Updated: Oct 14, 2020
TaxiPoint caught up with Shaun Bailey to discuss his plans for the London taxi trade ahead of the capital’s Mayoral election in May 2021.
In an exclusive Q&A, Bailey details how he would open up access, support Knowledge students and make black cabs an integral part of the transport network.
In your opinion what core values does the licensed taxi service bring to London?
London’s black cabs are iconic — an integral part of London’s identity.
They’re a safe, reliable way to travel. They’re part of this city’s history. So I want to make sure they’re part of this city’s future.
That means we need a collective of skilled and professional drivers.
We trust black cab drivers more than we trust almost any other people in London. We trust them with children, with property, knowing that anyone in a black cab is safe.
And that’s because of the strong values and knowledge that cabbies have. Talking to cabbies, you hear how rightly proud they are of the Knowledge and black-cab vehicle standards. These must never be lowered.
But here’s the thing. Sadiq Khan has ignored the concerns of cabbies for too long — whether that’s shutting down access to roads or failing to offer any financial help.
So as Mayor, I’ll work with cabbies to support their iconic trade, provide the infrastructure they need to make a living, and get London moving again.
What improvements / changes could be made to the service offered by London’s cab drivers and fleet owners?
The Mayor’s job is to provide a transport network that’s fit for a global city. So I’d like to see more electric black cabs on our roads. They’re good for the environment and they’re good for London.
The problem is that electric cabs are expensive. So we need to offer cabbies financial support — something Sadiq Khan just isn’t doing.
That’s why I’ll offer every single cabbie an interest-free loan to buy an electric cab. This should help more cabbies make the switch and help clean up London’s air.
Would licensed taxis be part of the integrated transport network in your Transport Strategy if elected?
Of course. Licensed taxis are as much a part of our transport network as the tube and the bus. It would make no sense to ignore that.
So I’ll work with cabbies and the LTDA to make sure my transport strategy represents the needs of our cabbies.
For example, I’ll reverse the decision to lower age limits on reselling diesel cabs.
Sadiq Khan wiped millions of pounds of value from diesel black cabs by lowering the age limit to 12 years. I’ll reverse that decision and bring it back up to 15 years.
Should licensed London taxi drivers have access to all bus lanes and bus gates in London?
Without a doubt, I’d like to see licensed taxi drivers have more access to bus lanes and bus gates.
We’d need to look at how to do it safely and without disruption. But yes — my aim would be to open up more of London’s roads to licensed cabs.
The fact is that black cabs are accessible, so they help people of all backgrounds to get around — in particular the disabled. So we should be making it easier, not harder, for black cabs to keep people moving.
A public or private service? How would you view the licensed taxi industry if elected?
Black cabs are London icons. So they are an integral part of our public transport system.
As Mayor, I will put black cabs at the heart of the Mayoral Transport Strategy to restore the rightful prestige of the trade.
The number of licensed taxi drivers, fleet vehicles and Knowledge students are dropping at an alarming rate. How will you aim to reverse this trend if elected as Mayor of London?
Black cabs are integral to the economy of London. They keep people moving in one of the busiest cities on earth.
So we absolutely need to encourage more people into the trade. As Mayor, I’ll do everything I can to ensure young people see the black cab trade as a viable career.
That means working with schools and colleges, helping to get the conversation going on why the black cab trade is a good career option.
I’ll also introduce a grant and scholarship to encourage more younger people to take the Knowledge test.
And for those wanting to learn about the trade first hand, I’ll develop a black cab driver-shadowing scheme.
Transport for London has for some time called for powers to place a cap on the number of taxi and private hire licences available in the capital. Is this a policy that you would continue to support as Mayor of London?
The number of licences given out by TfL has gone far beyond what’s sustainable.
So as Mayor, I’ll work with the Government to secure powers for City Hall that let us cap the number of private hire vehicles operating in London.
That way, we’ll cut the number of private hire vehicles and help cabbies make a more sustainable living.
As Mayor of London how would you support the continued greening of London’s black cab fleet?
Electric black cabs cut pollution. So it seems pretty obvious that we should have more on our roads.
But cabbies need financial help to switch — and Sadiq Khan isn’t offering any.
On top of that, the infrastructure just isn’t there at the moment for electric cabs. Sadiq Khan promised 3,500 charging points but he delivered just 65.
So to support the continued greening of London’s black cab fleet, I’ll offer every single cabbie an interest -free loan to switch their diesel cab for an electric one. And I’ll work with the LTDA to identify where rapid- charging points can be installed — for the exclusive use of black cabs.