Charging Wars: London taxi drivers facing ‘daily abuse’ to use electric charge points



Taxi drivers are experiencing ‘daily abuse’ due to lack of enforcement on designated electric taxi charge points in the capital.


London taxi drivers who have made the move to cleaner zero-emission capable vehicles have experienced difficulties when they come to charge their vehicles.

In a video posted on social media, one black cab driver was involved in an incident showing a delivery van using a centrally located taxi charger.


The cabbie was told by the Mail Box Express delivery driver to “shut the f*ck up” and “get in your cab and f*ck off”, when it was pointed out that he was charging on the popular South London location.

The delivery driver then aggressively tells the taxi driver: “Don’t play the big man because we’ll go around the corner bruv.” The cabbie then takes photos of the white Nissan delivery vehicle, which sees the delivery man lunge towards the cabbie on three occasions, trying to take the driver's mobile phone.


Siwan Hayward, Transport for London’s (TfL) Director of Compliance, Policing and On-Street Services, said: “Taxi drivers have a right to go about their work without fear and intimidation, so it is appalling that this person had to suffer this abusive behaviour. We have installed dedicated charge points for the new zero emission capable black cabs as part of the Mayor’s ambitious plans to clean up the capital’s toxic air. To ensure they are only used by taxis we have a strict enforcement regime on TfL’s roads, which includes regular patrols by the Met Police and traffic enforcement officers. We would encourage black cab drivers who find a vehicle that isn’t a taxi in a dedicated electric bay to report it to our customer service department.”


TfL have issued 218 fines to those vehicles flouting the rules, with the penalty being as high as £130.


Grant Davis, Chairman of the London Cab Driver Club (LCDC), said: “Unfortunately we see on a daily basis licensed taxi drivers face abuse and physical threats with vans and lorries parking up on our conventional taxi ranks, but to see a driver who has made the massive commitment in investing in a LEVC taxi making London a greener and cleaner place facing both verbal abuse and as we see a physical assault is awful.


“I can only hope the individual who carries out the attack on the taxi driver is removed from his position as soon as possible.


“Until Transport for London take parking on ranks by non taxi vehicles seriously, this will unfortunately continue.”


A spokesperson from Mail Box Express Deliveries told TaxiPoint: “Mail Box Express expects that all employees to conduct themselves in a professional manner when interacting with members of the public. All Mail Box Express employees should consider their own behaviour and the impact that this can have on to others.  


“Further investigations will take place and the driver will be dealt inline with our disciplinary procedures.”


TaxiPoint asked whether there were enough charging points not just for taxis, but for all industries making the move to electric vehicles. Mail Box responded by saying: “We feel there is just not enough charging bays for electric vehicles for everyone to use and it increasingly difficult for our drivers to make our deliveries. We have however recently adopted a new system where two people in a van as its the only way we can make a lot of our deliveries.


“We would like to take this opportunity to express are sincere apologise on behalf of the driver behaviour and it is not a the behaviour we expect from our drivers ever.”


In September, Caroline Russell AM, Green Party London Assembly Member, queried what measures the London Mayor was putting in place to enforce taxi only charging bays for the growing electric taxi fleet.


The London Mayor Sadiq Khan responded by saying: “Metropolitan Police Service Police Community Support Officers and Transport for London Roads and Transport Enforcement Officers (RTEOs) patrol red routes to help improve compliance and enforce against parking contraventions.


“If a vehicle other than a taxi is stopped within an E-taxi bay then it can be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). Taxis stopped in an E-taxi bay should abide by the controls displayed on the signage.”


There are 208 rapid chargers in London, of which 73 are taxi dedicated. Today there are nearly 3,000 zero-emission taxis in London since their launch in January 2018.


Transport for London’s Rapid Charging Infrastructure project remains committed to installing 300 rapid charge points by the end of 2020 to service the Mayor’s targeted 9,000 zero-emission taxis before the start of 2021.


However, according to research conducted by TaxiPoint just one in ten cabbies want to remain in their current diesel vehicle, but over 55% of drivers yet to make the change say they are unlikely to go electric in the next 5 years. The three biggest concerns holding cabbies back are the initial cost of the taxi (78.5%), the stability of the taxi industry (70.8%) and the current charging network (62%).


In Oxford, new taxi-only charge points have been introduced using the latest enforcement technology. To ensure the charging bays won’t be used incorrectly as parking bays, the site has been equipped with IBay charging sensors.


Any vehicle parked without charging in Oxford will trigger an enforcement request to Excel parking, who will ensure that the site is only used by charging EV taxis licensed in Oxford, and eligible EV permit holders.


TfL are urging cabbies to report unauthorised vehicles, using dedicated electric charging bays, by sharing useful details like the date, time, location and a video or picture where possible. TfL customer services can be contacted on 0343 222 1234 or via the website at: https://tfl.gov.uk/help-and-contact/

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