1 in 5 taxis were taken off the road because they were suspected to be so unfit for the road. Almost two thirds were not meeting the terms with safety regulations either.
Of the 102 vehicles were tested in April 2011, 21 of them were taken of the road for not being road worthy and 61 of them failed. In January, 84 cabs were tested, 8 were suspended of the 21 that failed.
The vehicles that had problems serious enough to fail an MOT test were all handed suspension notices.
488 vehicles were tested in the four months from January to April and 180 of them failed. 55 vehicles had their taxi licenses suspended for serious faults.
Chairman of Sheffield Taxi Trade Association, Hafeas Rehman, which represents black cab drivers, said that the bar by which minicabs and black cabs are tested for safety is set higher than the MOT test for other vehicles.
He explained that, “The results are slightly misleading in terms of the fact people might think a failure means the vehicle is automatically not roadworthy.
“Suspensions are given to vehicles that would not pass an MOT, whereas a failure to meet a safety test can be for things like warning stickers being peeled off in the passenger area.
“A lot of drivers who buy used taxis now put them through the full mechanical test before they start work, even if their last certificate was still valid.”
Councillors from Sheffield Council agreed a request by taxi drivers to put back the date of their vehicles’ first safety inspections by 1 year.
In the past, all private hire vehicles and black cabs faced mandatory checks at 5 years old, which will now by 6. They must have 2 tests per year from the age of 6 and then they will no longer be licensed past 9 years.
Black cabs were also tested each year up to 8 years old and from then were tested twice a year. Now the black cabs will be tested every year between 6 and 9 years old, followed by twice yearly inspections when they are 15 years old, when they cannot have commercial taxi insurance anymore.
Owners are charged £54 per test for private hire vehicles and £59 per test for black cabs.
Mohammed Yasin, chairman of Sheffield Private Hire Drivers’ Association, made the request and was approved by the council licensing board.
“The five-year rule has been in place for over 20 years while the standard of vehicles has improved beyond recognition for safety, comfort, reliability and environmentally-friendly fuels.
“The tests are about ensuring the safety of the passengers and driver. The change will help cut running costs,” Yasin said.