Are all taxis allowed in bus lanes?
On 3 January 2018, Paul Maskey (MP, Belfast West) said: “All taxis are permitted to use bus lanes in many cities across Ireland, including Dublin, Limerick, Cork and also across Britain in Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham to name just a few.”
Maskey made this remark in a press statement in regards to calling for all taxis to be allowed into all Belfast Rapid Transit routes and all bus lanes in Belfast on a permanent basis.
Taxi access in Ireland & UK
So, what is the status of taxis being allowed to drive in bus lanes in Ireland and the United Kingdom?
In Ireland, a taxi can use a normal (with-flow) bus lane, so long as it is operating as a small public service vehicle (SPSV), a category of vehicle which includes “taxis, wheelchair accessible taxis, hackneys, local area hackneys, wheelchair accessible hackneys and limousines”.
In Northern Ireland, legislation allows permitted taxis to use bus lanes. There are four classes of taxis in Northern Ireland: “permitted taxis” refers to public (black) taxis and wheelchair-accessible private hire taxis; ordinary private hire taxis and taxis used for chauffeur services, weddings, funerals, and courtesy transport are not permitted to use bus lanes.
We reviewed the policy for public taxi and private hire vehicle access in bus lanes for Ireland and 17 cities in the United Kingdom. The following table categorises which type of taxi is allowed in bus lanes.
Table: Access to bus lanes by taxi type/city
|Public Taxi||Private Hire Vehicle
(*only wheelchair accessible permitted)
Belfast Rapid Transit initiative
The Belfast Rapid Transit (BRT) is an initiative of the Department of Infrastructure, to bring “a new kind of high quality public transport to Belfast”. The BRT vehicles are longer than usual, with a bendable mid-section. Improved journey times are envisaged, with higher-capacity vehicles (up to 100 persons), fewer halts (30% fewer; about 400m apart), and dedicated bus lanes.
A 12-week trial ran from 20 February 2017, during which both public taxis and private hire vehicles (without restriction) were allowed to use bus lanes on BRT routes. There is a debate on whether such inclusive access should be made permanent.
The evidence that we collected from other cities shows agreement on permitting public taxis and disagreement in regards to private hire vehicles’ access to bus lanes.
All taxis (public and private hire vehicles) are allowed to access bus lanes in cities in Ireland, but we found that only four out of 17 cities we checked in the UK allowed private hire vehicles in bus lanes (without the restriction of being wheelchair accessible). Thus the claim by Maskey that all taxis are permitted in many cities across Ireland and across the UK is partly accurate. Private hire vehicles are not allowed in bus lanes in Birmingham and Manchester, for example — two cities that Maskey cited.