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Potential changes to the Taxicard scheme

The contracts for both the Taxicard and Dial-a-Ride services are up for renewal and we may make changes in the future that could affect users of the services.

For example, the service could change to use more black taxis and fewer private hire vehicles, or it could change to use more private hire vehicles and fewer black taxis.

Changes to the service may also impact upon the cost to users (or the number of trips available) availability of vehicles, waiting times and the nature of the service e.g. upgrading from a “kerb-to-kerb” to a “door-to-door” service.

Consultation phase

During March and April 2017, Taxicard users and representative organisations gave us their thoughts on what they thought of the current service and how certain changes could affect their experience of using the service. We received over 17,000 responses to our online and paper questionnaire.

A summary of the consultation responses can be found below and in the report sent to London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee on 15 June 2017.

Want more information?

You can find more detailed information about the new contract and why this could affect the service below. The key themes and responses from the consultation excercise are also summarised below.

Key themes and responses from the consultation

A number of key themes emerged from the consultation:

  • Telephone booking is very important: 81% of respondents valued this highly.
  • Many users (32%) value taxi rank/hail availability.
  • Some customers were keen for the service to offer innovative booking options like web-booking (6%) and app based booking (8%) (both of which are currently available).
  • The majority of respondents (59%) indicated that they would prefer a kerb-to-kerb instead of a door-to-door service. However, some organisations felt that the wording of this question suggested that a door-to-door service may mean fewer or more expensive journeys, and may have influenced responses.
  • The most important factors to those using the service (i.e. rated very important) are; the availability of vehicles (64%), the quality of the driving (63%), and the ability to get in and out of the vehicle (61%).
  • The results of the survey show a general preference for taxis compared with PHVs.
  • The following attributes were rated as having a positive, or very positive impact in respect of taxi and PHV provision respectively; high driver training standards (59% v 43%), disability assistance (64% v 47%), a number of other factors were also cited such as, good spoken English, communication skills, and topographical knowledge.
  • In the group consultation sessions, it became clear that these attributes are more associated with taxis, but that it is the high service standards themselves that were generally more important than the type of vehicle.
  • Some users emphasised the importance of cheaper and/or fixed cost fares, which were slightly more associated with PHV provision (53%) than Taxis (52%).
  • Some customers like a vehicle tracking/arrival time update facility, which is already available to those who book online or via the Taxicard App.
  • Some respondents also suggested that they sometimes do not know how, or find it difficult, to raise official complaints
  • Ensuring that the specific needs and the required levels of service are met for the visually impaired and wheelchair users were identified as sometimes being a challenge in the context of the current contract. This includes driver attitudes to accepting assistance dogs and/or wheelchairs, difficulties in street hailing and potential differences in the experience of vehicle availability.
  • The need to provide more regular service updates to customers was also highlighted, including the need to provide this information to customers in appropriate formats, particularly for those with a visual impairment.
  • Users have asked London Councils to ensure that it appoints supplier(s) committed to be involved in consultation and engagement with our members; this would include their attending user group meetings. They have also asked for user representation in the tender evaluation.

Why might the Taxicard or Dial-a-Ride services change?

The contracts for both the Taxicard and Dial-a-Ride services are due for renewal and, as part of the renewal process, we may make changes to the contracts that mean you see changes in the service you receive. Currently, the contracts are separate, but provided by a single company. One option under consideration is for TfL and London Councils to merge similar elements of the Dial-a-Ride and Taxicard services (advanced and as soon as possible (ASAP) bookings) in one contract and have a separate contract for street hailing.

To get the benefits from a merged contract, it might be necessary to align both how the service is delivered and the performance indicators used to measure success. This could mean that Taxicard users would see changes to the way in which the services are delivered.

Splitting off street hailing from the rest of the contract could also mean that this element of the service is provided by a different company to the advanced and ASAP bookings. Such a move might mean that more private hire vehicles are used to deliver the service, but it could also mean the opposite. Currently for Taxicard, 85-90 per cent of journeys are delivered by licensed black taxis, with 10-15 per cent provided by private hire vehicles.

Changes to the service may also impact upon the cost to you (or the number of trips available) availability of vehicles, waiting times and the nature of the service e.g. upgrading from a ‘kerb-to-kerb’ to a ‘door-to-door’ service.

Tell me a bit more about the contracts…

The current contracts for the Taxicard service and the Dial-a-Ride service were let separately by London Councils and Transport for London (TfL). London Councils and TfL are working together to consider jointly contracting the services. By working together and increasing our bargaining power, London Councils and TfL believe we may be able to provide a better and more efficient service.

Why might a new joint contract affect my service?

A new joint contract with the providers of black taxis and private hire vehicles would affect Taxicard users because all their journeys are taken in either a black taxi or a private hire vehicle. The only part of the Dial-a-Ride service that would be affected would be those journeys provided using taxis or private hire vehicles. This makes up only a small proportion (6 per cent) of journeys. Most of the Dial-a-Ride service is provided using minibuses and this part of the service would remain contractually separate.

Who funds and runs Taxicard and Dial-a-Ride?

Taxicard is jointly funded by TfL and the London local authorities, and is administered by London Councils. Dial-a-Ride is wholly funded and administered by TfL.