08 May 2009
Nothing certain except death and taxis
You see a lot of TfL-licensed cabs shuttling around London. To get a private-hire licence you don't need to demonstrate driving skills or pass any tests: you just need a few years of clean driving licence and be prepared to buy a map. I could get one myself. Well, if I had a car. Licensed cabs are marked by a badge (right), which allows them to stop on double-red lines.
Unfortunately, all too often, the badge seems to be treated as a licence to ignore every other rule of the road. We've had several run-ins with TfL licensed cabs driving dangerously. The behaviour of this cab (right) is, unfortunately, rather typical.
Now, with buses, you can email email@example.com if you have a complaint about a driver. But with private hire cabs there's effectively nothing you can do. You can email Taxi Complaints at Taxi.Complaints@pco.org.uk, but all you'll get is a standard reply. It says they don't have power to investigate TfL cabs; that they'll advise the driver of your complaint; and that your only alternative is to go to the police. (In other words, nothing.)
I sympathise with hard-working 'proper' London black-cabbies who've done the knowledge, work long stressful hours, drive sensibly, and try their best not to run me over too much. Many of them may well look askance at the relatively easy ride and lack of accountability of private hire cabs.
I find it a bit less easy to sympathise with cabbies like this one (right), who blithely drove right into the separate cycle lane on Tavistock Place to drop off his fare.