Bank Junction could grind to a halt once again this month as black cab drivers vow to wage war on Transport for London (TfL) and the City of London Corporation over plans to ban them from the busy intersection.
The Independent Taxi Alliance (ITA) has promised a repeat of January’s widespread demonstrations that saw thousands of drivers blockade parts of the City over a scheme to exclude all vehicles from the junction on weekdays.
Only bikes and buses will be permitted to use the intersection between 7am and 7pm under the proposal, aimed at reducing the number of collisions.
The RMT held talks with Corporation officials on Monday in an attempt to get the exclusion lifted, claiming taxis are not the cause of serious traffic incidents in the area and should be exempt. But the Corporation refused to budge, promising a blanket ban will go ahead from April.
The ITA said in a statement that while the Corporation had been sympathetic to their concerns, they were being guided by TfL.
“Even though we know our argument is with TfL and not the City of London, it lies at the heart of the Square Mile,” it posted on Twitter.
— ITA ⭕ (@ProactiveITA) January 31, 2017
The group said they were planning blockades to stop TfL buses from running for two hours each weekday from 27 February.
ITA spokesperson Jim Thomas said: “The [taxi] trade feel deeply that this has never been about safety as the buses have had more collisions with cyclists than taxis. This whole episode is just more evidence of TfL’s bully boy tactics aimed at the London taxi trade.”
The Corporation proposed the scheme as an interim measure for the development of the All Change At Bank project, which will see major changes to Bank Underground Station.
A spokesperson said last week that the meeting with RMT was one of a number conducted with various representative groups to explain the rationale, but was adamant the scheme would go ahead.
“This decision to limit vehicle journeys through Bank Junction was made following careful consideration and we have been clear from the beginning that it will be launched in April,” the spokesperson said.
“Throughout the scheme we will be monitoring its impact on safety and traffic flow at the junction and surrounding area.”
But RMT branch secretary Lewis Norton promised the scheme is “in no way a done deal”.
“The data used for justifying taxis exclusion is inconsistent and nonsensical in supporting their proposals,” he said.
The ITA said drivers had no choice but to continue industrial action: “We no longer have anything to lose. For if we lose the City, we lose our livelihoods.”