May 25 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Minicab firm Addison Lee has lost its High Court bid for its vehicles to be allowed to use London’s bus lanes.
Earlier this year the company announced it was instructing its drivers to go into the bus lanes, arguing the rules that allowed black cabs in but not minicabs was unfair.
It said it would indemnify drivers against fines for entering the bus lanes.
A High Court judge has now ruled in favour of transport bosses.
Mr Justice Burton said it made “good sense” to let black cabs move into bus lanes because they needed to be “visible and available”.
“Minicabs just do not have the need to use the bus lane, and black cabs do,” he ruled.
The judge said if minicabs were allowed to use bus lanes then chauffeured cars, delivery vehicles, lorries and private cars might also have a justifiable claim.
“It seems to me entirely clear that there is an objectively justifiable ground for distinction between black cabs and minicabs in relation to the use of the bus lane,” he said.
“If however the exception were to be extended to include minicabs, which do not have that same justification, then I cannot see any further stopping point, any further rational distinction between them and the other vehicles.”
He added: “It would be the ‘thin end of the wedge’, but one of some importance because it would immediately jeopardise the priority for buses in the bus lanes.”
Minicab firm Eventech, an associate company of Addison Lee, sought a judicial review after complaining that Transport for London, part of the Greater London Authority, was operating an “unreasonable” policy.
Mr Justice Burton, who heard legal argument at a High Court hearing in London in June, dismissed Eventech’s challenge in a written ruling handed down.
Addison Lee chairman John Griffin said: “Addison Lee remains totally opposed to the current bus lane legislation, which is both unfair and discriminatory.”
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.”