Golden Fares Launched on Busiest Party Night


A RADICAL new taxi service is to be launched tonight (fri 17/12/10), one of the busiest party nights of the year, to provide West End revellers with a safe way of getting home.

The Golden Fares scheme is designed to give visitors to central London an accessible, easy to use and safe way of travelling home late at night and into the early hours on Fridays and Saturdays, and encourage revellers not to be tempted by touts in the knowledge they can get a trustworthy licensed taxi at a fixed price when they most need it.
Operating from Leicester Square from 10pm-4am both Friday and Saturday nights, passengers will be pay a fixed price up front to travel to four zones stretching as far as from Redbridge to Richmond and Croydon to Copthall, with the most expensive fare being £50, and the cheapest £20.

The scheme has been developed by Westminster Council, Transport for London and representatives from the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, Unite, the London Cab Drivers Club and Heart of London Business Alliance.
Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr Lee Rowley, said: “This will be a boon to revellers this Christmas, especially those living in outer boroughs. We want people to come to the West End and have a great time, but we also want them to get home safely and not be tempted by touts who pose a real risk to their safety.”

Westminster council’s city commissioner of transportation, Martin Low, who came up with the concept of the Golden Fares scheme whilst taking part in a phone in on the LBC radio’s James Whale show, said:

“We all know how difficult it can be to get a taxi in the early hours, but it struck me whilst taking calls from cabbies that what was needed was some extra incentive to encourage them, as well as ensuring a good deal for the passengers.

“Golden fares offers customers certainty about what they are going to pay and the taxi driver gets the fare up front at the start of the journey with no risk of the passenger not paying. Also, many cabbies do live in many of the outer boroughs, so it makes sense for them to be heading home with a fare paying passengers instead of driving empty. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

It has also been backed by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, whose Director Catherine Skinner, said: “Suzy Lamplugh Trust would encourage revellers visiting the West End over the festive period to either book a licensed minicab in advance to come and collect them or take full advantage of the Golden Fares Scheme and stay well clear of illegal minicabs touting for business on the streets.”

John Mason, Director of Taxi and Private Hire at Transport for London said:  “TfL are delighted to have been involved in the introduction of this new, innovative scheme. It provides yet another alternative for the public to get home safely from the West End at night using licensed taxis.

“The pricing structure for the scheme provides both taxi drivers and the travelling public with a transparent and simple structure of set fares that we hope both will find attractive. We will monitor this trial closely and work with Westminster Council and the taxi trade to expand the scheme if it proves successful.”
Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association General Secretary Bob Oddy said: “This is the busiest time of the year and we want to do all we can to ensure people can find a taxi as quickly and easily as possible, and are not tempted to put their own safety at risk by using a tout. It’s a great deal for passengers, as a group of five people travelling to the same location can travel in safety and comfort to places as far as away as Croydon and Barnet for as little as a tenner each. I’m confident taxi drivers will embrace this scheme and if a success it could become a regular fixture this time of year.”

Passengers and taxi drivers are being asked to agree fixed fares for journeys made from the Golden Fares Taxi Rank located on the north side of Coventry Street at the tourist coach bus stop outside G Casinos by Wardour Street and Swiss Court.

Passengers tell the driver their destination postcode or the street name and the driver then inputs the information into an ipad which identifies which Golden Fares zone the address is in and the cost. Divided into four zones of three, seven, ten and twelve miles the fixed fees will be priced at £20, £30, £40 and £50 respectively.

Drivers are not obliged to participate in the scheme but only drivers willing to accept payment via the Golden Fares Scheme are permitted to use the identified rank.  Visitors still be able to choose to hail a taxi in the street as normal if they so wish, which would be cheaper and more convenient for shorter journeys as the scheme is primarily aimed at those travelling home, particularly to the outer boroughs.  
Businesses in Leicester Square and Piccadilly, represented by the Heart of London Business Alliance (HOLBA), also backed the scheme and provided the marshalling point.

Golden Fares will operate from 10pm to 4am Friday and Saturday nights for four weekends starting on Friday December 17th, but excludes the Friday and Saturday of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. LTDA will supply taxi marshalls during the trial, and the casino will also provide a place for drivers to use the facilities.

The Council has loaded special software on Apple ipads to calculate the fare, which is based upon the post code of the destination or a road name and the following fixed fares:

Up to 3 miles    £20

Up to 7 miles    £30

Up to 10 miles   £40

Up to 12 miles   £50


Mayor’s tough new air quality standards to remove dirtiest black cabs from London’s roads

14 DECEMBER 2010

  • £1 million incentive fund to stimulate market for electric black cabs
  •  Eco-driving mandatory for new black cabbies by 2012  

The Mayor of London has today (Tuesday 14 December) announced the oldest, more polluting black cabs in the capital will lose their licence to operate, under tough new standards to improve air quality in the capital.  

Road transport is responsible for around 80 per cent of airbourne pollution (PM10) in central London where air quality is worst, with black cabs contributing 20 per cent of this. ‘Clearing the Air’, the Mayor’s final air quality strategy published today, will  demand that from 1 January 2012 no black cab over 15 years old will be licensed by the Taxi and Private Hire Office. Around 1,200 black cabs are likely to be more than 15 years old in 2012. The Mayor will introduce a requirement for all new taxis entering the fleet to meet the strictest vehicles standard from 1 April 2012*. In addition, currently, all taxis are subject to a single annual inspection by Transport for London (TfL). 

From 2013, at the latest, instead of a once yearly overhaul, all taxis will be required to take two full MOT tests each year, but this will be done more simply and cost effectively at a local garage rather than at only three available inspection centres. This will ensure that the vehicles are operating as cleanly and efficiently as possible all the year round but with reduced bureaucracy. In addition, from January 2012 all aspiring cabbies will also be required to take a mandatory eco-driving course. Helping cabbies to drive more efficiently will not only help them to save money but also reduce emissions of pollutants and carbon dioxide.

The Mayor and TfL have also announced a £1 million fund to encourage taxi owners to upgrade to low emission vehicles such as electric black cabs. Taxi owners who are upgrading their vehicles will be able to avail of the fund to upgrade to the cleanest vehicles available. Further details of the fund will be announced in 2011.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: ‘London’s magnificent cabbies are famous the world over for their top notch service, but I also want the capital’s taxi fleet to match up to the highest environmental standards that a great city like ours deserves.

 ‘From 2012 when the world heads to London, we will remove the oldest, dirtiest cabs from our streets. But we are also offering a juicy carrot, with the establishment of a fund to help speed up the introduction of electric black cabs. This forms part of a robust package of long-term measures to progressively clean up London’s air.’   

The Mayor’s air quality strategy sets out a package of measures to clean up the capital. Just last week, the Mayor announced the creation of the UK’s only zero-emission bus route with the use of eight hydrogen buses that emit only water vapour. The bus route will go through some of London’s most polluted areas in central London. TfL has already begun the UK’s first trial applying dust suppressants at two central London locations with high levels of particulate matter pollution (PM10). The dust suppressant is a solution made up of Calcium Magnesium Acetate that literally sticks the particulate matter to the road and prevents it re-circulating in the air.

Other measures in the strategy include: 

  • Retrofitting older buses so that they meet the Euro IV standard for NOx; 
  • Introducing vans and minibuses to the LEZ from January 2012; 
  • Introducing a NOx standard into the LEZ from 2015; 
  • Encouraging the use of electric vehicles through schemes such as Source London; 
  • Updating and fully implementing guidance for reducing dust at construction and demolition sites; 
  • Using the planning system to make new developments ‘air quality neutral’; 
  • Energy efficiency programmes to reduce emissions from heating of homes and workplaces.

Implementation of the policies and proposals in the strategy is expected to reduce PM10 emissions in central London by around 13 per cent by 2011 and by about a third by 2015 (compared to 2008). Together with the targeted local measures in priority areas, modelling suggests that this will allow London to be compliant with legal limits by 2011. The strategy will also see NOx emissions fall by 35 per cent by 2015 (compared to 2008 levels). 

The Mayor is already implementing a range of measures in London to improve air quality such as introducing a hybrid bus fleet, record levels of investment in cycling and programmes to cut emissions from homes and workplaces. The New Bus for London, due to enter service in 2012, will incorporate the latest hybrid technology and will be both 40 per cent more fuel efficient than conventional diesel buses and 15 per cent more fuel efficient than current London hybrid buses.