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THE LONDON TAXI TRADE 2022: Retrofits, cycle lanes, record work levels and return of tourists


Image credit: LEVC

On the whole, you’d have to be a pretty hardcore 'doom and gloomer' to say anything other than that 2022 has been a very good year for the taxi trade, when it comes to work levels.


I’ve had a little look back over the past 12 months and how they’ve treated our trade.

Conversions for Christmas?


One of the most asked questions this year, has been from those drivers urgently seeking the Euro V to VI conversion. I had hoped to have some news before Christmas. Unfortunately, the only news is that TfL are continuing to drag their heels, with yet more tests and data being requested and every other unnecessary hurdle being placed in its path. This is despite the fact the system is approved elsewhere and the company have converted TfL buses with similar systems. It would seem, when it comes to TfL’s needs and wants, it’s all good, but for us, it’s not good enough. Even with the cost-of-living crisis and the well reported tough times ahead, TfL are all bah humbug. Trouble is, it’s not just at Christmas.


Common sense prevails


Some good news came later in the year, when we finally got to see the back of the ridiculous Euston Road cycle lane. Wouldn’t you know it, with the removal of the cycle lane, the 24/7 congestion we had witnessed since its inception, evaporated. Wait, was that not meant to be the other way around?

Talking of cycle lanes, this past year failed to deliver on the one thousand percentage increase in cycling used to justify the multiple cycling schemes foisted on us. According to TfL data, which in my view is about as trustworthy as my other half ’s estimation of when she’ll be dressed and ready to leave the house, there has been just a 21 percent increase so it’s unlikely it will reach anything near the huge figures predicted, any time soon.


Told you so


This year was another bad one for Uber and those that had facilitated the app's rise, with the leaking of the Uber files. These files vindicated our trade and our prolonged campaign for a fair and level playing field, by proving their unethical lobbying and how corrupt practices played a major role in allowing its rise. Uber is no longer the threat it once was to our business, but it was nice to have our ‘I told you so moment.’


The end of WFH (mostly)


The upturn in work levels was of course helped by the fact the working from home (WFH) revolution – the one that some claimed would continue be all the rage and 'the new normal', has, as I said many times in this publication, proven to be utter rubbish. That is of course unless you’re the staff at TfL, which just like the civil service, seems to have decided that they will continue to mostly work from home. Just like with the civil service, with delays to passports, driving licences and numerous other crucial services, we are seeing unnecessary delays at TfL. What was once a single email to resolve a problem, now requires several. That along with an upturn in drivers’ documents (sent to TfL in good time) going missing. These are no doubt either sat on an empty desk or lost in transit from TfL HQ to someone’s spare room.


Strong work levels


No covid lockdowns this year meant London has finally begun the task of getting back to normal. It would of course be doing a much better job of that, if we didn’t have blinkered agenda led politicians putting unwanted and unneeded barriers in place.


So, no lockdown, but we did start the year with plan B restrictions, which were an annoyance and meant the year started off a bit slower than we would have liked or than it should have been. I believed and said in January that we would quickly bounce back from plan B and sure enough work picked up and has gone from strength to strength. On the whole, you’d have to be a pretty hardcore doom and gloomer, to say anything other than 2022 has been a very good year for the trade, when it comes to work levels.


We’ve also seen record job numbers at Heathrow airport, with a 400% increase on last year. Every month since April has seen a new monthly record set, since records began in 2010. It has not been as easy to monitor work levels at mainline stations, but rudimental surveys done at stations have also shown much higher work levels. The received calls from passengers and station staff asking for taxis would also bear that out.


Return of tourists


Tourists are returning to London, but they are still short of normal levels. Perhaps, that’s not too surprising with our main airport, Heathrow, unable to service the usual passenger numbers and putting a cap on arrivals, as they have struggled to recruit staff following pandemic lay-offs, even with better wage offers. This should improve throughout 2023, further boosting tourism from overseas.


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