Thursday 5 December 2019 6:30 am

TfL bans hundreds of minicab drivers in crackdown

Transport for London (TfL) has banned hundreds of minicab drivers on the back of an investigation into schools fraudulently offering licences.

It was revealed in November that the transport regulator was investigating Vista Training Solutions in Newham and all other centres offering Business and Technology Education Council (Btec) diplomas that can be used to gain private hire vehicle licences.

Read more: TfL is investigating thousands of potentially illegal minicab drivers

A BBC London TV News investigation found Vista was giving out licences for a £500 fee, without actually testing the participants.

It prompted a TfL investigation into 2,000 potentially fraudulent minicab drivers.

TfL has now revoked 352 minicab licences, shut down the offending Vista Trainining Solutions and is preparing to ban other private centres from offering licences.

Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging, said: “We have now revoked the licences of 143 drivers who obtained certificates through Vista Training Solutions and rejected the 209 pending applications using certificates from the compromised college.”

Minicab drivers must complete several requirements – passing topographical tests, medical checks and criminal record checks – with TfL before gaining a private hire vehicle licence.

However, doing the course through a private Btec college or centre was a way around this.

Chapman said it was now phasing this loophole out, after TfL’s investigation.

“The most robust and relevant topographical tests are our own assessments,” she said.

“To eliminate the risk of fraudulent topographical certificates being used as a way to avoid our assessments, we will remove this exemption after February.” 

The change comes just a week after TfL banned Uber for harbouring unlicensed and uninsured drivers in a “pattern of failures” around passenger safety.

Read more: TfL bans Uber from London after a ‘pattern of failures’

It was found that these unlicensed and uninsured drivers had taken about 14,000 trips recently.

The investigation also revealed that drivers banned by Uber were making new accounts and still using the platform.