Black taxi numbers tumble by nearly a QUARTER since Spring 2015 causing disability access concerns

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

Image credit: MMorgado

Taxi numbers in the capital are dropping at an alarming rate, according to latest data released by Transport for London (TfL) and advisory committee.

According to TfL records, in April 2015 there were 22,500 taxis registered in Greater London. Since then there has been a steady decline in the number of taxis available to cabbies.

London’s licensed taxis have invested nearly £200million into 3,500 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, perceived poor charging networks and continued restrictions placed on taxi road access, some cabbies are reluctant to invest.

As a result there are now only 17,126 taxis licensed in the capital, a total that represents a drop of nearly a quarter of all taxis since Spring 2015.

In just one week, ending Sunday 23 August, the number of black cabs in the fleet dropped by a huge 150 vehicles. Due to the pandemic, only eleven new ZEC taxis were registered with the London authority in the same week.

The huge drop in numbers has been picked up by Assembly Member and London Mayoral candidate David Kurten. He said via social media:

Just this month, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) published its position on the accessibility of taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs), highlighting the importance of taxis for disabled people both in urban and rural communities.

The committee shared concerns regarding the falling number of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAV) available to passengers. 58% of taxis are licensed as WAVs, whilst only 2% of PHVs are able to carry wheelchairs. Due to the rise of ride-hailing platforms like Uber, the DPTAC highlighted that the number of WAVs are falling in the capital.

The report states: “There should be a mixed fleet of WAVs and conventional cars for both taxis and PHVs in all licensing areas. Although the boundary between taxis and PHVs has become blurred in recent years, for as long as the two forms of licenses exist, DPTAC wants both fleets to meet the needs of disabled people. It’s certainly the case that some disabled people will want to pre-book their vehicle by phone or on an app, while others will require a rank or hailed service.

“At present, 58% of taxis are WAVs but only 2% of PHVs. However, they are far from evenly distributed. All 20,000 taxis in London are WAVs, and the remainder are concentrated in the major urban areas (82% of WAVs are in metropolitan areas). In many urban areas of the country, fewer than 5% of the licensed fleet are WAV.

“Concerningly, the situation seems to be deteriorating. The launch of Uber and other app-based systems for booking PHVs has resulted in an increase of over 4% in the number of licensed vehicles. But they are nearly all PHVs and, in London, there has been a reduction in the number of licensed taxis which has resulted in an overall fall in the number of WAVs on the road."

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