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TAXI FLEET CRIPPLED BY COVID: Licensed London taxi fleet drops by over 5,000 vehicles one year on

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

Image credit: Matheus Bardemaker (Upsplash)

The number of licensed black cab vehicles in London has dropped by over 5,000 since the first COVID lockdown measures began, according to the latest data released by Transport for London (TfL).

There are now only 13,423 taxis licensed in the capital, meaning a QUARTER of the wheelchair accessible taxis in April 2020 are no longer available to taxi drivers and passengers.

Records show that in April 2020 there were 18,504 taxis registered in Greater London. Since then the number of taxi vehicles available to cabbies has drastically dropped by over 27% in the last 12 months. The decrease has been accelerated due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry.

The Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) sector has also been hit hard in the last 12 months. The number of vehicles licensed as minicabs has dropped by 18% since April 2020. That equates to 17,183 less PHVs licensed with TfL.

Taxi drivers in the capital have however invested over £240million in more than 4,000 electric black cabs since 2018.

With work levels unsustainably down over the last 12 months and no specific financial taxi support offered to drivers in London, cabbies have struggled to cover the costs involved in owning and maintaining a licensed black cab.

There are now fears that the new greener vehicles brought into the industry could be removed from service as drivers face possibilities of repossession and mounting debts.

In a recent survey conducted by the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) it highlighted the devastating financial impact of the pandemic on the taxi industry.

Of the 1,104 LTDA member respondents, 99.8% said their income had been affected by the pandemic. 25.5% of those said they currently had no income at all from driving a taxi due to the pandemic, and 34.8% said they were earning 20% or less of their usual income.

79% were receiving support from the Government through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, but of these drivers 87% said the grants they receive are not sufficient to cover both their living and business expenses.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there has been specific extra support packages directed at taxi drivers worth up to £6,000 throughout the pandemic. In London there has been no such financial support.


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