Black cab drivers in London staged a protest on Wednesday, against Olympic organisers wanting to remove taxi ranks near the games site in East London. The London Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), that represents 9,500 drivers, later announced that the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) agreed to keep key ranks open in Stratford.
The initial decision to remove certain ranks and block access to Games Lane on the Olympic Route Network was made in order to create a safe, secure and reliable network of transportation for athletes, officials, media and sponsors, who would be regularly visiting the event.
With the revelation that certain ranks would still be available, Director of London Taxi and Private Hire, John Mason, said he was regretful of the protest and it was “based on factually incorrect claims”. This was the third protest this year against Transport for London’s alleged failure to support taxi driver’s work during the 2012 Games.
A spokesperson for London 2012 said, “We want to ensure taxis are able to get as close as possible to the venues, bearing in mind the local area traffic management issues and security provisions”. During this time it is estimated around 3 million journeys will occur on the busiest days of the Olympics. Many taxi drivers will need to make sure they are fully protected with UK taxi insurance during this busy period.
One of the areas which will be closed is The Mall in central London, from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June until after the Paralympic Games. This will be particularly troublesome for many drivers and Steve McNamara from LTDA voiced his frustrations, saying “London’s a working city, not a theme park. It’s not like Disneyland where you can close Mickey Mouse Avenue and open Pluto Drive”.