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5,000 taxi drivers set to protest in London today over threats to passenger safety and deregulation


Unite Press Release

London taxi drivers fed up with the government’s ‘race to the bottom’ in deregulating the trade, with an adverse impact on passenger safety will be protesting in central London today (Wednesday 10 February).

More than 5,000 taxi drivers are set to protest at what they consider as government bias against the black cab trade and the promotion of private hire firms by ‘light touch’ regulation at the expense of passenger safety.

The taxi trade protest will be held today (Wednesday 10 February) from 14:30 in Whitehall, London, SW1.

Unite, the country largest union representing many of London’s 25,000 taxi drivers, said the issues facing taxi drivers in the capital were mirrored across the UK.

Unite called for standards for the black taxi and private hire sectors to be raised upwards and an end to ‘a race to the bottom’. It claims the recent private hire review in London was influenced by ‘threats’ from business secretary Sajid Javid.

An opportunity to deal with many safety issues associated with the arrival of ‘app’ based private hire operations was missed, said the union.

The union said that in 2008 there were about 34,000 private hire drivers in London and this had now jumped to 96,500 and was increasing by at least 10,000 a year, which meant that the market was ‘flooded’. The rapid increase in the private hire sector has had an adverse impact on air quality and the environment in London,

Chair of the Unite London & Eastern taxi cab section, Jim Kelly said:

“It is clear that the government, London mayor Boris Johnson and the Tory candidate for mayor Zac Goldsmith have all seriously taken against the black taxi trade in London, a taxi trade which consistently comes out top in terms of value and service compared to other cities around the globe.

“We feel that Uber exploits its drivers by using their self-employed status to extract maximum income from them which translates to those drivers working long hours.

“The reduction in safety for passengers because of the ‘light touch’ regime is to be deplored. It is a race-to-the bottom – when in 2016 we want the highest possible standards.

“The London taxi fleet is 100 per cent wheelchair accessible. There is no compulsion on private hire operators such as Uber to provide for these passengers.”

Unite, which is taking part in tomorrow’s demo called on the government for a level playing field. Its demands included:

  • that Uber, which operates self-employed private hire drivers and is based for UK tax purposes in Holland, pays the proper rate of corporation tax in the UK.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web:

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

For Cab Trade News, please contact: Peter Rose,  07903 525 520

Visit: or download the Cab Trade News app for iOS & Android.

TfL Board approves final plans for Mayor’s “Crossrail for Bikes”


TfL Press release

London’s streets will become safer and more accessible for cyclists as the Transport for London (TfL) Board today (4 February) approved plans for the construction of four new cycle superhighways (East-West, North-South, CS1 and the inner section of CS5) and upgrades to the four existing cycle superhighway routes (CS2, CS3, CS7 and CS8) as part of the Mayor’s Cycling Vision.

The schemes, which will cost around £160m to deliver between now and the end of 2016, will help treble the number of cycle journeys made over the next 10 years and transform London’s streets and spaces to places where cyclists feel they belong and are safe.

The Cycle Superhighway programme is essential for improving conditions for the hundreds of thousands of people who are already cycling daily in London, as well as help encourage more people to take to two wheels. The new routes, which in total cross nine boroughs, will further help cycling become an integral part of London’s transport network so that anyone can jump on a bike to get to work, to the shops or to discover London. Work to deliver these schemes will now begin within the next month.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “We know that Londoners want these routes and that they want them to be delivered to the high standard I promised, as quickly as possible. I will keep that promise and spades will begin hitting the ground next month. Thanks to the skill of TfL’s engineers and traffic managers, we have made changes which keep the cycle track and junctions segregated, while taking out much less of the route’s motor traffic capacity. I now look forward to the transformation that these planned routes will bring – not just for people who cycle now, but for the thousands of new cyclists they will attract.”

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “Cycling is clearly now a major transport option in London, with over 170,000 bike journeys now made across central London every single day. These schemes will revolutionise cycling in the capital and further demonstrate how London is leading the way in making its roads safe for all road users. There will, naturally, be some disruption due to these works but we have some of the world’s leading highway and traffic engineers, traffic models and modellers working tirelessly to ensure that this is kept to a minimum.”

Chris Boardman, British Cycling’s policy advisor, said: “This is a fantastic day for Londoners as well as the many million people who visit the capital every year.

“This vision for large-scale, properly segregated cycle ways will make cycling a more attractive transport option, creating a more pleasant, healthy and sustainable London for everyone. The move brings the capital one step closer to creating a true cycling culture to rival cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. But most importantly of all, it will set a standard for the rest of the country.”

Now that the TfL Board has approved the plans, a wide programme of communication and traffic management will be carried out to ensure that these works can be delivered with minimum disruption to London’s roads. This includes further investment in sophisticated traffic signal technology, which allows better management of traffic depending on differing conditions at any given time. TfL will also work with businesses along the route to help manage deliveries in the best possible way, providing advice to enable them to move away from deliveries during the busiest times and help reduce unnecessary congestion across London.

The TfL Board Paper can be downloaded here: .


TfL Press Office

0845 604 4141




Click here to read, Transport for London Ultra-Low Emission
Zone proposal: A response from the trade


Boris Johnson has announced his plans to tackle air quality in London through the creation of an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The ULEZ will operate within the congestion charge zone in Central London and vehicles not meeting the ULEZ standards will be fined. But once again taxis have been disproportionally hit by the proposals, whilst there is no parity in the proposals for private hire with those for taxis. TfL have just finished the consultation process and we are awaiting the outcome to be published in the summer. But it seems certain that TfL are once again going to try to force through a reduced age limit for taxis at a time of immense pressure for taxi drivers.

The main thrust of the ULEZ proposals for taxis is a reduction in the age limit from 15 years to 10 years from September 2020. There will be a requirement that all new taxis presented for licensing from the 1st January 2018 would need to be zero emission capable (ZEC). This would apply to taxis London-wide.

Private hire will retain a 10 year age limit (same as taxis even though taxis are purpose built), and all newly licensed vehicles would need to meet the ZEC requirements, but newly licensed vehicles over 18 months will just need to meet the ULEZ standards of Euro 6 for diesel and Euro 4 for petrol engines. This is clearly wrong and completely unfair on the taxi trade. There should be parity between the taxi and private hire trades over newly licensed vehicles.

A zero emission capable vehicle considered to:

• Utilise plug-in / battery electric technology or equivalent to achieve a maximum output of 50g/km CO2

• Achieve a minimum zero emission range of 30 miles to ensure capability of operating in the ULEZ for extended periods whilst in zero emission mode.

As the ULEZ consultation acknowledges there will be more ZEC vehicles available for private hire than for taxis. So far there are only three taxi manufacturers who could potentially produce ZEC vehicles; LTC, Karsan and Metrocab. The cost of these vehicles is likely to be far in excess of a LTC taxi today and will need to be heavily subsidised by grants from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), not only to pay for the increased cost of the vehicle but to compensate drivers for the loss of residual value on their taxi with the reduction of the age limit. So although there will be more ZEC vehicles available to private hire they will have far less stringent licensing conditions than taxis. This assumes, of course, that ZEC vehicles will be available to purchase in 2018.

Although Unite welcomes the ULEZ consultation and supports better air quality in London, after all taxi drivers are driving in the most polluted parts of London, we believe that taxi drivers are being hit harder than any other group. A 10-year age limit is unnecessary, as NOx emissions could be reduced by other methods, particularly by the availability of grants to increase the take up of new ZEC Vehicles. A 15-year age limit should be retained as a 10-year age limit will increase the financial strain on taxi drivers and lead to over 7,500 taxi being taken off the road in 2020. A minimum grant of £10,000 per driver will be needed to ensure the successful migration to ZEC vehicles along with a network of charging infrastructure to enable drivers to maximise the benefits of owning a ZEC vehicle. Parity between the Taxi and Private Hire trades is essential to ensure that all newly licensed vehicles after 2018 should meet the ZEC requirements.

Having a 10 year age limit would make it likely to be in excess of 12,000 vehicles (almost half of the taxi fleet) that would be upgraded to ZEC taxis from 2018 to 2021. Even this conservative estimate of the number of drivers that would need to purchase a ZEC taxi by 2021 there would need to be grants available of at least £120 million.

From 2018 to 2021 there are likely to be in excess of 12,000 vehicles (almost half of the taxi fleet) that would be upgraded to ZEC taxis. Even this conservative estimate of the number of drivers that would need to purchase a ZEC taxi by 2021 there would need to be grants available of at least £120 million. In addition we would expect drivers purchasing a ZEC taxi for the first time after 2021 to have grants available, as these drivers would have been affected by the 10-year age limit and have lost residual value. This would mean at least another £120 million up until 2028, at which point all taxis be compliant with the ULEZ conditions. This would indicate that over £240 million would be required in grants. This is never going to happen; no Mayor or government is going to guarantee that amount of money so far into the future.

On top of this millions of pounds will be needed for a charging infrastructure to be put in place. To make the most of the fuel savings a ZEC vehicle will bring, the battery will need to be fully charged when the driver starts work. But to cater for every driver a huge network of on-street and home charging infrastructure will be needed. When the cost of this is added to the grants that will be required the amounts become mind blowing. At the moment TfL have no strategy on how they will fund this.

Their plans are ill thought out and are just leading to uncertainty and worry for many drivers. At a time when LTC is picking up production and about to launch a new Euro 6 taxi, TfL are telling drivers that the new, low polluting taxi will only have a 10 year life. So LTC are expected to produce a new taxi that drivers are going to be nervous to buy whilst building a new factory and developing a very expensive vehicle. Nothing TfL does makes sense, but nothing new there.

We cannot accept any reduction in the 15 year age limit. There is no reason for such a reduction, except it is the easiest solution for TfL. There are lots of alternative methods they could use to reduce NOx emissions by 2020. If the Boris persists with anything less than 15 years then he can expect angry drivers, garages and proprietors to want to show him what they think of his decision. His decision will affect every taxi driver he needs to listen to the trade now, or Boris can expect the biggest show of unity the taxi trade has ever seen.

See also…

The Mayor and TfL seek views of the taxi and private hire trade on world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone

LTC press release: Don’t Be Limited By Age

More from Cab Trade News

Unite Campaign Victory: Government Clime-down On Taxi Deregulation

London’s Cabbies Take Their Fight To City Hall

London Taxi Drivers Demonstration 24th September 2014

Join Unite online

Upcoming London Rank Suspensions


Information provided by TfL

Rank number
Start date
End date
Park Street (Grosvenor House Hotel)
07.30, Saturday 17 January 2015
18.30, Saturday 17 January 2015
Whole of the taxi rank to be suspended for a crane operation with a road closure in place.
Taxis to use at the Park Lane (Grosvenor House Hotel) night time rank from 07.30 – 18.30.
Oxford Street (Debenhams)
Sunday 18 January 2015
Tuesday 20 January 2015
Whole of the taxi rank to be suspended from 22.00 – 06.00 (night times only) for removal of the Christmas lights.
Crane operation/road closure.
Embankment Place
08.00, Monday 19 January 2015
17.00, Tuesday 20 January 2015
15 metres of the 3rd portion only to be suspended for carriageway chamber works.
Shelter Fund is aware of these works.
High Street/Mulgrave Road (Sutton Station)
09.00, Sunday 18 January 2015
05.00, Monday 26 January 2015
2nd portion only (Mulgrave Road) to be suspended for facilitate traffic diversion for the High Street improvement works.
Temporary taxi rank located in the adjacent parking bays.
High Road (Lymington Road), Wood Green
Thursday 22 January 2015
Thursday 5 February 2015
Whole of the taxi rank to be suspended for redevelopment works to the High Road.
Oxford Street
(M & S)
22.00, Tuesday 20 January 2015
06.00, Wednesday 21 January 2015
Whole of the taxi rank to be suspended for removal of the Christmas lights.
Crane operation/road closure.
St. James’s Square (N/E Corner)
08.00, Tuesday 20 January 2015
18.00, Wednesday 21 January 2015
Whole of the taxi rank to be suspended for utility work (gas).

Transport for London welcomes judgment from European Court of Justice on bus lane policy



14 January 2015

· Judgment notes TfL policy does not appear to the ECJ to involve state aid nor confer, through State resources, a selective economic advantage

· It is now for the Court of Appeal to decide, taking into account this judgment

Transport for London (TfL) has today welcomed the judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), in Luxembourg, on the case brought by Eventech, a subsidiary of Addison Lee, that challenges TfL’s policy of allowing taxis, but not private hire vehicles, to use bus lanes in the capital.

In its judgment, the ECJ recognised that taxis are distinct from minicabs noting the former’s “legal status, are in a factual and legal situation which is distinct from that of minicabs, and consequently those two categories of vehicles are not comparable”.

The ECJ notes that drivers of taxis are subject to strict standards in relation to their vehicles, their fares and their knowledge of London, whereas those standards do not apply to minicabs.

The ECJ goes on to recognise that only taxis can ply for hire, they are subject to the rule of ‘compellability’, they must be recognisable and capable of conveying persons in wheelchairs, and their drivers must set the fares for their services by means of a taxi meter and have a particularly thorough knowledge of London.  Concluding that in that context, the bus lane policy does not confer a selective economic advantage on taxis.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said:  “Our policy on bus lanes was upheld by the High Court.  We welcome the opinion from the Advocate General and now the European Court of Justice, but ultimately await the decision of the Court of Appeal.  As this process continues we are maintaining our well-understood and effective policy that helps to keep London moving in the interest of everyone.”

In the original Judicial Review proceedings in 2012, TfL explained to the court that taxis are allowed to drive in bus lanes because they can ply for hire, whereas minicabs cannot.  It would be more difficult to hail a taxi, especially on a busy road, if the vehicle concerned was not near to the kerb.  Unlike minicabs, taxis are required to be wheelchair accessible and their ability to use bus lanes is of great benefit to wheelchair users.  Allowing tens of thousands of minicabs to drive in bus lanes would also impact on the reliability of bus services and risk inconveniencing the six and a half million passengers who travel on buses each day.

Mr Justice Burton agreed, noting in his High Court judgment: “There is to my mind a clear distinction between the need of black cabs (and their passengers and the public) for them to be in the bus lanes, by way of visibility and availability of, and access to, black cabs for those hailing a cruising taxi”.

He went on to note: “I consider it makes entire good sense for black cabs to be travelling in bus lanes.  Minicabs just do not have the need to use the bus lane, and black cabs do”.

The proceedings were brought by Eventech, a subsidiary of Addison Lee, against the Parking Adjudicator, which arose from Penalty Charge Notices issued by Camden Council for illegal use of the Southampton Row bus lanes.  Both the London Borough of Camden and TfL were named as interested parties.  The High Court upheld TfL’s bus lanes policy in 2012 and the Court of Appeal hearing took place in April 2013. 

There are around 23,000 licensed taxis in London and approximately 53,000 licensed minicabs in the capital.


New Zealand Police target Uber for taxi metering


Two Auckland Uber drivers are being charged for calculating fares on their smartphones.

By Sophie Lowery  Saturday 10 Jan 2015 6:17 p.m

Uber, the app that links drivers to passengers wanting a ride, must use a set fare and can’t use a taxi meter system.

But the company that runs the smartphone app is claiming one particular police officer is taking an unnecessarily hard line against its drivers.

Carl Thompson is a regular user of Uber. It’s cheap, easy and supposed to be über-cool. But today it wasn’t. His journey was cut abruptly short.

A police officer pulled over Mr Thompson’ Uber taxi for allegedly operating a meter illegally.

3 News knows of at least one other case like Mr Thompson’ from today.

In a statement Uber said: "In recent weeks, a police officer in Auckland has targeted Uber partners in order to […] issue fines claiming that the iPhone is being used as a taxi meter.

"This officer’s actions have also put riders at risk when he ordered them to vacate the vehicles, leaving them stranded at night with no other travel options to get home."

Uber says it’s filed complaints with the Independent Police Conduct Authority for the behaviour it describes as potentially dangerous and unacceptable. It’s also alerted the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Minister for Transport.

But a police spokesperson told 3 News the New Zealand Transport Agency says for Uber to operate legally in New Zealand a set fare or hourly rate must be agreed on at the start of the trip.

If it’s not, and the GPS on the app is used as a meter, the driver can face a fine of up to $2000 under the Land Transport Act.

Uber’s not allowed to use meters because it’s a private hire service, not a taxi company.

Uber has run into regulatory trouble and controversy in the United States and other countries. During the Sydney siege, Uber reportedly increased fares by as much as four times its normal rate when demand peaked as people rushed to leave the city.

But it’s not enough to put off big Uber fans like Mr Thompson.

Read article on the 3 news website with video report:

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