The shortage of taxi drivers in London has called on the government to introduce essential user-only service stations.
It comes as taxi drivers struggle to refuel amid what they have called a “nightmare” fuel crisis.
Gas stations in the capital are dry with up to 90% fuel-free after a weekend of panic shopping.
Panic followed BP’s closure of a handful of its gas stations due to a shortage of delivery drivers.
The London Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) told Standard that up to a third of black taxi drivers were not on the road on Monday because they did not have enough fuel or feared they would be stranded when the stations run out.
The government has insisted that there are normal levels of fuel available, but panic buying has led companies not to be able to restock pumps quickly enough.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the LTDA, said drivers who usually picked up elderly and vulnerable people were forced off the road, leaving huge gaps for the care sector.
He added: “It’s a nightmare. Many of our members cannot go out. There is simply no fuel at the stations. The only option is to make dedicated service stations for essential workers. This would greatly reduce the problem.
“It was already done in the 1970s and it worked. You simply give a letter to people who work in essential services so that they can use the stations.
“We ask our drivers to pick up people from nursing homes and we offer invaluable service. We are doing our best, but we need the help of the government. It is a mystery to me why the government does not introduce these rules. We are working closely with the Mayor of London and the government to resolve this issue. “
Drivers took to social media to express their frustration at finding themselves fighting over fuel at the pumps.
Taxi driver 007 tweeted, “I entered a Shell garage this morning using the bus lane. I skipped the line, told them London taxis have priority. I just followed a school bus doing the same. We transport disabled and infirm people. London taxis shouldn’t run out of fuel, you drive a cab and can’t get to work because you don’t have fuel and can’t get it, it’s a shortage and a crisis!
Mr McNamara added: “The government says it’s not a crisis, but when doctors can’t get to work and metro drivers can’t get to work, we have a big problem.”
A gas station worker said demand for fuel was “unprecedented” in his small garage and store sales were “full” after a weekend of panicking shopping.
Yasser Ahmed, 37, of West Drayton gas station near Heathrow said he had ‘no time to breathe’ as people demanded to refuel and he sold a week of fuel in just two days.
Speaking outside the West Drayton petrol station near Heathrow Airport, which he runs with his father, he added: “This is unprecedented.”
He continues: “We had a delivery on Friday morning. When I got there that’s when it started to hit me, there was a lot of talk on the radio (about) panic buying. When I got to work it was quite crowded but not too bad.
“In the afternoon, when my father left, I was nonstop. I didn’t have time to breathe. If there was a spill outside, it’s a one-man operation, I had to hold everyone up, clean up the spill and then run back. I couldn’t even sit down.
Mr Ahmed said his four-pump station consumed 30,000 liters of fuel – the amount it would typically sell in an entire week – in just two days.
He said he had yet to receive confirmation of his next delivery on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Uber said the company is “closely monitoring the service.”
The spokesperson added: “There was no direct impact on the service. We are, however, monitoring the situation closely and will continue to speak to drivers who are hopeful that it will be resolved soon. “