Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is spearheading a drive to help improve standards for local taxi and private hire customers.
Today he asked people across Greater Manchester to give their views on a range of topics, from public safety to vehicle standards and driver knowledge.
The public’s feedback will be used to support the introduction of a common set of minimum standards, which all Greater Manchester authorities have committed to adopting when issuing taxi and private hire licences.
Participants will also be asked for comments on the potential for common taxi branding and livery so that locally licensed services are easily identifiable.
Mr Burnham is also calling on government to close a loophole in the law which currently allows private hire drivers to operate in Greater Manchester despite being licensed in other areas with less stringent standards.
The call for government action comes at a time when the taxi and private hire trade is becoming increasingly difficult to regulate. New technology and business models combined with outdated legislation are causing growing problems on the road.
Mr Burnham said: “Around 32 million trips are made in taxi and private hire vehicles in Greater Manchester every year and I want every one of those journeys to meet the same, high standard.
“Public safety needs to come first. But for a variety of reasons, the taxi and private hire trade is becoming increasingly problematic – not just locally but across the country.
“I’m calling on Government for an urgent regulatory review so we can tackle the growing problem of ‘out of town’ drivers – with lower driver and vehicle standards and no local knowledge – picking up fares in Greater Manchester.
“At best this means a poor customer experience – and at worst, it can mean real customer safety issues.
“I’m committed to supporting the local taxi and private hire trade by giving a voice to this growing national problem and calling on government to close this loophole in the law.”
Tameside Council is chairing the district council licensing group that has committed to adopting a set of common licensing standards. Executive Member for Neighbourhood Services, Councillor Allison Gwynne, said:
“By and large we already have good licensing standards across Greater Manchester, but we want to set a common, minimum standard for every company and driver licensed by our ten local authorities.
“We want to hear what the public’s experience is now and what they want for the future.
“That includes people who may not currently even use taxis or private hire due to safety concerns. This feedback will be crucial in helping us tackle any problems head on and guarantee safer journeys.”
Night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord backed the calls for improved regulation, saying: “Taxis play a crucial role in helping people get around our city region and in supporting the night-time economy.
“As you’d expect, Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest times for residents using taxis and private hire vehicles – and a third of all these trips are made by younger women.
“It’s critical from a safety point of view that we make sure all drivers and their vehicles meet a common standard, so everyone can catch a cab with confidence.”
Each of the ten Greater Manchester district councils will consult with taxi and private hire operators and drivers over any changes to their individual licensing standards later this year.
A report outlining the proposed approach to the introduction of common minimum standards for taxis and private hire licensing is due to be considered by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) on Friday 27 July.