London taxi drivers want to become part of the solution, not the problem, during the next stages of the COVID-19 recovery says LTDA.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) have contacted several key transport figures, including the London Mayor and Deputy London Mayor, to discuss and clarify what access taxi drivers will be granted during planned road closures in central London.
Last week, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Transport for London (TfL) announced plans to transform parts of central London into one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world. The drastic measures are thought to be necessary to enable safe social distancing as lockdown restrictions are eased and also help aid an increase in people walking and cycling.
As part of the Mayor’s Streetspace scheme, some streets will be converted to walking and cycling only, with others restricted to all traffic apart from buses. Streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo and Old Street and Holborn may be limited to buses, pedestrians and cyclists to help boost safe and sustainable travel.
Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge are expected to be restricted to people walking, cycling and buses only, with pavements widened to enable people to safely travel between busy railway stations and their workplaces. TfL is however looking into providing Zero Emission Capable taxis with access to both these bridges, and other areas where traffic is restricted.
However, with only 3,400 zero emission cabs licensed in the capital, taxi representatives are vigorously stressing the importance for all 19,000 purpose built and partitioned taxis to be given the rights for access.
Like many industries, work levels have dropped to unsustainable levels since the outbreak swept the UK. Income support for London’s self-employed cabbies ends this month leaving many anxious over their futures.
Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, said via Taxi Magazine: “Our argument is simple, the same rules should apply to these schemes as apply to the Congestion Charge - buses, taxis and wheelchair accessible private hire vehicles should be given access to them all.
“We are positioning ourselves as ‘ready to help’ and have suggested a variety of ways we could assist a vastly restricted bus and tube network to move large numbers of Londoners, many of whom cannot walk or cycle.”
McNamara added: “With the raising of the congestion charge fee to £15 and the extension of operations to 7 days (and up until 10pm), there are endless possibilities for us to move more people - but only if we are allowed access.
“Excluding us from key parts of the Metropolis simply means we become part of the problem rather than the solution we should be.”
McNamara also floated the idea of fixed price fares during the emergency measures saying: “Fixed fares from the train stations to key destinations are a possibility if we are given access to the restricted streets and can dodge the traffic.”
Image credit: LEVC