Saturday, October 12, 2013

Latest on Addison Lee Bus Lane Saga ...

Following on from our previous friend or foe story...

Telegraph Friday 11 Oct.

Part of minicab operator Addison Lee’s legal battle to win the same rights to use bus lanes as London’s iconic black taxis is heading for the European Court of Justice after the British court asked for a ruling on European anti-competition law.

The court has requested a European ruling on whether “making a bus lane on a public road available to black cabs but not minicabs, during the hours of operation of that bus lane, involves the use of ‘State resources’ of Article 107 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union”.

This is the section of the European Treaty originally intended to stop member nations from illegally supporting their major industries to give them advantages over other nations It was used to force RBS to sell hundreds of bank branches as a condition of its huge state bail-out during the financial crisis.

The ruling could ultimately mean the right to use London’s roads could be decided across the Channel in the Luxembourg-based court.

Addison Lee, through its subsidiary Eventech, has been fighting with Transport for London (TfL) for several years to win equal rights to black cabs. In April the battle reached the Court of Appeal with a ruling now awaited.

However, only in recent weeks have documents been officially released which revealed the court wanted a European decision on state aid.

A spokesman for Addison Lee said: “We are pleased that the matter has been referred to the European Courts as we believe that the current legislation is a breach of the EU and UK law. 

You can’t discriminate between two types of taxis and we are pleased to have the opportunity to continue the fight against this injustice.”

When is someone going to point out to the court that we are not two types of Taxis!
Only one is a licensed taxi service, the other is a minicab business.

A TfL spokesman said: "In the original judicial review proceedings, we explained to the court that taxis are allowed to drive in bus lanes because they can ply for hire, whereas minicabs cannot. It would be more difficult to hail a taxi, especially on a busy road, if the vehicle concerned was not near to the kerb. Mr Justice Burton agreed.

“The Court of Appeal has referred to the European Court of Justice the issue of whether or not TfL’s policy, which allows taxis but not private hire vehicles to drive in bus lanes, amounts to State aid. Once the European Court has given its judgment on this aspect, the case will be referred back to the Court of Appeal for a decision on the wider appeal. Pending that outcome, we continue to maintain our policy on access to bus lanes and to contest the appeal.”

TfL should have pointed out that we are a metered service. Traffic conditions affect our price while having no affect on Minicab car services, which offer a fixed rate.
This is why we were allowed in bus lanes in the first place. 
Source: Telegraph.


Anonymous said...

The 1998 Private Hire Act was never designed to make Licensed Taxi's and Private Hire equal (FACT) - This notion has come about because the licensing authority and other agencies have been weak on enforcement due to the once covert STaN agenda. Addison Lee are PH operators and the 1998 PH Act London clearly states PH should not encroach upon London's Licensed Taxi's role in the capitol.They are not our equal and the Act say so !

Anonymous said...

Will the LTDA use some of their stash of cash to pay for a top lawyer to argue the case for us?.Or just sit back,and say there was nothing they could do?.

I'm Spartacus said...

1. This will take years

2. It's neither a good or a bad sign, don't read too much into it.

3. I have just read 'Janet & John go to Strasbourg' and I think they will say 'it's a matter for member states to determine which class of vehicle uses a particular road space'.

4. The logical extension of the argument about 'different types of taxi' is that a bus is also a Taxi asit carries passengers to destinations.

5. the term taxi is derived from the TAXIMETER!

6. What of course they are really hoping for is that TfL give up and EXCLUDE US, now that's a far more likely scenario .

7. Of course some in the trade have tried to get everyone round the table to discuss the law comm and issues like this! thus far the leadership has spurned the invitation, no one knows why and on whose orders?

8. Until the meeting of all the trade groups happen, defeat is far more likely than victory. Ask you organisation or union today why it's not happened?

Macdui said...

This illustrates the problem of excessive use of anti-competition law. Black cabs and minicabs are part of a two tier system, in which black cabs offer a higher standard of service, but generally cost more, while minicabs are "cheap and cheerful" (although rumour has it that Addison Lee are no longer particularly cheap, and many other minicab companies are not cheerful). It seems odd that anti-competition law should only be applied to one aspect of what differentiates them.

For instance black cabs have to be fully compliant with the Disability Descrimination Act, making them suited for partially sighted and wheelchair users. Uniquely amongst passenger carrying vehicles operating within London, minicabs do not have this restriction placed upon them. Similarly black cabs have to have a turning circle of less than 25 feet, while minicabs do not. There are also restrictions on the minimum height within the passenger compartment, the type of locks on the doors etc. The combined effect of these restrictions is to add about 10k to the cost of a new black cab, over that of a minicab, and restrict the types of vehicles which can be used.

Black cab drivers have to take an extra driving test (this is different from the Knowledge) while minicab drivers do not, allowing drivers who hold relevant overseas licences or older UK licences dating back to the days when the driving test was much less rigorous to drive a passenger carrying vehicle with no test as to their competance to do so. Similarly black cab drivers have to face a detailled medical of the sort applied to HGV and bus/coach drivers, and those over 45 have to reapply for their licence every 5 years. Again it is only minicab drivers who are exempt from these restrictions which apply to all PSV drivers.

Common sense seems to mean that either we accept that it is a two tier system, with different restrictions placed on each different type of operator, or we make it a single tier system with similar restrictions placed on both. But I suspect that many minicab companies would not survive if their drivers were forced to buy substantially more expensive vehicles, and requiring a higher standard of driver testing would ruin the long working hours/poor pay/high staff turnover model on which all minicab companies are dependant.

I suspect that if the market is merged it will be dumbed down to the lowest standard, rather than raised up to the highest. Which is sad. Pretty much every business traveller survey rates London black cab drivers as the best in the world - often by a substantial margin. Is this another area in which the UK has a world beating reputation which is about to be lost to political correctness and the daft application of European law?

Winston Kodogo said...

Top post MacDui,

They can't pick and choose what part of Taxi law applies to them! they don't meet the CoF they don't have the KOL so they are not a different type of taxi.

THEY are not TAXIS END OF!!!

Anonymous said...

I fully support both taxis and ph being equal, Macdui brings some important issues up, but he fails to state older people prefer to use ph because they are lower to the ground and easier to get in and out of. With people living longer councils and the government must realise that more door to door transport is needed.
The issue of why no union is able to get to grips with any council is because of the way the two trades are represented. Name one body or councillor that knows how many passengers both taxis and ph carry, none of them know and that's the problem, it should be taxi and ph lanes and exclude buses.

Anonymous said...

HWe need to get passenger numbers on the table, now before anyone ticks me off for that remark if we can't prove that number of passengers moved then we will never be one of the top transport players and we won't get any funding like the bus,tram and public transport do. In Salford the government and both Salford and Manchester councils are giving funding for water taxis when both taxi and ph drivers are questening the license fees.

Anonymous said...

It's time to call on industrial action across the UK starting with all mps and councillors home addresses being suspended for the day.
I'm unhappy as a ph driver watching hundreds of out of town taxis coming into town at week ends, it might be legal but what will happen if we get cross border driver and vehicles? We need the national driver licence and the same fees across the uk but do we need an open circuit? We should be joint together as one on this,the trouble is no one can bring us together as one. I honestly want them to win so that for once the government will have to treat all transport providers equal, that means we all should be entitled to grants,funding and perhaps something towards fuel.

dms0001 said...

Perhaps we should get something together in aid to enlighten the court that Minicab's are not taxis and provide enough information to show that we have different aspects to our work, which makes us Taxis and them Minicab's. if we leave it to the so called professionals, it'll never happen and we'll be worse off for it. Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Private Hire is just another car hire firm with a driver - Hertz is a self drive company - should they be able to use the bus lanes too?