The London taxi industry has witnessed a significant decline in its fleet size, losing almost 2% of vehicles in just a fortnight. According to recent data, London lost a net total of 265 wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) taxis, representing a significant setback for the industry.
Surprisingly, this decline comes despite the industry investing £6.9 million in new electric black cabs. In the same fortnight period, 103 electric vehicles were licensed, showcasing the industry's commitment to transitioning to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly transport system.
The only black cab that is currently available to buy and licence in London, the LEVC TX, stands at a unit cost price of £74,359. It is however important to note that drivers and fleets currently have the opportunity to claim a Plug in Taxi Grant (PiTG) worth £7,500, essentially reducing the cash price down to £66,859. The PiTG scheme offered by the Government is set to end in Spring 2024.
The majority of taxi drivers face obvious financial constraints that prevent them from purchasing a vehicle at the cash price. The total cost, including finance, to acquire a LEVC TX unit amounts to a hefty £91,327.40. This substantial figure underscores the challenges faced by drivers in not only upgrading their vehicles to electric alternatives, but also just staying in business as a taxi driver.
The decline in the London taxi fleet raises concerns about the accessibility of transportation services for individuals with disabilities and the progress towards a greener transport system. While the investment in electric cabs is commendable, further measures may be necessary to support drivers in overcoming financial barriers and encouraging greater adoption of environmentally friendly vehicles.