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Minicab or Taxi? The Differences Explained.

Difference between taxi and minicab

Minicab or taxi? The two terms are often interchanged without much thought. But in actual fact, they represent two different categories within the licensed taxi industry. So just what are the differences between the two? Let’s take a look.

What is a taxi?

Most people when booking a private hire vehicle will refer to it as a ‘taxi’. But in reality, only hackney carriages can officially be labelled as taxis. These are driven by hackney carriage drivers who are the only category of cab drivers who are officially allowed to ply for business directly with passengers on the street, and are the only type of cab that can be hailed.

In London, hackney carriages are the iconic ‘black’ cabs, although many these days are not black in colour. In other towns and cities across the United Kingdom, hackney carriage drivers may use different types of vehicles, including saloons, SUVs and executive cars. Regardless of the vehicle type, all hackney carriages will bear the yellow ‘TAXI’ light on the roof.

In London, hackney carriage drivers can only become licensed once they pass The Knowledge, a vocational series of examinations. The process of qualification takes around three years. Elsewhere across the UK, local authorities have their own licensing systems, but most will require drivers to pass a knowledge test before they are allowed to operate as hackney carriage drivers, although in most cases this is not as in-depth as The Knowledge.

Taxis are available for immediate hire and do not need to be pre-booked, although they can be booked in advance if required. They are also allowed to use bus lanes and taxi ranks.

What is a minicab?

Minicabs, also known as private hire vehicles, are available for pre-booking only via a private hire operator, and cannot be hailed off the street or ply for business. They cannot use bus lanes or taxi ranks.

In London, minicabs are not permitted to carry door advertising, and are subject to the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998. Outside of London, private hire vehicles are pretty much the same, although they are allowed to carry advertising.

The law dictates that a minicab may only seat a maximum of eight passengers.

To become a private hire minicab driver in London, you must be licensed by the Public Carriage Office (PCO) which is part of Transport for London. Drivers must be a minimum of 21 years of age and have held a full UK driving licence for at least three years before they can apply. It is also necessary to pass a Topographical Skills Assessment and an English language test.

Outside of London, you must apply to your local council if you wish to drive a private hire vehicle. The application process varies from one location to another.

At the end of March 2021, there were 251,000 licensed taxis and private hire vehicles in England, 77 per cent of which were private hire vehicles. There were 343,000 driver licenses, 64 per cent of them private hire vehicle only and 13 per cent taxi only. 22 per cent were dual licences.

Would you like to drive or hire a minicab in London?

Private Minicab/Taxi

Whether you are looking for minicab driver jobs in London, or need to book a private hire vehicle for a journey anywhere around the capital, you can rely on a safe and professional service courtesy of ZedCarz.

Established over 20 years, PCO licensed ZedCarz operates throughout London. We pride ourselves on the very best passenger service, with friendly, experienced drivers who all have exceptional knowledge of local routes.

We offer a round-the-clock service with app-based bookings and account terms for your convenience.