Drivers question latest bus lane regulations
Private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers in Leeds have questioned why access to one of the city’s busiest streets has been restricted in a move which threatens to ‘severely hamper trade’.
Call Lane, near the Corn Exchange in the city centre, hosts a number of late night bars which get exceedingly busy in the evening, especially during weekend hours.
Previously, all vehicles were allowed access to the street with no restrictions in place.
However, new legislation, rubber-stamped last week, now only allows for Hackney Carriage Vehicles and buses to access the lane at set hours – between Friday and Monday, from 10pm until 5am.
Dale Askham, director of the Leeds Private Hire Drivers Association (LPHDA), questioned the decision which he believes will not only effect drivers but also passengers.
“There is nowhere legally around here that a PHV driver can pick up passengers anymore,” he said.
“This is a restriction of our trade and something which is exceedingly causing drivers problems. We offer the same services as hackney carriages and buses yet all new legislation seems to be hampering only PHV drivers.”
He added: “How are they supposed to drop off people with disabilities? We have not been consulted about any of these new regulations and it is going to affect business massively.”
The new legislation arrives just weeks after a petition was handed to Leeds City Council on behalf of PHV drivers which requested access to bus lanes throughout the city for all cabbies.
More than 900 signatures of PHV drivers were gathered and a verdict has yet to be given to those spearheading the appeal.
A new request has also recently been made this past week from the LPHDA to question the decision of introducing bus lane operations on Call Lane.
Mr Askham continued: “Currently, there are around 5,000 PHV drivers in the city compared to approximately 500 hackney carriage vehicles. There are more drivers in private hire than buses and hackney carriages combined so restricting access to so few appears unjustified.”
Tasadaq Hussain has been a PHV driver in the city for more than ten years and has seen a number of new legislations introduced since beginning his role.
He added: “Leeds is seen as the financial hub of the north yet Leeds City Council is restricting crucial public services.
“If they want more people to visit the city, then why are they making it so hard for public transport to be available to those who need it most?”
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “After careful consideration we have taken the decision with the support of traders and West Yorkshire Police to only permit access along Call Lane to buses and Hackney Carriages from 10pm -5am as part of a trial period.
“This is to ensure that the traffic network in the vicinity of Call Lane remains free-flowing and unobstructed.
“Vehicle numbers on Call Lane will continue to be closely monitored and the police will have the option to close the street to traffic at any time if any issues arise.”