05:00PM, Friday 31 July 2020
Members of the Slough Taxi Federation have urged the council to let them use the controversial A4 bus and cycle lane, or it may leave drivers unable to cope.
The temporary bus and cycle lane was created by Slough Borough Council after it secured £180,000 from the Department for Transport to ‘support a green restart to local travel’.
The introduction of the lane, which cost around £50,000, has already sparked controversy, leading to two petitions with thousands of signatures for its removal, citing concerns of serious congestion on the road.
Now, Hackney carriage drivers have appealed to at least be allowed to use the bus lane while it is in operation.
“In all major towns cities hackney carriages are permitted to use bus lanes,” said Ranjit Ghotra, general secretary of Slough Taxi Federation.
“When they put bus lanes on Farnham Road and London Road, there was no consultation. They were just granted for us to use. We don’t know what the difference is with this particular road.”
Private cabs are not permitted to use bus lanes in towns and cities – but hackney carriages charge on metre and can be hailed, hence why they are frequently allowed to use bus lanes.
“If we can’t use the bus lanes, we’ll be stuck in traffic and the metre will still be charging customers,” said Mr Ghotra.
He added that, as a provider of accessible transport, the inability to use bus lanes will cause a problem for customers with accessibility needs as well.
“We do the school-home transport for wheelchair users and people with special needs – sitting in traffic during school rush hour will be hard for them as well. That’s why we’re really concerned.”
Slough Taxi Federation has written to the highways team at Slough Borough Council twice and has heard that they will only receive a response after a six-month consultation period.
“Our trade will be finished after six months,” said Mr Ghotra. “Most of the trade is on Bath Road, and all the drivers will be just sitting there in traffic.”
“Hackney carriage drivers are already suffering because of COVID-19 and this will really bring them down. Some of them will have to just pack it in.”
A spokesman for Slough Borough Council said:“The A4 Bath Road bus and cycle lane is to give cyclists and pedestrians the opportunity to social distance and provide a dedicated lane for ease of cycling in the borough.
“A high proportion of private car journeys in the borough are short in time and distance and we hope these journeys can be made easier by using an alternative method.
“This is a six month experimental order and the members of the taxi association will have the opportunity to add their comments throughout the consultation period.”