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LONDON’S TAXI FUTURE: Can the trade rely on TfL's latest lobbying efforts?

Updated: Feb 7

Recently, the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) revealed their ongoing efforts to influence government policy in a bid to secure a brighter future for the capital's taxi industry.

Among these initiatives, TfL is advocating for an extension of the Plug in Taxi Grant (PiTG) beyond its looming April 2024 deadline, seeking greater control over cross-border hiring practices, proposing the removal of VAT on wheelchair-accessible taxis, and pushing for the authority to cap the number of licensed taxis and private hire vehicles in London.

The track record of such lobbying efforts, however, suggests a challenging road ahead. Despite years of support for capping the number of private hire vehicles (PHVs), tangible progress has been elusive. Conversations with the Government on the topic span nearly ten years. In that time there has been few formal attempts to address the issue, with little visible follow-up in terms of active lobbying or public discourse by the Mayor or TfL.

Taking Charge: The Industry's Role

This stagnation should highlight a critical realisation for the taxi industry: the onus is on its leaders and participants within the trade to spearhead change, rather than waiting on regulatory bodies to navigate the path forward. The question now is whether the current efforts to secure grant extensions, adjust VAT policies, and regulate licensing numbers will encounter a similar fate.

The VAT Question: A Cleaner, More Accessible Future

The proposal to eliminate VAT on wheelchair-accessible taxis is particularly noteworthy. Such a move would not only lower the financial barriers to acquiring these essential vehicles but also signal a significant step towards inclusivity and accessibility in urban transport. Furthermore, dropping VAT could catalyse the transition to electric vehicles within the taxi fleet, aligning with broader environmental objectives and contributing to the creation of cleaner, more sustainable urban spaces.

By reducing the cost of electric taxis, the initiative would encourage drivers to invest in greener, more efficient vehicles, thereby accelerating the shift towards a low-emission future.

As these lobbying efforts unfold, the taxi industry and its stakeholders are left to ponder the likelihood of their success. With a history of initiatives stalling and a lack of visible advocacy from key figures, the path to achieving these critical objectives remains fraught with uncertainty. Yet, the importance of these changes—for drivers, passengers, and the city as a whole—cannot be overstated, highlighting the need for a concerted, persistent effort to bring about the desired transformation.

The industry stands at a crossroads, with the potential for significant positive change within reach. The outcome of TfL's latest lobbying efforts will be a telling indicator of the future direction of London's taxi services and their role in shaping a more accessible, sustainable urban transport landscape.


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