Updated: Jun 5
London's Licensed Taxi Driver's Association (LTDA) Chairman Paul Brennan has voiced his concerns about the number of minicabs on London's roads and the apparent lack of action from Transport for London (TfL) to tackle the problem.
In a column with TAXI Newspaper, Brennan raised the question of why TfL is spending millions on reducing pollution and controlling traffic while at the same time, licensing so many minicabs.
The LTDA Chairman highlighted the fact that there are currently enough minicab drivers licensed in London that every 87 Londoners could share their own driver. "We are probably getting close to all Londoners’ having their very own TfL licensed personal chauffeur, in the form of a minicab driver," Brennan said.
Brennan suggested that this saturation of minicabs on the roads is having a significant impact on congestion, air pollution and road safety, and that TfL should address this issue urgently.
He speculated that TfL may be reluctant to address the problem, as the licensing of minicabs is a significant source of revenue for the transport authority.
London has one of the largest private hire markets in the world, with more than 110,000 licensed drivers in the city. The rapid growth of ride-hailing services such as Uber has meant that there are now more minicabs on London's roads than ever before.
While TfL has made efforts to tighten regulations around the private hire industry, critics argue that more needs to be done to control the number of minicabs on the roads and address the wider issues of pollution, congestion and safety.
Brennan wrote: “You have to wonder if anyone within TfL has had the bottle to voice the obvious question, ‘if we don't want unwanted car traffic on our roads and we're spending millions of pounds closing roads doing research and development on road pricing, all under the guise of reducing pollution, why the hell are we licensing so many minicabs?’
“Clearly, either no-one has or if they have, they’ve been told to keep quiet, as TfL probably need the money that’s rolling in from those licences.
“Here's a fact that should shock anyone – right now, in London, there are enough minicab drivers licensed that every 87 Londoners could share their own driver, that's how oversaturated we are with minicab drivers.
“If you then factor in the totally accurate and without any recourse statistics, showing how millions of Londoners’ now cycle, following the 10-fold increase in cycling, then that would mean that many of those 87 people would never need to use a minicab (as they are supposedly cycling everywhere now), so we are probably getting close to all Londoners’ having their very own TfL licensed personal chauffeur, in the form of a mini cab driver.
“Obviously, that last paragraph is very much written in jest, but that astounding statistic that there is a minicab for every 87 Londoners’, is as about as far from being funny as you can get. Yet I hear nothing about the obvious impact that must be having on all the things TfL claim to be wanting to change like congestion, air pollution and road safety.”