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Bus lane taxi access will remain under review after outcome of judgment appeal, says London Mayor

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

Transport for London (TfL) will keep the issue of taxi access in bus lanes under review including after the final outcome of the appeal against the Judicial Review judgment, says London Mayor.

The news comes as the capital’s transport regulator awaits a final decision as to whether they can challenge a landmark Streetspace access ruling in which the scheme was deemed ‘unlawful’ by the High Court earlier this year.

As part of the detailed judgment in January, Mrs Justice Lang underlined a series of failings by TfL and the Mayor, describing their decision-making process as “seriously flawed”, with the decision to exclude taxis being based on “superficial” and “inadequate evidence”.

The Judge noted that denying taxis access to London’s roads could have “severe consequences” for passengers who cannot walk, cycle, or use public transport and that “the needs of people with protected characteristics, including the elderly or disabled”, were “not considered”, before the Plan was announced or the Guidance published.

The Court also found taxi drivers had a legitimate expectation that they would be able to access bus lanes to ply for hire effectively, which had been unlawfully breached in the case of Bishopsgate. This expectation was supported by TfL’s own Bus Lane Policy, which asserts that taxis “fulfil demands that cannot be met by the bus, train or tube”, and by previous Mayoral statements on the importance of taxi access to bus lanes.

Lawyers for the Defendants argued breaching this expectation was justified by the pandemic, but Mrs Justice Lang found it “unfair and contrary to good administration to use the pandemic as a justification for restricting taxis access to bus lanes”.

Finding the treatment of taxis was irrational, the Judge described excluding taxis as an “ill-considered response”, which “sought to take advantage of the pandemic” to push through “radical changes” which “far exceeded what was reasonably required”.

TfL sought permission to appeal the Judgment from Mrs Justice Lang, but were not granted permission to do so on the grounds that there was “no real prospect of success on appeal”, or “other compelling reason why the appeal should be heard”.

TfL are now awaiting a decision from the Court of Appeal to see whether they can challenge the ruling.

As a result of this judgment, Keith Prince, a Conservative London Assembly Member, asked the Mayor via a written question: “Will the Mayor review past taxi exclusions from bus lanes to ensure correct and lawful decisions were taken?”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, responded: “Taxis are able to use the vast majority of bus lanes on the Transport for London Road Network, in line with the Bus Lane policy. Exclusion is only considered because of safety concerns or significant operational issues for buses. Transport for London (TfL) has successfully worked with taxi trade bodies over the years on improved bus lanes access, which has further increased the proportion where taxi access is already allowed.

“TfL is confident that past decisions have been made in accordance with the policy. The recent Judicial Review judgment did not consider the 2007 Bus Lane policy unlawful or question the criteria for allowing taxi access as set out in the policy.

“TfL will keep the issue of taxi access in bus lanes under review including after the final outcome of the appeal against the Judicial Review judgement.”


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