London's largest minicab operator Addison Lee, which runs some 3,500 vehicles, has lost a legal challenge in the High Court to allow its private hire vehicles the right to use bus and taxi lanes.
In April Addison Lee ordered its drivers to use the lanes, claiming that legislation which only allowed London's 'black cabs' to use the lanes was discriminatory and against fair business practices.
Transport for London (TfL) responded by seeking a court injunction to prevent Addison Lee from using the lanes, something which Addison Lee decided to instruct lawyers to fight in the High Court.
In court TfL successfully argued that the distinction between London 'black cabs' or 'Hackney Carriages' and minicabs was fair because black cabs can ply for hire, picking business up as they go, whilst private hire minicabs have to be booked in advance. Their lawyers stated that being in bus lanes nearer the curb made it easier for the public to recognise a black cab and to hail it down.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Burton agreed.
"There is to my mind a clear distinction between the need of black cabs (and their passengers and the public) for them to be in the bus lanes, by way of visibility and availability of, and access to, black cabs for those hailing a cruising taxi," he said, finding in favour of TfL.
"I consider it makes entire good sense for black cabs to be travelling in bus lanes. Minicabs just do not have the need to use the bus lane, and black cabs do," he continued.
The decision has left Addision Lee considering an EU legal challenge under anti-competition law. John Griffin is the chairman of the firm.
According to the BBC, Mr Griffin said: "The current bus lane legislation is anti-competitive and unfairly discriminates against millions of Londoners who use private hire vehicles every day."
"There is no reason for black taxis to have a monopoly on bus lanes - we should either all be in or all be out," he added.