Quantity control of local taxi trades is the norm in England and Wales outside London, with the majority of district councils (the relevant licensing authorities) placing a limit on the number of vehicle licences that they are prepared to issue. In some districts the degree of restriction is severe and licences acquire extremely high market values. At the other end of the spectrum a number of districts find either lenient or no quantity control appropriate for local needs. By means of a series of pairwise comparisons of districts at both ends of this scale the reported work attempts to shed some light on the possible justification for quantity control. It is noted that quantity control does not noticeably improve the perceived quality of service, as measured by the volume of passenger complaints, and does not reduce fare levels. Further any benefits which it does confer are likely to be diluted by transfer of travellers to private hire cars which cannot be similarly subjected to quantity control. However, it does generally lead to the operation of higher value vehicles, may help to reduce the problem of rank over-crowding, and serves to protect the investment of those operators who have paid large sums to acquire a licence. It is acknowledged that the findings do not comprehensively resolve all the relevant issues. However, they do shed some new light on the question of quantity control, and some of their implications are discussed. (A)

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