Unlikely lawsuit aside, the mayor had no other option but to make minicab drivers pay the C-Charge
Our trade has bumped along with the local minicab operators and trade in London since the 1960s. It was never a friendly relationship but we had our role and they invented one for themselves at the bottom end of the market. Then all this changed with the arrival of the big app operators with big budgets and an even bigger attitude.
Their arrival pretty much decimated the existing minicab trade across the suburbs, although surprisingly in some areas the bigger and better run established minicab firms have continued to dominate and Uber’s market penetration is minimal to non-existent. With this came a massive explosion in the number of minicabs and with it the massive problems of increased congestion and pollution.
The Congestion Charge was first introduced at the same time as the minicab industry was being licensed for the first time and as an incentive to speed up licensing applications, licensed PHVs were offered an exemption to the C Charge whilst they had a passenger on board. In the first few years the numbers entering the zone averaged around 4,000 per day, fast forward 18 years and the figure is now around 18,000 a day and the level of congestion is clear for all to see.
Every single report on road congestion produced over the last four years clearly identifies the number of minicabs as a major contributory factor. While the Government still refuses to give Mayor Sadiq Khan the power to cap minicab numbers and citing his ability to use the Congestion Charge to control the problem, it’s hardly a surprise he is withdrawing their exemption from April 8. At the same time any diesel minicab that is not Euro VI (roughly anything prior to a 65 plate) will also have to pay the T charge making a grand total of £36.50 a day, so its not a shock to learn that the minicab trade is up in arms.
Even though they are livid they pretty much recognise that they don’t have a leg to stand on, they are causing congestion and they are contributing to London’s atrocious air quality. Grasping at straws they have decided they will try spinning it into a race argument, quoting that 85% of taxi drivers are white whereas 94% of minicab drivers are from a BAME background! They fail to mention that 100% of taxis are wheelchair accessible, the mayor sets our fares and makes us drive a £65,000 vehicle and that we are “compellable” so that if asked to take a passenger into the congestion charge area we must comply. Minicab drivers do not have to accept any hiring.
If they do they can charge what they want, and if drivers are properly controlled, as the minicab industry is meant to be, operators can utilise and maximise the use of vehicles already in the CC zone. This will limit their exposure to the charge and reducing the number of vehicles unnecessarily entering the zone, which is what the mayor is trying to do.
Image: Steve Punter (Licensed WikiMedia)