Over 200 of London's iconic black cabs blocked traffic in Parliament Square for two hours Tuesday in protest over the controversial Olympic Route Network along the city's roadways. The lanes are intended for use only by Olympic athletes, officials, and sponsors. Anyone else who tries to use them will receive a $203 fine.
The special lanes have already contributed to traffic issues, and some cab drivers are claiming they will leave town during the Games altogether. One has already taken to converting his taxi into a makeshift hotel.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, which has a number of cab drivers in its membership, told the Telegraph that "cab drivers are now being kicked in the teeth by Olympics chiefs over the VIP lanes and the entire Olympics transport strategy.”
In a statement to local media, the director of London Taxi and Private Hire, John Mason, tried to reassure drivers and passengers alike that Transport for London has secured concessions for taxis, including the use of turns along the Olympic Route Network that were initially banned for all traffic except buses, as well as access to many curbside Games lanes for passenger pick-up .
In today's Telegraph, Mason made it clear that the organization is still on board with the arrangement, saying, "[w]e 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."
The Olympic Route Network will be fully operational two days before the July 27 Opening Ceremony.