A poor standard of workmanship

Abingdon has one of the most poorly designed taxi ranks I have ever seen.

It is located on the offside of the carriageway on a one-way street, immediately adjacent to a set of traffic lights, at a significant point in the middle of Abingdon's notorious traffic.

Motorists are consistently reluctant to let a taxi signalling to move off the rank pull out, lest they lose their seconds of time and inches of space on the road.

Often vehicles speed up to get through the lights, before having to wait for another cycle of traffic signals around the corner.

But just 10 miles away, within the purview of the same taxi licensing authority and the same highways authority, lies a taxi rank on Market Place in Wantage, which is the antithesis of that in Abingdon. It is located in a corner of the Market Place, where the front of the rank is within sight of King Alfred's statue and the town centre businesses.

There is plenty of room here for queuing without disturbing other local businesses and for manoeuvring, unlike in Abingdon. And crucially - especially for disabled and less mobile passengers - it is located correctly, on the nearside of the road, so that ingress to the front passenger seat of the taxi is via the pavement and not from a fast-moving road.

For six weeks, there has been a hole in the road on Ock Street, Abingdon, next to the taxi rank, from which water has been emanating unabated.

Ock Street Hole, Abingdon

Ock Street Hole, Abingdon

In the normal course of things, it is an irritation that the nearside of waiting taxis alongside it are splashed with dirty water, every time a vehicle goes over the hole.

But last week the #OckStreetHole got its own social media tag, after what was termed a 'repair', during which the hole was patched up and its edges sealed with tar.

Within hours, though, the repair had started to disintegrate and each time a vehicle rolled over the pothole, waiting taxis were splashed with not only dirty water, but tar oil – which does not come off using normal washing materials.

Materials like baby wipes, WD-40, peanut butter or baby oil, are required – or specialist materials from a car parts shop costing £11 a bottle.

Friends on social media were generous with their knowledge, but there is no substitute for hard graft and I worked for three and a half hours, until after it got dark, to restore my taxi to an acceptable standard.

It is astonishing that civil engineering professionals would think that it acceptable to visit such a poor standard of workmanship on Oxfordshire's highways. They actually made the problem worse.

For taxi drivers like me, off the road on one of the busiest nights of the week as a result, there is no recovering the lost income.

See also 'Disgraceful' pothole in Abingdon earns its own Twitter hashtag Abingdon Herald, 10 April 2018

As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday, 11 April 2018

  1. The Asphalt Institute, Asphalt magazine, Preventing and repairing potholes and pavement cracks, as retrieved 10 April 2018