Updated: Dec 2, 2020
The Mayor of London ‘cannot definitively say’ how much a restricted taxi ride would cost around the controversial Bishopsgate Bus Gate.
Sadiq Khan, the current Mayor of London, was quizzed on the price of a taxi travelling from the capital’s busy Guy’s Hospital based in south London, to one of London’s busiest railway stations, Liverpool Street Station.
The question came following new traffic restrictions on Bishopsgate and Gracechurch Street in the City of London which are in operation on weekdays between 7am and 7pm. The gates only allow through access to buses and cyclists, and not the capital’s iconic taxi service.
London Assembly Member David Kurten asked the London Mayor via a written Mayor’s Question Time question: “Given that taxis cannot now travel along the whole length of Bishopsgate, what is the alternative route from Guy’s Hospital to Liverpool Street Station which taxis must take, and what is the taxi meter cost and journey time for the proposed route?”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, responded saying: “There are usually a number of routes that taxis could take between any two destinations. This could vary, for example, by the time of day or planned works on the road network. As such, the route below may not be the only route that a taxi driver could take.
“From the north of Guy’s Hospital, a driver might proceed north across London Bridge, turning right into Eastcheap and then approaching Liverpool Street station via Aldgate and Camomile Street.
“I cannot definitively say what the cost or journey time for the above route would be, as taxi fares and journey times will vary depending upon the time, and day, when a journey is made. Different taxi tariffs rates also apply at different times of the day and on different days of the week. Fares are based upon the distance travelled and time taken, so if a longer route is taken or there are delays, then the fare will be higher.
“Transport for London publishes some example fares for the different tariffs rates and distances at tfl.gov.uk/taxifares.”
According to TfL the ‘Streetspace’ scheme was introduced, along with other London boroughs, to create more space for people to walk, cycle, scoot or wheel to help manage the coronavirus pandemic.
Temporary cycle lanes and wider pavements are among the changes implemented throughout the capital. The capital’s transport regulators hoped that the new scheme would also prevent an increase in car use to enable deliveries, emergency services and essential vehicle journeys from becoming gridlocked.
However the controversial new measures have been criticised by politicians and disabled groups.
Earlier this month Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, Rupa Huq, said that the number of changes made to roads within the capital has “completely invalidated” the world’s toughest taxi exam; the Knowledge of London.
During a parliamentary debate on 4 November, MPs discussed the impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes put in place by a number of local authorities.
Theresa Villiers, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet, was first to spark debate over the negative impact some of the LTNs are having, especially on the taxi trade.
Villiers said: “Does the hon. Lady agree that a number of the changes that have been made have a really negative impact on the taxi trade? The licensed taxi is one of the most accessible forms of transport. If we block it out of key routes such as Bishopsgate, we make it more difficult for people with mobility issues and disabilities to get to the places they need to get to.”
A leading disability group has also expressed their disappointment at the lack of provision for disabled travellers using the new Bishopsgate Bus Gate scheme despite receiving assurances from TfL.
Transport for All (TfA), an organisation for disabled and older people dedicated to championing the rights to travel with freedom and independence in London, described the plans as “incredibly disappointing”.
The disability group published a statement in July which conveyed their disappointment at not being consulted before the changes were designed and that no provision was given to wheelchair accessible taxis and Blue Badge holders despite assurances from TfL.
London’s licensed taxis, who since 2018 have invested nearly £200million into 3,500 zero-emission vehicles to clean up the capital’s poor air quality as requested by the Mayor of London, have been banned from using the bus gates forcing some passengers to pay far higher metered fares and increase journey times.
A Transport for All (TfA) spokesperson said via an open statement: “Sadly, despite assurances from TfL that access through Bishopsgate would be maintained for disabled people, there is no specific provision. Blue badge holders and black cab taxis will be under the same restrictions as all other non-bus motor vehicles.
“These include two bus-only gates at the north and south ends of the road which will not permit any cars or taxis through between the hours of 7am-7pm Mon-Fri, together with a series of Banned Turns restricting movements in the surrounding side streets.
“We know this is incredibly disappointing news for our disabled members who live or work in this area.
“TfL have assured us that they are monitoring the situation, so we urge you to please get in contact with us with any problems that arise as a result of these changes. The more detailed evidence we can build up, the better.
“We fully support attempts to reduce pollution, promote active travel, and avoid a car-based recovery. However, far more needs to be done to ensure that disabled people are not negatively impacted by these changes, in an increasingly hostile and difficult transport system.
“Disabled people were not consulted before these changes were designed and implemented, but will once again have to feedback with problems after they arise.”