RMT have recently attended meetings concerning the Draft Transport Strategies for the City of London (COL) and Camden. Whilst there were some encouraging signs regarding taxis in the transport hierarchy in the talks with COL, overall the trade face an uphill battle to maintain access to roads that will be affected by schemes going forward.
Unfortunately, the trade has failed to secure any protection within the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) and the Local Implementation Plans (LIP). Despite being legally obliged to purchase circa £64k bespoke vehicles which are 100% wheelchair accessible (WAV) we have only received a token mention within the MTS.
Local Authorities (LA) are obligated to adhere to the MTS and to LIP’s. The main priorities across both documents are walking, cycling and buses. Despite assurances from the Mayor and TFL that we are part of the public transport network we have been virtually ignored within any legislation which has led to LA’s and TFL planning us out of their road network. As the MTS stands it categorises taxis alongside private vehicles and minicabs. The overall aim of the MTS is to reduce journeys made by these modes of transport. Whilst some LA’s may favour access for taxis the overarching trend for most is to follow rigidly the MTS which concentrates on space and access for walking, cycling and buses, including prioritising buses on key routes to ensure they remain reliable. Without better representation within the MTS and LIP we face an apparently engineered extinction of the taxi trade.
Last year RMT made it one of their main strategies (alongside protecting our working rights through ply for hire) to push for amendments within the MTS which would bring taxis in line with buses. We are also pushing for taxis to be on a level par with buses within the LIP’s. This can be achieved by taxis being added to the priority for funding alongside buses – meaning equal access rights.
At present the MTS does not reflect the Inclusive Transport Strategy (ITS) which was released around the same time as the MTS. RMT will push for the inclusive access outlined within the ITS to be reflected in all the Mayor’s and TFL’s legislation. We have also asked both COL and Camden to reflect the section covering taxis within the ITS to be included within their transport strategies. This should secure the door to door nature and ability to be hired kerbside without increasing fares and journey times for our passengers, particularly those who are in protected groups.
We will also push for all taxis and not just electric taxis to be included in any LA scheme which is instigated under TFL’s Liveable Neighbourhood Plan. The plan aims to close areas of roads to all vehicles except electric. We are currently going through a transition period whilst the fleet transitions into electric and this must be taken into consideration.
Without the action outlined the taxi trade will continue to lose great swathes of the road network. As one of only two fully wheelchair accessible fleets (Taxis and Buses) able to be publicly hired in London we feel the Mayor and TFL need to strongly consider this and include us in their current plans and legislation.
On a final note, we ask that any members attending any driver led protests to follow any instruction from the police.
Ranks & Highways Officer