Sadiq Khan ‘ENCOURAGED’ by taxi fleet growth despite concerns around costs and cabbies leaving trade
The Mayor of London was pleased to hear of ‘buoyant’ taxi demand, and was also ‘encouraged’ by taxi fleet numbers increasing since falling to their lowest levels in decades during the pandemic.
There are currently just 14,936 black cabs licensed in the capital. In April 2020, just a month into coronavirus lockdowns, the taxi fleet stood 20 percent higher at 18,341.
Demand for taxis in the capital has bounced back in 2022, but the number of taxi drivers licensed continues to fall. High vehicle and operating costs are pushing many away and also failing to attract new applicants to the role.
The current cash price of a LEVC TX Vista Comfort sits at £63,805. That price includes a £7,500 Government ‘Plug-in Taxi Grant’ which runs until April 2024. After that date, an extension has not been confirmed, and could push the cash price of a taxi through the £70,000 barrier for the first time in its history.
Most taxi drivers cannot afford the £60,000+ cash price of a taxi and rely on finance options to obtain the vehicle. However, rising interest rates can now add a further £20,000 to the cost of a black cab.
London Assembly Member (AM) Caroline Pidgeon told the Mayor of London that black taxi drivers are under a lot of pressure. Pidgeon highlighted that a lot of that pressure came from the cost of a new vehicle that is both electric and wheelchair accessible.
The Lib Dem AM said: “The current numbers leaving the fleet show that the grant is not enough to convince people to continue in the profession or attract new people. What further actions are you considering to ensure the London Taxi trade continues?”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, responded: “I recognise that the last couple of years have been difficult for the taxi trade, but I am pleased to hear that demand is now buoyant.
“London’s taxi trade is regularly voted as the best in the world, taxis are an icon of this city and the wheelchair-accessible service it provides is vital for many passengers.
“I’m encouraged to see the number of licensed taxis has increased after the pandemic and I’m incredibly proud that over 40 percent of the taxi fleet is now zero emission (ZEC), offering a modern, clean and green service to passengers.
“I’ve set out, in my response (to a previous Mayor’s Question), the £50m support Transport for London (TfL) and I have provided to support taxi vehicle owners to transition to ZEC vehicles, alongside the provision of taxi-dedicated rapid charge points.
“TfL is exploring options with taxi trade stakeholders to review the Knowledge of London process and will continue to listen to suggestions from the trade on how to promote taxi driving as a career.”