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London taxi chairman calls for ‘Plan B’

The Chairman of the London Cab Driver's Club (LCDC) expressed his concerns about the future of the taxi trade in the latest edition of The Badge.

LCDC Chairman Grant Davis highlighted the changing landscape and the need for ‘realistic’ plans to ensure the survival of the industry amidst various challenges.

At the heart of the discussion is the Condition of Fitness (COF) for taxi vehicles, which has been a subject of debate among trade groups and Transport for London (TfL) for many years. Davis acknowledged that at the last LCDC Annual General Meeting (AGM), members had supported the continuation of the COF. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade had been significantly impacted, resulting in a shrinking number of drivers and licensed vehicles.

Davis outlined the grim statistics, revealing that the trade currently has just 17,000 drivers, with 16,000 holding green badges. Moreover, the licensed taxi vehicle count stands at a mere 15,000. This dwindling supply raises concerns about the trade's future, especially considering the steep costs associated with taxi ownership. Davis pointed out that a single vehicle bought brand new from the dealership now costs over £100,000, and that figure is expected to rise to approximately £115,000 if the £7,500 Plug in Taxi Grant (PiTG) expires next year. This financial burden, according to Davis, is ‘totally unrealistic’ for many drivers.

Grant Davis, Chairman of London Cab Driver’s Club (LCDC) said in the The Badge: “This week, I attended a meeting with all the trade groups and TfL at a Senior Reps meeting and this was once again discussed.

“As I have said the LCDC votes on the COF and at the last AGM the members supported keeping it. But, that was pre covid and the landscape has now changed dramatically. We now alarmingly have just 17,000 drivers, 16,000 of these are green badges and just 15,000 taxi vehicles licensed. So my concern centres around the trade's future - we have just one vehicle and with interest it's over £100,000. When the £7,500 grant runs out, it will be more like £115,000, in my view, totally unrealistic. Add to the mix nigh on 1,000 taxis coming off the road every year with the new 12 year age limit, where do older / part time / suburban drivers go to rent an affordable taxi?

“I have members call me up every week asking where they can rent an older taxi which they can afford, but I find myself telling them now... I don't know!

“After driving a cab for 35 years, I realise drivers mainly care about one thing and that's their money every week, which I can understand. But can someone from the other Associations and Unions tell me what is their Plan B for our survival, or will the trade and TfL both be happy with just a fleet of say, 10,000 ZEC taxis and PH doing everything else?

“We need to be realistic regarding the state of the trade and agree on how we go from here... I'm all ears and open to suggestions.“


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