Taxi in london traffic

As someone who didn’t pass his driving test until the ripe old age of 38, I have always championed public transport.  I failed two tests as a teenager and didn’t bother after that, I lived in London and simply didn’t need to drive (and had girlfriends who did!).

We all have things that we are happy to splash the cash on (eating in fancy restaurants is my guilty pleasure) and things we loath to spend (or waste, as we see it) money on, and for me that thing is taxis.

But the price of public transport in the UK is ludicrously expensive (especially in London), when compared to other countries and cities.

It just isn’t right.  A single ticket in central London on the underground costs an astronomical £4.90.  Compare that to €1.90 in Paris (£1.61) or $2.75 in New York (£2.19).

My younger brother Dave, took four years to gain his ‘Knowledge’, the qualification required to become a black taxi driver in London.  But the problem with black cabs is that the fares are set by TFL (Transport for London) and they are very expensive.  Anyone who has used black cabs also knows that the meter continues to tick even when the taxi is stationary.

On a recent trip to Paris, my wife and I took a taxi from Waterloo station to St. Pancras to catch the Eurostar, a distance of 3.34 miles.  The fare was £18.50.  The traffic was horrendous, largely due to the roadworks caused by Boris Johnson’s insane idea to build a cycle path through central London, not in sections, but all at the same time.  By the time we got to St. Pancras, I had steam coming out of my ears!

Of course, thanks to the Uber revolution, the famous black taxi will soon become a thing of the past, as they are priced off the road by a company who manages to recruit drivers prepared to work for practically nothing.

And, as for the price of trains in the UK… My wife and I went to Newcastle a few years ago, and it was cheaper to fly than to take the train.  Now that isn’t just wrong, it’s criminal, when you think how many people can fit on a train versus a plane.

It really shouldn’t be allowed.

There are many countries around the world that have Governments which realise that by investing in, and subsidising public transport, it gets people out of their cars and onto trains, tubes and buses.  

In 1981, Ken Livingstone, who was then leader of the now defunct Greater London Council, introduced the Labour council’s controversial Fares Fair policy, dramatically reducing the prices of public transport by over 30%, and guess what happened? 

Everyone started using it.  That was 36 years ago, but there have been no initiatives like it since.  The Oyster card reduces prices considerably for frequent users of the tube, but it is no good for occasional users (like me) or tourists who must find our prices even more astonishing than we do.

It’s time someone had the gall to revolutionise our public transport costs to get the cars off the roads.  I hate corny expressions, but it really is a no brainer.