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Oxford Street and Bank Junction closures: The LTDA speak

Today the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association released a statement stating how it would focus on challenging both the Oxford Street and Bank Junction closures. 

Earlier this week the London Mayor announced he was considering closing the western end of Oxford Street from Orchard Street to Oxford Circus to all traffic. LTDA officials are asking both members and those associated to the trade to take part in a short consultation period and highlight these key areas of concern: 

Increase traffic congestion in surrounding streets.

Have a negative impact on air quality in the surrounding area.

Have a detrimental effect on traffic movements in a much wider area.

Create a sterile unwelcoming space that could fundamentally change the character and feel from that of a vibrant busy metropolis to that of a 1960's faceless New Town.

Increase accessibility issues for the mobility impaired.

Remove the 'door to door' service so highly valued by visitors to London.

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the LTDA said "This is yet another threat to our livelihoods and our ability to simply do our jobs and move around freely. Unfortunately, this scheme has lots of powerful supporters and the vast majority of responses to the initial consultation were supportive of the scheme. 

"The LTDA will shortly be launching a social media campaign to try and persuade more people to support our position and object to the proposal. We will also be engaging specialist traffic consultants to carry out a full professional analysis of the likely impact of the proposal which we hope will assist us in proving the detrimental effect the scheme will have and assisting us in challenging it at every opportunity." This survey follows similar action recently undertook at the Bank in support of the campaign to allow taxis to access the closure there. 

LTDA consultants undertook a "detailed analysis" of the evidence submitted by the City of London Corporation in support of their experimental scheme (ETO), alongside measurement of local traffic conditions, journey times and taxi availability before and after the trial. The taxi trades biggest driver association will be presenting this report to City Alderman and various committees in the COL shortly, in support of the trades request that they trial the inclusion of taxis within Bank Junction, alongside cycle and buses, so the impact can be properly assessed and a solution found that meets the needs of all road users. Steve McNamara explained briefly the results of the Bank analysis "The data relied upon by the City of London Corporation as its evidence base for the ETO was collected in 2014 and undertaken by CH2m. The data concluded that there were a total of 5,897 licensed taxi movements through Bank Junction in 2014. Data collected by the LTDA in 2017 prior to the commencement of the trial showed that the number of journeys had in fact dropped by 40.60%. 

However, the Corporation did not undertake more recent modelling prior to the trial starting, and therefore relied upon an evidence base which was out of date. The findings expose how the traffic modelling and projections made to justify the exclusion of taxis from the junction are flawed, given that they are based on now-of-date survey results and an overestimation of volume of taxis which ordinarily would use the junction. 

The conclusions drawn from analysis of the data cannot be considered to be sound. Data gathered in September 2017 found that there had been a 49% reduction in taxis in the wider Bank area, reducing the availbility of taxis to transport users (including vulnerable users who rely on the accessibility of a taxi to get around) and causing serious damage to the industry in an area of London in which there is high demand.

Although three new taxi ranks have been established by the City of London in close proximity to the junction on Princes Street, Cornhill and Queen Victoria Street as an attempted mitigation measure, we believe that these have a negative impact on traffic movement in the area. They force taxis to undertake a potentially hazardous U-turn movement to avoid the junction, negatively impacting traffic speeds through the area. Journey times for taxis travelling through the Bank area have increased by 22% on average. The ETO has contributed to an increase in congestion in the wider area, presenting a significant safety issue, in addition to making travelling in the City of London less convenient.

The LTDA concludes, on the basis of the evidence gathered to date, that the continued exclusion of licensed taxis from Bank Junction is unjustifiable and has had harmful consequences on both the taxi trade and the local transport newtwork in the City of London."

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