I was outside the Howard Hotel, before being demolished in anticipation of the unlamented Garden Bridge. A guy with lots of heavy photographic equipment wanted to be taken just quarter of a mile up the Victoria Embankment to a ship. I help him carry said equipment on board and he tells me a previous cabbie, a woman at that when asked to do the job told him to f**k off. It was good to see courtesy is still alive in our trade.
Saw a new Rolls Royce today with minicab roundels on the back, I think it’s a scam to avoid Congestion Charging, or maybe a very expensive ride after a few beers and a curry on a Saturday night.
As a sign of London’s diminishing cab trade, Radio Taxis, for whom I have been writing these past six years, decided we part company. I predict there will be a lot of detrimental changes for cabbies in the next 5 years.
I wrote these rather prophetic words in March 2017.
Little did I realise then how popular for Londoners would be an alternative to Radio Taxis. The new kid on the block used their ‘offshore’ status to avoid paying most UK taxes, and had a close association with the then prime minister.
It dispensed with the cumbersome criteria of having experienced driving in England at some point; abandoned comprehensive criminal record checks; used drivers with a lack of understanding the geography of London’s labyrinthine roads; and who had limited ability in understanding the capital’s native tongue, flooding London’s streets with thousands of rented vehicles purporting to be ‘cabs’.
Not everyone was so gullible. From these seemingly diverse cities spot the odd one out: Barcelona, Spain; Buffalo, New York State; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Vancouver, Canada; Frankfurt, Germany; Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Oslo, Norway; Reykjavik, Iceland; London, England. Yes, you guessed it – London. The city voted many times as having the best cabbies, and with the most stringent taxi licensing regulations in the world allowed Uber to operate with predictable consequences.
Now they have gone but so has much of London’s Black Cab trade, so does anyone want to syndicate these missives?
The inability of Transport for London at taking on a project cannot be better demonstrated than the work to replace the 160 yards long Ardleigh Green Bridge on the A127 in Romford. Work began on the 24th September 2014, after interminable delays and changes of builders, the bridge was finished on 30th March 2019, four-and-a-half years of construction chaos, in comparison is a project nearby that TfL didn’t manage. The QEII Bridge, when completed at Thurrock, was the longest cable-stayed single-span suspension bridge in Europe. A four-lane road deck carried by two pairs of steel and concrete masts 276ft tall, founded on 175ft high concrete piers sunk into the Thames. At an overall length of nearly 2 miles, it took only 3 years to build. We should never let the hapless TfL near another bridge project again.
I’ve just been on holiday in Dorset: banks of wildflowers by the side of the road; manicured roundabouts; and clean streets. Upon my return, I realised that I missed a Festival of Litter when the local populace gets the opportunity to decorate their streets with brightly coloured wrappers, breaking up the monotony of grey pavements by liberally peppering them with chewing gun, and ensuring the survival of local wildlife by distributing chips and half-eaten burgers. Next year I’ll ensure that I don’t miss this important event.