Paddington Station is one of the busiest stations in London with a lot of the passengers from the station continuing their journey by taxi. Because of the poor layout of the station rank, Taxis have to queue along the Harrow road. The roads around the station are sometimes very busy and unfortunately complaints have been received about taxis queuing in the Paddington Station area, specifically at the rear entrance in Praed Street and beside the flyover, along the Harrow Road. Some drivers joining the rear of the rank are physically closer to Marylebone Station than Paddington.
The complaints include:
Emergency service vehicles being obstructed and delayed, particularly by taxis stopping and parking around the Praed Street/London Street junction. The junction at Praed Street/Edgware Road being blocked and Buses being obstructed. Taxis parking in the cycle lane and Advance Stop Line (ASL) area on Praed Street. Construction traffic from worksites in the area being obstructed and delayed. Road users being delayed on Harrow Road
The problems are primarily as a result of taxis:
Stopping and parking in Praed Street outside the station exit/Hilton Hotel, plus Taxis over-ranking along Harrow Road, Edgware Road back to Praed Street
Although the taxi rank at the station can become very busy, over-ranking at the station and waiting in the surrounding roads is causing a serious problem and the police have informed TfL that they will start on-street compliance activities in this area if the problems continue.
This on-street enforcement action will include issuing Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) to drivers plus camera enforcement in this area will also commence. They say that Taxi drivers should take all possible steps to avoid over-ranking or causing obstructions, otherwise they risk being issued with a PCN. When dropping off or picking passengers drivers should also try to avoid stopping where it will delay emergency service vehicles, (specifically, the rear of Paddington at the Praed Street London Street Junction).
What About PHVs Ranking And Causing Congestion?
Is it rules for us, but just guild lines for them?
Missing from this police statement is any reaction to the massive increased instances of illegal plying for hire by private hire vehicles, escalating outside virtually every busy restaurant, night club and bar. Every time there is a major event in Central London, private hire vehicles turn up in droves looking to blag jobs on the pretence they are pre-booked.
Many of these lines of cars cause congestion bringing two lane main roads down to one lane. Funny how the buses and emergency vehicles appear blind to these obstructions.
Last night, a Wednesday, Taxis wanting to rank at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane found coaches park on their rank. When the coaches were finally moved, their place was taken by private hire vehicles.
As is the norm, the TfL enforcement CCTV camera on the corner of Mount Street was turned away from the rank. Again we saw TfL turning a blind eye to the minicabs blatantly flouting the conditions of their license.
Illegal plying for hire appears to be ok as far as the police and TfL are concerned and they regularly ignore the problem. But the lines of cars are hiding a different more dangerous problem, that of the sexual predator. Unbooked minicabs are known to be a factor in the many serious sexual assaults that frequently occur when young people, the worse for drink. In return for just a few pounds, clipboard johnnies shepherd the unsuspecting victims into the touting minicabs outside Hotels, clubs and bars.
It is alleged by the police themselves in the award winning Wandsworth POP report, that by their own calculations on average 25 minicab related serious sexual assaults including rapes take place every week. This figure is Ten times TfLs official statistics. It is felt by many in our trade that by their inaction, the police and TfL/LTPH are happy to view these figures as just collateral damage in a bid to clear the streets at chucking out time.
Will TfLTPH be acting in a fair and transparent manner across both sectors of Taxis and Private Hire?
Will they now be insisting that local councils and police, enforce parking regulations concerning Private Hire vehicles illegally ranking outside night venues, causing unnecessary congestion and obstructing emergency vehicles? You can bet your bottom dollar they won't!
Will CCTV camera enforcement include Regent By Swallow Street, where lines of illegal touts wait night after night, obstructing buses and emergency services, or Charterhouse Street where cars regularly illegally ply for hire by parking fully on the pavement, blocking fire exits?
Again these cars have got more chance of winning the lottery than getting nicked.
Why are the Police, Council and licensing authority continually turning a blind eye?
If the Met's own estimates are to be taken seriously, over 1,300 young lives and the lives of their families are shattered every year as sexual predators hide within the lines of unbooked illegally plying for hire minicabs.
This is not a victimless crime
Rape isn't just for Christmas...It's a life sentence to the victim and their families, many will never be the same person again.
RD2.com using our Taxi Rank in Gresham Street
LTPH have stated that the Private Hire act of 1998 isn't clear enough when applied to illegal plying for hire by minicabs. Of course it isn't, it's not covered by the Private Hire act, because its covered by the a Hackney Carriage Act of 1854, Illegally Acting As A Hackney Carriage.
Only Hackney Carriages are allow to stand and ply for hire (rank), PHVs waiting outside venues to become hired are illegally acting as Hackney Carriages.
Ranks are a very important part of the Licensed Taxi trade. 70 years ago, there was one rank space for every Taxi in London. Today there is one rank space for every 65 cabs.
Surely it is better to provide rank spaces for Taxis instead of them driving round spewing out toxic fumes from their exhausts, adding to London's poor air quality.
Recently there has been instances, where working Taxi ranks have been suspended in favour of a commercial enterprise. This has got to stop. No commercial business should have the right to suspend a working Taxi rank in order to promote their products.
It should be about balance, fairness and the right to work, not about product placement. As a licensing authority and receiver of our fees, LTPH have a duty of care to protect our right to ply for hire. They have no right to promote a commercial event at the detriment of the Licensed a taxi Trade. The trade puts good work into gaining, protecting and servicing the ranks and because of that commitment, any suspension should only be granted for necessary and legitimate reasons.
Why are Temporary ranks not imposed in the same order as suspensions?
When TfLTPH or local councils suspend Taxi ranks because of road closures or public events, attached to the suspension should be provisions for a temporary rank within a reasonable distance from the original. This should be standard practise.
At a recent Taxi drivers forum at Palestra, Helen Chapman said she doesn't have the power to impose Taxi ranks.
But that didn't stop TfLTPH suspending and imposing temporary ranks for the Olympics last year!
It also didn't stop LTPH sanctioning and imposing FREE TAXI RANKS for a computer company, using private hire Vitos to ferry people home from set points in the West End.
Peter Hendy has the ability to amend the London cab order as we have seen in the passed when he did such a thing to impose the mandatory displaying of ID badges on every Taxi.
It's not hard to sort this out, its just a lack of appetite to do so by TfLTPH who should be liaising with local councils. It needs to be high on the list at the next joint ranks committee, that if a rank, any rank, is suspended, a temporary rank is imposed within a reasonable distance of the original. How hard can that be to set up?
In Westminster, they have set up a dynamic traffic management order which means they don't have to get a separate one for each rank and any new rank is immediately enforceable.
So where's the problem?
Temporary ranks must go hand in hand with suspensions. No Temporary rank...no suspension.