London

Addison Lee loses taxis in bus lane legal challenge

Bus Lane in London
Image caption TfL says minicabs in bus lanes could "seriously disrupt the bus network"

Minicab operator Addison Lee has lost its High Court legal challenge to allow its vehicles to use London's bus lanes.

In April it instructed its drivers to go in the lanes, saying it was "unfair discrimination" that only licensed black taxis were able to use them.

However, Transport for London (TfL) obtained an injunction to prevent the firm breaking the rules.

Addison Lee said it was "extremely disappointed" by the judgement, calling it "anti-competitive". It will appeal.

Chairman John Griffin said: "The current bus lane legislation is anti-competitive 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."

He added that it thought the legislation was in breach of EU and UK law as "you can't discriminate between two types of taxis and we will continue to fight this injustice".

'Entire good sense'

But TfL said taxis were allowed to drive in bus lanes because they can ply for hire, whereas minicabs cannot.

It said it would be more difficult to hail a taxi, especially on a busy road, if the vehicle concerned was not near to the kerb.

In his judgement, Mr Justice Burton said: "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.

"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," he added.

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."

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