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Bank Junction: London’s taxi industry seeks fair play in looming city access decision

Image credit: LEVC

This week, the City of London’s Planning and Transportation Committee will deliberate on a long standing and controversial restriction placed on London’s fully wheelchair accessible black cabs through Bank Junction.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), representing London’s taxi drivers, passengers, and many City businesses, urges support for an experimental scheme that would restore licensed taxi access to certain routes through Bank Junction.

In a letter seen by TaxiPoint and sent to the City of London, the LTDA argues that an experimental approach is essential for collecting accurate, real-world data to make an evidence-based decision on future access. Restoring taxi access is seen as critical for ensuring that taxis can effectively serve the area, thus making the City more accessible and attractive for businesses and visitors.

The current restrictions, initially not targeting taxis, have had unintended negative consequences for taxi services claim taxi reps. The LTDA stresses that many have overlooked this fact in the heated debate over the years. The Association contends that the current restrictions fail to account for the role of taxis and the specific needs of various groups that rely on them.

The LTDA highlights two main issues:

1. Minimal Impact of Taxi Access: The existing restrictions have made Bank Junction safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and these benefits would not be compromised by granting taxis similar access to buses. Data shows that taxis are among the safest transport modes, with no significant accidents involving taxis at the junction from 2012 to 2015. The City’s current restrictions also disproportionately affect groups who depend on the accessibility of taxis. With 57% of London’s taxi fleet now electric, the LTDA argues that the impact on congestion and pollution would be negligible.

2. Questionable Methodology in the Taxi Availability Report: The LTDA criticises the methodology used in the Taxi Availability Report by WSP, which underpins the recommendation to maintain the current restrictions. The report, it claims, does not accurately reflect how taxis operate and fails to include input from the taxi trade or leading taxi apps. Discrepancies in fare calculations and unrealistic route assessments undermine the report’s conclusions. Real-world tests conducted by the LTDA show significant differences in journey times and fares when taxis are forced to detour around Bank Junction, highlighting the adverse effects on service availability.

The plea from local businesses, disabled members of the public and the taxi industry itself is clear: an experimental scheme is necessary to provide a fair and informed basis for any final decision on taxi access to Bank Junction. Restoring taxi access will demonstrate the benefits without impacting other road users or compromising safety advancements.

A decision will be made at the Court of Common Council on 20 June during a public meeting at Guildhall.


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