Approaching a working rank only to find it blocked by unattended vehicles is a real red rag to taxi drivers.
Gary Snewing, Ranks Manager, explains: ‘This is one of the main problems at ranks because it causes a multitude of complications. If the rank is full because of unattended vehicles it means other taxis have to drive by. Also, drivers leave vehicles not just at the head or back of the rank but in the middle as well, which means the other taxis have to keep driving round them: it’s basically stopping the flow forward on the rank.’
According to Edgerton Rodgers, TfL’s Compliance Resource Manager, it’s an increasing problem across the network, but especially at suburban and central London ranks. Between 1 January and 31 December 2017, 982 taxis were reported for being unattended on a rank.
‘We will send our compliance officers to areas where the trades and other sources have told us there is a problem,’ explains Edgerton. ‘Officers will take action against private hire vehicles found working or left unattended on a rank and report the drivers of unattended taxis, which can result in warning letters being issued. Repeat offenders will ultimately have their fitness to hold a licence reviewed. I would encourage drivers to continue to report any non-compliance information to us so we can be made aware of any issues impacting the legitimate trade and improve the service for customers wanting to use ranks.’
Although there are problems with members of the public and private hire vehicles stopping on ranks, unattended taxis are also a cause of concern. Gary says: ‘One of the biggest gripes we get from taxi drivers is about other taxi drivers leaving their taxis unattended on suburban ranks.’
At a recent meeting with Redbridge Borough Council, TPH was told about problems at two ranks that had six unattended taxis sitting on them for more than an hour. This meant there were no taxis available on any the ranks to pick up passengers. ‘This is very frustrating for working taxi drivers,’ explains Gary. ‘Also, if local authorities see the ranks being misused like this they become very reluctant to give us more ranks in the future.’