By Peter J Rose @peterjrose1
On Monday 23rd May, the Cab Section of Unite the union organised the first dedicated TfL Taxi Trade Compliance meeting for Heathrow Airport. The meeting was held at Unite’s Bath Road building, (Pictured above), which is within sight of the taxi feeder park.
Alongside Unite, the other taxi driver groups taking part were: The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), the London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC) and Heathrow Airport Taxi Drivers United (HATDU). As well as Transport for London, also present were representatives from Heathrow Airport Limited and Heathrow police
A range of topics were covered during the three hour meeting. ranging from credit cards to touting and of course the new Authorised Vehicle Area (AVA) that will be on site from June.
The AVA an initiative by the airport’s management to alleviate the chronic private hire parking situation around the Heathrow area, caused by a massive oversupply of private hire vehicles. The result is that the local residential areas surrounding the airport have been overrun with minicabs, waiting for bookings.
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The AVA will hold around seven hundred minicabs and taxis. Heathrow management are hopeful that the spaces provided would be sufficient to remedy the problem for local residents. However, the taxi reps present were less convinced. It also wasn’t clear what would happen the the space provided were found to be insufficient. Heathrow management assured the trade that it would continue to work with the local council.
Heathrow were keen to point out that the AVA would be open to taxi drivers working apps and radio circuits as well as private hire. This is fine for London taxi drivers with All London licenses but having taxis taking out of area bookings would be unacceptable to the trade and indeed illegal. Taxis must be within their licensing area at the time of accepting a booking. Obviously there is great concern that this new Authorised Vehicle Area will have a negative impact on the existing taxi feeder park.
Another cause for concern is the universal acceptance of credit cards in taxis which is coming into force this coming October. TfL were asked how they intend to enforce the new rule. TfL explained that they intend to make amendments to the London 1934 Cab Order to facilitate compulsion and the existing complaints procedure to deal with any non-compliance.
TfL did say that they would make more information available to passengers and drivers in time for the October deadline. They also stated that the amount drivers get by way of reimbursement for taking credit cards was under review. However the likelihood that anything will alter before the next tariff change is remote at best. They also agreed to talk to the trade about system suppliers following complaints from drivers to trade reps.
As always trade reps asked for more enforcement to be made available, particularly at weekends. At the moment there is none. TfL said that they had recently committed to double the amount of enforcement activity. However this will still only be twice a week. Ludicrously low and nowhere near enough for what is one of the world’s busiest airports.
The meeting is a positive step forward for taxi drivers working Heathrow and Unite Cab Section was pleased to organise the meeting, which has been agreed to be a regular feature in the trade’s calendar.