Mayor needs the power to cap the number of private hire vehicles on London roads, says cross-party group of MPs

Rebecca Smith
The mayor could have powers to cap the number of Uber vehicles on the road
The mayor could have powers to cap the number of Uber vehicles on the road (Source: Getty)

London mayor Sadiq Khan should be given fresh power to cap the number of private hire vehicles, including Uber, in the capital, a cross-party group of MPs said today.

The All Party Parliamentary Group set up to focus on the taxi trade, has said the government should give Khan and Transport for London (TfL) more powers to tackle congestion and “close loopholes in the law that see drivers flouting London’s licensing conditions by registering their vehicles elsewhere”.

Read more: Is Uber as "morally acceptable"? Labour can't decide

In the report it launches in parliament today, the group says the number of private hire vehicles has soared, doubling to 120,000 since 2010, directly contributing to high levels of congestion.

Uber disputes that figure, saying 87,000 private hire vehicles are licensed in London.

The APPG wants the government to require all journeys to begin or end in the area where the licence was issued.

Chairman of the APPG, Labour MP Wes Streeting, said:

The mayor must be given the powers to cap the number of private hire vehicles clogging up our streets. The air quality in London is already poor, and it won’t get any better if the number of these vehicles and congestion continues to increase.

It's simply not good enough to let this appalling situation continue.

The report has been backed by London’s black cab drivers, with the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association saying on Twitter it would “add pressure” regarding the renewal of Uber’s licence.

In May, Transport for London granted Uber a four month extension to its licence.

An Uber spokesperson said:

Capping consumer choice is not the way to tackle congestion and air pollution, but new technology can be part of the answer. More than half the miles travelled with UberX in London are in hybrid or fully electric cars and our car-sharing option UberPool is saving mileage and emissions too.

It’s a shame this report doesn’t address why black cabs are the only vehicles exempt from the mayor’s new ultra low emissions zone. This is particularly surprising since Transport for London figures show black taxis are responsible for 18 per cent of road transport nitrogen oxide emissions in central London.

The mayor recently wrote to the transport secretary requesting power to cap the number of private vehicle driver licences as part of a wider package of measures. The department for transport said they will respond to him on these matters "in due course".

Khan said:

The number of private hire drivers has doubled to nearly 120,000 since 2010, causing significant congestion and air quality problems for London, yet as mayor, I simply do not have the power to do anything about this.

By having the power to cap private hire vehicles we can make a real difference to London by reducing congestion, improving our air and reassuring Londoners that their drivers have been licensed in our capital.

Read more: An economist has come up with a way to get rid of London's traffic jam

Related articles