Image credit: Cardiff Capital Region (CCR)
Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Place Scrutiny Committee recently discussed the feedback received on the electric taxi scheme running in the area. The response was said to have not been "particularly positive" according to a senior council officer.
The scheme, part of the Cardiff City Region Deal and Welsh Government Green Taxi initiative, allowed taxi drivers in Blaenau Gwent to hire two electric vehicles on a trial basis.
Since November 2021, Blaenau Gwent taxi drivers have had the opportunity to use fully electric wheelchair-accessible taxis free of charge for 30 days. A total of 44 electric vehicles were available for hire within the Cardiff City Region Deal area, with two allocated to Blaenau Gwent. The trial package included free charging, insurance, and breakdown cover.
However, Steve Osborne, trading standards and licencing team manager, revealed that the scheme's adoption rate has been low, with only a handful of drivers participating. Feedback from the drivers has also been disappointing, highlighting various issues. One major concern is the location of the charging points, which has posed problems for drivers. Additionally, some drivers found that the vehicles did not hold a charge long enough to complete contracted runs. In fact, one driver returned the car after just two days, deeming it unfit for purpose.
The electric taxis provided through the scheme are purpose-built Nissan Dynamos, a taxi manufacturer that has since ceased operations, which carried a price tag of around £45,000 when brand new. Despite the negative feedback, the two-year trial will continue until the end of November 2023, with a total funding allocation of £3.4 million.
To facilitate the trial, EV charging points were installed at the taxi ranks in key locations such as Ebbw Vale, Brynmawr, Tredegar, and Abertillery. As the scheme progresses, it remains to be seen whether these charging points will be made accessible to the general public for EV charging purposes.
Moreover, at the conclusion of the trial, there is a possibility that the electric vehicles will be sold off.
The council and scheme organisers are expected to evaluate the feedback and address the issues raised in an effort to salvage the programme and potentially expand its reach within the community.