Is it the end of the road for Barking’s black cabs?

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 September 2015

A line of black cabs waiting for custom next to the Barking Dog pub at Barking station

A line of black cabs waiting for custom next to the Barking Dog pub at Barking station


The black taxi has long been a feature of London’s identity, but one cabbie says they are being driven off Barking and Dagenham’s roads.

Minicab firms and a demographic shift have led to the death of the cab, according to long-standing driver David Bennie.

The 66-year-old has been a black cab driver in Barking for 12 years and said the lack of work is a widespread problem in suburban areas.

“The make-up of Barking has changed and so have our regular customers. They all moved out of the area and the people who have come here don’t use black cabs as much,” he said.

David works for the black cab company, Comcab, and says he’s worried for the future as there’s a huge decrease in demand.

He said suburban drivers have found the work noticeably tougher and the black cab driver is a dying trade.

“When you think of the amount of people who come out of Barking station not even 1 per cent get into taxis these days,” he said.

“The borough has so many minicabs so the work generally goes there.

“Sometimes I wait over two hours for a job, that was unheard of before. We’d wait five minutes and then be off again.

“We think it’s only going to get worse.

“I’m worried for the future of black cabs here because there is less and less demand.”

However, the manager of Dagenham’s largest minicab firm says companies like Uber and the introduction of the Oyster card are to blame.

Jamal Bensaid, of Elm Cars on the Heathway, says black cabs have their own customers and “we have ours.”

“Oyster cards mean it’s cheaper to use buses these days and not as many people get taxis altogether,” the 50-year-old explained.

“But really the black cab is dying here because of Uber, not us.

“We’ve been in the borough as long as [the black cabs] have and it’s never affected them before.

“People who use black cabs will always use them over minicabs, maybe because they feel more secure and drivers know where they are going.”

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