August 3, 2011
A ban on cabbies using the 100-mile VIP road network at the 2012 Olympics could bring about a massive blockade by London’s 25,000 black cab drivers.
Although the temporary measures are unlikely to mean drivers putting up the taxis for sale sign, operators say the move will disrupt business and mean more expense for passengers.
“There will be a huge problem getting people where they want to go,” said Richard Massett of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), adding: “and we will have to deal with the customers’ frustration. We will be stuck in jams and for taxi customers, fares will soar.”
The taxi ban also applies to both private hire and black cabs. Transport for London (TfL), which will operate the VIP lanes, has offered dedicated drop-off and pick-up points at Olympic venues. But cab drivers say they won’t be able to reach them since lanes will only be open to officially accredited vehicles.
Other restrictions, such as bans of right-hand turns and U-turns on key routes during the Games, are angering the drivers.
In 2008, black cab drivers brought the UK capital to a standstill when they drove en masse to central London in a dispute with private hire taxis.
The LTDA say a repeat of that protest could be on the way. As a result of the restrictions huge parts of London will become “no-go” areas for taxis and their passengers.
The Olympic lanes form part of the £25 million Olympic Route Network which will be exclusively for 82,000 members of the ‘Olympic family’ and emergency vehicles.
Transport expert Tony Travers commented: “It’s clear that TfL thinks it has been dropped in it by the ODA and taxi drivers and members of the public are still a long way from understanding what’s going to happen to them.”
Meanwhile, a TfL spokesperson commented: “We’ve held constructive talks with the LTDA and have agreed to some concessions not to impose restrictions which would have affected their routes.”