Updated: Jul 4, 2020
With many cities and towns around the UK pushing for ‘cleaner air’ road schemes, local councils are continuously looking for ways to decrease vehicle emissions.
Most are now putting vehicle licensing requirements into action to encourage road users into electric vehicles (EV), none more so than taxi and private hire drivers.
Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council have put an electric vehicle strategy plan together to improve the area‘s EV network, and it has a clear focus on the taxi and private hire trade, saying: “Taxis and private hire vehicles are typically used more intensively than private cars.
“They contribute considerably to urban air pollution in areas of high footfall, resulting in a significant negative impact on citizen’s health. This problem is compounded by the fact there are a significant number of older and more polluting taxis operating in Solihull.“
A spokesperson for the council went on to add that despite the challenges they currently pose, taxis and private hire vehicles have the potential to play a significant role in the development of a comprehensive charging network by providing a base-level of demand for EV charging points, thus reducing the risk of low-utilisation of charging points and improving their commercial viability.
In addition, the council say because a key challenge with electric vehicles is very limited exposure with the wider public, taxi and private hire (TPH) vehicles have the potential to offer a large number of residents and local employees a positive first experience of travelling in an electric vehicle, helping to improve public familiarity with the technology.
The council believes a first step to realising the potential of TPH vehicles in driving uptake of EVs in Solihull is to establish effective channels of communication with the taxi trade to improve awareness and close knowledge gaps on the benefits of EVs, whilst gauging the industry’s perceptions of the benefits of EVs.
”Understanding travel patterns, including key routes, stopping and waiting areas and popular pick-up and drop-off destinations of the taxi private hire vehicles will enable the identification of suitable potential locations for charging infrastructure that can be used by the taxi trade and therefore guaranteeing a consistent level of use,” a spokesperson said.
There are several possible methods for understanding the travel patterns of the taxi trade including analysis of taxi GIS data, conducting taxi-rank surveys and using tracking equipment placed in taxis and private hire vehicles.
The strategy plan notes that any charging points that would be used by the taxi trade would likely need to be rapid chargers due to the time constraints on charging during a shift. Taxi drivers would also need to have guaranteed ability to charge immediately for this same reason. A booking system that is compatible with neighbouring areas would allow this, the potential for which is being explored in more detail.
Image Credit: LEVC