Four in five taxi drivers ‘PUT OFF’ servicing demand in LTN areas for fear of fines and closed roads
Around four in five taxi drivers are put off looking for passengers or accepting e- hail bookings in areas that have controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) restrictions.
In a short survey we conducted online, 82% of cabbies said they steered clear of
LTN restrictions for fear of being fined, getting stuck in heavy traffic and a lack of knowledge circumnavigating the complex new networks.
In London, taxi drivers singled out LTNs in Islington, Hackney and the City of London as the areas they are most likely to give a wide berth. At a time when taxi customers are facing shortages of available black cabs in general, the number of taxis choosing not to service areas leaves the most vulnerable in the community with slim transport options.
One taxi driver said accepting app bookings, despite being relatively close as the crow flies, is no longer viable. The driver said: “The issue with accepting e hails in LTNs is difficult. Much like why a driver on Oxford Street wouldn't accept one technically 0.2 miles away on Dean Street. By the time you get there, likelihood will be the passenger won't be.”
Another example can be seen in Islington where a booking request handed to a cab driver only a few hundred yards away on Duncan Terrace can take the driver EIGHT minutes to arrive at the pick-up on a clear run.
Another cab driver said: “Our knowledge becomes redundant as there’s only one way in and out of certain places. Just sitting in traffic is not good for driver or punter.”
It’s not just the time it takes to get to passengers that pushes cab drivers away.
The complex new road networks have left emergency services, delivery drivers and
other commercial vehicles lost trying to find ways to access their desired destination. Taxi drivers are sadly no different. Many drivers no- longer look for passengers requiring their services in LTNs due to the risk of being fined.
According to one cabbie it’s “not worth the £65 fines if you make an error. Especially with dreadful signage”.
Another added: “Simply not worth the hassle and risk of a fine. So sad to have to think like this.”
Highly trained black cabbies are also now relying on their passengers to help navigate through the new maze of roads. A taxi driver said: “Obviously I take customers there if asked, but frequently rely on their local knowledge to get close by due to road closures, horrendous signage etc.
“My heart sinks when hailed and asked to go Islington or Hackney.”
The impact on local communities struggling to hail or book a taxi has far reaching consequences. Wheelchair users and residents with mobility issues rely on taxis to transport them to work or hospital appointments. The option of walking or cycling is not a reality for everyone within such dense and diverse LTN communities.
Brian Leveson, a resident in the Tottenham area and surrounded by two LTN schemes, relies on black cabs to transport his severely disabled 16-year-old son to hospital appointments and vital social activities. He has become increasingly frustrated at the lack of coverage available to him.
Leveson said: “For my son, I can ONLY use London's fleet of black cabs as they are accessible, covid-safe and fully accessible to wheelchair users.
“For my daughter, because of the caring needs of my son, I use 'black cabs' instead of 'the taxi of mum and dad', because my son cannot be left alone, so we are caring at night, not ferrying our daughter about.
“Recently, I have found it more difficult booking cabs for both my daughter and my son.
“For trips with my son, in his wheelchair, I frequently cannot get a cab to pick him up after his "club" after school on a Thursday. This means he and his carer are waiting up to half an hour. I've had the same on a Saturday when I take him to the special needs cycling in Finsbury Park. One Saturday in September I waited an hour! I was using the taxi card.
“As I have already explained, my son requires 24/7 care as he is paraplegic and has seizures. I can't be driving a car and giving him the care and attention, he needs at the same time. It would be infinitely more dangerous than using a mobile whilst driving!
“I would also say that the introduction of the Stoke Newington LTN has added at least five pounds to our Great Ormond Street Hospital journeys.”