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Low number of students starting the Knowledge of London is industry’s biggest threat says RMT rep

Updated: Apr 18, 2021

Image credit: Bruno Martins (Upsplash)

The biggest threat to the London taxi trade is the falling numbers of Knowledge students says one taxi trade representative.

The comments follow a tough time for the taxi industry not only in London, but throughout the UK due to the impact of COVID-19. Since March 2020, when the first pandemic restrictions were announced, the trade has seen thousands of vehicles delicensed and work levels have hit record lows.

TaxiPoint asked Paul Bond, Chair of RMT London Taxi Branch 0930, what the biggest threat to the taxi industry in London was and what can de done to counter the threat. Bond also gave his opinion on how he sees the industry recovering as restrictions are eased.

Paul Bond responded: “That's a big list, but it must be the lack of applicants for the Knowledge of London (KoL). Without that we will just whither away. I don't know the latest age demographic for the trade but it must be 55-60 plus, that figure will be in the back of the minds of politicians and policy makers as they might think 'well in five years the cab trade effectively ceases to be a pan London service but a niche market'. That way they retain a sham of a Two Tier system, but 95% of the work goes to Private Hire (PH). Of course we all know the reasons why people are not signing up, it is astounding that TfL don't know why people are not signing up!

“The cause of lack of applicants is weak PH regulation, millions of pounds of PH lobbying and perhaps the trade resting on its laurels in the past.

“Failing to defend our working practices by not pressuring regulators and politicians locally and nationally hasn’t helped the industry either. It’s important that PH doesn’t impact our well established hail and ranking. All we can do is hammer away and look to engage people to our cause.”

Paul added: “I don't see normal levels coming back for some little while yet, certainly not until Autumn as a minimum. International travel with little or no restrictions has to return, along with theatres running to full houses and the suits coming back to the City in good numbers.

“We will have some permanent changes as 'working from home', for at least part of a week, becomes the norm. Of course this may be offset by the reduction of numbers in the taxi fleet, but my first answer isn't favouring that as the remedy.

“I also see supporting Cooperative taxi only apps as a key way of winning back work, the 'commercial' ones just seem to use us to build a client book to sell on.”


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