FOLLOWING Mr Lescott’s assertions in the December issue. As a licensed operator I felt the need to write and address a few of his comments. I shall do so under the same heading titles with which his own views were made.
What about the drivers?
Mr Lescott proceeds to bemoan the postion of drivers and his perception is that they appear to have been overlooked in the Law Commission’s taxi and private hire consultation process.
Mr Lescott said that “The draft bill should not be finalised without the interests of drivers being taken into consideration.”
I find his comments somewhat bemusing, given that this consultation has been open to everyone to relay their views.
With all due respect to Mr Lescott, who has clearly been moved to contribute towards the consultation, if there has been apathy amongst his fellow drivers, and they have failed to express their opinion to the Law Commission, they can’t complain about the outcome. Everyone is a stakeholder in this process
TfL must control driver numbers
Within this paragraph, Mr Lescott seeks to deny other people the opportunity to work by insisting there needs to be a cap on driver numbers in London.
One can only assume that he has said this in the mistaken belief that somehow this will increase his income. However, a little research would have revealed what he requests is in fact illegal, unless he wants a Knowledge Test (more on that later).
TfL should control private hire fares with a fixed metered fare structure
In London it is illegal to have a taximeter in a private hire vehicle. Operators have used this as a unique selling point to customers by giving them certainty on how much their journey will cost.
To change to a metered system invites the regulatory authority to interfere in how we price our services. Be very careful what you wish for Mr Lescott, there are unintended consequences of such a change:
1: Fare increases will become political and could be frozen over many years. There is one authority that has not increased fare tariff since 2002!
2: To ensure the public is adequately protected from drivers taking the long route, a comprehensive Knowledge Test would be required. Furthermore, the black cab lobby would almost certainly insist on it being the same test Knowledge Test they are required to undertake .
There would be no ‘Grandfather Rights’ and drivers would be unable to work until they have completed the knowledge, destroying the London private industry overnight, with thousands of drivers put of work.
I can hear the champagne corks popping at every Cab Tea Shelter across London.
3: Customers are price sensitive and are happy with the fixed fare structure. There will be fewer airport jobs as private hire would become more expensive than a black cab in a metered system as they cannot use bus lanes.
As a driver and operator of 30 years, I was offended by the way Mr Lescott portrayed operators – as if we are latter day ‘Fagins’.
Operators provide a service that balances the needs of drivers and passsengers. If they don’t they go out of business.
Mr Lescott’s solutions benefit Mr Lescott, but ignores that this is a customer focussed industry and the needs of the customer is paramount.
I say to you Mr Lescott, if you don’t like the service you work for, you can choose from over 3000 other operators in London.
Or, instead of carping on about operators, you can always put your money where your mouth is – and start your own operation.
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