It is hard to find a more "put-upon" industry than the licensed London taxi industry. From the moment that the much lauded Knowledge of London is completed, every taxi driver becomes a self-employed entity.
This is all fine and dandy until you realise that these self-employed entity's are only self-employed in the loosest sense of the term.
You are then bound by the conditions of fitness which are set by the regulator, again all fine and dandy, until you realise that the regulator is continually shifting the goalposts in one form or another, making it increasingly more difficult to function in the industry for which you have qualified for.
There is no point dwelling on the past and regurgitating all of the changes in regulation that have blighted the industry over the past fifteen or so years, it serves no purpose and bears no relevance to the here and now.
As the taxi industry stands at the moment it has no choice of alternative vehicle, there is only one single taxi which is on sale to London's cabbies, a good vehicle, yes, but eye-wateringly expensive. There is a dirth of infrastructure pertaining to the charging of electric taxis, with no apparent enforcement when the meagre volume of existing charging points are parked on by drivers who aren't charging their vehicle. Then there is the bizarre situation where there are only a handful of credit card facilities allowed to be used in the rear of the vehicle, whilst the use of a secondary hand held system prohibited by TfL for no apparent reason, thus negating a driver to be able to opt for the best deal, and forcing those who rent to sign up to multiple providers, just in case they have to take an alternate vehicle from a garage. A situation considered all the more bizarre given that there could, in theory at least, be a conflict in law surrounding the issue.
Now we come to the ability for the taxi industry to navigate London's streets. It is quite clear to even the most vehement anti-car proponent that congestion has become significantly worse in the Metropolis, primarily because of the contrived way that London's road network is being managed. There are of course other factors involved such as the massive over-subscription of private hire vehicles, the number of which have doubled in the last six years, and of course who could possibly ignore the excessively wide, and in sone cases, badly thought put cycle-superhighways.
These problems are now dwarfed by a much more apparent and sinister problem, the Mayors Transport Strategy (MTS).
The taxi industry is barely an afterthought within this particular document, and despite the Mayors claims that the London taxi industry is an integral part of the public transport network, with him claiming to be the Mayor that will oversee the renaissance of the taxi industry, it is in part, because of this document which local authorities have a compulsion to follow, giving said local authorities "carte-blanche" to exclude taxis from any given thoroughfare.
It has now become apparent that local authorities could be using the MTS, along with GLA pollution figures as a trojan horse to force through by-laws, preventing taxis from accessing certain roads. There is however a major problem with the GLA pollution figures... They are merely estimates, which when put under close scrutiny, make no sense.
On January 17, UKIP London Assembly Member, David Kurten asked the Mayor the following question:
"In a press release on 19th December 2018, TfL stated that ‘taxis are currently responsible for 20% of harmful NOx emissions and by 2020 they will be the biggest source of transport pollution in CENTRAL LONDON.’ What is their source for this statement, and how did they calculate this figure?"
The Mayor responded by saying: “As outlined in the answer to Mayor's Question 2019/0219, the relative contribution to total road transport emissions of each vehicle type is estimated using information on the composition of the vehicle fleet, the annual distances covered, emissions factors for that class of vehicle and information on the road links on the London network. The results of this work are published in the outputs from the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory.
“The contribution to total NOx emissions from taxis in Central London by 2020 is estimated at around 30 per cent, making them the largest single contributor to NOx concentrations in that area."
The non-sensicle part arises from the fact that if the taxi industry, standing at around 23,700 strong, and decreasing, is emitting 20% of NOx emissions as of December 2018, and bearing in mind that at that point there was over 1,000 zero emission capable taxis on the road, how on earth will it be possible for NOx emissions to RISE to 30% by 2020 ?
Given that some older diesel vehicles will have reached the end of their lifespan, there are no diesel taxis being produced, meaning the uptake of zero emissions taxis MUST increase by default, this clearly means that there is a major problem with the Mayors figurework.
David Kurten then took to Twitter saying:
"Sadiq Khan admits that figures saying that taxis produce 20% of NOx in Central London today, and will produce 30% of NOx by 2020 are ESTIMATES :- i.e figures not based on any measurements, but plucked put of thin air."
So here we are, congestion increasing, pollution increasing, travel time increasing, travel costs increasing, working costs increasing, road space decreasing, numbers plucked from thin air, with the GLA playing a major role in all of the above... and then we have an industry that seems to be on the receiving end of what could only be described as an engineered extinction via stealth, unless of course the Mayor wakes from his slumber and makes meaningful ammendments to the MTS and shows that there is iron in his words and proves that the London taxi industry truly is an integral part of the public transport network.