Concerns have been raised by taxi drivers in London over the availability to rent or buy second hand cabs as many drivers and fleet owners take advantage of Transport for London's taxi decommissioning scheme.
The decommisioning or delicensing scheme allows owners to take advantage of a funding scheme which offers a top payment of £10,000 to the first 1,250 applicants, with tiered payment levels available to subsequent applicants on a first come, first served basis all the way down to £1,000, to owners of diesel taxis which are less than 15 years old.
Once a taxi vehicle licence has been surrendered and the vehicle delicensed it cannot be licensed in London again, however the scheme has now created a problem as there are a dearth of second hand vehicles to buy and fleet owners are now affected as they cannot replenish older stock with newer second hand vehicles, thus pushing up rental prices, or in some cases putting drivers temporarily out of work.
Add to the mix that there is no second hand market for the LEVC taxi as yet, and the Nissan Dynamo has yet to launch, London's cabbies have a problem.
With up to 5,100 vehicles potentially leaving service in London it is expected that many part-time or ad-hoc drivers will leave the industry completely.
According to a number of sources within the industry there is usually an approximate differential of 12% between driver and vehicle numbers, however at the moment there are approximately 17% more drivers than vehicles.
A number of garages and fleet owners have already had to let "occasional" drivers go, and have a waiting list for permanent drivers to join their fleets. Some garages are also expressing concerns that they have no spare or "back-up" cabs available should an existing driver break down.
However until the second hand taxi market becomes buoyant again, some drivers could be left out of work as stock dwindles even further as well as rent for older existing fleet stock rising.
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