Reduction “will put hardworking London cabbies out of work”
London’s transport regulators have today reduced the age limits on taxis in the city from fifteen years to twelve. The reduction announced by Transport for London (TfL) will be placed on all taxi vehicles meeting Euro 3, 4 and 5 standards by 2022. From November, the current 15-year age limit will apply to the anniversary of the date when the vehicle was licensed, with a proposed reduction in the age limit to 14 years from November 2020 and an annual reduction of one year each year until the 12-year age limit is reached.
The reduction could have a devastating effect on an industry already under pressure, with the residual values of the fleet estimated to drop by roughly £50 million. It is argued that a reduction in age limits will also affect resale value of the vehicles. Drivers leasing their cabs from garages are likely to face higher rental prices to cover any shortfalls on the vehicles’ investment too. The capital’s regulators say that the industry is currently responsible for 25 per cent of harmful NOx emissions and next year they will be the biggest source of transport pollution in central London. London’s cabbies have been supportive to this point in accelerating the greening of its fleet. Individual taxi drivers have invested roughly £100million on new zero-emission vehicles with 2,000 of the iconic vehicles now on London’s roads. The LTDA is currently investigating potential technological solutions to retrofit 4,600 Euro 5 diesel taxis to meet Euro 6 standards. TfL will keep this under review and if a Euro 6 retrofit is approved, TfL will consider ways to incorporate retrofitted Euro 5 taxis in the new Conditions of Fitness and age limits. If such vehicles can be shown to meet the required Euro 6 emissions standards in real world driving conditions, they could be eligible for the 15-year age limits in the same way as factory standard Euro 6 taxis.
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), said: “We’re deeply disappointed by the Mayor’s decision to reduce the age limit for taxis to twelve years, which will put hardworking London cabbies out of work. “Our alternative proposal to retrofit older vehicles to reduce emissions would have delivered better emissions savings and avoided penalising drivers. We’re committed to doing our bit to tackle London’s air pollution, but the Mayor has gone for the simple, headline-grabbing proposal rather than one that would give better results for Londoners and the taxi trade. “We’re pleased that at least the Mayor has listened to us on exempting retrofitted older vehicles that meet stringent emissions standards." Alex Williams, TfL’s Director of City Planning, said: “Fossil fuels are a major contributor to the public health emergency we face in London, with our toxic air having a damaging effect on people’s health. It is great to see how keen London’s black cab drivers have been to make the switch from their diesel vehicles to electric. The air quality crisis means it is an imperative to reduce the maximum age limit for taxis. We will continue to support taxi drivers in making the transition to zero emission with a range of grants and an ever expanding rapid charge point network. “Road transport is responsible for half of the capital’s harmful NOx emissions. We are taking bold action to safeguard the health of Londoners. In April we introduced the Ultra Low Emission Zone with some of the toughest pollution standards in the world and there are now 165 zero-emission buses on the road - with the whole fleet being rapidly cleaned up. We are also working with the freight industry to introduce micro-consolidation centres and electrify their vehicles.”