Review black cab and taxi services in London
by Ben Rogers
In selecting these, we have identified policies that are:
- Significant ideas that would make a substantial contribution to tackling London’s challenges;
- Practical – could be introduced over the next four years, before the next election;
- Cost-neutral – could be introduced without significant increased spending
- Innovative – new ideas that have yet to be widely proposed;
- Broadly devolutionary – in keeping with our belief that Parliament should continue to devolve more responsibility to the GLA and downwards to local government.
PROPOSAL #9 THE NEW MAYOR SHOULD UNDERTAKE A FUNDAMENTAL REVIEW OF CAB AND TAXI SERVICES IN LONDON.
It might seem strange to argue that we need a fundamental review of London’s taxi and mini cab service. After all, London black cabs are internationally recognised icon, and a byword for reliability.
Yet the whole cab sector feels increasingly outdated. The rules that allow black cabs to drive in bus lanes but not mini-cabs – rules that have been publicly challenged by John Griffin owner of Addison Lee - are one of the many oddities. London transport is now increasingly cashless, yet most taxi drivers still demand cash. New technology should maker it easier (and cheaper) to share cabs, yet black cabs remain apparently untouched by the age of ‘collaborative consumption’. New technology should also make it easier to integrate London’s cab services with public transport. There could be big gains for instance, for passengers and the public purse, in creating an Oyster Card that could be used in cabs. Yet possibilities of integration are not being seriously explored.
Finally, the rise of sat -navs must at least raise the question: do we still need the Knowledge or is this just an increasingly unjustifiable barrier to entering the cab market, so making London’s taxi service one of the most expensive in the world?
True, it will be a brave mayor who undertakes a fundamental and independent review of cab services in London. Black-cab drivers are one of the most powerful of all lobby groups in capital – not least because of their power to bend the ears of their hapless passengers. The mayoral manifestos go out of their way to praises the taxi service and offer nothing by way of challenge. But a brave mayor is what London needs.