BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM – The traffic commissioner has called for urgent new legislation for the regulation of limousines that are becoming an increasingly common sight on the streets of Bristol. Senior Traffic Commissioner Philip Brown said the Department for Transport, local authorities and the limousine industry must come together to develop new and clearly defined legislation.
At present limousines are licensed by local authorities under taxis and private hire legislation or under public legislation designed for mini-buses, buses and coaches. The cut-off point is decided by the number of passengers the limousine carries. If it carries eight or fewer passengers, then it is licensed by the councils, but if it carries more than eight people it is licensed as a bus and subject to the same regulations. The industry says the situation needs to be clarified and limousines need their own regulation.
Speaking at a recent conference, Bill Bowling of the National Limousine Association UK said, "We are the one industry that is crying out for more regulation. We're absolutely desperate for it. We aren't buses but we aren't private hire vehicles either.
"There are 404 local authorities up and down the country and of those, 200 do not license limousines,” Bowling said. “It means they have to be licensed under public vehicle legislation. The situation needs clarification so that customers know that the vehicle is safe, the operator is properly insured and that appropriate checks have been carried out on drivers – it's about public confidence."
Brown said the feedback from the conference at Bristol City Council would go to the Department for Transport as a starting point for new legislation. "The point of the conference is to get everyone together and to discuss the issues,” Brown said. “We need to establish what the checks and technical requirements should be as a matter of priority."