PHV (Minicab) drivers are incensed by the recent steps by the Mayor of London and TfL to make them pay the London Congestion Charge while licensed taxis will continue to receive an exemption. That and the proposed ULEZ charges will threaten the livelihoods of minicab drivers who are relatively poorly paid already. Many will have to give up and end up out of work.
They are supported by the Independent Works Union and have issued a “pre-action” letter to Mayor Sadiq Khan, prior to the launch of a judicial review.
They are also claiming that as most minicab drivers are BAME (black, coloured or from ethnic minorities) while most taxi drivers are white, this is indirect discrimination.
Comment: Such drivers are certainly incensed by this proposed change as I saw at a recent meeting I attended (see https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2019/02/12/cab-driver-protests-escalating/ ). There does not seem to be any rational reason for treating one set of cab drivers different to another, particularly as the likely impact on the number of PHV drivers in central London is not forecast to change much, which was the justification for the change. It will of course affect some drivers much more than others.
I wish them the best of luck with a judicial review although these are not easy legal proceedings (I have been involved in more than one), and depend on a lot more than the moral arguments.
Could it perhaps be about money rather than traffic congestion, or principles?
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Boris Johnson is planning to cap the number of minicabs in London. Along with the growth of usage of cab hailing apps such as Uber, the use of minicabs has been rising rapidly in the last couple of years. This is allegedly contributing to worse traffic congestion. For example the number of licensed minicabs has grown by 20% in the last year to reach 78,000.
A Uber spokesperson was quoted in the FT as saying “It would means higher prices, fewer jobs and would actually result in more congestion as people resort to using their own car again in the City”.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, who represent black cab drivers, supported the move. They have been very critical of the rise of minicabs, and pursued a court action to challenge the legality of the use of booking apps.
Boris Johnson is also looking to ban rickshaws which clog up streets in the evenings in Central London and are a potential hazard, but does not currently have the legal powers to do so. He is looking to the Government to assist on that.
Meanwhile the head of Britain’s largest minicab company, Addison-Lee, has attacked the new licensing regime for taxis that will apply from 2018 (as part of the plans for the ultra-low emission zone). This requires all taxis to be zero-emissions capable by 2018. Mr Griffin of Addison-Lee says the vehicle types required to meet this legislation do not exist – which in essence probably means electric only vehicles, not hybrids.
Comment: if a limit is placed on London minicab licenses, surely they will just be based outside of London and drive in when required. It is not clear how this legislation can be easily enforced unless cabs from outside London are to be banned. Of course this is one of the unintended consequences of the London Congestion Tax (a.k.a. “Charge”), which encouraged people to switch to buses, taxis and cycling. All three create more congestion and the first two are usually more polluting than private cars – which is why we still have a NOX problem.