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'Situation is desperate' says black cab driver

PUBLISHED: 14:25 22 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:25 22 January 2016

Black cab driver Jonathan Bowman is struggling to make a living after 24 years of working

Black cab driver Jonathan Bowman is struggling to make a living after 24 years of working

Archant

A black cab driver has warned that if nothing is done to regulate the taxi market, he could be left without a job.

Jonathan Bowman, 49, of Romford, has been a self-employed taxi driver for 24 years, but said he is now facing an uncertain future.

“The situation is getting so desperate,” he told the Recorder. “I am really struggling.”

Mr Bowman, who has passed the rigorous Knowledge test, for which you need to have memorised 320 routes and 25,000 streets in London, said he has witnessed the competition for customers growing with the arrival of minicabs and transportation network company Uber on the market.

“I don’t think there is room for both of us,” he said. “They are saturating the market.

“We are simply not making enough money and we cannot make a living anymore.

“We are going straight into the wall.”

Mr Bowman believes traffic in London is increasingly gridlocked because of a growing number of service vehicles and, as a result, fares for black cabs are being pushed up by the set meter system.

The father of two teenagers works all across London and last week “didn’t make a penny”, after having paid the £180 fee for renting his black cab and £30 a day for petrol.

“I am running at a loss and I cannot afford to work that way,” he said.

Mr Bowman said he used to be able to make a living a by working 40 hours a week, but now a 50-hour week is barely enough to cover the bills and he is increasingly doing extra hours at the weekend.

Mr Bowman has urged Romford MP Andrew Rosindell to lobby the government to regulate the taxi market and ensure black cabs will continue to be able to work in the capital.

Mr Rosindell said: “London’s black cabs are an institution and I support them fully in their effort to bring fairness to the taxi market.

“At this present time, the industry is not a level playing field and it is hardworking black cab drivers, with a wealth of experience, who are suffering.”

Mr Rosindell added the government was not in a position to ban businesses, but he pledged to continue pushing Transport for London (TfL) to make a decision on the licensing of Uber drivers.

A TfL spokesman said: “We do not license ‘Uber drivers’, but rather private hire drivers who then choose to work for Uber.”

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