Tests show health impact of engine idling and electric cabs on London’s Taxi ranks

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) joined forces with Camden Council to monitor taxi drivers’ exposure to air pollution whilst working, and to warn drivers of the dangerous health impacts of idling their engines at ranks.

The collaboration was part of the events taking place in connection with National Clean Air Action Day on Thursday 20 June.

Camden officers and LTDA representatives engaged with drivers to inform them of their high pollution exposure and to hand out flyers with further information on air pollution and how they can reduce their exposure. To conduct the short monitoring exercise, a portable pollution monitoring pack, provided by Kings College London, was placed in the vehicles of drivers at the King’s Cross and St Pancras taxi ranks upon joining the taxi rank queue. The monitors measured the air pollution levels as their vehicle moved to the front of the queue. Their pack was then removed, and the drivers continued their workday. The initial results showed pollution inside a ranking taxi is twice as high as compared to outside the taxi. Also, taxis ranked behind an electric taxi, or a taxi with its’ engine off, had lower pollution levels inside the taxi, in comparison to a driver parked behind a taxi whose diesel engine was on. London’s taxi trade has already made a substantial contribution to improving London’s Air Quality; taxi drivers have already invested over £100 million in new zero emission cabs. The LTDA and Camden will continue to warn taxi drivers of the damaging health impacts of engine idling, and that even taking the small step of turning off your engine can make a monumental difference. Richard Massett, the Chairman of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association and the London Cab Ranks Committee, said: “Whilst the taxi trade is leading the charge in transitioning London’s transport network to be zero emission, it is a huge concern to the LTDA that our members are still exposed to very high pollution levels on a daily basis. “Significant exposure to air pollution reduces life expectancy, contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and overall contributes to over 40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year. “We hope that studies such as this one will encourage drivers to consider switching off their engines when stationery and point out the issue to all drivers who needlessly let their engines idle. “Whilst Camden Council intends to educate drivers rather than penalise them for poor decisions, it’s pivotal that we help to make London a cleaner, more environmentally friendly city for future generations.” Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet Member for a Sustainable Camden, said: “We were pleased to work with the LTDA on reducing idling on Clean Air Day. Camden’s ambition is to achieve the more stretching World Health Organization (WHO) targets for Particulate Matter by 2030. “These targets are much more ambitious than current government limits. Camden recognises that there is no safe exposure level and strongly believe that our approach represents the best way to protect the health of everyone who lives in, works and visits the borough. “We can only do this by working with partners throughout the borough and beyond.” 

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