Rishi Sunak urged to ensure crack-down on rip-off pedicabs goes ahead10/05/2023
Rishi Sunak urged to make sure crack-down on rip-off pedicabs goes ahead
- Tourists have reported being charge dup to £500 for 10-minute rickshaw rides
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been urged to make sure a crack-down on rip-off pedicabs goes ahead as planned.
Tourists have reported being charged extortionate fares of up to £500 for 10-minute rides in colourful rickshaws – which have flooded London streets.
Westminster Council said that while its inspectors are trying to protect tourists in the West End from being ripped off, they have ‘one hand tied behind their back’.
Pedicabs, also known as rickshaws, are treated in the same way as a horse and carriage under a Victorian law and therefore do not require regulation.
‘It’s clear that the government have been freewheeling when it comes to providing proper legislation on pedicabs,’ councillor Aicha Less, deputy leader and cabinet member for public protection, told the Evening Standard.
‘Anyone who goes out in the West End can see how real the issue is, our city inspectors are trying to combat pedicabs with one hand tied behind their backs.’
A woman in a pedicab smiles as she is conveyed through streets filled with revellers outside the bars in the Soho area of London on July 4, 2020 (file photo)
Cllr Less added that while Westminster Council will continue to enforce the powers it does have, what is really needed is a Transport Bill in November with ‘clearly defined legislation’ affording it and TfL more powers.
The council has so far fined rogue pedicab owners almost £35,000, with three drivers ordered to pay a total of £2,765 for causing a public nuisance just last month.
Rickshaws typically display an average ride rate, with a 1.2 mile journey from Westminster Bridge to Victoria Station seemingly costing £25 per person.
However as there is no regulated pricing for passengers, final fares are often much higher than the original advertised cost.
Monthly patrols by Westminster Council and police began last year on Oxford Street, around Covent Garden, Soho and the West End.
Last year, two women were charged £180 for a three minute rickshaw journey in the theatre district.
The tourists were told that the 500-yard trip on Saturday night from Gerrard Place in Chinatown to the nearby Garrick Theatre would cost them £18 – but when they went to pay, the rogue rider had added an extra zero onto the payment device.
After realising they had been ripped off when a notification pinged on their banking app showing that they had paid £180, the women approached a group of council enforcement officers and police on patrol in attempt to get their money back.
Tourists have reported being charged extortionate fares of up to £500 for 10-minute rides in colourful rickshaws – which have flooded London streets (file photo)
The women showed them a photo of the rider which they had taken during the journey – the mammoth cost for which equated to about 35p per yard – before the officers later stopped him by chance and then recognised him as the same man.
The officers ordered the rider to return the money to the women, who were visiting from the Midlands, and asked them to meet them so they could be refunded.
Rickshaws can operate in London as Stage Carriages under the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, and can charge single and separate fares per passenger.
This also means anyone can drive one in London without a permit or licence – however the planned crackdown should change that.
This proposed law, which has the Government’s support, would put the pedicabs under a similar level of regulation as taxis and private hire vehicles, so Transport for London can regulate the charges and set a safe standard for the vehicles.
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