Angry Drivers

Private hire drivers are angry and I think they have every reason to feel aggreived. Transport for London are going to make them pay the congestion charge in Central London while licencensed taxis will remain exempt.

TfL claim that the reason they are making the drivers pay is to reduce air pollution in the city, which is certainly something that needs doing. But those licenced taxis – black cabs – are actually a much larger source of pollution, both from their own exhausts, tires and brakes, but also because of the huge effect they have on congestion on city streets, resulting in extra pollution from other vehicles.

Minicabs drive to pick up customers at a particular location, then drive to their destination.  Taxis drive around where they think they will be hailed by customers, cruising for trade, and it is this that increases their road mileage, pollution and their share of the almost 10,000 early deaths per year of Londoners from air pollution. Plying for hire made sense in the old days, but hardly does now in the age of the smart phone, and apps which can summon a cab (or minicab) on demand.

Black cab drivers through their trade organisations are a powerful lobby, and it is hard to see this differential treatment as not being a consequence of this. Most Londoners can only afford to use them on rare occasions – I can only recall a handful of taxi journeys I’ve made in London, when escorting aged and frail relatives and a few times when wealthy friends who were paying dragged me into one with them – and at least one of those journeys would have been much quicker by tube and DLR.

Of course there are problems with minicabs too, particularly with cowboy anti-union outfits such as Uber who are trying to evade their responsibilities as employers – and appealing court decisions without success. The UPHD (United Private Hire Drivers), a part of the IWGB International Workers Great Britain trade union which organised this protest is also organising drivers to get them fair treatment from employers like Uber.

I left the protest early to go on to cover another event, and things apparently got rather livelier after I had gone. It’s always difficult to know when to leave lengthy protests, and often things seem to warm up soon after I’ve left.  At times there is a connection, though not I think in this case. Often protests get more intense because of police actions, and the protesters objections to being ordered around, assaulted or arrested, all things which sometimes seem to happen once press reporters and photographers have left. But on this occasion, although I’d left there were plenty of others who stayed on.

End TfL Discrimination against private hire


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.