London

M4 cab firm Addison Lee's 200 bus lane fines 'dropped'

A minicab firm has received notice that it will not be prosecuted despite getting more than 200 tickets for driving in the M4 bus lane.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) contacted Addison Lee to say 216 penalty notice fares and 130 court summonses, had been dropped.

On Friday, it emerged the government will scrap the M4 bus lane.

The CPS said that it was "no longer in the public interest to proceed" with the cases faced by the minicab firm.

Only buses, coaches, motorbikes, emergency vehicles and licensed taxis can use the 3.5-mile (5.6km) lane, which runs between Heathrow Airport and central London.

Addison Lee chairman John Griffin said the decision to drop the firm's penalties showed the "discrimination" between licensed taxis and private cab firms "could not be justified".

Mr Griffin ordered his drivers to use the bus lane last year, citing competition laws.

The 216 fixed penalty notices the company received were for either £30 or £45 each.

Using the bus lane reduced journeys between Heathrow and London by 25 minutes, he said.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the bus lane was "not effective" and would be scrapped at the end of the year.

The bus lane will be suspended from 24 December for 18 months when the lane comes back into use for the Olympics, after which it will be scrapped for good.

All motorists will again be able to use the lane which operates on the London-bound carriageway from near Heathrow Airport.

'Anti-competitive'

Mr Griffin said: "I have no doubt that the decision to scrap the M4 bus lane was at least in part the result of the pressure presented by this case.

"I'm very pleased that people are starting to realise that the current anti-competitive bus lane rules are not workable.

"It is unfair to discriminate against private hire vehicles that are licensed by the same authorities and compete for the same customers with taxis."

A CPS London spokeswoman said: "The Crown Prosecution Service has a duty to keep cases under review and respond to changes in circumstances.

"Following the announcement regarding the future of the M4 bus lane we were under a duty to review all cases to see if it was still in the public interest to pursue a prosecution.

"In the particular individual circumstances of the cases being faced by Addison Lee it was determined it was no longer in the public interest to proceed."

The bus lane was introduced by then Transport Secretary John Prescott in 1999.

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