THE CHIEF executive of Addison Lee has written to Sadiq Khan to ask him not to take away the Congestion Charge exemption for minicabs.
The Camden-based company, owned by the American Carlyle Group investment firm, says that removing the exemption will cost licensed minicab drivers £250 per month and is anti-competitive because black cab taxis would still be exempt.
Private hire vehicles play a vital role in helping to move millions of people safely around the capital each day. They are particularly important to certain groups such as vulnerable adults – as TfL recently noted in a policy statement – and I can see no reason why private hire vehicles should be treated any differently from taxis with respect to the congestion charge.
Boland said that making PHVs liable for the congestion charge was a “blunt instrument” that would hit investment, distort competition and affect drivers’ income, “To the detriment of passengers and the travelling public”.
He added: “Given the competitive nature of the market, fares would be unlikely to rise to reflect any imposition of the Congestion Charge. There would therefore be no change in demand and no improvement to the environment.”
Addison Lee said the London cab trade was already ultra competitive with many firms investing in innovative green vehicle technology. But, in a reference to Uber, a spokesman said the com- pany: “Operates against a backdrop of a marketplace in which some participants have pursued a policy of growing market share by offering fares which are substantially below cost.
“Those firms which have subsidised fares will most likely absorb the costs to hoover up greater market share and keep fares artificially low. To stay competitive, Addison Lee will have to pass the cost onto drivers, which will then hit the earnings of drivers.”
A spokesman for the mayor said:
The mayor and TfL are keeping user charging schemes, including the Congestion Charge, under review to ensure that they are as effective as they can be. As part of this, TfL is currently undertaking further analysis on the impact of removing the exemption from the congestion charge for private hire vehicles.
London Assembly Liberal Democrat member Caroline Pidgeon said: “The growth in private hire vehicles has contributed to the growth in congestion in many parts of London and a range of policies are needed to address that.
“One area where immediate action must be taken is much firmer action against private hire vehicles which misuse their congestion charge exemption.”