London Taxi PR (LTPR) is starting a campaign to raise awareness of the current operating restrictions being imposed on the profession and all disabled passengers who wish to use a licenced London Taxi, due to the recent road traffic restrictions that have been imposed in the areas of Islington and Hackney.
As an organisation representing the interests of the Licenced London Taxi profession, LTPR is calling on those councils and Government bodies applying the restrictions to provide clear clarification and definition for the profession, including a request for exemplification for all Licenced London Taxis who are either dropping off or picking-up disabled passengers within the restriction zones.
All London taxis are fully wheelchair accessible, and the recent imposition of road traffic restrictions in Islington and Hackney prevents the vast majority of the 23,500 licenced taxis being able to take disabled passengers into these areas to either drop off, or pick-up, as the restrictions only access to electric vehicles.
Currently, there are just 500 ULEV taxis in operation in London, so not only is this felt to be a restrictive practice being imposed on the profession, but, more importantly, for all disabled passengers. Equally, it is thought that by allowing only electric taxi vehicles to access these areas that the restrictions are potentially breaching the Equality Act 2010 Sect12 Disabled Persons Transport, Sect1 Taxis as it puts some disabled people at a disadvantage, and the aim could have been achieved through less restrictive alternatives.
Since the recent road traffic restrictions have been imposed, an increasing number of London’s licenced taxis are already reporting that they are having to decline disabled customers who want to travel into the affected areas, informing them that they can only take them for part, and not the whole of their journey, as they would normally be able to do. Or, worse still, are not able to take them at all if they are travelling to and from an area within the restriction zones.
These Ultra Low Emission Zones, some of which will not come into operation in London until 2019 has already LTPR feels, caused confusion within the profession due to some of the statutory obligations that apply and leaving drivers fearing they will be open to a breach of these regulations and open to possible litigation.
In London, section 35 of the London Hackney Carriage Act 1831 states that it is an offence:
“Hackney carriages standing in any street shall be deemed to be plying for hire; and the driver thereof refusing to go with any person liable to a penalty.”
This means that any driver of a hackney carriage standing at any of the stands for hackney carriages appointed by the commissioners, or in any street, “who refuses or neglects, without reasonable excuse, to drive such carriage to any place within the prescribed distance, or the distance to be appointed by any byelaw of the commissioners, not exceeding the prescribed distance to which he is directed to drive by the person hiring or wishing to hire such carriage, shall for every such offence be liable to a penalty not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.”
These regulations place a duty on drivers of licensed hackney carriage vehicles not to refuse a fare when standing on a rank unless they are hired or, have a “reasonable excuse”. The duty to carry people when standing for hire applies only to journeys undertaken in within the prescribed distance or in other words those that starts and ends within the relevant licensing authorities’ district.
There can be no doubt that there is a distinct possibility for litigation from the implementation of these new clean air zones and so LTPR feels that the profession needs ‘A clear and unified clarification of these regulations, and the exemplification for those licenced taxis whose customers are disabled passengers’.
Inclusion London supports over 70 deaf and disabled organisations working across every London borough. Through these organisations, its reach extends to over 70,000 Londoners.
Ellen Clifford, Campaigns and Policy Manager for Inclusion London, stated,
“Inclusion London is concerned about any measures that act as a further barrier to travel for Disabled people. We urge local authorities to engage with their local Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations to identify and halt policies that will have a detrimental impact on Disabled residents.”
LTDA General Secretary Steve McNamara added:
“This unnecessary and unworkable restriction on our members’ ability to do the job they are uniquely trained to do is an outrage.
“The taxi trade is the only form of transport in London that is 100% wheelchair accessible and disability access friendly.
“We have no choice in the vehicle we buy and until recently we had no choice other than diesel. Since January we have had the option of a clean electric taxi and are buying all the factory can make, and there is now a waiting list into 2019 to get delivery.
“We have taken this draconian ban up at the highest level at Hackney and will be challenging any PCNs issued to members. We will also be part of an upcoming all trade lobby of councillors at Hackney town hall.”
The message about the road restrictions and its impact on disabled customers and the profession as a whole is being promoted via press and trade media coverage, and also through a series of targeted social media messages, to help inform not only the wider disabled community, but also the general public, Government bodies, public authorities and decision makers.
This latest campaign follows the recent acclaimed success of London Taxi PR’s ‘The Knowledge’ diversity initiative, where the aim was to encourage more people to sign up to do ‘The Knowledge’ & become a London Taxi driver, by promoting signing up to The Knowledge, the infamous Test each applicant must pass to become a licensed London Taxi driver. The campaign also highlighted that ‘The Knowledge’ is in fact inclusive and open to all, regardless of their gender, religion or ethnicity.
Since their formation, London Taxi PR has undertaken a series of targeted media campaigns, which are being used by London Taxi PR to promote the benefits, advantages and safety of using the iconic London Taxi to a wide audience.
All the campaigns and publicity that has so far been generated by the company has been funded by fellow London Taxi drivers, many of whom have signed up to donate to the cause on a monthly basis, indicating how passionate they all are about their industry and the cause.
London Taxi PR. Passionate about promoting and preserving the iconic London Taxi trade and funded by London Taxi drivers who care about their industry.
For more information on London Taxi PR and their campaigns, please visit their website.