17.4.2012 Minicab company fights for bus lane use
John Griffin, chairman of Addison Lee minicab firm was granted a meeting with Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond to discuss the potential use of restricted bus lanes for his taxi drivers.
It was suggested that the meeting was given consent based on the influence of £250,000 worth of donations that Addison Lee has given to the Conservative Party over the last couple of years.
Mr Griffin met with Philip Hammond last October to discuss the proposition of his taxi vehicles being able to use bus lanes, just as black cabs in the capital are allowed to. He also put forward his view that government minister chauffeuring services should be outsourced to private companies.
Calls were raised for the government to explain whether the donations and the meeting were linked, but Department for Transport officials said that the donation had not influenced the scheduled meeting, saying that: "It is entirely appropriate for the secretary of state for transport to meet large transport operators from different sectors in order to understand how their industries work."
Nevertheless, the ban on private taxis using bus lanes is a major issue for Addison Lee and other privately operating taxi firms – it prevents fair competition with the black cabs that are allowed to travel in them.
This week, Griffin ordered his 4,000 drivers to defy the law and use the bus lanes, saying that he would pay any fines that were issued. Transport for London quickly responded by saying that it would be a criminal offence and that drivers would have their taxi licences revoked if they did so. Griffin described the law that bus lanes were for use by buses, black cabs and motorcycles only as 'unlawful' – he feels it exposes his customers to 'unfair and discriminatory treatment'.
Addison Lee has used a similar tactic for the M4 bus lane in the past, collecting up over 200 fines and 130 court appointments against drivers. These were dropped after Hammond closed the M4 bus lane in 2010.
Griffin told Hammond that he had no extra capacity to respond to the increased demand due over the Olympic period, and followed that using the bus lanes would ease the pressure and boost business during the busy time.
John Griffin founded the company in 1975 with a single car and he hopes to expand its business beyond the M25 in coming years. The company makes 25,000 journeys in London per day and last year the company had a turnover of £127 million. In the same year, Griffin was paid £3.6m.
Post a commentReturn to top
blog comments powered by Disqus