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Taxi strike in London over Olympic transportation practices

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LONDON - There is a police presence in the Hyde Park section of Central London in response to taxi cab drivers who are demonstrating and protesting against what they say is unfair transportation practices in London during the Olympics.

What better way to get attention than to intentionally bring traffic to a standstill in one of London's busiest areas especially during the Olympics.

"What we all thought was going to be a boom time for London is just crass stupidity by the people what run it," said Steve Farley, a London cab driver.

Steve Farley is one of hundreds of cab drivers who wanted to stop traffic. They're protesting the Olympic Only lanes around London where only special VIP vehicles are allowed.

"We can't do our job," Farley said. "We recognize this is the best taxi service in the world, no argument with that, and we're being banned from all Olympic lanes."

That means more traffic in regular lanes and longer travel times for their passengers. The Olympic Only lanes makes it so cabbies can't pick up more customers during the day because they're constantly stuck.

It's just costing us money," said Alan Osbourne, another cab driver. "It's costing me fuel. We can't use the lanes when they're not being used. It's just a complete and utter waste of time."

All the rich people jump in a BMW, go where they want free of charge. No one wants to use us.

–Alan Osbourne

What really makes these cabbies mad are special BMW taxi's which are allowed in Olympic Lanes. BMW is a big sponsor of the London Olympics, but those are VIP only cars driven by volunteers.

"All the rich people jump in a BMW, go where they want free of charge," Osbourne said. "No one wants to use us."

The International Olympic Committee says Olympic Only lanes, though, are necessary to get athletes, judges, VIP's, and the media to events on time without worrying about traffic.

Police let the demonstration go on for about a half hour then formed lines telling drivers to leave the area.

"No, it will not make a difference," Farley said. "It's the third one in just over a week, and they're not taking any notice whatsoever."

This particular protest, which is centered around the Hyde Park area is the third such demonstration, and drivers say they will continue to do protests like this to get their message across.


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