This post started differently, earlier. Just recently, however, my neighbour had a ride hailing app hailed driver - and when I checked, the driver had no badge and the car carried no noticeable private hire licence plate.
This is a big issue for me, for reasons that are apparent when you get to the end of this piece.
Why is this so important?
In the UK, what we call "Licensed Private Hire" drivers are regulated by the relevant local authority (usually the local District Council) or, in London, by the Public Carriage Office. This officialdom is not designed to get in the way of technology, it is designed to keep you safe. Anyone wishing to be a Private Hire driver must show that they can drive to standard and to this aim, they have to pass the Taxi Drivers Test, which test is carried out under the control of the DVLA (the same UK authority that controls the actual Driving Test); a driver has to have full "Hire and Reward" insurance, they have to pass a criminal records check and be of good report. They have to read and understand the Licensing Authority's rules regarding attitude, presentation, care of the disadvantaged (and are tested on this) and so forth - at the end of this, as long as they pass all conditions, the driver receives a badge. Hard won and to be worn at all times, with pride. Oh! And a copy of that badge must be in the vehicle as well.
The car they drive must also meet standards, be a modern vehicle (usually, under 7 years old) and has to inspected at regular intervals - by an MOT style inspection with knobs on - and cars over 3 years of age, often have to be inspected annually. (MOT is a UK road worthiness test). The vehicle is then also carries a badge. The famous London "Black Cab" taxi drivers have stricter controls - all for your safety and assurance.
A Licensed Hire driver has to be pre-booked. Okay, I am not going to make a big issue of that. It is not my intention to discuss the rights and wrongs of the short period of time between booking and arrival. I am worried about the drivers lack of a badge and that I think he will be in trouble with (if in London) the PCO for not wearing one. The rule is quite simple: No badge on the driver, no badge on the car - Do NOT get in.
If you wish to complain about a ride, who do you go to? Well, if it is a ride-hailing app you can complain to the app promoter who can sanction the driver and ... WRONG! (probably)
Okay, if your driver is a few minutes late or the car isn't the quite the right shade of blue, you can mark the chap or chappess down on the app - BUT if the car is very dirty, damaged and the driving is worryingly fast or inconsiderate to you or other road users, then you complain to the local licensing authority. All complaints are "noted" and if a single complaint is very serious or a number of small complaints arrive, then that driver has to appear before the local Licensing Committee and that driver may well loose their licence. Local Authorities take these matter very seriously. Any complaint reflects not only on the driver, but also reflects on the standards set by the Licensing Authority. That's why Licensing Authorities make these regulations; protection of the public of all walks and ages; to keep YOU as safe as we can.
I should know. I am a Member of a Local Council Licensing Committee.