London private hire firms face hike in licensing fees

Highways Reporters

Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed that it will increase licensing fees for private hire operators in a move that will see Uber’s costs soar from under £3,000 to nearly £3m over five years.

The new fee structure will replace the existing two tier system with eight tiers, with charges ranging from around £2,000 for a five-year licence for those with 10 vehicles or fewer, to £464,000 per year for the largest operator.

The cost of applying for a licence for more than 10,000 vehicles will be £580,000, meaning that very large operators like Uber will have to pay £2.9m over five years.

Currently a small operator with no more than two vehicles pays £1,488 and a ‘standard’ operator – those with more than two vehicles, regardless of the size of its fleet – pays £2,826 over five years.

TfL said the new fees more accurately reflect the resources required to regulate firms, based on the size of their operations.

It said its total projected cost for licensing, enforcement and compliance for the taxi and private hire trades over the next five years, which it is entitled to recover from operators, is £209m.

Helen Chapman, general manager of taxi and private hire, said: ‘There has been a huge growth in the industry in recent years and it is only fair that the licence fee reflects the costs of regulation and enforcement.

‘The safety of Londoners is TfL’s top priority, and the changes to fees will help us fund additional compliance officers who do a crucial job cracking down on illegal and dangerous activity.’

TfL said the capital’s private hire industry has grown from 65,000 licensed drivers in 2013/14 to more than 116,000 today while the number of vehicles has increased from 50,000 to 88,000 over the same period.

It said this had led to a substantial increase in the cost of ensuring that private hire operators fulfil their licensing obligations and tackling illegal activity.

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