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TAXI TURNING CIRCLE: Fresh and mixed debate over whether the feature is still required

London is unlikely to see the iconic taxi turning circle scrapped anytime soon, but fresh debate within the industry has surfaced as cabbies look for more taxi vehicle choice to enter the market.

The feature, synonymous with the capital’s black taxi, is seen by some drivers as too expensive and restricts vehicle options.

Currently only two vehicles meet the strict criteria set by the regulators Transport for London (TfL); LEVC’s TX and the Nissan Dynamo. As of January 2018, all new taxis in London must be zero-emission capable, wheelchair accessible and able to complete a tighter turning circle than standard cars.

Back in 2019 the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, rejected Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon’s opportunity to support the scrapping of the turning circle requirement. Khan said: “The turning circle requirement ensures London taxis can manoeuvre in the tight spaces and narrow streets of the Capital.

“The turning circle enables the taxi to complete a U-turn in one movement, for example when picking up a passenger hailing from the opposite side of the road, and consequently reduces congestion.”

TaxiPoint asked cabbies whether they thought they still needed the taxi turning circle, which generated a mixed reaction.

Taxi driver Brian McDonough said: “Yes keep it. It is part of being a London taxi. Ban the rear wheel steer as the Vito is embarrassing. No turning circle will be another nail in the coffin.”

Other cabbies supported the calls to keep the feature too. One said it’s what makes the vehicle ‘unique’ and is ‘very useful in getting out of bad situations’.

Patrick Mooney was also in support, saying: “Of course nothing better than a quick turn in traffic and down a different route, makes my life easier.”

Cab driver Allen Togwell said: “With wider pavements, bus lanes, bike lanes, yes to keeping it more than ever.”

Overall slightly more commented that they would like to the see the feature STAY part of the trade. Those questioning the need for the turning circle, focused mainly on the increased costs it adds to vehicles.

Nigel Heaslewood said: “Time for some competition from other manufacturers. It’s a nice luxury to have and yes I’ll be the first to admit it can be useful. But it’s not needed in this age of modern power steering!”

Heaslewood added: “If losing the turning circle brings cheaper alternatives into the market it’ll help us all financially.”

Graham Gray said: “99% of the UK does not require it. It costs London drivers more for their cabs with it, it would also give London drivers a bigger variety of electric cabs to choose from if removed.”

Tony Martin also rejected the need saying: “Not if you have to pay £67,000 for it.”


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