What's the difference between taxis and private hire vehicles?
Written by Zego
Taxis and private hire vehicles – they’re the same, right?
Actually, there are quite a few differences between the two. While both modes of transport provide an essential service, understanding their differences is important for drivers and passengers.
In this guide, we'll explore the key differences between taxis and private hire vehicles, including their unique operational rules and insurance requirements.
Taxis vs private hire vehicles: What’s the difference?
Taxis (known as hackney carriages) and private hire vehicles (often referred to as minicabs) are both classified as passenger vehicles in the UK. But there are a few differences between the two.
The main difference between taxis and private hire vehicles is how they're hired. Taxis can be flagged down on the street, hired from a taxi rank, or pre-booked. They typically use metered pricing set by the local council.
Private hire vehicles, on the other hand, must always be pre-booked through a licensed operator or ride-hailing app, and their fares are agreed in advance.
Understanding taxis: The role of hackney carriages
Hackney carriages, more commonly known as taxis, have a history dating back to the 17th century. You can usually identify them by their roof sign, the taxi licence plate attached to the back of the vehicle, and a card displayed in the front windscreen.
As mentioned above, taxis can be flagged down on the street or hired from a taxi rank, in addition to being pre-booked. The cost of each taxi ride is determined by the meter, with a certain amount charged per mile. In some cases, say for longer journeys, passengers may be able to agree an amount upfront for their fare.
Private hire: The rise of ride-hailing apps
Private hire vehicles can vary depending on which operator or ride-hailing platform they work with, but all of them will display their licence details clearly for passengers to see. Unlike taxis, private hire vehicles have to be pre-booked through a licensed operator.
In recent years, the rise of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Bolt has revolutionised the private hire industry. By connecting drivers and passengers through an easy-to-use platform, these apps offer a convenient and flexible way to get around.
It's important to remember that drivers on these platforms must still comply with all private hire regulations, including having the right private hire insurance.
Fare pricing for private hire vehicles, including those operating through ride-hailing apps, is different from taxis. Passengers will get a quote from the operator before booking a journey, and drivers are not allowed to charge more than the agreed amount.
Understanding insurance: Taxi vs private hire
Insurance for taxis and private hire vehicles plays an important part of their overall operation (and can also form a significant part of their overall costs).
Drivers of both types of vehicles need specialised hire and reward insurance, as standard motor insurance (known as social, domestic and pleasure) doesn't cover drivers while carrying passengers in exchange for money.
Private hire insurance
Similar to taxi insurance, private hire insurance is a legal requirement for drivers carrying passengers for profit. It covers the same risks as taxi insurance, but it’s tailored for drivers who work with pre-booked journeys.
The cost of private hire insurance can vary. Things that can affect the price include the driver's age, driving record, type of vehicle used, and past claims history.
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