There’s no getting away from the electric revolution sweeping the UK at a rate of knots. Some cities are further along the road than others, but it’s only a matter of time before all licensing authorities and councils are working from the same clean air hymn sheet. In London there are roughly 1,600 zero-emission taxis ferrying passengers around on a regular basis. The passengers love them not only for their green credentials, but because they are modern, smooth and cut above anything the perceived competition will ever have to offer.
For the drivers, it’s a similar story. In a recent survey conducted by TaxiPoint in January 2019, 68% of LEVC TXE drivers rate the overall experience of the taxi as “Excellent” and a further 26% “Good”.
What was also highlighted in that survey was the reasons holding the move to EV back which highlighted two major reasons; Cost and charging network. In this article I want to look a little deeper into the charging network currently in place for the most established EV city in the UK, London, and hope other cities learn from the mistakes made when it comes to infrastructure set in place for the taxi industry. First off, the type of charger is important. Speed is king for most cabbies and rapid chargers are a must during a working shift. Access to slower chargers or home charging is also an important factor. There is simply not enough rapid chargers located centrally or enough infrastructure to support cabbies wanting to charge at home who don’t have the luxury of a driveway. Location and speed is key for an efficient taxi fleet. Currently there are roughly 150 rapid chargers in the capital along with a commitment from Transport for London to install at least 300 by 2020. It must be noted that these are not all taxi only charging stations and lots of these chargers are located away from central locations. Of the few that are purpose built e-taxi chargers, drivers are experiencing a lack of enforcement to allow taxi access.
In one such instance a lady charging her EV Mitsubishi on Great Dover Street warned me that “Transport for London don’t care and won’t do anything” and that she “has row’s with taxi drivers all the time” who point out she shouldn’t be blocking charging access for taxis.
Personally I’ve faced this scenario on multiple occasions. The person charging their private vehicle doesn’t give two hoots! Then there’s another set of ‘charge point disrupters’; those using the space as a free parking spot. It’s akin to cyclists running red lights; no one pulls them up on it so they will continue to do it. It’s a trend that will sadly only intensify as EV numbers grow unless measures are put in place now.
More needs to be done to make the change to EV as seamless and easy as possible. Enforcement of the e-taxi chargers or the implementation of technology that only allows taxis to charge at these precious designated spots are vital.
Maybe enforcement from the standard Badge and Bill checks has evolved too? Making sure the taxi industry not just in London, but across the UK are allowed to contribute to cleaner air should be high up on any authorities list and powers to enforce the protection of these spots should be granted. All authorities should be aware that the charging network plays just as an important starring role in the overall viability of electric vehicle technology as the the vehicle itself does.