13 October 2016
RMT Press Office:
RMT welcomes London taxi report but reiterates call for statutory definition of plying for hire.
TAXI DRIVER’S UNION RMT welcomes the fact that a new report on London taxis from think tank Policy Exchange correctly identifies some of the problems facing the sector, but fails to acknowledge the importance of introducing a statutory definition of plying for hire.
The independent report, which is fronted by LBC radio host Nick Ferrari, is the latest in a long line to confirm the lamentable disorder that Uber continues to wreak on London’s streets.
Having been given the green light by Transport for London, Uber cars have flooded London’s busiest roads, slowing journey times and increasing pollution.
TfL has failed to adequately regulate and enforce existing rules with regard to Uber drivers.. This is evidenced by the epidemic of sexual assaults on passengers, previously confined to less privileged UK cities, now also spreading into London.
Uber, by paying poverty levels of pay, encourages its drivers to work excessively long hours and virtually live in their cars.
RMT welcomes the report’s acknowledgement that black cab drivers, equipped with The Knowledge, consistently outperform GPS sat navs. The union also believes that the lengthy and strenuous challenge of completing The Knowledge means that black cab drivers are vastly more suitable, committed and trustworthy than fly-by-night minicab drivers.
RMT supports the author’s recommendation that TfL establish a compulsory mobile phone app for black cab drivers; that black cabs be better integrated with other public transport modes and marketed as such; for additional infrastructure (e.g. charging points) to support zero emission taxi vehicles; that no further Mercedes Vito vehicles be licensed as taxis (thereby avoiding undermining the association with the iconic black cab); that minicab driver working hours be limited; that the publication of statistics on the sector be disaggregated (data on assaults/ accidents by minicab drivers no longer wrongly assigned to both minicab and taxi drivers); for other additional requirements on minicab operators (such as requirement for Uber to pay its fair share of tax in UK).
The union disagrees with the proposal to reduce the night time fare charged by black cabs. The premium reflects the anti-social hours worked by drivers and the more challenging nature of the work (e.g. drunk passengers).
Above all, RMT is concerned that the report fails to recognise the law needs clarifying and updating with a statutory definition of plying for hire. The union agrees that the steps which the new London Mayor has taken so far have not gone far enough. The Mayor wants a new statutory definition and can require TfL to enter a private members’ bill into Parliament (as it has done on numerous previous occasions). RMT is pressing for this to occur at the earliest opportunity.
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said:
“We welcome the fact the report recognises that TfL needs to regulate and enforce existing legislation.
“Passengers in London deserve safe and properly regulated transport and we believe that a major step forward in making that happen will be the introduction of a statutory definition of plying for hire.”