Mr Justice Burton described the reasoning behind TfL’s policy as “obvious and compelling”.
TfL explained to the court that taxis are allowed to drive in bus lanes because they can ply for hire, whereas minicabs cannot. It would be more difficult to hail a taxi, especially on a busy road, if the vehicle concerned was not near to the kerb.
Mr Justice Burton agreed, noting in his judgment: “There is to my mind a clear distinction between the need of black cabs (and their passengers and the public) for them to be in the bus lanes, by way of visibility and availability of, and access to, black cabs for those hailing a cruising taxi”. He went on to note: “I consider it makes entire good sense for black cabs to be travelling in bus lanes. Minicabs just do not have the need to use the bus lane, and black cabs do”.
Mr Justice Burton said he was “wholly unpersuaded” by Addison Lee’s claim that TfL’s bus lane policy affected the freedom of EU nationals to establish themselves as minicab drivers and concluded that “this has simply been the attempt to mount a challenge to a London traffic regulation by turning it into a “Euro-point”.”
Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “We are pleased that the court has recognised the important distinction between taxis and minicabs and the services they provide. Taxis will continue to use the capital’s bus lanes, enabling them to provide the unique and wheelchair accessible service so valued by many passengers.
“Londoners will doubtless also be pleased to know that the court has ordered Addison Lee to meet TfL’s costs in defending this claim.”
Addison Lee Chairman John Griffin said; “We are extremely disappointed with today’s judgement. The current Bus Lane legislation is anticompetitive and unfairly discriminates against millions of Londoners who use Private Hire Vehicles every day.”
“There is no reason for Black Taxis to have a monopoly on Bus Lanes – we should either all be in or all be out.”
Griffin however, maintained that the battle with TFL was far from over: “We still believe that the current legislation is a breach of the EU and UK law. You can’t discriminate between two types of taxis and we will continue to fight this injustice”.