Happy New Year to all TAXI readers! I hope you’ve all had good Christmases, despite Mayor Sadiq Khan’s shock announcement the week before on reducing taxi age limits.
We were appalled that the trade wasn’t even consulted prior to the announcement and even now details are still scarce on how it would be implemented and nowhere have we seen a cost impact assessment! The initial press releases refer to a “phased reduction” from 15 years to 12 years starting in 2022 but give no information beyond that. Our initial enquiries received a blanket response of “the detail will be in the consultation.”
This is simply not good enough. As a result of the announcement there has been a significant fall in the second-hand price of virtually all cabs. Initial estimates suggest around £150 million has been wiped off the value of London taxis at the expense of their owners. Almost overnight the pre-owned market stagnated as potential buyers hesitated at buying a cab that will almost certainly be worth less if the proposals go ahead. What happens now will depend on what actually appears in the consultation, the number and shape of the responses and the mayor’s final decision.
Ahead of this, the LTDA has already submitted a plethora of Freedom of Information (FOIs) requests to try and discover what information was used to support the creation of the proposal. I have also managed to get a meeting scheduled with the Deputy Mayor for Air Quality, Shirley Rodrigues, and have requested meetings with the Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, and the mayor himself.
Once we receive the data on pollution figures that TfL will be relying on to support their proposals, we will once again instruct specialist scientists to review the information and prepare their own evaluations. This is exactly what we did in 2012, when we successfully defeated the previous mayor’s plans to reduce the age limit to 10 years.
The press release also failed to mention that the mayor has drastically cut the £42 million he announced last year to help cabbies switch to the new electric taxi. We have been saying that this pot of money isn’t enough to achieve his objective of 9,000 electric cabs on the roads, but it has now dropped mysteriously to just £18 million. We’ll be asking City Hall some difficult questions around why they’re doing next to nothing to help drivers buy new electric cabs. The trade knows more than any other group how important it is to improve London’s air quality. We’re the ones sit in fumes all day! But it’s completely unacceptable to ban us from using older vehicles, the ones they forced us to buy, when it’s not affordable to buy newer, cleaner ones and when we still don’t have enough rapid charging points to allow us to charge up new electric cabs.
Minicab Congestion Charge
In better news, the mayor also announced that PHVs will now have to pay the Congestion Charge, while taxis will remain exempt. This is something the LTDA has long campaigned for. This charge should help to stem the huge increase in PHVs clogging London’s roads, while ensuring that black cabs can continue to provide fully-accessible public transport at an affordable rate for Londoners who rely on us.
Sexual Assault Statistics
Finally, just before Christmas TfL slipped out its latest statistics on sexual offences relating to taxi and PHV journeys. In 2017, there were 24 sexual offences where a driver has been charged, and you won’t be surprised to read that all those charged were PHV drivers. We pride ourselves in getting our passengers home safely, and this year we’ll keep up the pressure on TfL to do more to protect Londoners.