Taxis and Transport
Plenary Tuesday 23 May 201714:34:46
Spoken Contribution – 15:35:18
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Thanks to the Minister for his statement today. You referred in your statement to the rapid technological changes in the ways in which passengers can order taxis these days. You didn’t specifically mention Uber in your statement, but of course you did then talk about Uber in response to one of the contributors. It’s a somewhat difficult issue. Yes, many drivers are worried about the impact of Uber on the way in which they do their business and on their livelihood generally. On the other hand, I have had people telling me as passengers that they view it as a welcome development. So, you have to, to some extent, balance these varying viewpoints. I wasn’t totally sure how ultimately you would view Uber and how it fits into the licensing framework that you see in Wales and I wondered if you could clarify that, and also with regard to the point Dai Lloyd made about the possible limitations on legal competence relating to employment law that your Government has under the Wales Act.
Another issue that you looked at in your statement was effective integrated transport; that’s obviously one of the Government’s aims. Sometimes we do have railway stations with no taxi rank serving them, so there is a fairly erratic provision of taxi ranks at railway stations in Wales, as elsewhere. For instance, Pontypridd—in recent years they don’t have, any more, any provision for taxis outside the train station. The rank is now in town, which is a considerable distance away for immobile people, so it’s not particularly helpful. My office has been in touch with Arriva about this issue, and their response is that they didn’t want provision of taxis at the front of the station—that’s on land that they own—because it’s been a safety issue in the past, with people turning up late at night, probably off the last train from Cardiff, and staggering across the road. So, yes, that’s a safety issue, clearly, but does the Government have any intention to standardise in any way the provision of taxis at railway stations? It seems to me that in the case of Pontypridd there may be a case for having some provision there, despite the safety aspect.
Dai Lloyd mentioned fleetingly the short fares problem that has been an issue in Cardiff that was highlighted in the local press. We did have problems with young women late on Saturday nights. There were a couple of cases of sexual assault and we then had the issue of the problem of women walking home alone, sometimes in a less than sober state, and they were unable to get taxis in some cases because they lived only a short distance away from the city centre. This is covered, of course, by licensing regulations, but the problem is how to enforce these regulations and how to ensure that drivers do take these short fares.
Another problem that has arisen—well, I can’t say it’s a problem—a suspected problem in Cardiff in recent years has been the aspect of whether the badge holder is actually the person who is licensed to drive the vehicle. So, that’s another one that’s covered by current licensing requirements, but, again, how do we make sure that the licensing authority effectively enforces these regulations?
I was pleased that Russell George mentioned the Petitions Committee’s recent inquiry into the problems of disabled people accessing taxis, and you yourself touched on the fact that you are going to be looking at strengthening the training procedures, so there is going to be some sort of standardised training for the drivers in dealing with disabled people. Because that was something that came out of the inquiry very strongly, that disabled people did feel, quite often with taxi drivers, they were dealing with people who hadn’t been adequately trained to deal with them. The other aspect that came out relating to taxis was a lack of fittings—a lack of taxis that were fitted with the right facilities to deal with disabled people. So, that is another thing, maybe, that you could enlighten us on now. Thank you.