Number of Sefton Hackney drivers plummets 20%

Sefton sees number of licensed hackney taxi drivers fall by 20% amid rising costs of fuel and insurance. Andrew Brown reports

Taxi, cab, cabbie, Hackney
Sefton has seen a big fall in the number of Hackney drivers


Sefton has seen a 20% fall in the number of hackney taxi drivers as the soaring cost of fuel and insurance forces people out of the sector.

More drivers also say they are switching from evening to daytime working. Sefton Council will carry out a survey later this year to discover more about the falling numbers and what can be done to reverse them.

The existing numerical restriction applied to Hackney carriage vehicle licences has stood since 1986 when the limit was set at 271.

Sefton Council has discretion to limit the number of Hackney carriage vehicles it chooses to licence for the purpose of controlling their numbers.

The council carried out its first hackney carriage demand survey in 2000/2001 and decided to repeat the exercise every four to five years. The last study was carried out in 2019 and found that there was no evidence of council rank-based unmet demand.

Sefton currently has 236 active hackney carriage vehicles and 266 licensed drivers.  In March 2020, the Council had 271 active hackney carriage vehicles with 330 licensed drivers.

A total of 119 drivers have a Southport address with the remainder being based in South Sefton or Liverpool City Region (LCR).

Since the COVID-19 pandemic Hackney carriage driver numbers have steadily reduced leading to vehicle owners being unable to find enough drivers to drive the 271 licensed vehicles.

In a report to councillors, Sefton Council’s assistant director of place (highways and public protection) Peter Moore, said: “Vehicle owners have cited potential barriers to attracting more drivers such as rising costs, fall in trade and the requirement to sit a street knowledge test.

“In 2021, Sefton Council removed the requirement for an extra street knowledge test for hackney carriage drivers in order to obtain a licence but it appears to have had little impact on numbers.

“Rising costs of fuel and insurance have also been highlighted as a potential reason for decline. 

“Vehicle owners have indicated that there has been a shift away from night time working and more to day shifts by many drivers due to a perceived decline in demand for late night journeys in South Sefton.

“Many hackney drivers now accept journeys via private hire operators which will likely mean that they could be working anywhere in the Liverpool city region and not within Sefton.

“Despite a recent rise in hackney carriage tariffs (October 2023) which are regulated by Sefton Council, private hire operator fares are unregulated and many drivers are finding income via this method more attractive especially when fare ‘multipliers’ are applied during busy periods.”


Taxi, cab, cabbie, Hackney
Rising fuel and insurance costs have driven many drivers off the road


The next survey is due to be carried out later this year and will conduct a wide ranging consultation across drivers, vehicle owners, users, business owners and trade representatives and carry out detailed surveys of rank activity across Sefton.

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This will allow Sefton Council to properly understand and address any issues concerning the hackney carriage trade. Peter Moore added: “There has clearly been a decline in active vehicles and the number of licensed drivers.

“Although discussions with vehicle owners and drivers have suggested some of the reasons for this, the upcoming unmet demand survey would seem like an ideal opportunity to examine in more detail issues affecting the hackney carriage trade and look for solutions to declining numbers.”

This article first appeared in Stand Up For Southport

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