A community project to ferry residents across Hammersmith Bridge has been delayed due to licensing issues.
Barnes Community Association (BCA) had hoped to launch its shuttle service in early November, but the plan was paused after Transport for London (TfL) raised concerns over its licensing status.
The service aims to enable less-mobile residents to get across Hammersmith Bridge while it is currently closed to vehicles via the use of an electric motor-assisted pedal vehicle.
In a statement, BCA claimed that: “Unfortunately the service was put on hold following complaints from black cab drivers who claimed the service could have a negative impact on their livelihood.”
Keith Jones, the founder of CityShuttle, the company which runs the shuttle service, said that there was no reason why the shuttles should be licensed.
He said: “There’s no decision to make.
“It’s absolutely pathetic. This is a bike. The pedals don’t move unless someone pedals.
“This is a product that’s zero-emission, it travels in the bike and bus lanes. It’s a pedal bike with a 250-watt motor, the same as every other electric bike running around London.”
However, a TfL spokesperson said the issue revolved around how the shuttle service should be classified in terms of licensing.
TfL deals with the licensing of taxis and minicabs and it must decide whether the shuttle service falls under this remit.
A meeting was due to be held between the BCA, CityShuttle, TfL and Hammersmith & Fulham Council, who own Hammersmith Bridge, this week to seek to resolve the issue.
The shuttle scheme has the support of Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney, who is the MP for Barnes.
She said: “I am really supportive of what the BCA and City Shuttle are trying to do as I believe the service could make a real difference to those who cannot walk or cycle across Hammersmith Bridge.
“My hope is for a swift resolution and one which provides for a safe and licensed service that helps my constituents get across the river.”
Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to vehicles since 2019, meaning that residents who relied on bus routes over the bridge had to take alternative transportation that often added an hour or more onto their journey.
The shuttle service aims to stop residents needing to do this by carrying them over the bridge, which is open to pedestrians and cyclists, in a rickshaw style form of transportation.
The BCA had planned for the scheme to start at the start of November but this has been delayed due to the involvement of TfL.
The Cityshuttles used by the scheme are not yet operational in London, but are electric-powered, can travel up to 15.5 miles per hour, and are manufactured from fully recyclable materials.
A Hammersmith & Fulham spokesperson said: “We are sympathetic to any scheme that meets the CCSO requirements and makes it easier for elderly or disabled people to get across the bridge, and look forward to discussing this new proposal in detail with Cityshuttle.”
The London Taxi Drivers Association has been approached for comment.
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