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THE CHIEF OF EAST BARNET TAXI TRANSPORT FOR LONDON SPEAKS

There is no doubt that there’s no romance in the taxi industry of London as well as Transport for London (TfL) and many are claiming the TfL government agency isn’t providing enough assistance to those working in the field. Additionally, in the last few years, East Barnet Taxi drivers have been involved in several protests against taxi App Uber. They have urged TfL to take action against the controversial company.

In the ongoing discussions with East Barnet Taxi drivers as well as TfL the government agency has issued numerous statements but now the head of Transport for London himself – Sir Peter Hendy – has spoken about the dire condition of London’s transportation. In the past, The London Assembly claimed that TfL’s function in the transport sector was “woefully inadequate” and that “communication [between TfL and the trades] appears to have hit rock-bottom in the last year”.

In response to the accusations in response, Sir Hendy stated: “The London Assembly needs to remember that TfL’s function is regulatory, to fairly apply some very arcane laws, not of our own making.” One of the laws that are in dispute is that only taxis owned by public hire can use London’s bus lanes. This is the law Addison Lee recently fought against and was unsuccessfully argued against before the European Court of Justice. In a court hearing, Sir Hendy declared: “I think it’s a real shame that we’ve spent more than PS400,000 to prove something that the majority of people believed was true at the time.

“If they [Addison Lee] ever decide to instruct their Cabs Service drivers to break the law again, we will seriously consider, having done it once, whether they are fit and proper people to hold a license, and we might decide that they’re not.” Evidently, in the case of taxi drivers violating the law, Sir Hendy has a strong opinion but others have said that this is not the case for Uber taxi drivers. Black cab drivers in London have claimed that Uber violates laws for years since the App permits drivers to operate on a meter although they are only licensed for private hire licenses.

In the spring of this year, in the year prior, the London Cabs Service Drivers Association (LTDA) protested against the Uber App and claimed that it violated the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 that states: “No vehicle to which a London Private Hire Vehicle license relates shall be equipped with a taximeter.” Some think that the App isn’t an actual meter, a notion which General Secretary of the LTDA, Steve McNamara, considers absurd. In a statement, he stated: “Of course, it’s a bloody meter — it calculates fares.”

But Sir Hendy has defended the TfL’s decision and stated: “None of the laws were written for the modern mobile phone and app era.” When asked about his controversial decision to endorse Uber Sir Hendy stated: “I’m not surprised we’re unpopular because modern technology is disruptive. But I’ve yet to meet a black-cab driver who’s able to say to me that Uber has damaged their business. I think what Uber is doing is making headway in the late-night and recreational market, where we know there aren’t enough licensed taxis.”

If asked if he’s utilized Uber himself, Sir Hendy responded: “Yeah, I’ve used Uber, Hailo, Minicabs Service, Addison Lee, and I hail taxis in the street. People say to me, ‘Your job is to protect the taxi trade.’ No, it isn’t: our job is to look after the customers.” His opinion is highly controversial, particularly for taxi drivers who believe that they as well as their customers are being harmed due to taxi Apps like Uber.

Sir Hendy isn’t apologetic for the choices TfL has made in the last few years, making it unlikely that they’ll make any changes very soon. A long-running battle between TfL and the taxi drivers of London is likely to remain bitter for the foreseeable future, specifically when Apps like Uber continue to be permitted to operate within the city.

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