Black cabs in strike threat


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Many low-cost taxi rides could triple or quadruple in price and duration during the Olympics, when special "Games Lanes" for the exclusive use of competitors and dignitaries will be temporarily installed throughout London.

As things stand, London's 21,000 black cabs will not be allowed in the lanes and in certain places will not be permitted even to turn right across them, sending customers on lengthy, time consuming and costly diversions. Many drivers are so concerned the disruption caused by the "ZIL lanes" as they have christened them – after the lanes reserved for the ZIL limousines of party Communist Party officials in Cold War Moscow – will be so severe that they intend not to work.

Their representatives are currently engaged in complex and ongoing negotiations with Olympic authorities to get limited use of the lanes.

"We understand that the Olympic lanes were part of the criteria for getting the Games, but there is room for manoeuvre," said Steve McNamara, a cab driver and spokesperson for the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association.

At the heart of the matter is Park Lane, where many Olympic dignitaries will be staying in hotels. A number of taxi ranks on the street will be closed during the Games and drivers will not be able to pick up or set down passengers there. A round trip to the Olympic Park from these hotels is around 19 miles.

"If we don't make substantial progress my members are very, very up for disruptive action," said Mr McNamara.

"They have said they will stop us from bringing the city to a standstill, but if they think they can stop us they're wrong."