Taxi drivers in Coventry could soon have to take non-cash payments as part of proposed changes to the City Council’s licensing laws.
Other changes could see tuk-tuks and pedicabs on city centre streets for the first time as part of the shake-up.
Councillors will this month discuss plans that would make taxis more user-friendly, as well as improve air quality and prepare for a tourism boom during Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture in 2021.
Tuk-tuks and pedicabs – that run on small engines or pedal-power - are not currently allowed under the city’s licensing laws, but that could be about to change as the city prepares to welcome thousands of visitors as it builds towards its year in the national spotlight.
Councillors are being asked to give the go-ahead for the novelty vehicles to carry passengers within the Ring Road and around the railway station.
The drivers would have to be trained for their particular vehicle and would not be licensed to drive any other form of taxi.
They would also only be allowed to pick up pre-booked fares and could not be hailed on the streets.
And in a move to help the city’s air quality, councillors will be asked to approve consultation on a new way of granting licences.
At present, the policy is that cabs over 10 years old and private hire vehicles over six years will not be licensed, but that system may now change to one based on vehicle emissions, to make sure that only the cleanest cars are on the city’s streets.
This would be part of a campaign to have zero emission taxis and private hire vehicles by 2024 as the city continues its work to tackle pollution and improve air quality.
Other changes would see compulsory refresher training for all drivers around disability and child exploitation and new ways of testing drivers applying for a licence.
Cllr Jayne Innes, Cabinet Member for City Services, said: “We are very proud of our taxis in Coventry and we believe these changes will make them even better for their customers and for the city itself.
“We are determined to continue to improve the air quality in the city and the change to checking vehicles through emissions rather than age is an obvious way we can make a difference and create a cleaner, healthier city for us all.
“The changes are being brought in after consultation and include things that customers really want to see – such as contactless and card payment. That is something we all use now and take for granted and we need to bring the taxis up to date with that.
“The introduction of tuk-tuks and pedicabs is also something people have asked about and with all the thousands of visitors set to come to our city over the next three years and beyond, it will really make a difference.
“It will help to make us more tourist-friendly and give a real atmosphere to the city centre, helping people to easily travel between our many attractions and enjoy something a little more out of the ordinary.
“We are also looking at areas such as the tests drivers have to pass and how we license private hire operators and we believe these changes will bring our taxi and private hire fleets up to date and give city people the service they deserve.”
Councillors will discuss the changes at a meeting on 27 November.