Londoner's were left in no doubt yesterday about Mayor Johnson's determination to see levels of carbon emissions reduced in the capital when he announced that horse drawn hansom cabs are to return to the streets of London this summer. The 5 year contract to run the service (within 6 miles of Charing Cross) has been awarded to Richard Branson's Virgin Group.
Boris Johnson admits it will mean that when the service begins there will be new restrictions brought in on black taxi cabs - they will no longer be allowed to use the capital's bus lanes. The aim is to encourage use of the carbon friendly Virgin cabs and to discourage use of the environmentally unfriendly black motor taxis.
."Don't think these will in any way slow down travel," said Boris.."I have been assured by Mr Branson that the new models of these horse drawn cabs will be aerodynamically sleek and fast, with only the quickest horses to be used. Expect them to be carrying people around the capital at a fair old clip-clop."
Five hundred of the one horse 2-seater hansom cabs will take to the streets of London initially but plans are for the service to be significantly expanded later. The contract to Virgin also allows them to run up to a hundred larger 4 horse drawn 6-seater coaches between the hours of 7pm and 5am though they will have to be booked in advance. They are expected to become a popular alternative for clubbers who currently hire out the stretch limousines for special occasions.
Teams of currently unemployed youngsters will be 'offered' positions as 'Virgin waste collectors'. It is believed this was why the government recently announced that benefits would be stopped to anyone refusing to accept reasonable job offers. The collected 'horses d'oeuvres' (sic) will then be packaged into air tight souvenir bags for tourists to buy and take home with them as a reminder of their stay in the capital. Boris Johnson suggests the bags could have something like 'We hope you enjoyed being taken for a ride by us in London' printed on them. Gardeners apparently say it's good for growing roses.
Will Homeland Security's TSA airport security people insist on opening the suspicious bags when passengers arrive back in America after their stay in London? Let's hope so.