The conviction of John Worboys last week on 19 charges of drugging and sexually assaulting women in his black cab demonstrates that licenced taxis are neither safe nor reliable. It is believed Worboys raped and assaulted 100 women. The authorities have always had an indulgent attitude towards licenced cabbies and this was undoubtedly a factor that encouraged the old bill to overlook complaints about him (alongside institutional sexism). Both licenced and unlicenced cabs are a menace in London. They clog up roads and in my experience black cab drivers number among the most intolerant motorists in the city, with a size-able proportion of them being particularly aggressive towards pedestrians and cyclists. I’ve come across a number of instances of people being hit by black cabs where rather than this being an ‘accident’, it was deliberate. The licencing system for black cabs encourages this, because cabbies believe the cops will take their side in such matters and that they are untouchable. While the Worboys case illustrates just how indulgent the authorities can be towards licenced cabbies (the cops let him rape for 6 years before doing anything to stop his sex attacks), it is by no means the main reason their trade should be stamped out. London needs a free public transport system and fewer private vehicles on the road.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!