Demonstrations against the Taxi trade’s exclusion from the Olympic Games Lanes
The United Cabbies Group recently held a series of meetings with representatives from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and Transport for London (TfL).
The purpose of these meetings was to discuss the concerns of our members and how exclusion from the Games Lanes will affect thousands of taxi passengers including those visiting the capital for the Olympics.
Some of these Lanes will be nearside (kerbside) and we were advised during the meetings that we will be unable to enter these lanes, to set-down or pick-up passengers. We have urged LOCOG, ODA and TfL to reconsider their position on this as it will have devastating consequences for both taxi passengers and drivers. It was further disclosed that the nearside lanes, which are converted bus lanes, will still allow access to all other bus lane users i.e. buses, motorbikes and cyclists, with taxis being the only exception to the normal bus lane policy.
When asked, LOCOG, ODA & TfL advised that we should simply “do our best” to set-down and pick up passengers at the nearest available place. This is a lack of understanding on the behalf of LOCOG, ODA and TfL in relation to how taxi journey’s work, particularly for those passengers with mobility impairments or other disabilities. London Taxis are the only 100% wheelchair accessible vehicles in the London Transport network and TfL frequently refer to this when questioned about accessible transport.
It should be noted that whilst all other sectors of the public transport system have demanded bonuses for doing their jobs during the games, the London Taxi trade has only ever demanded the right to go about its business without any increase in fares. In fact, two demonstrations were carried out last year by the United Cabbies Group, to quash any suggestion of a proposed 20% fare increase during both the Olympic & Paralympic Games.
Whilst agreeing with us in principle, LOCOG, ODA and TfL have refused our request for access to the games lanes and therefore we felt we had no option but to ballot our members. We received an overwhelming majority vote, giving us a mandate to take action.
We have therefore planned a series of demonstrations on the following dates:
- 17th July 2012, at 2pm – Parliament Square, Whitehall and Trafalgar Square
- 23rd July 2012, time and venue to be announced
- 27th July 2012, time and venue to be announced
We wish the Olympic & Paralympic Games to be a complete success and fully back our Team GB athletes, however in order for us to successfully carry out our duties as Taxi drivers we demand full access to the Olympic Games Lanes.
We are pleased to announce that John Mason Director of Licensed Taxis & Private Hire has advised us that Transport for London are now conducting a review of Nearside Games Lanes.
We believe that this is as a result of representations made by the United Cabbies Group and comes less than 24 hours after the announcement of our series of planned demonstrations.
We are pleased that TfL are taking on board our concerns, when we have been made aware of the outcome of this review we will consider our options.