Friday, December 27, 2013

Cambridge Council Plan To End Taxi Over-Ranking, Not with Threats, But With A Feeder Rank.

An end to taxi congestion in central Cambridge could be in sight as a new trial gets under way.

New signs have been installed which allow the rank in Drummer Street to be used as a feeder for the main rank in St Andrew’s Street – where there have long been complaints about cabs causing obstructions by queuing beyond the approved bay.

At first, closing the St Andrew’s Street rank to ease disruption was suggested but more than 600 people signed a petition opposing this, amid fears elderly shoppers could not walk to Drummer Street.

Following this, the feeder plan was drawn up and, while it has been welcomed by hackney carriage drivers, they have warned there is still a need to provide more space for taxis in the city centre – warning that ‘over-ranking’ in Drummer Street could be the next problem.

Cllr Ian Bates, the county council’s cabinet member for planning, said using Drummer Street was a good solution.

He said: “For a long time people have told us they want improvements to the traffic flow and safety on St Andrew’s Street.

“It is one of the busiest streets in Cambridge and is really important to our local economy. Many people visit the city to use the shops and facilities around this area.

“We have listened to what the people here want, and I am pleased we have been able to provide a system that is beneficial for all.”

The £30,000 project, which was supported by 78 per cent of people in a consultation, was funded by the Government.

Taxis will still be available directly from the Drummer Street rank, which can offer a cheaper trip for passengers heading south.

David Wratten, chairman of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, which represents the trade, said the changes were much-needed – although he cautioned more still needed to be done.

He said: “I’m delighted to see this idea come to life. For a long time we’ve wanted to get a solution to the bottle-necking of traffic in this incredibly busy area.”

At first, the feeder rank is operating on a month-long trial, from 9am to 9pm.

After this, the council and drivers will agree how it should work permanently.

Cllr Ed Cearns, who represents Market, said: “We will need to closely monitor the trial, but the scheme has the potential to make the city centre a better experience for all.”

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