It would be ‘inappropriate’ to include taxis in key Transport Strategy policy says London Mayor

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

Image credit: Ross Campbell

It would be ‘inappropriate’ to include licensed black taxis in one of the key policies of the London Mayor’s Transport Strategy due to the brake and tyre emissions created, says Sadiq Khan.

One of the main Transport Strategy policies created by the Mayor of London focuses on getting 80 percent of trips in the capital to be made on foot, bicycle or public transport by 2041.

Despite the capital’s taxi trade investing over £200million in nearly 4,000 greener Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) taxi vehicles, the stumbling block for the industry could now be seen as the emissions created by brake and tyre wear. Other reasons for non-inclusion listed by the Mayor include taxi journeys not increasing Londoners' physical activity and other emissions created from non-ZEC taxis.

However, public transport included in the key policy includes buses which also reduces physical activity and generates brake, tyre, and in some cases, tailpipe emissions. Transport for London (TfL) currently manages a bus fleet of around 9,300 vehicles operating across 675 routes.

Included also in the policy is the London Underground. According to a recent study conducted by King’s College London, the pollution found on the London Underground was said to be on average four times worse than that on the road surface above.

The Mayor of London did however say taxis and Private Hire Vehicles will ‘continue to play a role’, for some of the 20 percent of trips in 2041 that are not expected to be made by foot, cycle or public transport.

Currently in London there are just 14,638 black cabs licensed. 3,925 of those are Zero Emissions Capable (ZEC) taxis which include the LEVC TX and Nissan Dynamo models. Of the remaining licensed taxis over a quarter of the taxi fleet (27%) are now ZEC.

The number of wheelchair accessible taxi vehicles in the capital has decreased by over 20% since the turn of the financial year in April. That figure represents a total of 3,866 less taxis available in London.

London Assembly Member, Keith Prince, asked the Mayor of London: “Given the dramatic decrease in vehicles, does the Mayor agree that a fully wheelchair accessible, emissions target achieving taxi fleet should be included in his 80% target within his 2018 Transport Strategy?”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, replied to the written question saying: “The success of London’s future transport system relies on reducing Londoners’ dependency on cars in favour of active, efficient and sustainable modes of travel. This shift will help address many of the health, congestion and environmental challenges we face as a city. Accordingly, Policy 1 of my Transport Strategy sets out my aim for 80 per cent of trips in London to be made on foot, bicycle or public transport by 2041.

“It would be inappropriate for taxis to be included in this 80 per cent target given they do not contribute to our aims to increase Londoners physical activity and given they do create emissions, including from tyre and brake wear.

“However, taxis and PHVs (Private Hire Vehicles) will continue to play a role in London’s future transport mix, catering for some of the 20 per cent of trips in 2041 that are not expected to be made by foot, cycle or public transport. My Transport Strategy states that taxis are an important mode of transport that provide an accessible, door-to-door service for Londoners and visitors, and that’s why Policy 20 of my Transport Strategy seeks to ensure London has a safe, secure and accessible world-class taxi service.”

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), said: “The Mayor’s comments are extremely concerning for the taxi trade and frankly simply don’t stand up to scrutiny.

“This Mayor set us the challenge of becoming the greenest taxi fleet in the world and the trade rose to that challenge. We are making fantastic progress, with over a quarter of the fleet now zero emission capable - at considerable cost to individual taxi drivers and small businesses. Yet, he refuses to recognise the progress being made and include taxis in their rightful place as part of the public transport network, and now seems to have found a new reason to exclude us in the form of tyre particulate matter. But, let’s be clear, every mode of transport using tyres, including bicycles, emits some particulates from tyre wear.

“In fact, the new generation of taxis are far cleaner and more efficient than other forms of public transport. They certainly emit a fraction of the brake particulates of the existing bus fleet, by harnessing regenerative braking systems, which reduce the need for breaking and are more efficient, especially in heavy and slow moving traffic. ZEC taxi braking systems last up to six times as long as a comparable diesel vehicles and emit a sixth of the particulates. Plus, as tyre technology improves we continue to adopt the latest lower particulate tyres. We are doing everything in our power to eliminate emissions with minimal support for City Hall and it’s high time this was recognised.”

On the same topic, Conservative London Mayoral candidate and London Assembly Member, Shaun Bailey, was quizzed this Autumn on whether black taxis should be included in the capital’s Transport Strategy. Bailey said: “Of course. Licensed taxis are as much a part of our transport network as the tube and the bus. It would make no sense to ignore that."

Bailey went on to add: “Black cabs are London icons. So they are an integral part of our public transport system.

“As Mayor, I will put black cabs at the heart of the Mayoral Transport Strategy to restore the rightful prestige of the trade.”

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