Addison Lee loses bus lane EU court challenge

Private hire operator Addison Lee has lost a legal challenge at the European Court of Justice to allow its vehicles to use London’s bus lanes


Addison Lee has been fighting Transport for London over the exclusion of private hire vehicles from the capitals bus lanes. Looking outside London, some councils and authorities do allow private hire vehicles to use bus lanes along with taxis, buses and bicycles. But unlike London these councils and authorities don’t have 70,000 private hire vehicles.

The main argument of Eventech, a subsidiary of Addison Lee, was that by only allowing black cabs to use bus lanes, it infringed its freedom to provide services and could constitute illegal state aid for hackney carriages. Having taken the case to the European Court, the court ruled today that bus lanes did not constitute state aid.

EU law prohibits aid being granted by member states that could distort competition by favouring certain companies. The EU court rejected the view that the policy could be seen as a subsidy that favoured black cabs, which are subject to strict standards. Because of the legal status of black cabs the policy does not confer a selective economic advantage” on the vehicles.

TfL welcomed today’s ruling. Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of Surface Transport, said: “We welcome the opinion from the Advocate General and now the European Court of Justice, but ultimately await the decision of the Court of Appeal.

“As this process continues we are maintaining our well-understood and effective policy that helps to keep London moving in the interest of everyone.”

Addison Lee refused to comment on the judgement.

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