London cabbies make Olympic protest

London cabbies make Olympic protest

Published Jul. 17, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Hundreds of London taxi drivers have blocked a major intersection in the heart of the city to protest their exclusion from the road lanes dedicated to Olympic traffic.

Drivers in black London cabs blared their horns as they jammed Parliament Square on Tuesday, sending lines of traffic snaking back along surrounding streets.

The cabbies are miffed that they are not allowed into the "Games Lanes" reserved for Olympic athletes, officials and VIPs.

The first lane already opened near Heathrow Airport and the rest start two days before the games, which run from July 27 to Aug. 12.


Jonathan Myers of the United Cabbies union said it's "unacceptable" that cabs were not allowed, adding that "this is a working city and we need to get around and do our job."

Transport for London commissioner Peter Hendy condemned the action.

He told the BBC he had "no sympathy" for the "trumped-up" demonstration.

A spokesman for TFL said there had been discussions with cab drivers since 2009.

He said they would be able to access some of the special lanes to collect fares, including the nearside Games Lane in Park Lane, central London.

John Mason, director of London Taxi and Private Hire, called the protest "completely irresponsible."

"We strongly urge taxi drivers to ignore calls to join these unnecessary protests and instead show why they are regularly voted the best in the world," Mason told the BBC.

The Metropolitan Police said the planned demonstration affected Whitehall and Trafalgar Square as well as Parliament Square.