On Friday 25th May 2012, Four Committee members from the United Cabbies Group and a representative from the RMT London Taxi branch met with a delegation from The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to discuss Taxi trade issues during the games.
This meeting was convened following an offer from LOCOG/ODA/TfL in exchange for the cancellation of our planned demonstration at the Team GB Launch Party due to take place at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this month, as decided by a ballot of our membership.
As promised we have said we will keep you informed of the outcome of this meeting and TfL have provided this fairly brief but accurate enough summary of the main discussion points of the meeting…
Summary of UCG & RMT meeting with LOCOG, ODA & TfL
Alex Carter (LOCOG)
Don Cannon (ODA)
Roger Silvers (ODA)
John Mason (TfL)
Helen Chapman (TfL)
Tony Crothers (UCG)
Lee Osborne (UCG)
Jonathon Myers (UCG)
Heather Rawlinson (UCG)
Mick Bailey (RMT)
Constitution Hill / The Mall
The UCG advised that since the Mall and Constitution Hill have been closed for the Diamond Jubilee it has caused major problems for the taxi trade with cabs not able to get to Victoria Station, passenger queues of around 30 minutes, increased meter fares and a difficulty to get around. The UCG requested an exemption for taxis to be able to use The Mall & Constitution Hill during the period of the Games. TfL and LOCOG advised that they would investigate the reasons for the decision to close the Mall & Constitution Hill during the period of the games.
Access to Games Lanes
The UCG requested access to the Games Lanes for Taxis citing that it will be very difficult for taxi drivers to earn a living during the games period without this access as passengers will be put off by higher fares, that passengers who have tickets for the games will be disadvantaged etc.
LOCOG/ ODA / TfL explained the position that concessions have already been made. A summary of these discussions, some of which weren’t previously known by the UCG and RMT is:
- Games lanes will only be operational (i.e. access to official vehicles only) when absolutely necessary.
- At other times they will be opened up to other road users. This will be controlled through the use of 150 variable messaging boards which will indicate the status of the lanes.
- This is a change from the original plans which was for games lanes to be operational throughout the entire period of the games. This change was announced earlier this year by the Mayor and was largely due to additional modelling work having been undertaken by TfL following a number of representations, not least from the taxi trade.
- The lanes will not be operational in the fortnight between the Olympic and Paralympic games and other vehicles will be able to use them as normal.
- The lanes around specific venues will only be operational when needed. For example, if the events at Wimbledon will only last 3 days then the lanes in this area will only be operational, at peak times, for these three days and not for the entire fortnight.
- Further concessions have already been made to the taxi trade to allow taxis to make certain banned right turns.
The UCG asked what the contingency plans will be if London is gridlocked and also asked how the message indicator boards will work. TfL explained that this is all managed by the LSTCC at Palestra. After some discussion it was agreed that it would be better demonstrated and TfL will organise a tour of the LSTCC for the UCG.
The UCG asked about the ranking facilities at Stratford. ODA explained that these plans are still being finalised as there are a number of factors to take into consideration when identifying suitable ranking facilities including road access for taxis to and from the rank. ODA hope to make an announcement around this as soon as possible.
Taxi Sharing Schemes
The UCG asked whether any taxi sharing schemes would be in operation from mainline stations. TfL advised that provision had been made for this in the fares paper that had been approved by TfL Board in February however it depended on the marshalling arrangements that the ODA were able to secure as to which stations would be operational.
Concerns were raised by UCG over the lateness of the handbook being issued to taxi drivers. ODA advised that this had been delayed as there were still some details to finalise (such as rank facilities at Stratford) and that the handbook would go to print shortly. This will be posted to every licensed taxi driver to ensure they have access to all relevant information regarding the games.
LOCOG/ ODA / TfL agreed to a follow up meeting. TfL to organise.
We have been assured that this follow up meeting will take place as soon as possible and we will of course keep you up to date on the outcome.