News: The changes follow an unprecedented increase in private hire driver and vehicle numbers.
Transport for London (TfL) has approved new regulations to modernise and streamline the private hire industry.
The changes are the first significant amendments to the private hire regulations since they were initially introduced, and come in response to an unprecedented increase in private hire driver and vehicle numbers, the authority said.
The measures follow a consultation process, which attracted more than 20,000 responses in the last year.
Under the new regulations, drivers for companies such as Uber Technologies must comply with English-language requirements and identify in a best possible way to customers.
Private hire operators must also make sure that customers can speak to someone in case of a problem with their journey.
Under the robust hire and reward insurance requirements, a policy must be in place for the duration of the vehicle licence, including when the vehicle is presented for inspection to TfL.
Private hire operators must provide an estimated fare before the start of the journey.
Operators are also required to keep improved records and provide driver and vehicle information to TfL on a regular basis.
TfL COO for surface transport Garrett Emmerson said: "These regulations will set the foundations for the private hire industry in the coming years with new robust measures in place to protect customers. We will implement these changes as soon as possible."
Separately, London Mayor Boris Johnson urged the authority to investigate the effects of eliminating the Congestion Charge exemption for private hire vehicles in order to tackle the issues of congestion, pollution and illegal parking.
A commitment has been secured from the Government for TfL to be able to regulate pedicabs via a change in primary legislation.
The authority has also created a new telephone helpline to support people who have been affected by fatal or severe injuries on London’s transport network.
Earlier this year, TfL ditched a series proposals that could have imposed restrictions on ridesharing apps.
Proposals that were dropped include forcing operators to wait about five minutes between booking and starting a journey, operators having to offer a prebooking service and not allowing an app to show vehicles available for immediate hire.