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Scottish Parliament hears Glasgow taxi drivers are ‘fearing for their jobs and livelihoods’

Image credit: Ross Campbell

Scottish Parliament heard that taxi drivers in Glasgow are ‘fearing for their jobs and livelihoods’ if plans for a new low emission zone in the city go ahead in June.

In 2022 there were ongoing concerns from Glasgow’s taxi drivers that their fleet could be DECIMATED by around 1,000 black cabs should the Government and city council take no action.

Unite Union Glasgow Cab Section expressed worry that they could see around 1,000 iconic taxi vehicles removed from the streets for being non-compliant with new Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) rules coming in June 2023.

As of February 2022, of the 1,420 taxis licensed by Glasgow City Council, around 1,000 did not meet new emissions criteria set for June 2023.

Unite Union Glasgow Cab Section have called for councillors to make black cabs exempt from the scheme until 2027 to allow the sector to recover sufficiently from the coronavirus pandemic.

Labour’s MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy addressed the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport by saying: “I welcome the ambition in the just transition plans to maximise economic benefit and to ensure fair distribution of opportunity in an inclusive way. However, I fear that that is not what is happening in our communities. Taxi operators in Glasgow are fearing for their jobs and livelihoods if plans to introduce the low emission zones go ahead in June. They are facing significant challenges in ensuring that their vehicles are compliant, including in actually finding compliant vehicles, and drivers have said that they might have to give up their jobs.

“The impact of not getting this right is significant. Fewer taxis mean that women have fewer safe options for travelling home late at night.

“Can the minister update us on whether the Government has received the request for additional funding, and whether it will provide that funding? Will it ask the council to delay the zone until the funding is in place so that Glasgow can keep its cabs on the road and people can continue to rely on them?”

Michael Matheson responded: “I understand the point that the member has raised. That issue is not covered by the energy strategy and the just transition plan but by transport policy. I am more than happy to ask the Minister for Transport to write to the member to say whether we have received that letter and what action we are taking on the basis of the information that is provided within it.”

Taxi operators in Glasgow who do not have access to funded retrofit solutions to meet Low Emission Zone requirements have been given extra time to prepare, after the proposal was approved by the City Administration Committee in October 2022.

The plan to grant a 'time-limited exemption' of one year to operators under these circumstances would see enforcement of the emission standards required by Glasgow's LEZ deferred until 1 June 2024.

This temporary exemption reflects that without the availability of retrofit (an option largely funded by a Transport Scotland grant) some taxi operators face additional costs to meet the emission standards required to operate in Glasgow beyond the LEZ enforcement date of 1 June 2023.

However, operators who are eligible for funding support, must meet LEZ emission standards by the time of general enforcement as will all other vehicles driving into the zone. Should issues arise over grant funding availability and/or retrofitting capacity, the council has previously guaranteed operators a short-term exemption so long as an application for funding has been made prior to 31 October 2022.


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