Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Statistics, England: 2020

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The Department of Transport released a statistical report in Dec 2020 that presents key information about the taxi and private hire industry in England, with data collected as of 31 March 2020.

This includes PHV operators and enlisted drivers who use app-based technology. However, it does not disaggregate which drivers are using these apps in the figures presented.

This report contains useful travel statistics and trends that may affect the industry.

Figures are updated every year by surveying each licensing authority (a unitary or lower-tier authority) in England and Wales.

This release refers to England only but data for Wales can be found online as well.

The report shows the total number of licensed taxi and private hire vehicles and licensed drivers in England reached new record levels, with the total number of vehicles in England increased by 2.3% (6,800 vehicles) since 2019, to 298,800, the highest number since comparable records were first collected in 2005. 

The report also shows there is a long-term trend of growth in the number of taxis outside of London, while the rate at which drivers are increasing inside London is much slower. There has been an 87% increase in the number of London drivers, while outside London this number is 332%.

Licensed PHV operators

The number of licensed PHV operators increased by 2.7% to 16,000 from the previous year. This was still 3.3% lower than the peak in PHV operators at 16,500 in 2009. PHV operators declined by 3.7% to 2,100 operators in London and increased by 3.8% to 13,800 operators in England outside London.

In the year ending 31 March 2020, 2,100 applications were made by new PHV operators (either new companies or existing operators not already licensed)

Taxi Drivers

There were an estimated 171,000 drivers operating in England during 2019/20, which is 20% lower than 2018/19 (214,000) and 12.0% lower than ten years ago (194,000 in 2009/10).

In 2020, 83 licensing authorities (29%) applied a limit on the numbers of licensed taxis, with a further 4 setting limits in some, but not all, of the areas they cover. This is a slight decrease from 30% of licensing authorities that applied a limit in 2019.

Of those licensing authorities with a limit on the numbers of taxis, 4 licensing authorities (5%) have changed that limit in the last year. 57 licensing authorities (69% of those with a limit) have conducted an unmet demand survey within the last five years.

The limits only apply to taxis and not to PHV.

The West Midlands was the regions with the highest increase in licensed vehicles (both Taxi and PH) (10.2%), a higher percentage increase than London (6.2%). 

The North East saw the highest decrease in licensed vehicles, having lost 4% of their 2019 total.

Who drives taxis?

The majority of drivers were male (98%) in 2019/20. These proportions are similar to the previous year.

Similar to last year, the average age of a driver was 50 years old, with 21% of drivers being aged under 40. Those aged 60 or over made up 25% of drivers. There has been a slight shift in the age profile of drivers over the past ten years, with a slightly smaller proportion of younger drivers and a slightly larger proportion of older drivers.

The two main ethnic groups of drivers were White and Asian or Asian British in 2019/20, making up 52% and 37% of drivers respectively. This compares to 63% and 29% respectively in 2009/10. There was an increase in the proportion of non-UK nationals working as drivers in England, rising from 13% in 2009/10 to 26% in 2019/20.

What are the drivers’ working patterns?

83% of drivers were self-employed in 2019/20, the same as in 2018/19. One in four drivers worked part-time (25%), which has been broadly stable over the last ten years.

However, only 9% of drivers were working 7 days a week in April 2020, a reduction from 22% in April 2019 - this could be explained by the national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of drivers (48%) usually worked 5 days a week, while 21% worked less than 4 days and 23% worked 6 days.

Taxi Passengers

National Travel Survey
The National Travel Survey is a household survey carried out on over 16,000 individuals in England every year. The results in this release will be based on the 2019 results. For more information see here.

In 2019, the average person in England made 11 taxi or PHV trips, over 59 miles. Although the distance increased by 10% over the last 10 years (from 54 miles in 2009), the number of trips has remained broadly stable. 

Why do people travel by taxi or PHV?

Over half (51%) of trips for leisure purposes and the second most common trip purpose was shopping (14% of trips), followed by commuting at 11%.

How often do people use Taxi or PHV?

At least 1 in 4 people who use Taxi & PHV do so at least once a month, while 1 in 10 uses it weekly. The remaining 60% are infrequent users, twice a year at most. This trend has remained the same over the last 10 years.

Who travels by Taxi or PHV?

Adults with mobility difficulties travel twice as often, with 21 trips per year on average vs 11 trips.

Women tend to take more trips per person than men (12 vs 10).

Car ownership makes taxi trips less likely, with those who do not own cars travelling 4x as much. People in the lowest real income quintile made 15 taxi or PHV trips, more than any other income quintile. 

You can read the full publication at the Department of Transport website here.

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