The company has sent a letter to its 3,500 drivers instructing them to use the bus lanes in the city and will pay any penalties issued to them, potentially £1,000 per offence. Transport for London has reacted by issuing a stern warning to Addison Lee employee’s that they could face criminal prosecution and repeat offenders could have their licenses revoked.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Addison Lee, John Griffin commented; “The current Bus Lane legislation is anticompetitive and unfairly discriminates against the millions of passengers that use Addison Lee. Minicabs perform the same function as black Taxis and are licensed by the same authority, so there is no reason that they should be penalised due to outdated legislation.”
Addison Lee was instrumental in the scrapping of the M4 Bus Lane in 2010, which saw over 200 tickets and 130 court summons against the company dropped when the lane was closed. Since the closure of the M4 Bus Lane, the Highways Agency has reported that overall journey times and accidents have reduced.
The company has already secured a judicial review of the Bus Lane legislation later in the year, but in the meantime, Mr Griffin believes that Addison Lee’s drivers should be allowed to use the bus lanes whilst awaiting the review.
John Griffin continues; “Black Taxis are not a public service, they are a business just like minicabs – and we will fight the injustice in the current legal system that subsidises them as if they provided a public service. The black Taxi produces 1.5 times the amount of CO2 and 44 times more PM10 toxins than our minicabs, contributing more than a third of all particulate pollution in London. They are more expensive and they often refuse to pick people up or go south of the river. Why on earth does our legal system treat them as any different to other private transport providers?”
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “The letter from the management of Addison Lee is utterly irresponsible. By issuing it, Addison Lee risk regulatory action against themselves and leave their staff liable to criminal prosecution. We have asked Addison Lee to withdraw their letter immediately. We are also writing to all Addison Lee drivers reminding them that repeated breaches of traffic regulations could see their licence to operate withdrawn.
He added; “London’s bus lanes are in place to ensure the efficient operation of the bus network, which carries more than six million passengers a day. Allowing tens of thousands of Private Hire Vehicles to drive in bus lanes would seriously disrupt the bus network and our passengers’ ability to get around the capital.”
TfL is urgently considering legal and regulatory action against Addison Lee and is currently working with the Police on the streets of London to target those using bus lanes illegally.