Olympic 'VIP lanes' will cause taxi fares to rocket, warn cabbies

 

The cost of many taxi rides in London could be four times higher during the Olympics when special "Games Lanes" are installed for the exclusive use of competitors and dignitaries.

Click HERE to see graphic (153k jpeg)

The capital's 21,000 black cabs will not be allowed in the lanes, and in certain places they will not be permitted even to turn right across them, sending customers on lengthy, time-consuming and costly diversions.

Many drivers fear the disruption caused by the "Zil lanes" – the name given to lanes reserved for the Zil limousines of Communist Party officials in Cold War Moscow – will be so severe they intend simply not to work.

Their representatives are engaged in complex negotiations with Olympic authorities in an effort to win 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 black cab driver and spokesman for the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association. "London is unlike any city that's held the Olympics in recent times. It's not a planned city, it's an evolved city, and it's a large city.

"We are an integral part of London transport. Transport for London and the Olympic authorities are encouraging people not to use their cars. If that is what they want they will have to give us certain concessions."

The plans have led to a threat by London taxi drivers to hijack Olympic routes and bring the capital to a standstill.

"If we don't make substantial progress my members are very up for disruptive action," said Mr Mcnamara. "They have said they will stop us from bringing the city to a standstill, but no one knows London like a cab driver. If they think they can stop us they're wrong."

The LTDA says it is meeting with officials from transport chiefs and Olympic organisers each week and that negotiations are on a "street by street" basis. At the heart of the matter is Park Lane, where many Olympic dignitaries will be staying in the string of luxury hotels. A number of taxi ranks on the street will be closed for the Games, and drivers will not be allowed to operate there. A round trip to the Olympic Park from these hotels is around 19 miles.

The Games Lanes will operate only on London's busiest streets, and in most cases will replace bus lanes, which will not decrease the overall space available to general traffic.

More than 80,000 'Olympic Family members', including athletes, officials and VIP guests, will be able to use the lanes in a special fleet of Olympic vehicles, provided in a sponsorship deal with BMW believed to be worth more than £40m.

The Games Lanes form part of a wider Olympic Route Network (ORN), most of which will remain open to general traffic. It is TfL's responsibility to ensure traffic keeps moving during the games. "We appreciate there will be an impact on taxi drivers and that is why there has been extensive engagement with the Taxi and Private Hire trades," a spokesperson said.

"TfL is currently working on information for all Taxi and Private Hire drivers which will cover the ORN and the Games in detail ensuring drivers can make the most of the opportunity the Games offer."

A spokesperson for Olympic organisers Locog said: “We have a constructive ongoing relationship with the Taxi Drivers Association and we liaise with them on a regular basis around all aspects of their operation at Games time. Taxis can use the ORN but are not able to access the dedicated lanes.”

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones