TFL: ‘KEY YEAR’ for black cabs if the capital wishes them to be part of the ‘ICONIC IMAGE OF LONDON’
London regulators described 2022 as a ‘KEY YEAR’ for the London taxi industry in their bid to recover from the pandemic and building back on driver numbers within the industry.
There were also discussions around the long-term viability of the taxi industry and future of black cabs in the capital if they London wishes them to be part of the ‘iconic image of London’.
On 9 March 2022, Transport for London (TfL) Finance Committee met to discuss whether to approve a new black cab taxi tariff to help cabbies meet rising costs.
Graham Robinson told the panel sitting on the committee and other attendees that included Andy Byford, TfL Transport Commissioner: “It does feel like it is going to be a key year, where we will need to monitor how London will recover and the impact on the private hire trade and how that’s going to balance out. That is something we are going to monitor.”
The meeting saw taxi fares in London increase 5.51% during daytime tariff rates in a bid to help the industry cover rising fuel and running costs.
Black cab prices between 10pm and 5am were frozen, but amendments to the starting meter rose by 60p across all tariffs.
Ben Story, Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee shared his worries that escalating fuel prices will need to monitored: Story said: “I’m just conscious of how fuel prices are rising potentially really dramatically, so I think we might find that we have to review this more quickly.”
The committee were concerned that if fuel prices continued on its rapid growth in the next few weeks the tariff increases agree could be ‘overtaken by events’.
Later in the talks the panel agreed to review and report on how fuel costs are impacting the taxi industry in six months times.
There were also concern raised over the declining numbers of taxi drivers available to the public and for its long-term future by the Chair of the meeting Anne McMeel.
McMeel said: “There is something about the future of black cabs and if we want them to be part of the iconic image of London then we need to look at our overall policy is over black cabs going forwards.”
McMeel also added her concerns around the impact of declining bus lane access, Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes and rising congestion that she said “could send the price of a taxi zooming through the roof, even for relatively short journeys”.
The Chair queried how TfL were trying to ‘synchronise policies’ and whether there were things TfL can do to actually lessen the problems.
Andy Byford, Transport Commissioner, responded: “We have very regular dialogue with the taxi industry and also the Private Hire (industry), including myself. I meet with them on a scheduled basis, Helen Chapman, our expert and Director in this area, has very, very regular dialogue.
“When we do look at things like bus lanes, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, cycle lanes, etcetera we do factor in, and take account of, the potential impact on taxis because like you I recognise the iconic nature, of in particular black cabs, it is for me the best cab service in the world. The cabs do place a very vital part in London’s transport offer.”