Best Before Cabs

When John Major, that grey man of politics, brought in the Food Labelling Regulations 1996, which compelled manufacturers to place an ‘appropriate durability indication’ on items, he unleashed a tide of bureaucracy. How can Deep Heat embrocation, candles and salt, that great preserver need a use by date? Now we have just have the Copenhagen summit where Climate Change Junkies have said we have just 40 days to save the planet.

[D]id some cavers go into an unknown void and find the inscription: ‘Manufactured 4.54 billion years ago; Best before soon after the end of Pleistocene Period’?

Now Mayor Boris Johnston has waded (if that is the correct term with the melting icecaps) into the debate. In an ‘inverted pyramid of piffle’, he has commissioned a consultation document on how long should a London black cab remain licensed.

According to Boris, all cabs should have a finite life of 10 years. Never mind that some of the newer vehicles have very low CO2 emissions and that building a new cab produces far more damage to the environment than merely patching up the old droshky.

In a separate but not unrelated dictat those Bumbling Bureaucrats of Brussels intend to foist the working time directive on self employed cabbies.

The Directive provides a definition of the types of activities that should be included in the calculation of working time. These are: driving; loading and unloading; assisting passengers boarding and disembarking from the vehicle; cleaning and technical maintenance; and all other work intended to ensure the safety of the vehicle. It also covers the times during which a worker cannot dispose freely of their time and are required to be at their workstation. The Directive also regulates maximum weekly working time, breaks, rest periods and night work which at present amount to a total of 48 hours a week.

So there you have it, assuming I work 48 weeks a year the maximum life of my vehicle will be just 960 days, some of that time will be sitting on a rank, maintaining the vehicle and other sundry chores and the rest driving at the London average speed of 12mph.

Sorry can’t say that it must be expressed in kilometres, whatever that is.

10 thoughts on “Best Before Cabs”

  1. I remember when the MOT test was introduced. People said what a waste of time and money. Detractors claimed it was unnecessary because motorists just don’t take dangerous, ill-maintained cars onto the public roads.

    Years later, does anyone complain about the MOT? No, it’s just an accepted part of the routine of car ownership and to judge from some of the stories coming out of motor workshops, it has stopped a lot of dangerous vehicles from going onto the roads and possibly causing accidents and injuries.

    It would be nice if all servants of the public, including cabbies, kept their equipment in a safe condition without prompting but unfortunately they don’t. Not unless forced to do so by law (and even then, some will try to get around the law).

    We can always carp at the exact provisions of laws on safety and these definitely should be looked at carefully and modified where it is reasonable to do so but they are always necessary and people will always complain about them.


    1. The problem is that if you reduce the life of a cab, its residual value drops proportionately and therefore fares would have to rise substantially to reflect this. It’s something cabbies and their customers would want to avoid.


    1. No hay in the boot, just golf clubs, but the reason why London taxis are so high is so that the “toffs” didn’t have to remove their top hats, still true today


  2. I like your travel blog here. I have one as well which I hope to be a good resource for those looking to go on vacation. I’d like to exchange links with you and help spread some traffic around.

    Please let me know if this is possible.



  3. I take all of your points seriously and have to admit I agree with you, but I think it’s unfair to lay the blame at the feet of dear old John Major! I reckon he was a much undervalued and underestimated PM and it was the bickering idiots surrounding him that started all this off!


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