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Heathrow Airport taxi rank should be open to all cabbies who want to work it, says taxi group General Secretary

Updated: Jul 9

The General Secretary of the United Cabbies Group (UCG) believes every London licensed taxi driver should have the right to work Heathrow Airport’s taxi rank if they want to.

Heathrow Airport, hosting the city's largest taxi rank, can accommodate up to 500 cabs at any time. To service the hub, taxi drivers must register with the airport and obtain a 'tag' device, granting access to the feeder park leading to the airport ranks.

In 2019, Heathrow implemented a 'one in, one out' policy for new taxi drivers. This policy means new drivers can only get access tags when existing drivers relinquish theirs. Consequently, new drivers face long waiting lists, relying on others leaving to gain access to the ranks.

This policy’s fairness has now been questioned, especially given the drop in the number of licensed taxi drivers. In 2019, there were over 20,000 'All London' licensed cabbies. This number has since declined to just over 15,499. With fewer drivers in the industry, some argue it is time to reopen the ranks to all, rather than maintaining restrictions.

Trevor Merralls, General Secretary of the UCG, said on X: “The UCG’s policy on this is unequivocal. Every GB (green badge licensed taxi driver) who wants a TAG should have one.”

Critics argue that the current system restricts new drivers from accessing one of the busiest and potentially most lucrative ranks in the capital. While the restriction might have been necessary during times of higher driver numbers, it is now seen as outdated given the significant reduction in licensed cabbies.

Reopening Heathrow's ranks to all could help balance the supply and demand for taxi services both at the airport and in central London. With travel and tourism recovering post-pandemic, ensuring a robust availability of taxis could enhance passenger experience and reduce waiting times both at the airport and on the streets of London, placing cabs where demand is highest.

Many new cabbies drop off at Heathrow and are forced to drive empty back into central London due to a lack of access to the rank. Opening the rank to all drivers could make the industry more efficient and reduce unwanted ‘dead mileage’.


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