There seems to be a new bias against Taxi ranks showing up throughout the UK. We’ve had this problem for quite some time in London. Westminster appeared to be the first borough where this issue started to show up.
Even though the council themselves had done research on behalf of TfL that showed people were more likely to take a taxi if the first thing they saw was an orange light outside the exit of a club, bar or restaurant, ranks started appearing in front of such premises where vacating customers would only see the back of the cabs.
It’s not hard to implement, the Taxi on point, needs to be just a foot or two back from an exit so the 'for hire' light can clearly be seen by vacating customers/potential riders.
Councils are now stepping up enforcement (not just in London) to punish drivers who ignore signage or poor signage and form what’s become known as pop up ranks which drivers feel are better serving the needs of the public.
Amazingly, councils seem reluctant to use any enforcement against Private Hire or Private vehicle’s contravene the restrictions on Taxi ranks, stopping drivers from working....cases in point Hakassan, Novikov's and Nobu in Mayfair.
Someone tell me... just what is it that the LTDA led joint ranks committee actually do ?????
But, it's not confined to London....
Article below from Grantham today, also highlighting this issue.
Taxi drivers in Grantham claim they are losing business after many of them received penalty points for using a loading bay in the Market Place for fares instead of the designated taxi rank.
Since the creation of the taxi rank on Conduit Lane several years ago, drivers claim they have been losing fares due to ‘lack of signage’ and the public not knowing where to go to get a Taxi.
They have now been told that they are creating a safety issue by using a loading bay in Grantham Market Place as an unauthorised rank to wait for fares.
After several drivers received three points on their taxi licence for ‘misusing the loading bay’, the majority of drivers have mutually agreed to start using the designated rank on Conduit Lane only, but fear that it could be to their detriment.
“We understand that we cannot use the loading bay but now it looks like it has been taken over by pizza delivery vans.
“We can see members of the public standing at the Market Place and looking for a taxi. I’ve tried beeping to let them know that I’m there, but they just give up and go to one of the taxi companies instead. We are stuck out in the middle of nowhere.”
Muhammed Yasin has been an independent taxi driver for eight years. He was one of the drivers to receive three points.
He said: “There are 40 cars that travel around Grantham at night and we can fit seven on the rank at a push. If there is not any room, we have to either queue past the rank or just keep driving around town. Friday and Saturday nights are the only times that we can make any sort of reasonable money but now we are losing jobs. We rely 100 per cent on the rank here and the taxi rank at the Guildhall during the day. I am gutted about my points. I always try my best and behave well.
“It is already tough as there just doesn’t seem to be as many people going into town compared to a few years ago, and it seems to be getting worse every year as the way of socialising seems to be changing, and now it’s harder. However, there is still enough work for everyone if everyone worked properly together.”
Henry Marshall has been a taxi driver for 24 years. He is concerned about the safety aspects. He said: “There’s a lot of people around the Market Place, it is very visible and security staff are on the doors, whereas Conduit Lane is out of the way.”
Kashif Hussain has been a taxi driver for less than a year and also received three points. He said: “I am scared to pick up jobs from the Market Place now even if they are booked. I’m nervous that I will receive more points.”
Muhammed handed a letter to South Kesteven District Council on behalf of many of the drivers to raise their concerns, which was signed by at least 30 of the drivers.
They mentioned their confusion as to whether taxi drivers can park in the Market Place as well as requesting CCTV to cover the entire rank on Conduit Lane for the safety of the public and drivers, and signage to direct people to the rank.
They also raised concerns that some drivers will continue to use the loading bay to the detriment of other drivers using the designated rank.
South Kesteven District Council said ‘Taxi drivers are creating a safety issue by using a loading bay in Grantham Market Place as an unauthorised rank, rather than using the Lincolnshire County Council-designated rank opposite in Conduit Lane.
‘The number of queueing vehicles has, on occasions, taken the unofficial rank beyond the loading bay up towards the High Street and this is causing a safety risk for other road users and pedestrians.”
SKDC’s cabinet member for commercial and operations Cllr Dr Peter Moseley added: “It is the drivers who insist on ranking in the loading bay to wait for fares who are causing the problems.
“To help combat this, we would remind customers to use the Conduit Lane rank which can been seen from the loading bay. We have asked Lincolnshire County Council to improve the signage for the rank and it has agreed to look into this". Unfortunately Dr Moseley didn't go into detail on how he was reminding potential customers.......
“There are no restrictions on Hackney Carriages picking up waiting passengers from the loading bay if they are hailed, or it is pre-booked as a pick-up location.” So never mind about air quality, it's ok if the Taxis keep circulating, wasting diesel/petrol as long as they don't stop and turn off their engines....that's ok?
Drivers are expected to follow SKDC’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire licensing policy. If regulations are breached, penalty points can be issued on their taxi licence – not their driving licence. How long before we see this in London under Project Horizon, Taxi licence points issued by TfL....one more nail in the coffin of the trade
Waiting or stopping in an area where parking is prohibited unless asked to do so by a paying customer in the car is a breach of conditions and carries a three-point penalty. If drivers reach 12 points they can be asked to appear before the licensing committee which considers if they should retain their licence.
Dr Moseley added: “We understand the important role taxis play in a successful night-time economy and work to ensure the service they provide matches expectations.”
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
What is it that these councillors don't understand. Their attitude towards Taxi drivers who have been doing a fantastic job getting people, who have been out enjoying themselves, safely home in the evening.....is deplorable.
Every council should employ the services of Taxi drivers on their transport committee. It is long serving Licensed Taxi drivers who know how the transport in most boroughs work best. There are many drivers with years of experience who could be of value to councils all over the country. But are ignored in favour of fresh out of collage students with no more experience than a computer mode program.
But, just having an impotient committee hasn't don't much to improve the situation in London. A Taxi ranks committee need to have the power itself and a budget to implement changes to taxi ranks to make them more accessible and visible to the public.
Just having a committee that has no real power to invoke change, is a waste of knowledge and experience. Also, what we don't need, is what we have now, a committee led by someone who hasn't driven a Taxi for a living in many years.