Updated: Jan 2
A Transport for London (TfL) age limit extension offered to owners of wheelchair accessible minicabs would ‘not be appropriate’ to black taxis says the Mayor of London.
Taxi representatives in London have reacted angrily since the ‘case-by-case’ Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) exemptions made to individuals working in the Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) sector was announced in October 2022.
Representatives from the United Cabbies Group (UCG) showed immediate ‘concerns’ that minicab drivers offering WAV services were to be granted EXTENDED use of current diesel and petrol vehicles, despite the taxi industry being forced to purchase more expensive WAVs since January 2018.
Taxi drivers in the capital have been unable to licence new diesel WAVs since age limits were slashed. That change is widely regarded as one of the main reasons that has pushed the black cab fleet to shrink in size.
In April 2018 the taxi fleet stood at 21,026. Fast forward 3 years to April 2021 and that figure slumped to just 13,461 WAV black cabs in the capital.
Despite the huge demise of WAVs offered to Londoners, no concessions were offered to the industry by TfL or the Mayor of London.
London Assembly Member Susan Hall asked the Mayor of London why such an exemption had been granted for PHVs and not for Black Cabs. (1)
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “Transport for London (TfL) has recently taken a decision, further to applications, for certain specialist wheelchair accessible private hire vehicles (PHVs) to be exempt from the licensing requirement to be ZEC.
“This is not a blanket exemption for all wheelchair accessible PHVs. Instead, applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and the exemption is reserved for specialist vehicles required by those who provide a specialist service where alternative vehicles which are ZEC compliant are not currently available or appropriate.
“A similar exemption for taxis would not be appropriate as all of London's taxis are wheelchair accessible and provide a wide range of other accessibility features to support passengers with disabilities.”
Despite the PHV fleet INCREASING in size week-on-week, PHV drivers can now also enjoy concessions if they choose to keep their WAV minicab on the road outside of the terms agreed by the regulators.
It is estimated that around 300 minicab drivers chose to invest in WAV licensed minicabs. There are currently over 87,000 PHVs licensed in the capital.