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LTDA: Cabbies steering clear of London’s Square Mile prompts 50 percent less taxis during evening

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Concerns are beginning to surface as taxi drivers continue to steer clear of London’s Square Mile, prompting 50% less coverage during evening hours.

Campaigning for a return to 24-hour taxi access through one of the capital’s most iconic road intersections, Bank Junction, has long been a topic of hot debate.

In a recent survey conducted by the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) it was discovered that 87% of respondents said that the restrictions around Bank Junction had affected how they work in the area.

When probed further, 30% of these drivers said that they ‘avoid the Bank area completely’ if they can and a worrying further 35% said that they ‘avoid the City of London altogether and never ply for hire there’.

With 65% avoiding some or all of the City of London completely, that has meant fewer cabs available, longer waits for passengers and a poorly served and increasingly inaccessible Square Mile.

The LTDA suggested this month that officials are now concerned at taxi availability as taxi drivers flock to other more profitable areas of the capital with less road restrictions allowing for easier access.

Paul Brennan, LTDA Chairman, said in TAXI Magazine: “I have now spoken with several City of London officials, who have relayed to me the very real concerns they have about falling taxi volumes. This follows a recent report which confirmed what we already know (and exactly what I had told them would happen), that the number of taxis operating in the Square Mile has plummeted.

“I warned City of London representatives on a number of occasions, that if the rollout of road restrictions for taxis continued then taxi availability would drop. Some within the City probably shouted ‘hurrah, that’s exactly what we want,’ but I was clear that this would cause a number of serious issues.

“According to the report I've seen, there has been a 20 percent reduction in availability during the day and during the evening, a 50 percent drop. Confusingly, the same report also stated in one place that taxi volumes in the City, are 'at or close' to pre-pandemic levels at times. No doubt this is true at one or two of the 30 odd monitoring points used, perhaps on the outskirts of one of the zones with taxi restrictions in place it could possibly have shown that?

“It was put to me by more than one of the City officials I've spoken with recently, in various meetings and working groups, that they had been told it might be because taxi drivers are all old men. The implication of this was that they are all at home with a cup of cocoa in the evening, that explains the drop-off in the evenings.

“Obviously, they put it more politely than that. I pointed out that the age demographics of taxi drivers has not changed in the 27 years that I have been driving a cab, let alone the last four years. Our membership surveys also show this. In fact, the only reason there has been such a big drop in the number of cabs in the City, is due to the fact that it is no longer a desirable place to work for a cabbie.

“I informed them that the significant restrictions imposed on taxi drivers during the day, means that it no longer enters the mind of a driver to go there for work. Why would we go to the City and face the mentally challenging and draining conditions now put before us?

“Drivers go to other areas where restrictions are less widespread, and each journey is not a soul-destroying experience. ‘Yes, but some of the restrictions finish at 7pm’ they say. So what! Do you really think that after avoiding the City all day and making a good living elsewhere in town, we’re suddenly going to think ‘Oh it’s 7pm, I can now enter Bank Junction or use Bishopsgate, come on boys and girls let’s go fill our boots in the City’? Of course not, out of sight and out of mind during the day, leads to out of sight and out of mind in the evening, and if our exclusion from key roads continues this will likely remain to be the case. I don’t have the figures, but I am sure this also goes for boroughs like Hackney, Camden and Islington, which continue to roll out restrictions."


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