The cabbie’s nemesis?

According to a London Chamber of Commerce report around 3.2 million people take taxis and minicabs in London each week, even if each fare averages only £10, that means total annual revenues are in excess of £1.6bn, with a windfall to come with the Olympics in a little over two months’ time. Where should a Londoner’s cab-riding loyalties lie – with Black Cabs or private hire including Addison Lee?

[W]ell as any service industry, it should be with one that provides the service you require at a price you are willing to pay, and in this John Griffin Addison Lee’s Chairman has a good business model.

By taking on low skilled drivers, with many who are recent arrivals to our shores, and providing a complete package: vehicle, uniform, SatNavs, vehicle cleaning and phone, he has no shortage of takers. But many find working the long hours needed to make a decent living too much and leave after the first year.

Their enthusiasm sometimes stems from the novelty of having a job. A lady once told me of an African Addison Lee driver carrying her suitcase full of books up six flights of stairs balanced on his head.

Griffin has form when encouraging his gullible drivers to break the law. He declared that they should drive up the M4 bus lane. As traffic enforcement on motorways is the responsibility of the police, quite naturally they had more important things to do than catch Griffin’s miscreants. Eventually the bus lane was scrapped and Addison Lee got their way.

The same seems to apply to Paddington Station’s new entrance. The signage clearly states no vehicles except taxis – and yes you’ve guessed it – Addison Lee seems to be exempt while all other private hire vehicles are excluded.

As a London Black Cab driver of over 15 years I’ve seen our customer base diminish year on year.

When our only competition was a rusty Datsun with an aerial affixed to the roof by means of a magnet, Black Cab drivers would frequently decline jobs. “It’s not on my way home”, “I’m not going South of The River”, “Sorry Luv, I’m not going there”, “That suitcase looks heavy”. The excuses were endless.

It’s hardly surprising then that London Cab usage has declined when some of my colleagues felt their wishes came before their customer’s reasonable requests.

The younger London cabbies are more professional, with newer vehicles on the road and with a plethora of apps available from established radio circuits as well as independent developers we are starting to take back work.

You might not want John Griffin to run TfL but it has taken a maverick like him to shake the cab trade out of its complacency.

Where should a Londoner’s cab-riding loyalties lie? I would suggest dear punter that it’s you who is in the driving seat and not the other way round.

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