Recently, lots of you have been contacting the LTDA about problems with rapid charging for the new electric cabs.
We all know that we need to do our part for the environment, but we also need support from the Government nationally, and at City Hall, to speed up the shift to electric taxis.
The Department for Transport has finally launched its Road to Zero strategy, which we’ve been waiting on for months. The strategy is supposed to set out how the Government plans to tackle the dangerously high levels of air pollution being emitted by cars, vans and taxis.
I was relieved to see the Government open up £6 million of an original £20 million funding pot for local authorities to bid for money to install on-street taxi charging infrastructure. I have repeatedly told ministers that the taxi trade is keen to do its bit to clean up London’s vehicles, but the fact that there are still only a few rapid charging points dotted around the city centre is making it near impossible for cabbies to make the switch. If we can’t charge the new cabs, there’s not much point in having them!
But I was disappointed to see the strategy print old news. There aren’t any new incentives for the taxi trade to go green. The Government is still planning to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, which most experts agree isn’t very ambitious, given that we’ve got less than three years to get 9,000 cleaner, greener taxis on London’s roads. It’s clear that Government thinks local authorities and “the market” will get on with driving the switch to electric vehicles without its help, but we need more than this.
The Road to Zero will be a road to nowhere for the taxi trade if Government doesn’t pull its socks up. It’s not good enough that the Government’s big promise is to review the uptake of electric vehicles if progress is slower than expected by 2025. Without more support to cut the cost of electric cabs and get more taxi- only charging points installed, we already know that progress is going to be slow for the trade.
Alongside Government support, the London boroughs need to get more rapid charging points in the ground in central London. The boroughs are responsible for most of the roads, and the future of the electric taxi relies on them installing new charge points quickly. Mayor Sadiq Khan must call on the boroughs to keep up, as I emphasised recently to the new Deputy Mayor for Transport, Heidi Alexander. We’ve got to get on with this switch to electric cabs, and we can’t have the Government or the boroughs letting London down.