on the streets throughout November, if you’re not going to take account of the impact of eight more  plates going on in December?” he said.

“If they had held off until April or May at least it would have been a true reflection of things. The whole survey is flawed,” he said.

Ian Hall, chairman of the Hackney Carriage Association, said: “As far as we’re concerned the survey wasn’t done correctly. We will challenge the findings.

“We don’t need any more cars with drivers struggling in the worst recession we’ve had since the 1930s. We need more taxi ranks.”

But Clive Johnson, chairman of the Southampton Trade Association, which has around 450 members including 100 Hackney Carriage drivers, said: “I don’t believe we should be jumping up and down before  we get the result in.

“The way the economy is I can’t believe there is a shortage of taxis. There is a shortage of customers. I’m confident the findings will show there is no unmet demand for taxis.”

Under Government guidelines Southampton City Council must show that retaining a limit on the number of taxis in the city benefits customers.

The number of licensed private hire vehicles – more than 550 – is not limited.

Council leader Royston Smith said: “These independent reports need to be undertaken every three years by councils which have limited taxi plates to see  whether those limits are still the right number. Any criticism of this report is bizarre as we have not even seen the findings yet.

“Of course this report will take into account all of the relevant factors including the current increase in plates since the last review.”

The findings of the Halcrow review will be put before councillors later this year to decide whether to issue more licences.


Don’t rock the boat’ warns boss of taxi association

Don’t rock the boat’ warns boss of taxi association

THE chairman of a taxi body in Southamptonhas criticised fellow trade leaders for “rocking the boat” over a review into the number of cabs in the city.

Transport consultants Halcrow have been paid £15,000 to recommend whether or not a limit of 282 Hackney Carriages in the city should be raised.

Taxi union chiefs and the Southampton Hackney Trade Association warned a street survey was “flawed” as it was carried out before eight new plates were issued in December.

But Clive Johnson, chairman of the Southampton Trade Association, which has around 450 members including 100 Hackney Carriage drivers, said: “I don’t believe we should be jumping up and down before  we get the result in. The way the economy is I can’t believe there is a shortage of taxis. There is a shortage of customers. I’m confident the findings will show there is no|un-met demand for  taxis.”

The council will consider the findings later this year.


Too many cabs in Manchester?

Believe it or not, taxis in Manchester are actually limited in number!!

To deprive the elected councillors of Manchester of the right to determine themselves the best number of taxis for their City (as which may happen in the current review of taxi law by the law commission), isn’t only dangerous, it’s bordering on stupidity.

The Manchester developed model of managed growth has been followed throughout the country, whilst it isn’t perfect (the queues of cab’s bear strong testiment to that), it is a system that appears to serve the public of Manchester quite well. This is borne out by hard evidence gathered in regular surveys of demand.

The video shows long queues of taxis waiting for fares, the video is, as previously stated from Manchester,  yet it could easily be Newcastle upon Tyne, Sunderland, Carlisle, Birmingham, Cardiff, Coventry, Plymouth and virtually every other town and City in the UK.

The video was forwarded to the association by another stakeholder, we are thankful to the Manchester cab driver for taking the time to take the video and convert it and basically spend his personal time making our case towards a responsible taxi licensing system easier.

If you have a similar video of queues or pictures taxis, please send them to us to feature.

Cabbies warn Ellesmere Port could suffer if numbers are derestricted

The three zones of Cheshire West

CABBIES in Chester have warned drivers in Ellesmere Port what to expect if licence numbers are derestricted.

Numbers of hackney carriages in Chester have been derestricted since 2008, despite fierce protests from local drivers.

Now a questionnaire forming part of a Cheshire West and Chester Council consultation with cabbies and the public asks if Ellesmere Port should follow suit.

Chris Farrell, secretary of the Chester Licensed Hackney Association, said: “If they derestrict there they’ll have a fleet of cabs and they’ll be in the same state we’ve had to endure.”

Mr Farrell said there had been three repossessions of vehicles since derestriction and others had returned to driving private hire cars after struggling to make a living with the influx of more hackney cabs.

There are only 17 taxi rank spaces for the 51 hackney cabs currently operating in Ellesmere Port, and drivers suggest opening up licences to more would make the situation even less manageable.

Chairman of the association Richard Barker also warned customers in Ellesmere and Neston could face an increase in fares to Chester’s higher rates as the council bids to harmonise fares.

He also said many drivers only have ‘the knowledge’ of their own towns and cities, and plans to allow hackney cabs to travel across the borough are flawed.

He added: “I wouldn’t know anywhere in Ellesmere Port. We’ve got the knowledge of our city.

“If somebody said ‘take me to the Red Lion’ they might has well have asked me to take them to the moon.”

Mr Barker also suggested major money-spinning events such as Chester Races may attract hackney carriage drivers from Ellesmere Port, leaving people in the town without any cabs.

“That’s the point of zones, so that people in those zones are looked after,” he added.

“We say if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

The council have insisted that while they are looking to standardise the three different policies they inherited, no decisions have been taken and any decisions will be informed by the needs of the local area.

A Cheshire West and Chester Council spokeswoman said: “We are looking to hear from all drivers, who have each been written to individually, as part of the public consultation process.”

The questionnaire can be found online at and respondents can also send comments online to taxiconsultation@cheshire or by calling 0300 123 8


Hackney driver says unlimited granting of taxi licences in Ellesmere Port could put cabbies out of work

A CABBIE says drivers will be put out of business if restrictions on Hackney cabs in Ellesmere Port and Neston are lifted.

Last week Cheshire West and Chester Council launched a questionnaire asking drivers and members of the public to respond to questions with a view to making taxi rules in the borough more uniform.

Robin Miller, a hackney cab driver from Ellesmere Port, insists getting rid of the limit on the number of hackney cabs able to ply their trade in Ellesmere Port and Neston will spread the same amount of trade over more drivers.

Mr Miller said: “What they don’t seem to take into account is hackney cab drivers are dependant on a minimum amount of taxis.

“Every time the council issues another taxi licence, it depletes a taxi driver’s income.

“They have obliterated the taxi business.

As a result of deregulation of hackney cabs in Chester, nine drivers have gone bankrupt.

“They’re putting people out of business. It’s very sad.”

Mr Miller said there are only 17 taxi rank spaces for the 51 hackney cabs currently operating, and that allowing more would be unmanageable.

He added: “It’s illegal for us to sit in a pub car park.

“We can only pick up a far when we’re moving.”

“These guys are suffering.”

Mr Miller said – but for a contract to transport a pupil to and from Dee Banks School in Chester – he would struggle to maintain his job as a driver.

A council spokesman said: “The council inherited three very different policies and we are now looking to standardise these, where possible, so that passengers, drivers and operators throughout the borough benefit from clear and consistent standards.

“We are looking to hear from all drivers, who have each been written to individually, as part of the public consultation process.

“No decision has been taken at this stage to de-limit driver numbers and any decisions taken will take into account what is best for that local area.”


Taxi drivers welcome new limit on black cab licences in Wirral

WIRRAL taxi drivers have welcomed a new curb on the number of black cab licences handed out in the borough.

Councillors agreed on Monday to limit the number of licences to 289 – currently there are 286 licences “attached to a vehicle” – meaning they are in use by hackney cabs.

Drivers had urged members of the licensing, health and safety and general purposes committee to set the limit, arguing it would safeguard their livelihoods and stabilise the trade in challenging economic times.

Derek Cummins of the Unite union said many newcomers had signed up to £30,000 finance deals for their vehicle then found it impossible to make a living in a saturated market.

The decision follows the results of independent report commissioned by the council, which concluded there were enough hackneys to meet demand.

Councillors were shown figures comparing the plate numbers issued by the council with the number actually attached to vehicles.

On January 18 the highest plate number issued was 400 but just 286 are currently in use, meaning 114 are no longer on the road.

Bob Kelly of the Independent Wirral Hackney Drivers Association said: “We’re pleased with the decision. The trade does need a period of stability and long-term managed growth.”




Italy taxi drivers strike against freeing up the sector

On Thursday, thousands of angry taxi-drivers from all over Italy continued to protest in central Rome; against government plans to free up the sector bringing more taxis on the Italian streets.
While awaiting the outcome of talks between their union representatives and the government, they expressed their discontent by chanting out loud slogans against the Prime Minister Mario Monti and his liberalization plan which is one of the measures that are meant to revitalize the stagnant Italian economy.

The objective of the liberalization of services trade is to reduce privileges for certain groups of professionals, often accused of using guilds to limit access to competition in their sectors.

There are about 50,000 taxi-drivers in Italy and practically almost all of them want to preserve their present status.

They are against the government’s proposal to open up the circulation of taxis. Currently a taxi-driver is permitted to work only within the area  in which his licence was granted.

Furthermore they are opposing the plan to license more drivers.

They are also demanding that each taxi-driver holds one taxi-license only. Meanwhile the government wants to give licensed drivers an additional license that they can rent or sell. The taxi-drivers view this as insufficient in light of the economic setback they will suffer due to the reforms.

Unions have said they will hold a nationwide strike on January 23 against the government’s plans if an accord is not reached with Italian premier Mario Monti.

At the end of the meeting with the government – that some union reps described as “the mother of all the battles” – the unionists announced that some concessions to the government had to be made and that a final decision by the Monti-led executive will be made on Friday.

When they ordered the taxi-drivers to put an end to the strike and go back to work many disappointed protesters lost their nerve and approached their own unionists with aggressive intent.

Several taxi-drivers are threatening more wildcat strikes in the coming days.

As well as taxis, the reforms designed to liberalize the services will include measures to increase the number of pharmacies and notary offices and open petrol distribution to greater competition.

While more disruptions are likely to occur, petrol pump attendants have already threatened a 10-day strike.

Union finally awakens from slumber?

The NTA have warning the cab trade for over 12 months

New rules ‘could cost 500 Leeds cab jobs’

Cabbies in Leeds are spearheading a national petition against a proposed deregulation of the trade which they say could cost hundreds of drivers their jobs and reduce the quality of service in the city.

The Government is currently considering scrapping Section 16 of the Transport Act 1985 – which allows councils to limit the number of hackney carriages in their local authority area based on supply and demand – as part of a review of ancient taxi laws.

HACKED OFF: Paul Landau wants to keep the restriction on hackney cab numbers.

The change would open up the trade and, say campaigners, hit jobs, service quality and even the environment hard.

Leeds currently has 537 licensed hackney carriages, and the numbers are reviewed regularly.

There are, additionally, around 5,000 private hire licences in operation in the city.

Paul Landau, who chairs the Leeds Hackney Carriage branch of Unite The Union, said the worst knock-on effect would be on night-shift drivers who don’t have a car of their own but lease one from a colleague, or licence ‘proprietor’, on a ‘double shifted’ basis.

“If Section 16 is repealed under this new legislation, the restriction on numbers of taxis in Leeds and other cities will be lifted and anybody could go along to the licensing department and say ‘I would like a hackney licence’ and go to work,” Mr Landau said.

“In Leeds you could see the numbers triple overnight, or go higher.

“The potential for mass unemployment is huge.

“In Leeds we could see anywhere up to 500 jobs lost instantly in the Hackney sector.”

Mr Landau said other cities where the hackney trade was de-regulated had been forced to cap numbers again because of the pressure it was a putting on drivers. He added a “massive influx” of new taxis would also increase the city’s pollution levels.

Mr Landau and his Leeds colleagues have now launched an e-petition against the proposals, which can be viewed at /27536

The petition will start in Leeds but, said Mr Landau, will be rolled out nationwide in the coming months,


‘Too many taxis in Derby’, claims drivers association

The Derby Area Taxi Drivers Association said its members were having to work longer hours because there were too many taxis for a city of Derby’s size.

It estimated there were 400 hackney carriage-style taxis and more than 1,000 private hire cars.

Derby City Council said limiting the number of licences could lead to horse-trading between drivers.

Javed Khan, chairman of the association, said the large numbers of taxis in the city meant drivers were having to stay out longer to earn a living wage.

‘Mouths to feed’

He said: “The council’s policy is quantity over quality. We’re not a city like London where people walk around hailing taxis.

“Our working hours are a lot longer now because we’re not taking as much money as we used to.

“We’ve all got mortgages to pay and some of us have young families and mouths to feed.”

Mr Javed said the council should also provide more taxi ranks as driving around looking for fares was expensive and bad for the environment.

Derby City Council’s Chris Poulter said: “This has been considered on a number of occasions and the conclusion we’ve come to is that if people meet the criteria for a taxi and they’ve got a reasonable vehicle then we give them a licence.

“In other cities they’ve put a limit on the number of taxis they have but it’s created a problem.

“The licence itself becomes of value and unscrupulous drivers have, on occasion, got a number of licences and sold them on.

“It’s supply and demand. If there aren’t enough customers then the number of taxi drivers will moderate itself.”

Mr Poulter said the recent introduction of taxi marshals to organise queues of people into taxis around the city had been a great success.