New legislation in Cambridge will see taxis forced to change vehicles

Taxis will have to comply with new ultra-low emission standards or be forced off the road

In a move to clean up the city's air, a meeting on Monday, 30 September, saw Cambridge City Council's licensing committee vote to ratify a rule change to take effect in April requiring all new saloon taxis to meet ultra-low emission standards.

The ratification was made despite attempts to delay the rule change by taxi drivers. 

Despite council officers recommending a delay in the implementatoin of the scheme until 2021, the committee voted unanimously to enact its implementation.

A petition has been received by the council containing over 100 valid signatures saying: "We the undersigned (residents of the South Petersfield) petition the council and Cambridge City Council Licensing Committee to point out that our neighbourhood suffers some of the worst air pollution in Cambridge. "We strongly support the policy that all new taxis and private hire vehicles should be electric or plug in Hybrid from April 2020 and object to any change or delay to this policy." With air quality and climate change high priorities for Cambridge City Council, they state that this is the reason policies have been developed, in a bid to support a more environmentally sustainable future, for the city. The council said that within the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy, one such policy is that to ensure all licensed saloon vehicles will be Ultra-low or Zero emission, by December 2028. However, members of the trade have approached the Environmental Health Manager regarding the implementation date for all New Saloon Vehicles to be Ultra-Low or Zero emission, expressing their concern that the implementation date of 1 April 2020 is too early as the specifications of electric vehicles are still at their infancy, and due to limited availability. A multitude of responses came from those within the taxi and private hire industry as well as members of the public, with one response saying: "Electric taxis are not the answer to solve the pollution problem in Cambridge. City Council have hundreds diesel vans, lorries and buses as well as tens of thousands private vehicles that polluting more than taxis. We taxi drivers are already dramatically renewing our vehicles from conventional diesel to hybrid vehicles. I believe we are well ahead than policy makers in order to sense the environmental health. Unfortunately electric vehicles are not suitable for every taxi drivers. They are good for some solo drivers who work town only. Some drivers work for long distance and airports, some vehicles have two shifts, therefore it wouldn’t be fit for everyone." Another concern came from the Cambridge Taxi Driver Association, who said: "The current policy states 1 April 2020 but we think it should be 2030 as the electric cars are so expensive and there is no guarantee for earning money as the trade is slow and with so many competitors there is less work." Concerns were raised by the Chair of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis Ltd, Alaur Rahman, who stated that mileage on electric cars was not as good and the infrastructure was not ready. However, residents groups argued that streets close to the station had become rat-runs for taxis and created poor air quality as a result.

Councillor Kelley Green said: “We have evidence to show that recently there have been numbers approaching 200 deaths per year in Cambridge related to air pollution." Main Image: Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Main Image: Author Ruben de Rijcke

Logo Image: Cambridge City Council

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