TfL will work with the taxi industry during the “detailed design” of new Streetspace, says regulator

London’s transport regulator says they will work with the taxi industry during the “detailed design” of the new Streetspace network as COVID-19 lockdown measures ease across the UK.

Earlier this month, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Transport for London (TfL) announced plans to transform parts of central London into one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world. The drastic measures are thought to be necessary to enable safe social distancing as lockdown restrictions are eased and also help aid an increase in people walking and cycling.

A TfL spokesperson spoke to TaxiPoint, saying: “We are looking at whether zero emission capable taxis could have access to the new zones for pedestrians, cyclists and buses.

“We will work with the taxi trade as part of the detailed design of the schemes and will provide more detail on proposed vehicle access in due course. Individual boroughs will decide access to their roads.”

There are 3,400 zero emission cabs licensed in the capital and taxi representatives are vigorously stressing the importance for all 19,000 purpose built and partitioned taxis to be given the rights for access.

Like many industries, work has dropped to unsustainable levels since the outbreak swept the UK. Income support for London’s self-employed cabbies ends this month leaving many anxious over their futures.

As part of the Mayor’s Streetspace scheme, streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo and Old Street and Holborn may be limited to buses, pedestrians and cyclists to help boost safe and sustainable travel.

Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge are expected to be restricted to people walking, cycling and buses only, with pavements widened to enable people to safely travel between busy railway stations and their workplaces.

Disabled taxi users are also concerned with the restricted access proposed. A lack of access to large parts of their immediate home and work place communities has caused worry for some.

Broadcaster, public speaker and disability campaigner Samantha Renke, took to social media saying: “If a taxi can’t pick me up from my street I won’t be going to work paying taxes - isn’t that what everyone wants disabled people to do pay taxes instead of being a ‘burden’ on society!”

Renke added in a further tweet: “Black cabs are one of the only ways I can travel independently safely and maintain my autonomy. I’m not the only disabled person.”

Steve Norris, a former MP and Transport Minister, was also heavily critical of the Deputy Mayor of London’s announcement that the capital “can’t afford a car-based recovery”. Norris replied to Heidi Alexander’s tweet saying: “This is not a wise approach. An anti-car policy is neither practical nor effective. When we’re sensibly avoiding public transport the idea that we can all walk or cycle is absurd. Less sloganising, more thinking needed.”

If the London taxi industry are to be denied road access, metered journeys could be longer, fares more expensive and areas inaccessible during the emergency measures. A spokesperson from TfL told TaxiPoint: “TfL will undertake an equality impact assessment on taxi access, which will inform the final decision. The plans are being developed so that accessibility to these areas is maintained.”

Image credit (taxi): LEVC

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