Guernsey's failing taxi sector is 'not fit for purpose' as people turn to illegal rides

A damning 333-page report highlights the shortage of drivers, a widespread lack of availability for cabs and "inadequate" tools to make meaningful changes. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Guernsey's taxi and private hire industry is "not fit for purpose", "fails to provide a decent service that meets passenger needs" and needs "radical change".

A damning 333-page independent report commissioned by politicians highlights the shortage of drivers, a widespread lack of availability for cabs, especially at peak times, and "inadequate" tools available to the government to make meaningful changes.

These problems are said to disadvantage other areas such as business and tourism by not providing a reliable service.

The review adds that more people are turning to illegal and unlicensed lifts organised through Facebook to fill the gaps left by a failing industry.

The report's author TAS Partnership wrote: "This review has been challenging because the problems impacting the taxi sector in Guernsey are deep-seated and cannot be mitigated by minor adjustments.

"There is a requirement for radical change ... given the level of consumer dissatisfaction and service failure."

Other issues include the lack of up-to-date technology with no booking app or way for passengers to track a taxi in real-time, and limited opportunities for young people to get into the sector.

The report underlines a general feeling of stagnation where drivers can choose when to work, are not offered any significant training for development and limited action is taken to check and enforce standards.

In response, the President of Guernsey's Infrastructure and Environment Committee has promised to work with customers and drivers to make improvements.

Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez said: "This review does not pull any punches and I'm grateful to the authors and all those who contributed to that.

"We wanted a 'warts and all' review so we could make real improvements. It shows the challenges are many, and the changes can't focus on just one area if they are to make a difference."

The Taxi and Private Hire Review by numbers:

The report has made more than 70 recommendations to the States of Guernsey, including:

  • Giving out up to 20 extra taxi plates to meet demand for the service.

  • Licensing a system capable of taking app and online bookings as well as phone requests.

  • Having one local phone number for all bookings and queries.

  • Significantly slimming down the knowledge test for drivers to reflect the availability of SatNavs and other support.

  • The need for frequent eye tests to be added to the drivers' Code of Conduct.

  • A regular yearly review of taxi tariffs to avoid sudden changes, although big differences in fuel costs should trigger a spot check.