09 October 2007
The taxi driver and the mayor
Rob Fisher

My taxi driver to the airport this morning can’t use the M4 bus lane because he drives a minicab, not a black cab.  This is despite mandatory licensing being introduced for minicabs a couple of years ago.  (I am against taxi licensing, incidentally.)  Ken Livingstone says that there are too many minicabs to allow them to use bus lanes, but the M4 bus lane is not like other bus lanes.

My taxi was a large Mercedes with a 3.2 litre engine.  This is exactly the type of vehicle I want to be driven to the airport in at 7am.  The taxi driver is getting ready to trade in his Mercedes because Ken Livingstone is raising the congestion charge for such vehicles to £25.  He’s considering a hybrid because there is no congestion charge for these.  By playing with the economics of the situation, Livingstone has a huge influence on how I get driven to the airport.  He’s also having far more influence over people’s choice of vehicle technology than he deserves.

The folk over at Picking Losers would not approve.  They think that markets pick winners, and politicians pick losers.

  1. Charge a heavy toll (£10, say. Or perhaps £20) to any motorist who wants to use the M4 bus lane. Include taxis (black or mini) in the list of “motorists” to who this charge applies. If passengers in taxis want to pay the charge, they can do so. If not, they have a slower journey. This rule should apply to all bus lanes, not just the one on the M4. Do not allow any classes of freeloaders, and that should probably include buses.

    Problem solved.

    Posted by Michael Jennings on  11 October 2007 at 09:49 pm

  2. Excellent idea; wish I’d suggested it myself.

    Posted by Rob Fisher on  12 October 2007 at 01:27 pm

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