Here, we take a look at the UK Government’s Office for National Statistics latest Hackney Cab and private hire taxi vehicle figures for the UK showing trends across the 316 licensing authorities in England and Wales. In a difficult trading period with the COVID pandemic still at the forefront, we highlight the areas showing the most growth and potential for taxis in 2021.
No one within either the private hire or public hire Hackney Cab service sector would deny that 2020 was a challenging year. But with a new lockdown bearing fruit and the advance of a host of vaccines becoming available, there is some light on the horizon for the taxi business. As insurers, we’re constantly on the lookout for the welfare of our customers and hope that this overview of the taxi market gives some hope for improvement in 2021.
Taxi Licences Up
There were 67,900 Hackney Cab taxis in 2020, a 3.9% decrease from 2019. There was a larger decrease in taxis in London compared to England outside of London, 5.8 percent and 3.1 percent respectively.
The total number of licensed vehicles in England increased by 2.3 percent (6,800 vehicles) since 2019, to 298,800, which is the highest number since records were first collected in 2005. This was driven by an increase in Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs). Just over three quarters (77 percent) of licensed vehicles are PHVs. There were 364,900 driver licences in 2020, an increase of 2,200 licences compared to the previous year.
Total combined licensed Hackney Cab and private hire vehicles in England in 2020 were 298,800. Over a third of all licensed vehicles are in London (38 percent) with a further 62 percent licensed outside of the capital. The total number of licensed Hackney Cab vehicles increased by 2.3 percent from 2019, driven by a 4.3 percent increase in licensed PHVs. Overall the total number of licensed vehicles in England has increased by 61.9 percent since 2005.
There was also a larger increase in PHVs in London compared to the rest of England
up by 8.9 percent. In 2020 83 licensing authorities (29 percent) applied a limit on the numbers of licensed taxis, a slight decrease from 30% of licensing authorities with a limit in 2019. On average, there were 5.3 Hackney Cabs and private hire vehicles per 1,000 people in England, although the number decreases in more rural as areas. In London there were 12.8 licensed vehicles per 1,000 people, roughly double the national average, with 10.7 licensed PHVs and 2.1 Hackney Cab taxis per 1,000 people.
There were 364,900 licensed drivers in England, 2,200 more than in 2019. Of the total licences, 64% were PHV only licences, 14 percent were taxi-only licences and 22 percent were dual Hackney Cab/PHV licences. The total number of licensed drivers increased across 81 UK licensing authorities.
The number of licensed PHV operators increased by 2.7% to 16,000 from the previous year. This was still 3.3% lower than the peak in PHV operators at 16,500 in 2009. PHV operators declined by 3.7% to 2,100 operators in London and increased by 3.8% to 13,800 operators in England outside London.
Taxi Sector Remains Strong
In 2019, the average person in England made 11 Hackney Cab or PHV trips and travelled 59 miles by taxi or PHV, which is an increase from 10 trips and a decrease from 62 miles in 2018. The distance travelled by Hackney Cab or PHV has increased by 10 percent over the last 10 years (from 54 miles in 2009), but the number of trips has remained broadly stable. The average taxi trip in 2019 lasted 20 minutes, the same as in 2018. Over half of trips on Hackney Cabs or PHVs were taken for leisure purposes, a small increase on 2018 (47 percent). The second most common trip purpose when using a taxi was shopping.
In the year ending 31 March 2020, 2,100 applications were made by new taxi operators (either new companies, or existing operators not already licensed by that licensing authority). 83 percent of drivers were self-employed in 2019/20, the same as in 2018/19. One in four drivers worked part time (25 percent), which has been broadly stable over the last ten years. In February to April 2020, 9 percent of drivers usually worked 7 days a week, a reduction from 22 percent in April to June 2019 which could be explained by the national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The majority of drivers (48 percent) usually worked 5 days a week.
The National Highways and Transport Public Satisfaction Survey showed that in 2019, the overall public satisfaction with Hackney Cabs and PHVs was 66 percent.
These statistics are collected through a survey of the 306 licensing authorities in England and Wales.