The Difference between Black Cabs and Private Hire Taxis

London Taxis drive along a street in Central London on October 23, 2012. The company that makes London's iconic black taxis collapsed into administration but was hopeful of receiving a financial rescue amid reports of a possible Chinese lifeline. "Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC, the manufacturer of the world famous London taxi, today announces that discussions with various parties to secure funding on acceptable terms to address the group's financial needs have proved unsuccessful. AFP PHOTO / ANDREW COWIE (Photo credit should read ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has spawned a call from the Licensed Taxi Driver’s Association for more clearly defined anti-virus protocols. Black cab Drivers are required to wear a facial covering. At present, it is unclear whether or not Uber and other private hire agencies are bound by the mask mandate. Black Cabs are likely to have a partition that protects driver and passenger from potential Coronavirus exposure.

Avoid Tuk-Tuks

Potentially unlicensed and under-insured, the configuration of the three wheels (single wheel in front) makes Tuk-Tuks dangerously unstable. Authorities in Derbyshire have dubbed the vehicle named earlier “death traps” and implore the public not to use Tuk-Tuk taxis.

A Changing Business

Black cabs built by the London Taxi Company have been a symbol of London streets since 1958. Today Black a.k.a. Hackney Cabs face competition from a variety of livery car services.

Black Cab vs. Private Hire Vehicles

In addition to their distinctive design, Black Cabs (they aren’t always black) display a sign on the front of the roof that indicates the cab’s availability. PHVs or “minicabs” are legally recognized livery vehicles that are usually indistinguishable from any private hire vehicle. Rideshare companies like Uber are an example of a PHV service.


Riders can hail a Black cab anytime. Uber and other private hire vehicles are reserved in advance. Between England and Wales, there are 78,000 Hackney Cabs and 3,060 Uber vehicles.


The rates for a Black Cab are constant. Uber has a surge pricing policy. There are occasions when Uber charges twice the fare a Hackney Taxi would charge to travel the same distance. Surge pricing rates are in effect during peak travel hours, evenings, and weekends.


There are 45,240 wheelchair-accessible Black Cabs. Wheelchair friendly taxis are available through Uber-WAV. A shortage of handicap-accessible conveyances has led to discrimination suits against Uber.

Licensing Requirements

All livery vehicles in the UK are required to carry Private Hire Insurance. Just like all other motorised vehicles, it is against the law to not hold insurance, so please ensure you have the correct insurance at all times.

On average, it takes four years of study to earn a Black Taxi license. Licensing candidates must know 320 routes to 25,000 streets and the location of 20,000 points-of-interest. Anyone with a valid driving license can operate a minicab. In London, the Taxi and Private Hire Office oversees the licensing of all livery vehicles. Connect with ABWIN.

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