It’s hard not to sympathise with cabbies in Fareham. While they see buses using special new trial lanes designed to speed up the rapid transit route between Fareham and Gosport, they are not allowed to follow in their wheeltracks.
Instead taxi drivers have been left fuming with the rest of the motorists queuing in the traffic jams caused by the bus lanes.
They feel so strongly about the unfairness of it all that the Fareham Hackney Association, which represents many local taxi firms, is to look into mounting a legal challenge to the current ban on cabbies using the lanes.
Hampshire County Council, which is responsible for the lanes, talks of its policy of limiting the lanes to just buses as being ‘kept under review’.
But the taxi drivers are clearly not convinced that they will be listened to. So they are prepared to investigate using the law to try to bring about change.
Why is it that somebody on high has decided that taxis in Fareham can’t use the new bus lanes? Cabbies elsewhere are allowed to do so. Just look at Portsmouth. The system seems to work perfectly well, enabling taxis to go about their business collecting and dropping off people without getting snarled up in congestion.
We have to agree with Councillor Peter Davies, Fareham’s spokesman for public transport, when he described the bus lanes as ‘daft’.
They should be run on the same basis as in many other local authorities, open to both buses and taxis. Keeping them exclusively for buses just doesn’t make any sense.
As Cllr Davies says: ‘Whatever scheme you have, it must include taxis as they are an important part of the public transport mix.’
The other issue here is that of Quay Street roundabout.
It must be galling for taxi drivers to have to watch the public ignoring the bus lanes there while they are required to abide by the rules and keep out as their badges and toplights make them much more visible.
We call on the county council to urgently review the buses-only policy in the new bus lanes and let taxi drivers use them too.