John Griffin, the Chairman of London minicab firm Addision Lee, has written to all the self-employed licensed drivers working for his company. He is urging them to ignore regulations that prohibit private hire vehicles from using London’s bus lanes.
London bus lanes are, of course, less congested and can provide quicker routes through the city. Griffin believes that if his customers reach their destinations more quickly, this will boost the firm’s business.
The regulations prohibit any vehicle except buses, motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, tricycles and London licensed taxis (also known as black cabs) from using bus lanes during their operational hours. A £130 penalty charge notice can be issued for prohibited vehicles photographed driving in the bus lanes, although residents may turn through them for access reasons.
Griffin has told his minicab drivers he will pay any fines they may incur by ignoring the regulations, administered by Transport for London (TfL). He believes the regulations are biased in favour of black cabs, and therefore anti-competitive.
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of surface transport at TfL, issued a statement warning minicab drivers of further possible consequences arising from criminal prosecution: “We are … writing to all Addison Lee drivers reminding them that repeated breaches of traffic regulations could see their licence to operate withdrawn.”
The transport row is something of an embarrassment for the Conservative party, as Griffin has been a prominent supporter, and enjoyed face-to-face meetings David Cameron. Griffin has donated money to the political party, including a large sum in 2008 to support Boris Johnson’s mayoral campaign for London.
It is being reported that TfL will seek an injunction at the high court on Monday. If successful, this will force Griffin to withdraw his instruction to minicab drivers. This week, about two dozen Addison Lee drivers, out of a total of approximately 4,000, have been issued with penalty charge notices for using the bus lanes.