There is a “sustainable future for the taxi trade” in which zero emission capable cabs will play an “important part” confirms London regulator Transport for London (TfL).
The confirmation given to TaxiPoint follows plans to transform parts of central London into one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world. The drastic measures proposed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and TfL are thought to be necessary to enable safe social distancing as lockdown restrictions are eased and also help aid an increase in people walking and cycling.
Whilst London’s transport regulator has indicated that they will work with the taxi industry during the “detailed design” of the new Streetspace network, if access is granted it is looking more likely to include access for just zero emission capable taxis.
When asked whether taxi drivers should continue investing in new zero-emission taxis if access is denied, a TfL spokesperson told TaxiPoint: “Yes, there is a sustainable future for the taxi trade and zero-emission capable taxis, which have been shown to be popular with customers, are an important part of it.
“In developing the plans we are looking at whether taxis could be given access to the new zones. Zero-emission capable taxis are a key part of our strategy for reducing pollution in central London.”
There are currently 3,400 zero emission cabs licensed in the capital, and taxi representatives are vigorously stressing the importance for all 19,000 purpose built and partitioned taxis to be given the rights for access.
A spokesperson from United Cabbies Group (UCG) said via social media: “The UCG will not enter into bargaining our right to ply for hire on London's streets.
“We are publicly hired and compelled to accept any hiring with a 100% wheelchair accessible fleet providing a fully inclusive transport service for all passengers."
The UCG also added: “We fully support the metered fare, regulated by TFL and therefore refute any attempt to impose fixed fares upon our trade in exchange for continued access to our working environment.”
Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, said via Taxi Magazine: “Our argument is simple, the same rules should apply to these schemes as apply to the Congestion Charge - buses, taxis and wheelchair accessible private hire vehicles should be given access to them all.
“We are positioning ourselves as ‘ready to help’ and have suggested a variety of ways we could assist a vastly restricted bus and tube network to move large numbers of Londoners, many of whom cannot walk or cycle.”
McNamara added: “Excluding us from key parts of the Metropolis simply means we become part of the problem rather than the solution we should be.”
According to trade sources, a meeting has been set between the taxi industry and TfL this coming week to discuss issues surrounding access.