OPINION - I've always travelled by black cab in London, but it now takes hours. This city is a joke

 (Edward Smith/ Getty Images)
(Edward Smith/ Getty Images)

I’m not being funny but… getting around London is a f***ing joke — and it’s not the cabbies’ fault. I don’t drink and don’t smoke; black cabs are the one vice I still have. But they’re now becoming a luxury I can’t afford. I’ve always used them to get from A to B, yet recently it’s gotten way out of hand.

Seems like there’s always a surge-charge and a long wait when you order one through apps like Gett. It ends up leaving a bad taste in my mouth towards the drivers but it’s not their fault. It’s the apps: London’s cabbies work so hard. TfL and The Mayor of London need to do more to help them.

It’s hard to get around London because there is always so much traffic. Has introducing the ultra low emission zone even made a difference? Doesn’t feel like it. The other day it took me three-and-a-half hours to get out of central London and I ended up missing my gig. I had to call up and cancel at the last minute; it was a nightmare. And last week it took hours to get to Shoreditch from my house in Pimlico.

It would have been cheaper to fly to Ibiza than get across town. These prices are getting bloody extortionate. There’s people that work at night and they need to use taxis to get home, but when they’re being surge-charged, that added amount can mean that half their wages for the night are gone.

I was refused an Uber Pet for not having a blanket — you never have that problem with black cabs

Yes, taxis are a luxury to some people, but they’re also a necessity to others. What about the single mother? These apps are putting people at risk by charging them an additional £50 to travel.

Freenow UK said recently that there’s been a dramatic drop in the numbers on the road — no shit, Sherlock. If you’ve tried to book a cab recently, you’ll know it takes at least five minutes to find a driver. And that’s if you’re lucky.

I once had to wait 25 minutes for an Uber Pet to arrive, but it’s such a waste of time. When the car did show up, we were refused for not having a blanket. You never have that problem with black cabs, they’re very dog-friendly. Uber has actually started rolling out booking black cabs, but most cabbies told the app to go f*** themselves. Just like they did in 2014 when they blocked London streets in protest.

Like pie and mash, these cab drivers are an iconic part of London life — they shouldn’t have to sue Uber for £250 million to get their point across. Uber’s drivers haven’t had to study for the Knowledge. It’s over 150 years old and it can take up to four years to complete — and that’s why our cabbies are some of the best in the world. They learn the most efficient ways to get around town. But there’s no point in knowing the Knowledge if all the roads are closed.

Another reason why I like black cabs so much is because they can go down bus lanes, but even that’s become a nightmare. As soon as you get into the city, this road is shut and that road is closed. God forbid you live in Westminster at the weekend and want to leave your neighbourhood. It’s a joke. An absolute joke.

The new speed limit is absolutely ridiculous along the Embankment (as well as most central London roads now) and I can’t help but get frustrated when we’re driving down the road at a snail’s pace. Why did they even bring it in?

They say lower speed limits make our streets look more attractive and more enjoyable for walking or riding a bike — that’s utter crap. Walking down the street with a row of bumper-to-bumper cars honking at each other is not a pretty sight.

They also say they’re doing it to stop pollution, but going 20 miles an hour with people idling along causes more fumes. More exhaust. Seriously though, 20 miles an hour? I run my mouth faster than that.

Travelling around London is getting worse. Are we all meant to just deal with it? Not on my watch. Our black cabs are important to this city. As Londoners, we can’t let the apps get away with ruining their industry. As well as our commutes.

The new Government needs to sort this out ASAP. See you next Wednesday.

Track of the week: Lift You Up — Jessie Ware ft. Romy

Fat Tony is a DJ and best-selling author