London cabbies have demanded that they should be allowed to increase their fares by around 15% during the Olympics. Blimey. As if it wasn’t going to be expensive enough already to attend the Games.
And even if you’re not going (how many of us were actually lucky enough to get tickets?), if you happen to be in London, you’ll still be hit by higher fares.
So, let’s reverse a little bit. The request comes from the License Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), the biggest group to represent London’s black-cab drivers. It’s pressuring Transport for London (TfL) and good old Boris Johnson to let cabbies put their prices up during the full month during the Olympics and Paralympics.
The LTDA wants the premium evening tariff to be brought forward to the daytime, which would result in a 15% fare increase. And, on top of that, there’s the proposed annual increase of 5.2%. That’s a good 20% more to get you from the station to the Olympic grounds.
This fare increase would result in a six-mile daytime ride from Wembley Stadium to Burnt Oak would cost £5.26 more, according to sums by the Evening Standard.
Is the fare increase justified?
So, why the increase? Not only is it for the inconvenience of clogged up streets during the Olympics, it’s to act as an incentive to stop cabbies from going on holiday. Bob Oddy, chief of the LTDA, told the BBC:
‘Because of the widespread chaos that’s been predicted during the Olympic period with regard to road closures and other disruption, 40% of our members are currently saying that’s when they’re going to take their summer break.
‘If we get 40% of cabs off the road, I’m afraid the average passenger won’t get a cab at any price. They won’t be there.’
It would be easy to shake your finger at cab drivers for profiteering, but if they’ve got no incentive to work during what’s likely to be ‘London from hell’, why should they stick around? This is further impacted by TfL’s decision to pay Tube drivers an Olympic bonus of £1,200 and also by the fact that private hire vehicles will be able to increase their fares by even more.
Is this what we should be showing the world?
Regardless of all this, won’t the Olympics represent the best time for business for London’s cabbies? There’ll be thousands of tourists wanting to get the Games. Plus, I’m almost certain public transport will crumble under its own weight, meaning frustrated passengers will be stomping out of the Underground and opening the door to our beloved black cabs.
Why leave London when they’re likely to make more money during one month than at any other time during the year? Maybe, just maybe, they’re bluffing. Transport for London has until February to make its decision on the proposal.
It’s hardly the best way to show off the capital to visitors from around the world. Do we really want them to leave our country with the words ‘Rip-off Britain’ front of mind?