On Thursday the black cab trade got together and blocked roads in Westminster to protest about a scheme being run by Westminster Council and the Met to get people into cabs late at night in the West End. See BBC story here. I guess the story got lost in all the snow but it sounds like the black cab drivers will be doing this again soon.
It is in no-one’s interest to have young people wondering around late at night trying to get transport home. Westminster has come up with an imaginative scheme but the black cab drivers see it as a threat.
This YouTube clip shows how much they hate minicab drivers impinging on their frankly unfair privileges. The piece ends with the sentence: “How long before it starts to get nasty and someone gets hurt badly?” Judging by the thuggish black cabbie who was berating both the minicab driver and his customer in this clip that sounds like a threat that black cab drivers will get violent if they feel like it. What a scumbag?
In London there are about 22,000 black cabs and 44,000 minicabs. I often find black cabs are superior to minicabs. But most of all, when I get into a taxi in Newbury, I usually just want to get home and too many black cab drivers want to do the airports, work during the day but still protect their privileges if they deign to go out late on a Saturday.
I hope Westminster succeed with their scheme in the short term. In the longer term we need some legislation which takes into account modern technology. It should be possible to text, phone or e-mail details such as location (GPS?), destination, desired pick up time, type of vehicle required, etc and get back in seconds two or three competing bids detailing price and time to pick up such that all you need to do is hit the reply button to strike a deal. The current minicab regime is totally ungreen because it forces drivers to travel half their time empty. This not only wastes fuel but makes minicabs twice the price they should be. Doh! By the way this is the only reason that black cabs can compete.
Rather than the current two tier system we need 66,000 or more cars that are better than minicabs in terms of driver and car quality, cheaper and more easily accessible by anyone, anywhere. Are you up for this Mayor Johnson?
Update: Why does it not surprise me to find an RMT banner at this protest? Oh yes, thuggish bullies.