Private Hire Cars in Bus Lanes

This article was published in 1997, in Newsletter 15.

In July this year, the Environment and Transport Area Joint Committee passed a proposal to allow hackney carriages into the bus and cycle lanes in Victoria Avenue and Hills Road.

I’ve only recently begun to understand the difference between hackney carriages and licensed private hire Cars:

  • Hackney carriages are also referred to as ‘taxis’, and they display a roof-mounted sign. They are allowed to stop and pick up passengers throughout the city. This is known as ‘plying for hire’. They are allowed to stop at taxi ranks.
  • Licensed private hire cars (‘minicabs’) can only collect passengers if they have an advance booking. They are much more discreetly marked than hackney carriages, often only having a small plate at the back of the car.

The rules and restrictions on drivers of hackney carriages are much stricter than those for drivers of licensed private hire cars.

We vehemently opposed the proposal to allow hackney carriages into bus and cycle lanes. (Actually, the proposal said ‘bus lanes’ – but that was wrong. ) So did many other cyclists. In total, 77 objections were received, of which 76 were from cyclists objecting to the threat to cycle safety. One objection stated that the proposal would be discriminatory to private hire cars. There was also a 280-signature petition from the Cambridge Licensed Private Hire Drivers Association requesting parity with hackney carriages in the future use of bus lanes within the city.

The meeting which decided to allow the hackney carriages into bus and cycle lanes also decided to consult on allowing licensed private hire cars to use them too.

Now, if you thought it was bad enough clearly marked taxis using that space, how much worse it will be with private hire cars in them. Your average Cambridge motorist is going to see an ordinary-looking car in the bus lane, and think ‘Well, if they can use it, so can 1’. There are also many more private hire cars than there are hackney carriages, so the increase in traffic will be greater, and the merge at the bridge on Victoria Avenue will be harder. If you object to licensed private hire cars being allowed into bus and cycle lanes, please write to

The Head of Engineering Services
Cambridge City Council
The Guildhall


Area A (Consolidation) Order 1993 (Amendment No.52) Order 1997
Area C (Consolidation) Order 1993 (Amendment No.9) Order 1997

The deadline for objections was Monday 24 November, but it can’t hurt to let them know what you think.