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Unshackling London's Black Cabs: Councilman makes call to lift Square Mile restrictions

James Thomson, Deputy Common Councilman for the Ward of Walbrook and Chair of the City of London Police Authority Board, recently made his latest compelling case for supporting black cab access in the Square Mile of the City.

In a statement shared on social media, Thomson drew an intriguing parallel between two of London's most iconic symbols: the Elizabeth Clock Tower, commonly known as Big Ben, which commenced construction in 1843, and the regulation of Hackney Carriages, now known as black cabs, which dates back to 1654. Despite their rich histories, Thomson highlighted the current plight of black cabs, emphasising the urgent need to eliminate the restrictions placed on them within the City of London, advocating for unrestricted access all year round.

A Divided Capital: Open Westminster vs. Restricted City of London

Thomson highlighted the stark contrast between the open streets of the City of Westminster and the restrictive policies within the City of London, particularly at key locations like Bank and Bishopsgate. He argued that lifting these restrictions is not just a matter of convenience but also a critical step toward ensuring women's safety, fostering economic growth, promoting equality, and maintaining London's status as a premier destination. Describing the situation as "a tale of two cities", Thomson called for common sense solutions to revitalise the Square Mile.

FREENOW Data Reveals Disparity in Service

Supporting Thomson's call for action, recent data released by taxi app operator FREENOW unveils a significant disparity in the service levels experienced by passengers and drivers between the Bank Junction area and a bustling West End location. The analysis, specifically requested by TaxiPoint, lays bare the challenges that come with the heavy restrictions imposed on black cabs in the Bank Junction area.

Key insights from the study include:

  • A 20% lower pick-up rate at Bank Junction compared to the vibrant West End during peak hours (7am-7pm).

  • Journeys approaching or within Bank Junction are consistently longer in distance, affecting both peak and off-peak hours.

  • The driver cancellation rate for rides heading to Bank Junction is double that for Shaftesbury Avenue during peak times.

  • The average fare for trips starting or ending at Bank Junction is notably higher, by £3-£5, compared to other areas.

  • Regardless of the time of day, rides to Bank Junction involve longer distances and passengers face approximately one minute longer wait times.

These findings starkly illustrate the operational difficulties and diminished service quality at Bank Junction, reinforcing Thomson's plea for reform. By addressing these restrictions, London can better serve both its residents and the countless visitors drawn to its historic and financial heart, ensuring the legacy and viability of the black cab industry.


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