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Private hire operators

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Dear Transport for London,

1. Please provide an actual (or last available) number of associated vehicles (fleet size) for each private hire operator in London.

2. Also what other general information is able to be obtained by Tfl of private hire operators (such as total jobs, vehicles?

Yours faithfully,

Kayne Abelle

FOI, Transport for London

Dear Kayne Abelle

 

TfL Ref: FOI-0403-1718

 

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 23
May 2017 asking for information about licensed Private Hire operators.

 

Your request will be processed in accordance with the requirements of the
Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. 

 

Your request will be processed by TfL, the Greater London Authority and
its subsidiaries to provide you with a response in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 and our information access policy.

 

A response will be sent to you by 21 June 2017. We publish a substantial
range of information on our website on subjects including operational
performance, contracts, expenditure, journey data, governance and our
financial performance. This includes data which is frequently asked for in
FOI requests or other public queries. Please check
[1]http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/transpar... to see if this helps you.

 

We will publish anonymised versions of requests and responses on the
[2]www.tfl.gov.uk website. We will not publish your name and we will send
a copy of the response to you before it is published on our website.

 

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this matter further, please
do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Paulina Tuffour

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

 

 

 

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FOI, Transport for London

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Abelle

 

TfL Ref: FOI-0403-1718

 

Thank you for your email received on 23 May 2017 asking for information
about licensed private hire operators.

 

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of
the Freedom of Information Act and our Information Access Policy. I can
confirm that we hold the information you require. You asked for:

 

“1. Please provide an actual (or last available) number of associated
vehicles (fleet size) for each private hire operator in London.

 

2. Also what other general information is able to be obtained by Tfl of
private hire operators (such as total jobs, vehicles?          ...”

 

In accordance with the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply the
information requested in your first question as it is subject to a
statutory exemption to the right of access to information under section
43(2) of the FOI Act.  In this instance section 43(2) exemption has been
applied to the number of vehicles registered with a private hire operator,
as disclosure would be likely to prejudice their commercial interests.
Disclosure of this information would enable rival companies to have an
insight into any operator’s business model and undermine their position in
the competitive market place.

 

The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public
interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned. We
recognise that there is a public interest in understanding the scope of
our regulatory activity. However, we feel that there is a greater public
interest in ensuring that companies are able to compete fairly without
being placed at a commercial disadvantage and the balance of the public
interest supports the exemption.

 

Regarding your second question, operators are required to provide us with
details of the drivers and vehicles they have used to fulfil private hire
bookings, or have had available to them to fulfil bookings in a specified
period.

 

If this is not the information you are looking for, please do not hesitate
to contact me.

 

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to
appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would
like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Paulina Tuffour

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

 

 

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Dear FOI,

There has already been a precedent set when you granted the request of TfL Ref: FOI-1638-1415 which stated "Please provide an actual (or last available) number of associated vehicles (fleet size) for each private hire operator in London." TfL had provided the information to this Matthew Borland so I should expect the same information to be able to be supplied.

Yours sincerely,

Kayne Abelle

FOI, Transport for London

Dear Mr Abelle

 

TfL Ref:          IRV-042-1718

 

Thank you for your request for an internal review which was received on 23
June 2017.

 

You have stated that you are dissatisfied with the handling of your
request for information under the Freedom of Information Act..

 

The review will be conducted by an internal review panel in accordance
with TfL’s Internal Review Procedure, which is enclosed with this
letter./available via the following URL:

 

[1]http://content.tfl.gov.uk/internal-revie...

 

Every effort will be made to provide you with a response by 24 July 2017.
However, if the review will not be completed by this date, we will contact
you and notify you of the revised response date as soon as possible.

 

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this matter further, please
feel free to contact me.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Gemma Jacob

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

[2][TfL request email]

 

 

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Dear FOI,

I still have not had a response or an update of the revised response. I do not want to report to the Information Commissioner but soon I will have no choice.

Yours sincerely,

Kayne Abelle

FOI, Transport for London

Dear Mr Abelle

Thank you for your e-mails regarding your outstanding internal review request. We are still carrying out the internal review for this case and considering whether the exemption was correctly applied. We hope to be able to provide a response in the next few weeks.

I apologise for any inconvenience caused by the delay.

Yours sincerely

Gemma Jacob
FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London
[TfL request email]

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FOI, Transport for London

Dear Mr Abelle

 

TfL Ref:          IRV-042-1718

 

I am contacting you regarding the internal review of your request for
information about private hire operators.

This review has been carried out by an independent panel following your
e-mail of 23 June 2017 regarding the response to your request for
information under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. The review was
carried out by an independent Review Panel (‘the Panel’) consisting of
individuals who were not involved in the handling of your request. The
panel apologise for the delay in answering your request for internal
review.

Your initial request for information asked for the ‘number of associated
vehicles (fleet size) for each private hire operator in London’ and ‘what
other general information is able to be obtained by TfL of private hire
operators such as total jobs, vehicles.’

 

A response was issued to you on 23 June 2017. In regard to the second part
of your request that stated, ‘operators are required to provide us with
details of the drivers and vehicles they have used to fulfil private hire
bookings, or have had available to them to fulfil bookings in a specified
period.’

 

Your request for information on the number of vehicles registered to each
operator was withheld section 43(2) as this information was considered
commercially sensitive as disclosure of this information would enable
rival companies to have an insight into any operator’s business model and
undermine their position in the competitive market place. The panel have
reviewed the handling of your original request and concluded that the
exemption was applied correctly, therefore its use is upheld.

 

Information on the number of vehicles registered is now being collated for
all operators, there is therefore a greater potential for commercial use
of this data. As stated in our response, this information is likely to
have commercial repercussions to their trade. Whilst we make no suggestion
that you would use this information for anything other than you own
personal interest, disclosure of this information to you has to be
regarded as a disclosure to ‘the public at large’. This information could
potentially be obtained and utilised by individuals or larger operators
who may wish to use this information to track the growth of rival
operators and new entrants to the marketplace, either at a London wide
level or in a specific locale. We have taken into account the possibility
that a driver might be registered with several operators, but despite
this, the routine disclosure of the number of drivers with a particular
operator would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of those
operators and disclosure would be likely to adversely affect competition
across the marketplace.

We are however able to provide information on the number of small (no more
than two vehicles) and standard (more than two vehicles) operators (as at
7 February 2017):

 

Operator size Number of Operators
Small 739
Standard 1721
Grand Total 2460

 

The Panel also considered the public interest in the use of section 43(2)
and concluded that the balance lies in favour of withholding the
information. We recognise that knowing the size of an operator’s fleet
would provide a greater level of transparency and insight into the private
hire trade. However, the potential effect on the operation of a
competitive market and the potential benefits this gives to their
passengers outweighs the possible benefits disclosure might bring. In
addition, the release of information likely to cause prejudice to the
commercial interests of operators may lead to a reluctance from some
operators to provide accurate, timely information about the number of
drivers and vehicles.

In addition to the use of section 43(2), the panel have determined that
this information was provided to us in confidence and there was no
expectation that this information would be routinely made public,
therefore it would have also been withheld under section 41. Since section
41 is an absolute exemption, we have not gone on to consider the balance
of the public interest in respect of this exemption.

 

I hope this information is of assistance. If you are dissatisfied with the
outcome of this internal review, you can refer the matter to the
independent authority responsible for enforcing the Freedom of Information
Act at the following address:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

A complaint form is available on the ICO’s website ([1]www.ico.gov.uk).

 

Please note that the Information Commissioner is currently considering an
appeal against our refusal to release information in response to a similar
request to your one. We will notify you by email when the Information
Commissioner reaches a decision.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Gemma Jacob

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

[2][TfL request email]

 

 

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