The BBC is reporting a backlash from black cab drivers in response to the Mayor’s modest proposals to get the LDA to fund help for women and BME people to get the Knowledge.
I don’t know who to be the most repelled by. The London Cab Drivers Club aren’t coming across as the most attractive people in protesting about some modest measures to diversify the London cab trade. On the other hand the Mayor is yet again raiding the LDA’s economic development funds to make a gesture.
If the Mayor was serious about furthering the interests of BME people in London he would look at giving minicabs more rights. First off, why can’t minicabs use bus lanes?
Secondly, why can’t minicab drivers use toilets on TfL premises – these people are licensed by TfL so it is not as if they are strangers to TfL. At South Ealing station locally we have had problems with mincab drivers weeing in the park. Allowing both black cab and minicab drivers to use TfL toilet facilities might also do something tangible to make the cab trade more attractive to women, although I can’t see cabbing, on your own late at night ever being that attractive to the majority of women.
Thirdly, the Mayor could make it easier for all types of cabs to pick up and drop off at public transport interchanges. Cabs of all kinds are public transport too and integration should mean including cabs. The easier the “last mile” is with rail journeys the more attractive they become.
Finally, TfL should look at more efficient use of minicabs’ deadtime, especially when they are dropping off or picking up at airports and major stations. If a Londoner takes a minicab to Gatwick what is TfL doing to make sure it has a return fare? Can’t TfL commission or licence some kind of text based system that would match punters to empty minicabs? Surely this would reduce the carbon footprint of cab journeys in London, reduce fares for customers and increase convenience.
The way to help BME people in London directly is to level the playing field between black cabs and minicabs. Black cab drivers will always be able to differnetiate their offer with the Knowledge and their specialised vehicles. They don’t need special privileges such as use of bus lanes. The black cab drivers will hate these proposals which is perhaps why Livingstone is not prepared to tackle this special interest group head on. Stop posturing Livingstone and make some real changes.