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Cabless clubbers: The capital’s taxi shortage raises safety concerns for partygoers

More than half of licensed taxi drivers have not returned to work since nightlife reopened in the UK.

The capital's taxi shortage raises safety concerns for partygoers

You’ve been out dancing until the small hours. You’re flustered, sweaty, wanting your bed (or looking for the afterparty). You open your preferred taxi app and try to book a ride to your next stop as you proceed to leave the club.

The above was relatively easy before the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, it has become an all too familiar painful process since nightlife reopened, owing to the lack of licensed taxi drivers returning to work.

The Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) has now reduced to almost half its previously 300,000-strong workforce; a sheer decline in demand due to lockdowns means as many as 140,000 drivers have now left the industry entirely.

Public safety, especially for women, is under more scrutiny than ever before. The shortage now raises even more concerns as people struggle to get home after sunset.

LPHCA also believes that backlogs in costly licensing and registration of vehicles and criminal & medical checks for drivers have also contributed to the now hazardous circumstances facing people needing to travel late at night.

Speaking to the BBC, LPHCA Chairman Steve Wright said: “This is a real national problem that affects everywhere,”

“We have had calls from Inverness in Scotland, right down to Cornwall, with people saying they cannot get drivers and they cannot get licences quickly enough,” he added.

The Night Time Industries Association has also called for the issue to be prioritised by the government, with The Department for Transport also planning to revise licensing guidelines. Consultations on this will not happen until next year.

With such a dire situation rearing its head, many will be relieved to see the return of nighttime services on both Transport for London’s underground and overground networks.

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