Addison Lee has instructed all of their 3,500 drivers to use bus lanes in the city and will pay out for any issued penalties, which is potentially £1,000 per offence. However, Transport for London has issued a warning that the drivers could face criminal prosecution and have their license taken off them, if they reoffended.
John Griffin, Chairman of Addison Lee, said “The current Bus Lane legislation is anticompetitive and unfairly discriminates against the millions of passengers that use Addison Lee. Minicabs perform the same function as black Taxis and are licensed by the same authority, so there is no reason that they should be penalised due to outdated legislation.”
Addison Lee was involved with the scrapping of the M4 Bus Lane in 2010, which saw 130 court summons and 200 tickets against the firm dropped, when the lane was closed.
Since the M4 Bus Lane closed, it has been reported by the Highways Agency that the overall accidents and journey times have decreased.
Addison Lee has already secured an official court review of the Bus Lane legislation later this year, but Mr. Griffin believes that in the mean time, Addison Lee drivers should be able to use the bus lanes whilst waiting for the review.
Mr Griffin said, “Black Taxis are not a public service, they are a business just like minicabs – and we will fight the injustice in the current legal system that subsidises them as if they provided a public service. The black Taxi produces 1.5 times the amount of CO2 and 44 times more PM10 toxins than our minicabs, contributing more than a third of all particulate pollution in London. They are more expensive and they often refuse to pick people up or go south of the river. Why on earth does our legal system treat them as any different to other private transport providers?”
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, said. “The letter from the management of Addison Lee is utterly irresponsible. By issuing it, Addison Lee risk regulatory action against themselves and leave their staff liable to criminal prosecution. We have asked Addison Lee to withdraw their letter immediately. We are also writing to all Addison Lee drivers reminding them that repeated breaches of traffic regulations could see their licence to operate withdrawn.
“London’s bus lanes are in place to ensure the efficient operation of the bus network, which carries more than six million passengers a day. Allowing tens of thousands of Private Hire Vehicles to drive in bus lanes would seriously disrupt the bus network and our passengers’ ability to get around the capital.”
Transport for London is considering legal and regulatory action against the taxi firm and it working with the Met Police to target those unlawfully using bus lanes in London. It is also uncertain how private hire taxi insurance policies will be affected by the moves.