The London Mayor “has failed the black cab trade” according to a leading London Assembly Member.
Conservative Assembly Member, Susan Hall, suggested that Sadiq Khan has failed the industry on multiple fronts. Ranging from failure to accept the concept of allowing where buses go taxis should go, a failure to provide enough electric taxi charging points and for “abandoning drivers” who planned their livliehoods around a 15-year vehicle age limit.
In the latest edition on TaxiPoint UK, Susan Hall AM told TaxiPoint: “It is an understatement that transport in London is going to look very different in six months to how it looked six months ago. Currently bus and Tube capacity is around 20% of where it was in January. Even as we move out of lockdown this seems unlikely to drastically change. Plus, even if and when the rules change, it may be a long time before commuters are comfortable travelling in the sort of close proximity that used to be the norm.
“These changes have far-reaching implications that I don’t intend to cover here. Instead I will limit my focus to what the implications for black cabs might be under Sadiq Khan and what they should be. As the current Mayor makes huge changes to central London’s roads, whilst claiming those changes to be both temporary and necessary, it is vital that we do everything possible to highlight and push back against mistakes that will damage the black cab trade and damage London.
“I am sure that no one reading this article needs a reminder of why black cabs are so vital to London. They are an iconic, world-renowned service. A safe, secure, reliable option for Londoners who need to be sure they will get where they need to go. Black cabs are vital for many less mobile Londoners, ensuring that users can get precisely where they need to go. For those in a wheelchair, who are often let down by inadequate step-free access on trains or the Tube, black cabs are a Godsend.
“It is clear that Sadiq Khan has failed the black cab trade. From failing to accept the concept that where buses go taxis should be able to go, to pushing drivers to switch to electric vehicles whilst failing to provide anything like enough charging points, to the scrapping of the 15-year rule and effectively abandoning drivers who had planned their careers and livelihoods around it, this Mayor has shown contempt for black cab drivers. So what should happen instead?
Hall AM continued saying: “First it is worth looking at the opportunity for taxi drivers. With around 80% of those who used to travel in London via public transport unable to do so, there is a need to find alternatives. Some Londoners will be able to work from home, others will be able to switch to riding a bike (at least in the Summer months) and still others may travel via motorbike or electric scooter.
“However, with the best will in the world, those options will not cover the gap. Black cabs should clearly have a role to play, particularly in transporting more vulnerable or less mobile Londoners and making sure that our great city doesn’t grind to a halt.
“However Sadiq Khan is yet again putting obstacles in the way. His decision to close off significant parts of central London to private cars might make a certain amount of sense, but failing to allow all taxis – whether electric or diesel – to go where buses go is an horrendous error. It means that parts of Central London become completely inaccessible to those who cannot travel by public transport or by bike. Whether this was by design or because the current Mayor doesn’t think through the consequences of his decisions is hard to say.
“Either way, Sadiq Khan should immediately reverse course. He should recognise that his current policies are failing the black cab industry, failing Londoners and failing London. Until he does – or until next May when he can be replaced as Mayor – my GLA Conservative colleagues and I will continue to do all we can to highlight these failings and push him to think again.”