Updated: Nov 13, 2022
Londoners are unlikely to see the tight taxi turning circle scrapped, but fresh debate within the taxi trade has surfaced as discussions on how to make black cabs cheaper to buy rumble on.
The iconic turning feature, synonymous with the capital’s black taxi, is seen by some drivers as too expensive and restricts vehicle options. On the flip-side, many others see the feature as a unique selling point that distinguishes the trade from private hire services.
According to Transport for London (TfL), approximately 50million U-turns are performed by London taxis each year. A further 90million ‘tight-turns' are performed on an annual basis too.
The Conditions of Fitness are intended to ensure that all taxis operating in London are safe and fit for purpose.
In 2002, the Public Carriage Office (PCO) undertook a full review of the Conditions of Fitness which was completed in June 2003.
Some changes were made while other conditions remained the same. Three aspects were challenged by Allied Vehicles Limited, one of which included the turning circle requirement.
Following research, it was decided to retain the turning-circle requirement.
Speaking in December 2005, Roy Ellis, Head of the PCO, said: "After a comprehensive review, it was found that the tight turning-circle produced tangible significant benefits to the travelling public, and that these outweighed the advantages of removing it.
"Allied Vehicles alleged that the retention of the turning-circle requirement led to fewer taxis, higher fares, less suitable taxis for the needs of the disabled and the unavailability of safer and more comfortable taxis, to the disadvantage in general of passengers and drivers alike.
“The facts of these alleged disbenefits were not borne out by the research undertaken.
"Approximately 50m U-turns and over 90m other tight turns are performed by London taxis each year.
"If these U-turns were replaced by multi-point turns and other alternative complex manoeuvres, this could cause delay and impede other road users.
"Overall, during this review, both passengers and drivers preferred the existing London Taxi."