Cab Drivers Are Revolting

M@
By M@ Last edited 108 months ago
Cab Drivers Are Revolting

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While not normally the shy and retiring types, London's cab drivers tend to maintain a fairly low profile on matters to do with their trade, keeping things in-house. But on Thursday this week, a 'drive-in' protest will take place in Trafalgar Square .

Organised by the London Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC) and Unite, drivers seek to highlight a number of grievances that have been plaguing the cab trade in recent times. Chief amongst which is the slow muddying of the waters between private hire (mini cabs) and taxis (black cabs).

This issue was brought to a head recently after the Public Carriage Office (PCO) appeared to give permission for a private hire firm, West 1 Cars, to set up a virtual rank in Whitcomb St, just to the west of Leicester Square. Private hire firms have been flouting the law for years now with the introduction of 'clipboard johnnies' outside popular venues, or setting up 'offices' within hotels. This latest turn of events seems to be the straw that has broken the camel's back, and cabbies across the city will mobilise on Thursday.

It isn't just on the roads that cab drivers are getting their act together. John Kennedy (sometime contributor to late night radio on BBC London) has launched London Taxi Cab Public Relations, in an effort to publicise cab drivers' issues and generally promote the cab trade. So be prepared for a full frontal attack over the coming weeks and months. The cab trade is ready for a fight.

By Richard Cudlip. Image by Roll the Dice, from the Londonist Flickr pool.

Last Updated 03 February 2009

mralistair

I have little sympathy, if the public prefer to use minicabs they should be free to. and the black cabs have already pressured the mayors office to ban minicab firms from putting their numbers ont he car (i think london is the only place in the uk where a mini-cab is not allowed to display the booking number) and indeed until recently addison lee was banned form putting the name of their firm on the cars.

If that isn't pure greed-inspired protectionism then i don't know what is.

I don't see why black cab firms don't just set up a decent telephone booking system, surely this would be the answer.

or don't they want to compete fairly?

rjcudlip

"Greed inspired protectionism"? I don't think so. A form of protectionism perhaps, but when your trade is being eroded left, right & centre what would you expect the cab trade to do? Lay down and take it? You can read my further thoughts on this on my blog (www.thecabbiecapital.co.uk) where I think you will find I take an even handed approach to the issue.
And as for a telephone booking system, many, many cabs are unavailable for hiring already because they are doing account work, no-one would be able to hire one off the street if they are all pre-booked. And then we'd all be mini cabs anyway.

rjcudlip

You make some valid points. But mini-cabs punished? I don't think anyone ever has any problem booking a mini cab when they need one. And I don't get where this image of cabbies being able to "afford" to hang around Mayfair or Kings Cross all day comes from, it just shows a lack of understanding of the trade. By all means let mini cabs carry whatever advertising they like, it's no skin off my nose. I still think taxis can offer a better service than most mini cabs and am prepared to do my best to prove it.

If, as you seem to be suggesting, the knowledge is scrapped and we all become one big cabbie family, how do you suggest those who have just passed the knowledge get compensated? And will all cabs then be allowed to pick up on the street? If so, the rip offs that you speak of will only get worse as more dodgy geezers get themselves a licence and out on to the roads. The fact that cabbies have to "earn" their badge does generally keeps the rogue element at bay. I wouldn't pretend that the cab trade is whiter than white and that cab drivers have had it too easy in the past, but allowing a free for all doesn't sound like the answer either.