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Q&A JAMES THOMSON: Progress being made to get black cabs back through Bank Junction



The campaign to get black taxis back through Bank Junction is ‘gathering momentum’ according to a prominent city councilman.


James Thomson, Deputy Common Councilman for the Ward of Walbrook and Chair of the City of London Police Authority Board, highlighted a growing call within the City of London's governing bodies to reassess the restrictions currently limiting black cabs from operating at this key financial district intersection.

Recent discussions within the Court of Common Council and the Planning and Transport Committee have initiated accelerated efforts to gather necessary evidence to potentially lift these restrictions. A comprehensive report is expected by June 2024, with hopes to see changes implemented by Spring 2025, although the outcome remains uncertain.


TaxiPoint caught up with James Thomson, to learn more about the Cab Across Bank campaign (CAB) which aims to get taxis back servicing the Bank Junction area.

SINCE THE CABS ACROSS BANK CAMPAIGN FIRST LAUNCHED, WHAT HAVE BEEN THE KEY MESSAGES RECEIVED FROM TAXI USERS IN THE CITY?


“There has been very strong concerns expressed about the lack of availability of black cabs in many parts of the City of London, especially the area around Bank Junction. There is also frustration around short journeys that historically could have crossed Bank or used Bishopsgate where restrictions are doubling short journey times and in some cases doubling costs. As an example, a mobility challenged person arriving into Liverpool Street Station faces a really difficult journey to London Bridge Hospital for treatment. Passengers leaving The Ned Hotel who may be mobility challenged or be travelling with heavy bags face similar problems if they need to travel to the east of the City.


“Cabs Across Bank has heard from many elderly and disabled passengers who have been disadvantaged in this way. We have heard from one disabled secretary in a City firm who after many years of working in the City is having to look at getting a job elsewhere. Overseas visitors to the City of London, simply don't understand why they can’t get a taxi and have easy journeys like they would do in Paris or New York. We have heard of business owners who are considering moving their businesses from the City to the West End as a result. The lack of availability is of also real concern to women working late or wanting to take a black cab home at night.”


WHAT ARE THE MOST NOTABLE CHALLENGES FACING TAXI DRIVERS IN THE CITY?


“We have seen a decline in overall numbers of black cab drivers and the restrictions at Bank Junction and Bishopsgate in particular mean that drivers are increasingly avoiding the City of London. That is evident in the lack of availability to hail cabs on the street and it is also supported by online booking data.


“Given the more limited supply of black cabs, the City of London should be making more attractive for black cabs to ply for hire in the City not more difficult. We have made some small steps including removing restrictions on Cheapside, support for taxi marshalling at Liverpool Street and the new taxi rank outside The Ned Hotel which is well used. But these just don't go far enough.”


WHAT STAGE IS THE CAMPAIGN AT CURRENTLY AND WHAT EARLY PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE?


“The campaign is gathering momentum and there have been several debates at the Court of Common Council and also at the Planning and Transport Committee of the City of London. As a result, work is being accelerated to gather evidence to determine whether restrictions should be lifted on black cabs at Bank Junction. I am expecting a report back to the Court of Common Council by no later than June 2024 and - if successful - to see a lifting of restrictions by Spring 2025.


“The outcome of the review is far from certain and it is really important that evidence continues to be gathered and support for the Cabs Across Bank campaign is maintained. Social media posts have had somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million impressions and that is getting noticed and there has also been some mainstream press interest.


“I must thank all those that are supporting the campaign, including TaxiPoint, the LTDA and United Cabbies as well as all drivers and passengers that have written to Cabs Across Bank.”


WHAT CAN TAXI DRIVERS, TAXI USERS AND COMMUTERS IN THE CITY DO TO HELP THE CAMPAIGN?


“Drivers, passengers and users are urged to visit the www.CabsAcrossBank.London Campaign website and to email CabsAcrossBank@gmail.com to submit their concerns and experiences. This is providing real hard evidence necessary to support the lifting of restrictions on black cabs 24/7/365 across Bank Junction.”

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