In some towns taxi drivers are allowed to use bus lanes during rush hours so that they don’t remain stuck in traffic and are able to get their fares to their destinations as quickly as possible. Many taxi drivers rely on this exemption as without it they would have to reduce the amount of fares they take each shift, meaning that they would gain less income and could potentially struggle to pay costs such as vehicle maintenance and taxi insurance.
However, taxi drivers in Inverness have now been banned from using the bus lane once the forthcoming resurfacing of the Kessock Bridge begins. As of Saturday night work will start on the bridge and finish in June, with a second stage of development being planned for 2014. Taxi drivers have pleaded with transport bosses to be allowed to use the bus lane, especially as many take young children with autism, Down’s syndrome, and additional special needs to school each day. Kevin Williamson from the Inverness Taxi Alliance has said that the young children would become “extremely upset” if they were late to school due to congestion, and therefore drivers should be allowed to use the bus lane.
The treasurer of the alliance, Helena MacLeod also pleaded taxi drivers’ case, and said: “There are significant Highland Council contracts with various taxi companies and most are children with special needs, either autism, Down’s syndrome, behavioural needs – children who have been expelled from school. They are talking about the public transport service, we are a public transport service, just like the bus and rail companies. We are just asking to be treated equally.”
Ms MacLeod also went on to say that drivers were not trained to deal with children if they become upset due to the congestion, and was angered by the council’s lack of communication with the association. However, Transport Scotland’s bridges asset manager, Cameron Gair said that he would not change the law for taxi drivers and said: “The [traffic] order is for buses and HGVs. I would suggest the simple answer is to put these children in a mini bus or alternatively use the road via Beauly.”