Updated: Oct 5, 2020
Transport for London (TfL) Commissioner Andy Byford has reassured the capital’s iconic black taxi drivers that they will be factored in when decisions are made on any new road traffic schemes that are applied.
The news comes after leader of GLA Conservatives and Chairman of Budget & Audit, Councillor Susan Hall, pleaded for TfL to take into account the important role taxi drivers play within London’s transport network.
Speaking directly to Mr Byford at a London Assembly meeting held on 1 October, Susan Hall, said: “Can I make a plea, please, that if you are looking at buses, can you also look at black cabs. I know they didn’t feature as they should have done in the transport papers, but they really should be looked at.
”There are people that cannot cycle or walk, unable to get on buses, that can get in black cabs, particularly the disabled. So if I can make a plea, if you are looking at how the buses are getting around, can we make sure that black cabs can go where buses go in order to make sure that those who are disabled are looked after by TfL.”
In reply to Susan’s plea, Byford confirmed that the capital’s taxi drivers will be considered in any new road transport schemes, and said that he does consider black taxis as part of the “public transport offer” and there is no intention to treat them as inferior to any other mode of transport offered.
Mr Byford went on to highlight that where they introduced 24 hour bus lanes, taxis have been given access to also use these.
Speaking on any future schemes, Byford, said: “I will reinforce to my team that taxis must be factored in any scheme that we introduce.“
Mr Byford joined TfL at the end of June, taking over the role from Mike Brown MVO, who stayed on until 10 July to hand over to Byford and aid his start in the role. Mike Brown has gone on to take up a position overseeing the renovation of the historic Houses of Parliament.
TfL and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s Streetspace Scheme has seen a number of roads in the capital closed off to all motor vehicles except buses. One which stands out and has raised major concerns from taxi drivers, is the Bishopsgate Bus Gate scheme.
A simple north to south route, and vice versa, which would normally take 10 minutes to drive, has turned into a network of major diversions due to the placement of the bus gate.
In this instance, taxi drivers have been treated like any private vehicle trying to navigate the capital, rather than a mode of public transport, in which bracket it falls under.
Two taxi groups, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) and United Trade Action Group (UTAG), who represent some of London’s black taxi drivers, submitted legal papers to the High Court, challenging Streetspace Schemes which have excluded taxi drivers, including the Bishopsgate Bus Gate decision.
It was confirmed at the end of September that the taxi industry has been granted permission to Judicially Review those exclusions.