Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles

Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles


Hackney Carriages (taxis) mainly work from public ranks, the public can flag them down on the street when the driver is applying for hire, and they can also be pre-booked.

Private Hire vehicles are only available by prior booking and through a private hire operator's office. They are not allowed on taxi ranks and cannot be used to ply for hire. Members of the public cannot flag them down.

Taxi safety

Here are some ways to check you are getting into a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle:

  • Is there a local authority licence plate displayed on the vehicle rear and on the front window screen?
  • Does the driver have a current local authority identity badge?

Private Hire Safety Screens notice for Drivers and Operators –  During Covid-19 outbreak

In response to the Covid-19 current situation, Epsom & Ewell is aware there are companies making protection screens for Private Hire Vehicles. There is currently no government guidance and a lack of information, about safety testing and in relation to transmission of the virus which means the Local Authority cannot endorse their use.

It will be a decision matter for vehicle owners, drivers and operators whether to install a screen. The Council does not accept liability where a screen causes injury to a passenger or driver.

If you wish to instal a screen drivers will need to adhere to the private hire vehicle licensing conditions. Condition 3 states that “No material alteration or change in the specification, design, condition or appearance of the vehicle shall be made without the approval of the Council at any time the licence is in force. Should a driver decide to install a screen we will need to see pictures of the installation to keep on the vehicle file. If you decide to install a screen we would require details of the screen prior to purchase and installation so the screen can be assessed before any money being spent out.

The following guidance should be considered if you decide to install a screen.

  • The screen should not compromise the vehicle type approval, it should not interfere with the vehicles safety systems ie airbags, seatbelts, handbrake or gearstick.
  • Only use materials that do not pose a fire risk in the vehicle.
  • The screen must be transparent and regularly checked to remain free of scratches and clouding and free from stickers, so as to allow the driver a clear view of the road behind.
  • Any screen must be fit for purpose and must not endanger the safety of passengers or driver.
  • Screens are to be disinfected between bookings and at start and end of the day.
  • The proprietor must notify their insurance company about installation, and notify the council if their insurance company refuses to cover the vehicle after installation.
  • Any screen fitted during the Covid-19 pandemic must be removed once social distancing measures have been relaxed and no longer considered necessary.
  • Any screen must be professionally manufactured, installed and maintained to manufacturer’s specification.
  • Officers may request for the vehicle to be presented for inspection at any point.