Taxis and cabs will be stopped at random for safety checks by a new squad of City Hall inspectors – even when passengers are on board.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was creating a team of 109 Transport for London officers with police-style powers to check drivers’ licences and carry out vehicle inspections.
He said it would give passengers confidence they were travelling in safety.
However, the Mayor’s office admitted that it could mean short delays for people rushing to airports, stations or appointments.
Checks could cover insurance, inspecting the driver’s licence or photo ID, and examining the vehicle for any fault.
In some cases, a driver caught breaching rules could be barred from going further.
A spokesman insisted passengers would not be left stranded, saying: “We will help the passenger arrange an alternative private hire and will wait with them until it arrives.”
The Mayor said the new powers were needed to help deal with the rapid growth of the capital’s private hire industry, which has seen an increase from 59,000 licensed drivers in 2009/10 to around 113,000.
Mr Khan said: “The majority of taxi and private hire drivers provide a good and safe service for Londoners, but drivers who haven’t got a valid licence or are breaching the terms of their licence shouldn’t be on London’s streets.”
Fines will not be issued on the spot. Vehicles will be stopped both at random and if faults can be seen, with officers deployed on an “intelligence led basis”.
The new scheme was trialled at Heathrow, with over 800 vehicles checked.
Six or more of the new Taxi and Private Hire Compliance Officers (who are trained under the Community Safety and Accreditation Scheme) can cordon off a ‘stop’ area to pull over a vehicle and undertake safety checks.
City Hall has said stops will be carried out as quickly as possible so if there are any passengers on board, they are not held up unnecessarily.
If a driver fails to stop it is an offence under the Road Traffic Act and could lead to a criminal conviction.