Uber and Ola drivers will be banned from displaying the word “taxi” anywhere on their cars under new plans to protect public safety in South Gloucestershire.
The proposal is among a raft of new signage rules for private-hire vehicles (PHVs) and Hackney carriages recommended by a police officer who acts as a taxi compliance officer for South Gloucestershire Council.
Yet, according to PC Patrick Quinton: “After 40 years of regulation, the public generally do not know the difference between the two.”
PHVs and Hackney carriages that are licensed in South Gloucestershire can look “almost identical”, PC Quinton told a council regulatory committee on January 30.
“The purpose of signage is primarily for public safety,” he said. “But anyone can stick an Uber or OLA door sign on a car and it’s unlikely most of the public would suspect it’s not a licensed vehicle.”
PC Quinton has recommended that PHVs must have a rear licence plate that is permanently attached, rather than stuck on with magnets or tied on with bits of string, and a front windscreen sticker bearing the PHV number, registration mark, council logo and expiry date.
“No other external signage should be allowed, including any roof signs or the word “Taxi” used in any form on the vehicle even as part of the operator name,” he wrote in his report.
Hackney carriages would have to bear large stickers showing the word “TAXI” and the car number on their bonnet and the two front doors.
Like PHVs, they would also have to have a permanently fixed rear licence plate under the proposals.
Tightening up the external signage rules would make a bigger distinction between PHVs and Hackney carriages and reduce the issue of PHVs illegally standing for hire, PC Quinton told the committee.
Permanent rear licence plates would also make it harder for them to be stolen and used to “impersonate” a licensed vehicle, he said.
The committee approved the recommendations set out by PC Quinton, along with a host of other proposals affecting PHVs and Hackney carriages.
The industry will have a chance to comment on most of the proposals, which include a freeze on Hackney carriage fares next year, before a final decision is made.