Britain's taxi crisis as UK sees huge drop in numbers

Britain's taxi crisis as UK sees huge drop in numbers
Anna Riley

By Anna Riley

Published: 28/12/2023

- 12:59

Councils across the country are trying to get more cabbies on the road

The UK taxi industry is facing a shortage of drivers with the number of licenced cabbies down 3,500 in the last 5 years.

As a result of the Covid pandemic many left the profession and the ageing of the existing taxi driver workforce, coupled with a lack of younger recruits, has contributed to the shortage.

Councils across the country are trying to get more cabbies on the road and in East Yorkshire, a campaign has been launched to encourage drivers into the role.

Councillor Leo Hammond, Cabinet member for planning, communities and public protection for East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: “We are taking prudent action now to prevent future problems. Licensed drivers perform an essential transport role across the East Riding, especially in rural areas or during the night time economy, and are vital for our communities to function.

The number of licenced cabbies down 3,500 in the last five years


“There is much more to being a licensed driver than you might think, and we hope that more people will want to consider taking this on, which will benefit both themselves and the areas they serve.

"It can be very rewarding work - not only can you set your own schedule, but you could end up driving anywhere in the country, and meeting lots of different people.

"You can also drive an existing vehicle, get your own private hire vehicle, or even share a vehicle."

Edward Tristram launched his own private hire firm in Howden, East Yorkshire, this year. He’s been running Overlanders Private Hire for the last seven months and for him, it’s the best job in the world.

He told GB News: “I needed something to fit around my children that I have shared care of, I was going through a divorce and needed something with flexibility and something that would give me a decent income.

“The thing I enjoy the most is the variety of different people that I meet, the different jobs that I do.

As a result of the Covid pandemic many left the profession


“One minute I could be taking someone to the airport, next minute I could be taking an old lady to the doctors or going and helping someone with their shopping if they haven’t got a vehicle and can’t get out and Friday and Saturday nights when people have been out drinking are always funny on the way back journeys.”

Mike Shirtliffe suffers with scoliosis which limits his mobility and regularly uses Edward’s taxi service to get to hospital appointments and out to the shops.

He told GB News: “Without him [Edward] and without somebody to back him up, I’m pretty much stuck in the house, I just don’t go out.

“It’s kinda like having a best friend and a local Catholic priest and everybody all rolled into one because you can talk your ear off to them. I often get in and tell him all my woes and we put the world to right before I’ve got to Goole.

“It’s that whole mental health thing – if I was sat in the house with nobody to talk to, I’d be going crazy, I’d be suffering with depression, so at least I’ve got that human contact.”

Howden is a rural community with few bus links, so for the people that live here, a taxi service is a lifeline.

One man told GB News: “The bus service is really quite poor so a taxi service is really quite vital.”

Another man said: “A taxi service across certain times of the day is really important.”

“People want to get hourly buses and there’s only three a day and for people wanting to go shopping, it’s just not enough time for them,” added one woman.

A couple that spoke to GB News also said: “We definitely need more taxis, I’m hoping there’s a business out there willing to take a risk on us. As you get older and you need hospital or to see family or even into Howden for the doctors, things like that, they are a lifeline yeah.”

Another man agreed and said: “Transport is a lifeline, whether it be a bus, not so much a stagecoach, if it’s a bus, if it’s a taxi, however, we have to have it, and in villages and market towns, it’s critical.”

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council taxi campaign will be running into the New Year in the hope of getting more taxi drivers behind the wheel.

To become a licensed driver, applicants would be subject to enhanced checks on their medical history, criminal history, driving history and their right to work in the UK. They also have a localised knowledge test, and safeguarding training.

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