Back in September 2012, the trade was informed that Victoria forecourt would be closed to Taxis and a new rank would be implemented in Hudson Place.
It soon became apparent that passengers on the Gatwick express arriving late at night, couldn't find the Hudson Place rank and were spilling out on to the old forecourt, only to be picked off by minicab touts. So it was announced that from 00:30 till 4am marshals would be available to direct passengers to the Taxis.
Unfortunately NetWork rail had other ideas and closed the Hudson Place exit at 00:30 siting that it was a security risk to keep open. Passengers were then left to run the gauntlet of unlicensed and licensed touts that flocked around Victoria Street and Buckingham Palace Road like vultures.
Some passengers were still queuing at the rank in Terminus place, drivers started ignoring the no right left, in a bid to rescue the unsuspecting tout victims.
It wasn't long before complaints started to appear on the TfL Twitter account.
RMT members reported that they were having run ins with compliance teams, sent to observe the situation. Compliance officers were threatening drivers even though they have no power to enforce traffic or parking restrictions. The RMT had 2 unofficial meetings with the British Transport Police at Victoria who said they would turn a blind eye between 00:30 and 4 am to the no left turn contravention, but couldn't speak for the Met or TfL and said things could change at any time.
A sign was put in Terminus place saying the rank was usable between 00:30 and 4 but soon disappeared. It was assumed that touts whose business was being dramatically impaired, had stolen the sign. One driver said on Twitter that he thought he saw the sign being carried into the minicab office in Buckingham a Palace Road.
Recently drivers have been receiving warning letters from TfL who intend to issue penalties to drivers, as bus drivers complain about Taxis ignoring the no left turn, a story we broke on this blog.
Amazingly, Bus drivers never seem to complain about minicab touts illegally plying for hire in Buckinghsm Palace Road by the bus stops, Victoria Coach Station or Bulleid way coach drop offs.
Licensed Taxi drivers are now asking why there have been no major touting operations from TfLs in this area. Victoria is a hot bed of touting and the pickings so good that some touts have come from Heathrow as Victoria offers less risk of bring prosecuted. Compliance teams are regularly seen doing badge and Bill checks on Taxi drivers, but Cab Enforcement have been conspicuous by their absence.
It will shortly be officially announce that from the 20th October, the Terminus Place rank will be reopened to Taxis and will be marshalled on a one month trial basis. But it must be stressed that access will only be granted between midnight and 4 am.
News just in from TfL.
TFL NOTICE 90/14
Victoria Station late night taxi rank trial
On Monday 20 October 2014 a one month trial of a marshalled taxi rank will begin at Victoria Station on Terminus Place between the hours of midnight and 4am daily.
This trial has been permitted on condition of taxi drivers following the guidance set out in this notice. Unfortunately if drivers are found not following the information in this notice it is highly likely that the trial will be terminated earlier than one month without further notice. Should no issues arise during the one month trial period it is possible an extended trial will be permitted.
The temporary marshalled taxi rank will go-live on Monday 20 October 2014 and will be for up to five taxis.
It is important that taxis do not over-rank or attempt to access the rank outside of the marshalled hours as in recent months there have been significant issues at the station including drivers ignoring the banned left turn signage; bus station staff and bus drivers receiving verbal abuse and threats, taxi and bus passengers being put at risk and, in one instance, a vehicle accident. This has led to ongoing health and safety concerns for taxi and bus passengers and drivers.
For the trial to be successful it is important that all taxi drivers observe the following:
• Follow the instructions of the marshals at all times during the marshalled hours of 00:00 to 04:00
• Do not attempt to access Terminus Place outside the marshalled hours under any circumstances
• Do not attempt to access Terminus Place if the rank is already full during the marshalled hours
• Do not enter into any disputes or arguments with any staff or the general public
• Only leave Terminus Place via Buckingham Palace Road and not via the bus lanes in Terminus Place
During the trial the marshalled taxi rank will be monitored to determine whether it is operating successfully and whether arrangements can continue, on an extended trial, for a longer period. The location will also be monitored outside the marshalled hours to ensure drivers do not attempt to access the rank. If buses, coaches or other works vehicles in the area are impeded by taxis it is possible that the trial period will be terminated early.
Camera and on-street enforcement will remain in place to prevent issues with over-ranking or use of the banned left turn outside the marshalled hours.
During the trial taxi drivers are only permitted to make the left turn from Buckingham Palace Road into Terminus Place between 00:00 and 04:00. Taxi drivers making the left turn outside of these times may be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).
All drivers using the late night taxi rank are kindly asked to observe the terms and conditions set out in this notice in order to help ensure the trial is not terminated early and to increase the likelihood of an extended trial which could benefit taxi drivers and passengers.