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BISHOPSGATE BAN: Time to put ‘money where their mouths are’ if TfL values black taxi trade says LTDA

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

Now’s the time for Transport for London (TfL) and City Hall to put ‘their money where their mouths are’ if they truly value the capital’s taxi trade and the crucial role it plays, says taxi trade representatives.

The frustrated comments follow TfL’s announcement that it will be making its controversial scheme on the A10 Bishopsgate permanent, despite strong opposition from London’s taxi industry. The scheme, which was introduced in August 2020 as a response to the pandemic, aimed to improve covid distancing and safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users.

Among the changes implemented were new restrictions on vehicles and publicly hired black taxis using the road on weekdays between 7am and 7pm, wider footways to facilitate social distancing, and banned turns along the corridor. TfL claims their data shows faster bus journey times and safer cycling experiences.

However, the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA) has expressed disappointment with TfL's decision. In a statement, the LTDA acknowledged that they had engaged in discussions with the Deputy Mayor for Transport and the new TfL Commissioner regarding the scheme. They argued that licensed taxi access could have been reinstated without compromising the efficacy of the scheme.

The LTDA also pointed out that the situation on London's roads has changed significantly since the introduction of the bus and cycle-only corridor. They argued that the current restrictions are no longer warranted and not fit for purpose.

The taxi reps expressed major concern that political considerations and a desire to maintain a strong stance may have influenced decision-making at City Hall. They called on TfL and City Hall to demonstrate their commitment to the taxi trade and its important role by taking action.

In a Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) statement it read: “We are extremely disappointed by TfL's decision to keep the existing restrictions in place on the Bishopsgate Corridor.

"Trade representatives have had a number of meetings with the Deputy Mayor for Transport and the new TfL Commissioner in which this scheme was discussed at length and there was a clear and strong case for reinstating licensed taxi access, which could easily have been done without undermining the efficacy of the scheme.

"The situation on London's roads has changed dramatically since this bus and cycle-only corridor was introduced, following the first Covid lockdown. The restrictions in their current form are no longer warranted and are not fit for purpose.

"Restoring taxis access would have improved the accessibility of the area, responded to the concerns of local businesses about declining taxi availability and helped address shortages of taxis at Liverpool Street Station, which TfL itself has expressed concern over on numerous occasions since the scheme was introduced.

"With more than 3500 fewer toxis on the road than when the restrictions were first introduced, giving taxis access to this vital arterial route would not have caused any significant disruption to traffic flows, and with just under half the toxi fleet now zero emission electric taxis, it would have little, if any, material impact on the wider aims of improving air quality and reducing emissions.

"Sadly, it seems political considerations and a desire not to be seen to back down at any cost, were once again the driving force behind policy making at City Hall.

"If TfL and City Hall value the taxi trade and it's crucial role, as much as they say they do, it's time they put their money where their mouths are.”

In August 2020, TfL introduced a series of temporary changes along the road in response to the pandemic, which were designed to make it safer and easier for people to walk, cycle and use public transport. The changes implemented included new restrictions on vehicles and taxis using the road on weekdays between 7am and 7pm. Wider footways were also constructed along the corridor to ensure social distancing and a number of banned turns were introduced along the road.

The changes were heavily opposed by the licensed taxi industry as access through Bishopsgate at peak times diminished. It was argued that wheelchair users and other disabled passengers were now forced to take longer and more expensive routes around the Bishopsgate bus gates. The action resulted in a Judicial Review of the plans.

Despite initially winning the case, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision and ruling in TfL’s favour in the summer 2021.

TfL led data suggests that the changes have played a ‘vital role in supporting sustainable travel along the corridor’.

Last year, TfL launched a public consultation into the future of the scheme on the A10 Bishopsgate and if it should be made permanent and received more than 2,150 responses from cyclists, cycling lobbying groups and other members of the public.

The decision to make the changes permanent will be followed by short-term upgrades to improve the streetscape, as well as further safety and public realm improvements in future years.

Helen Cansick, TfL’s Head of Healthy Streets Investment, said: “We're determined to ensure that people can walk and cycle safely across the capital and our data suggests that the changes we’ve made along Bishopsgate have played an important role in promoting healthy and sustainable ways of travelling in London. As a result of our bold changes here, it has become much safer for vulnerable road users, and bus journey times have reduced.”


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