The London Mayor has confirmed that around another 3,000 iconic wheelchair accessible black cabs will be removed from the capital’s taxi fleet in the next twelve months despite the number of vehicles hitting a three decade low.
There are now only 15,641 taxis licensed in the capital, a total that represents over a 30% drop in all taxis since Spring 2015.
In just one week, ending Sunday 18 October, the number of black cabs in the fleet dropped by 331 vehicles. Only 34 new ZEC taxis were registered with the London authority in the same week.
According to TfL records, in April 2015 there were 22,500 taxis registered in Greater London. Since then there has been a decline in the number of taxis available to cabbies. The decline has been accelerated due to the financial impact on the industry caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
London’s licensed taxis have invested nearly £200million into 3,652 ZEC vehicles to clean up the capital’s poor air quality as requested by the Mayor of London.
However due to the higher initial cost of electric vehicles, continued restrictions placed on taxi road access and now a downturn in work levels caused by the coronavirus, some cabbies are reluctant to invest.
Sadiq Khan said: “There are approximately 3,000 taxis in the existing fleet that would not be relicensed in the period 1 November 2020 to 31 October 2021.
“Of those, around 800 would be 13 years old and the owners of these vehicles could surrender their licence before 1 November and seek a final 12-month licence to ensure the vehicle could work to its maximum age limit.
“Taxi owners can also obtain funding from Transport for London to convert their vehicles to operate on Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) and operate the vehicle until it is 15 years old.”
London cabbies who have made the Mayor’s suggested move to LPG have however been critical of the lack of fuelling stations in the capital. There is just one fuelling station that can provide cabbies LPG and there are concerns over the long-term future and viability of that garage.
Ray, a London cabbie who converted his taxi in November 2019, said: “I’m very concerned about it. There is less and less garages in central London and with Shell removing the few LPG points that were available it creates a worrying feeling.
“I would love for someone to have a word with Shell to at least keep the LPG in the Victoria, Semley Place garage. It would remove the worry a little for me and fellow LPG drivers. There are stations outside of central London that provide LPG, but we just need one in town for peace of mind.”