Don’t do your fellow cab drivers a ‘disservice’ by creating unofficial ranks, was the message to taxi drivers as over-ranking and ‘pop-up’ ranks come under scrutiny from all angles.
As coronavirus lockdown measures continue to ease, the London taxi fleet also begins to grow. Drivers looking for work are currently parking up after designated rank space handed to them outside large railway stations and retail areas.
Whilst work levels remain lower than normal, cab drivers have felt compelled to form longer ranks or new ranks in what they perceive to be busier areas.
In a message to taxi drivers, a spokesperson from Transport for London (TfL) said: “We’ve been made aware of instances of over-ranking at taxi ranks, including at Oxford Street, London Bridge, Harrods and Kings Cross. Over-ranking causes congestion, road safety concerns and accessibility issues for wheelchair users and people with mobility impairments.
“Licensees are reminded that in some cases over-ranking can result in a Penalty Charge Notice.”
Speaking on the topic of one particular taxi rank outside the popular retail store Selfridges, a spokesperson from the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) said drivers working ‘pop-up ‘ ranks away from official rank areas are doing cabbies a ‘disservice’. The LTDA also warned that the action could also put rank space at risk.
An LTDA spokesperson said in the latest TAXI newspaper: “We have received many calls from drivers that are working at Selfridges on the official taxi rank regarding changes which are negatively impacting our business. In order to reopen safely, shops like Selfridges have had to implement limits on the number of people entering to enable them to adhere to social distancing guidelines set out by the government. Many big stores like Selfridges have also implemented one-way systems with signs on the floor for their customers to follow when shopping.
“To facilitate this, Selfridges has recently changed the way people enter and exit the store. People can still enter the store where the official taxi rank is currently located, but must now exit further down Oxford Street near Duke Street.
“Determined to try to catch a fare coming out of the shop, drivers getting back to work are creating an unofficial rank at this location. Drivers doing so are not only doing their fellow cabbies, those who are playing by the rules and using the existing rank, a disservice, but are also putting the future of our ranks in the area at risk. At this difficult time, we should all be working together to ensure the trade can recover and get back to where we were before the pandemic.”
The LTDA spokesperson continues: “The unofficial rank has caught the attention of Westminster City Council (WCC) and the Council has also raised the matter with TfL.
“WCC have tried to help by extending the rank, but there is still no clear sightline from the present exit back to the rank, thanks to a series of bus stops. People leaving Selfridges would also need to walk back up the street more than 100 metres to spot it, which it seems they are not doing. This is undermining what was a busy rank, with strong passenger demand and a great place to find a reliable fare before the pandemic.
“To address this issue and ensure potential passengers are aware of the rank and continue to use it, we are putting directional taxi rank signs outside the new exit and will continue to work with Selfridges and WCC to ensure that passengers can find a taxi easily in the area.”