Addison Lee Challenges TfL Over Bus Lanes

By BethPH Last edited 73 months ago
Addison Lee Challenges TfL Over Bus Lanes

Minicab boss John Griffin made headlines this week after instructing Addison Lee’s 3,500 taxi drivers to use bus lanes in London.

Bus lanes are currently off-limits to all vehicles except black cabs, buses, cyclists and (as of January this year) motorcyclists but Addison Lee has secured a judicial review of bus lane legislation, due to be heard later this year. In the meantime, Mr Griffin believes that minicab drivers should be allowed to use the lanes and has said that he will pay any fines incurred by his drivers:

“The current bus lane legislation is anti-competitive and unfairly discriminates against the millions of passengers that use Addison Lee. Minicabs perform the same function as Black Taxis and are licensed by the same authority, so there is no reason that they should be penalised due to outdated legislation.”

TfL have struck back with the threat of prosecution for the drivers and potential loss of their Private Hire Vehicles (PHV) licences. Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, said:

"The letter from the management of Addison Lee is utterly irresponsible. By issuing it, Addison Lee risk regulatory action against themselves and leave their staff liable to criminal prosecution. We have asked Addison Lee to withdraw their letter immediately. We are also writing to all Addison Lee drivers reminding them that repeated breaches of traffic regulations could see their licence to operate withdrawn."

Ouch. It's not the first time that the minicab company have gone head-to-head over road restrictions — they emerged victorious from a previous skirmish over the now-defunct M4 bus lane when the Crown Prosecution Service dropped more than 200 tickets and 130 court summonses after deciding that the case wasn't in the public interest.

TfL says that if "tens of thousands of Private Hire Vehicles to drive in bus lanes would seriously disrupt the bus network and our passengers' ability to get around the capital" and a cursory glance at the figures suggests that PHVs outnumber black cabs by about 3:1. But how much would they really disrupt bus travel? The fact that minicabs can't be hailed on the street means that they tend to be booked for longer runs out of town rather than spur-of-the-moment short-distance scoots. But equally it could be argued that bus travel is so painfully slow anyway that anything that has the potential to make it even slower should be deterred.

Boris Johnson could also find himself in a bit of a quandary — as the Guardian points out, the Tory party accepted £250,000 from Addison Lee, £25,000 of which went to the mayor as a campaign donation which helped him win City Hall, and chairmanship of TfL, in 2008. With the run-up to the mayoral elections apparently having turned into open warfare between Boris and Ken Livingstone, it's probably an embarrassment that he could do without. Unsurprisingly, the mayor has declined to comment on the taxi war.

Griffin has also incurred the wrath of cyclists and Green party mayoral candidate Jenny Jones over his suggestion that cyclists should have to undergo training before being allowed to use the roads, with Jones issuing a press release calling for a boycott of Addison Lee. The inevitable Facebook protest is also underway with a 'die-in' planned for Monday 23 April at 6pm outside the company's HQ.

Will John Griffin and Addison Lee win a second battle over bus lanes? Find out after the judicial review later this year.

If there are any Londonist-reading cabbies out there, of the PHV or black taxi variety, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Photo by Bob Comics in the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 20 April 2012


power to the cyclists. That's all.


He did say more than 'suggest cyclists should get training' - He says that
I 'just didn't see her' and 'she wobbled to avoid a pothole' to be reasonable mitigation to running over
someones grandmother... Which is pretty messed up, in my opinion, and a breach of the highway code, as you should be leaving a safe distance, and if you can't see whats' on the road around you you should slow down.


"But equally it could be argued that bus travel is so painfully slow anyway that anything that has the potential to make it even slower should be deterred."
Your posts on anything transport related are always painful, but even for you this one's a clanger. 

'Equally'? Like how creationism and evolution are 'equally' likely to have happened I guess.

Nicolas Chinardet

The issue is not just that Griffin is calling for cyclists to be trained but that he seems to be thinking that cycling accidents and deaths are the cyclists' own fault.


Mr Griffin is saying that the law, common sense, decency and humanity should not be allowed to stand, ( cycle!) in the way of his company making as much money as possible. The man is an example of bad business thinking, I.e. I should be allowed to make money whilst everyone else pay the costs of my actions. in this case by expecting lives to be ruined and the NHS to repair injuries and millions of bus users to face slower journeys.
Road users must be responsible for any collisions they cause, if you don't have visibility of other users, then slow down or don't drive until your mental alertness allows you to be aware of and to anticipate other users actions!

Andy Brice

The fundamental problem here is that there is a limited number of black cabs, and a far greater number of minicabs. If we start letting large volumes of traffic use bus lanes, they'll become pointless and bus services will be unreliable and inefficient.


London is the only city in the UK where MiniCabs can not drive in Bus Lanes. In other cities they have been using the bus lane without any problems


1. As a cyclists I would say that the majority of my near run ins are with Addison Lee drivers who on the whole are very discourteous, obviously their livery singles them out. But I have far more issues than I do with busses and black cabs which I generally share a lane with.

2. It is very difficult to distinguish between a minicab and a normal people carrier, Addison Lee excluded (due to their branding) surely it will the end of the bus lane as we know it?


Addy Lee drivers really are the worst out there. No regard for any other road users, especially cyclists. As an ex-courier I have had more run ins with their drivers than any other kind of vehicle in London.

Any person that blames cyclists for their deaths on the road should not be reasoned with. It sounds like Toronto's Rob Ford has a second job under the name of Griffin perhaps.

another ex addy lee customer

What an idiot.  He publicly instructs his staff to break the law. He clearly demonstrates lack of knowledge of the highway code whilst running a fleet. His "leadership" promotes a dangerous attitude amongst his staff.  He should get himself trained and pay up (through lost bonuses and dividends as people cancel accounts).  We will be cancelling our courier & cab contracts with A. Lee on Monday.  


I don't have any sympathy
for Addison Lee but to be honest I don't have much sympathy for black cabs
being able to use bus lanes either. In this matter Tfl should act without
taking sides ...if mr griffin win the battle, tfl should pay his lost revenues
due to the (discriminated) bus lane policy ...


good luck to adlee about b cabs got down from their very high horses surly mugs and manners long live mr  griffin  from mags


PH vehicles are not allowed in bus lanes in other UK cities (certainly not Edinburgh), althought they do not appear to be fined for using them!  As a courier in Edinburgh, I do not think either black cabs or PH cars should be allowed in bus lanes. Both often do courier work and allowing them in bus lanes does not create a level playing field.