Disabled residents in London are eligible for subsidised taxi journeys under the Taxicard scheme which provides a door-to-door service. The scheme is funded by TfL and the London boroughs, and taxis are used for the majority of Taxicard journeys.
In January 2019 capped fares were introduced for Taxicard journeys. These were introduced in response to members’ concerns about taxi fares, fares sometimes being too high, fares varying for the same journey and also uncertainty around what the final metered fare would be when using a taxi.
Under the new capped fare scheme, members were advised of the capped fare before starting a journey and this was the maximum they would pay. However, some of the capped fares were considered to be too low by some taxi drivers. This resulted in a decline in service for Taxicard members with fewer Taxicard jobs being accepted by taxi drivers.
In response to this the Taxicard fare structure was revised with taxi drivers receiving either 90 per cent of the metered fare or the capped fare, whichever is higher. When it was introduced the impact of this change resulted in the service improving for Taxicard members, positive feedback from taxi drivers and a more reliable service.
Concerns were raised by London Councils in their responses to the 2018 and 2019 taxi fares consultations about the impact of fare increases on Taxicard members.
In 2018, London Councils said that ‘frontloading’ the increase (putting part of the increase on the minimum fare as well increasing the tariffs, instead of only increasing the tariffs) could disproportionately affect Taxicard members and they believed it was fairer to have increases across all tariffs as was previously done.
In their 2019 response, London Councils said that the full year effect of the proposals would be to increase the cost of the Taxicard scheme. Although they believed that there was sufficient budget available in that year to meet the additional costs, the increase could mean that all of TfL’s 2019/20 funding allocation for Taxicard was spent.
They also noted that performance issues experienced following the initial introduction of the capped fare scheme had significantly depressed journeys compared with previous years and were journey numbers to increase to, or beyond previous years’ levels, there could be additional pressure on TfL and borough budgets.
They previously said that on a general note the upward movement of the tariffs could mean that the Taxicard scheme has to be modified to ensure the budget is not exceeded and that this may mean that Taxicard members are able to make fewer journeys in the future. This could have a significant negative impact on Taxicard members if they are reliant on taxis or cannot use other modes of transport for journeys instead of taxis.
There have been reports of some Taxicard members experiencing problems with the Taxicard service.
Taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) services in London were discussed at the September 2022 Inclusive Transport Forum and the majority of the comments received were about current problems with the Taxicard service.
Issues raised by stakeholders, Taxicard members or at the Inclusive Transport Forum included:
- Long wait times for taxis
- Taxis not being available when Taxicard members want to travel
- Taxi drivers not accepting Taxicard jobs because of restrictions on access for taxis and drivers having concerns about the route to pick up Taxicard members being longer and costing them more in terms of time and fuel used
- Taxi drivers not accepting Taxicard jobs because of restrictions on access for taxis and drivers having concerns about being issued with a penalty charge notice for entering a restricted street
- Accessible vehicles not being provided when these are requested
- Taxicard members experiencing problems when trying to make a booking
- Issues with the Taxicard app
- Taxi drivers not doing Taxicard work as they are doing street hails and taxi rank work instead
- Taxi drivers not wanting to do Taxicard work as they only receive 90 per cent of the fare
Potential impacts on Taxicard members
Our impact assessment and equality impact assessment documents contain information about the potential positive and negative impacts on Taxicard members that we have identified.
Positive and negative impacts from the taxi fares and tariffs options include:
Increasing the tariffs
- Taxicard members would experience a negative impact if the tariffs were increased as it would mean fares increase. This could mean that Taxicard members cannot travel as far before the capped fare is reached. It could also mean that the capped fares need to be increased or that Taxicard members cannot afford to travel as often
- Taxicard members would experience a negative impact if the tariffs were increased, and this means fewer taxi drivers are willing to do Taxicard work and instead more taxi drivers only focus on on-street hails and work from taxi ranks as the full metered fare is charged and they receive this
- Taxicard members may experience a positive impact if increasing the tariffs means that taxi drivers continue to work or the number of people applying to become a taxi driver increases. This could help ensure that taxis are available when Taxicard members want to travel or wait times are reduced
No change to the minimum fare or tariffs
- Taxicard members may experience a positive impact if no change is made to the tariffs as the fares will not increase
- Taxicard members could experience a negative impact if no change is made to the tariffs, despite taxi drivers’ operating costs and average national earnings increasing. This could mean some taxi drivers stop working at certain times or stop being a taxi driver altogether. It could also deter people from applying to become a licensed taxi driver. This could reduce the supply of available taxis or increase wait times for Taxicard members
- Taxicard members could also experience a negative impact if no change is made to the tariffs as this could deter taxi drivers from accepting Taxicard jobs, as they only receive 90 per cent of the metered fare, and mean taxi drivers focus on doing more on-street and taxi rank work, as they receive the full metered fare for these trips