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‘AT BREAKING POINT’: Scotland’s taxi drivers being pushed to the brink due to unaffordable cabs

Image credit: DALL.E (AI Generated)

Scotland’s emblematic black cab industry is on the brink of a significant crisis, with the impending Low Emission Zone (LEZ) deadline of 1 June poised to force a substantial number of taxis off the road in Glasgow.

Paul L, a seasoned taxi driver from Glasgow who has worked the job for 25 years, is concerned that hundreds of the city's hackneys could disappear, signalling a dire situation that not just affects Scottish cities, but potentially other UK cities facing similar challenges.

Under the LEZ rules, older petrol and diesel taxis were restricted from entering the city centre from 1 June 2023. However, many taxi operators applied for a 12-month exemption to 31 May 2024 to provide them more time to finance or find a new black cab or retrofit their existing cab. More than 600 black cabs were handed an exemption from the 1,383 registered in the city at the time.

Paul goes on to highlight a critical concern facing the industry: the prohibitive cost of new, compliant vehicles. He argues that the current fares and customer base do not support the financial burden of upgrading to these expensive new models. This predicament threatens the viability of traditional taxi services, with proposed tariff increases likely to deter customers further, exacerbating the problem.

This looming crisis raises critical questions about the sustainability of traditional taxi services in the face of stringent environmental regulations and the economic pressures placed on drivers.

Paul told TaxiPoint: “Traditional black cabs in Glasgow and Edinburgh are at breaking point.

“The final Low Emission Zone (LEZ) date is set for 1 June and it’s looking like as many of a third of hackneys will go off the road. Although LEZ is a pinch point, a breaking point, there is a systemic issue for the ongoing years which will further reduce hackneys’ presence.

“The issue is that of the price of new vehicles, our tariffs and customer base simply can’t support the price of these new vehicles, I’m sure this is the case in many other cities around the UK.

“Tariff increases won’t help this, it will simply reduce the customer base further. Yes some will buy these new cabs at exorbitant bankruptcy inducing prices, but this will only result in having to increase working hours. While the media talks about the future being a 4 day week, hackney drivers will be increasing to 7 days and 70 hour weeks for survival.

“What is the future, well it’s looking like full electric cabs will be upwards of £80,000. I see no £40,000 vehicles that would provide a good work life balance for hackneys on the horizon.

“The future is sadly the death of traditional hackneys in Scotland.”


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