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Will Bank Junction finally reopen for publicly hired wheelchair accessible black taxis?

Updated: Jun 18

Image credit: LEVC

After years of controversy and discussion, publicly hired wheelchair accessible black cabs could once again gain full access to the City of London’s vital transport hub Bank Junction.

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), has made his latest compelling case for reinstating taxi access to Bank Junction. This Thursday 20 June, the City of London’s Court of Common Council will decide whether to trial the reintroduction of licensed taxis to the key junction.

McNamara argues that the only fair solution is an experimental scheme that allows taxis to navigate this vital part of the City. He emphasises that the aim is not to compromise the safety and functionality of Bank Junction but to rectify unintended consequences and ensure the area remains accessible.

The restrictions at Bank Junction, introduced to improve safety and traffic flow, have excluded taxis. McNamara points out that these restrictions were not a response to any safety issues caused by taxis. Indeed, before the restrictions, there had been no serious taxi-related accidents at the junction. He stresses that taxis are among the safest transport options in London.

A significant issue highlighted by McNamara is the flawed data used to argue against taxi access. He goes on to criticise a report by WSP, commissioned by Corporation Officers, for not using real licensed taxis in their data collection, leading to misleading conclusions about taxi availability, journey times, and fares. According to McNamara, the routes surveyed were not representative of typical taxi journeys, and the methods used failed to account for taxis' unique access routes and features.

McNamara insists that a trial scheme allowing taxi access will not negatively impact bus safety or journey times. He maintains that restoring limited taxi access will ensure the Square Mile remains accessible to all, including local businesses, tourists, disabled individuals, and those less able to walk or cycle.

The LTDA, along with many local businesses and disability groups, is urging the Council to support the experimental scheme to maintain an accessible and well-serviced City for everyone. McNamara concludes that voting for taxi access is crucial for the continued availability of London’s iconic black cabs and the safe, reliable transport they provide.

McNamara said in full: “On Thursday 20th June, the City of London's Court of Common Council will decide whether to trial reinstating taxi access to Bank Junction. It's vital that the Council votes to move forward to an experimental scheme granting licensed taxis access to this vital junction.

“The only way to solve this very real problem fairly is with an experimental scheme giving licensed taxis access as a key part of the public transport network, relied on by many.

“Over the years we have been campaigning for taxi access to be restored many have lost sight of the facts. This is about fixing the unintended consequences and addressing a specific problem whilst retaining the wider restrictions and benefits they have delivered.

“Restoring taxi access and a safe, pleasant Bank Junction are not mutually exclusive. This isn't about picking between different modes of transport or taking a side, as some will have you believe.

“This is about making sure Bank Junction and the transport network across the entire Square Mile works for everyone, that the City is accessible for all and well-serviced by licensed taxis for those who rely on them, whether that's local business and hospitality venues, tourists, disabled people including wheelchair users or those simply less able to cycle or walk.

“The restrictions were not introduced to address a problem caused by licensed taxis. Before they were introduced, no taxi had been involved in a collision resulting in serious injuries or fatalities. Taxis remain one of the safest modes of transport on London's roads. Restoring limited taxi access to Bank Junction will not have any significant negative consequences on bus safety or bus journey times and the data support this. Licensed taxis can currently pass through the Junction to reach Cornhill via Princes Street and do so safely and without incident.

“There is a very real and serious issue with taxi availability in the Square Mile. Corporation Officers commissioned WSP to collect and analyse data on taxi availability, journey times and fares. WSP's report is deeply flawed and provides a misleading picture.

  • No licensed taxis were used or hired as part of the data gathering.

  • The report includes fares which are impossible on a Taxi Meter, fares go up in 20p increments.

  • The routes surveyed were not routes a taxi would use as they failed to recognise the ability of taxis to use roads such as London Bridge, routes were surveyed in a car using navigation app Waze, which they didn't even think to put in taxi mode, so it did not use bus lanes or other routes open to taxis.

  • The analysis of taxi rank usage is incorrect and based on a flawed understanding of the trade.

  • The taxi app surveys undertaken to determine taxi availability are meaningless as no taxis were actually hired meaning that he waiting times quoted are useless estimates.

  • We also know from real world data that in many cases jobs that are accepted initially are later cancelled as they are unable to be fulfilled in the Bank area.

  • WSP and the Corporation officers did not actively seek any real-world data from the taxi apps themselves or anyone else associated with licensed taxi trade.

“The only fair way to make a final, truly evidence-based decision on this issue is through an experimental scheme restoring taxi access. A trial scheme will deliver significant benefits for the Square Mile without causing any issues or undermining the benefits of the wider restrictions, and the evidence supports this.

“Voting in favour of taxi access will ensure the Square Mile is open for everyone who needs to travel to and through it and will ensure taxi availability for those who rely on London's accessible black cabs to travel safely.”


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