Some authorities cap the number of taxi licenses which are available in their area. In legislation, taxis are often referred to by the more formal, if somewhat archaic term of Hackney Carriage.
In order to maintain a policy of capping taxi licenses and to defend this policy against legal challenge, authorities are advised to undertake periodic Hackney Carriage Unmet Demand Surveys.
Such surveys should fulfil the requirements of Section 16 of the 1985 Transport Act and to address the questions raised in the Department for Transport (DfT) 2010 Best Practice Guidance.
LVSA undertake Hackney Carriage Unmet Demand surveys, coupled with survey and analysis of other aspects of taxi services such as public attitude surveys, trade and stakeholder consultation.
Many Unmet Demand surveys are paid for by the taxi trade, through a charge levied by the taxi licensing office. In the current economic climate, when many businesses are experiencing a down turn in revenue, the cost of undertaking Unmet Demand Surveys is a complaint often voiced, by the trade and by licensing officers alike.
LVSA have developed a robust approach to undertaking unmet demand studies which minimises costs, whilst producing comprehensive, defensible and easy to understand results, which can be used to determine future licensing decisions. We achieve this by efficient use of up to date technology when undertaking surveys and consultation and focused analysis of the data collected.
A best value approach to surveying taxi ranks is employed with a survey campaign tailored to suit each authority area. It is important to capture normal behaviour during the surveys, in order to present a typical and defensible analysis of conditions. If the surveys themselves can be demonstrated to have affected conditions, then this could be seen as grounds for challenge of the results.
In order to ensure that the surveys are robust and can withstand legal challenge, data for week day and weekend activity is required, to portray the variations in demand and how busier times compare with quiet times. Therefore, it is important that both busy and quiet times are observed during the surveys. Whilst this sounds obvious, it is a simple and necessary consideration, which is not always put into practice in unmet demand surveys.
Activity at the taxi ranks only presents part of the picture. To complete our understanding of what is happening in the trade and to provide further indication of the presence or lack of unmet demand, it is essential to seek feedback from people who use taxis, people who do not use taxis, representatives of groups, organisations and businesses who make use of taxi services and the views of those who are involved with regulatory measures which directly and indirectly relate to taxi provision. Therefore, we also undertake public consultation and stakeholder consultation for each Unmet Demand study. This can take a variety of forms, which can be tailored to suit the demographics of the licensing area.