Cleaner Taxis

MQT on 2016-09-14
Session date: 
September 14, 2016
Question By: 
Caroline Pidgeon
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What steps have you taken to encourage the uptake of cleaner, greener taxis ahead of the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone?


Answer for Cleaner Taxis

Answer for Cleaner Taxis

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you.  There is a lot happening and so bear with me, Assembly Member Pidgeon.


Yesterday marked the beginning of a new era for the capital’s taxi and private hire market as the Deputy Mayor for Transport and I launched TfL’s first ever Taxi and Private Hire Action Plan.  This sets out a programme of far-reaching improvements to protect the future of London’s black cabs and maintain a vibrant market with space for all providers to flourish.  She and I agreed on many occasions during the mayoral election on this important issue.


My action plan is just a start.  It sets out special new measures to enhance public safety, drive up standards and improve London’s air quality.  It will help the iconic black cab become the greenest in the world by offering grants of up to £7,500 for new zero-emission-capable (ZEC) electric taxis.  It will also provide new zero-emission priority ranks for drivers who pioneer green technology with a network of rapid electric charge points.  The action plan will also enhance public safety through new measures to improve minicab standards.  By summer next year, TfL will also require that private hire drivers pass an advanced driving test before they can be licensed or relicensed.  This is in addition to my recent commitment to quadruple the number of on-street compliance officers with 250 more dedicated officers on the streets by summer 2017.


We need to take every step we can to clean up London’s dangerous and polluted air.  Nearly 10,000 Londoners are dying early every single year because of long-term exposure.  It is permanently affecting children’s lung development, resulting in smaller lungs for life.


From 1 January 2018, no more new diesel taxis will be licensed in London and all new registered taxis will need to be ZEC.  A ZEC taxi needs to emit less than or equal to 50 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre with a zero-emission range of at least 30 miles.  There are a number of manufacturers working to deliver the next generation of taxis, which will be mandated from 2018, and these vehicles will use the latest electric technology to achieve a minimum 30-mile zero-emission range and an enhanced travel experience from customers.  From next year, up to £5,000 will be available to drivers who scrap the oldest and most polluting taxis.  A grant of £3,000 will also be provided towards the first 9,000 ZEC taxis and I am asking the Government to guarantee the Plug-In Car Grant for these vehicles, which will take the total grant to £7,500.  I could go on, but I recognise here that ‑‑


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  That is great.  Let me just briefly ask you some specifics because half of my time is now gone with your detailed answer.


The real issue is about the rapid charging infrastructure.  Only 10% of the current charge points are capable of this and only a handful of them work.  Can you tell me how many rapid charge points will be in operation and available for taxi drivers from 1 January 2018?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  A rapid electric charging network is essential to giving drivers and manufacturers the confidence to invest in new ZEC taxis.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  How many?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Availability of rapid charging will maximise the time taxis are driven in electric mode, health benefits for Londoners and fuel efficiency for drivers.  TfL is working with suppliers to deliver an initial 150 rapid charge points by 2018, rising to 300 by 2020.  Many of these will be dedicated to the taxi trade.  The procurement of suppliers and identification of potential sites across London on TfL, borough and private land is currently underway.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  There will be 150 in 2018?  That is great.  That is a really good figure to hear.  Thank you.


The new ULEZ you are looking at bringing forward to 2019 but many taxi drivers, despite the funding you mentioned earlier, are putting off the decision to buy a new cab.  They want to see the infrastructure up and running.  Others have perhaps only ten years left that they want to be driving and do not want to spend at least £40,000 for a new taxi.


At the moment the cost of converting a taxi to run on liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is only about £8,000 and TfL currently allows drivers an additional five years with their old taxi if they convert it to LPG.  Given that we have a huge LPG refuelling network around London, is this something you will continue to support after 2018?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, the Assembly Member is probably aware of this but others may not be.  Birmingham is currently trialling LPG converted taxis.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Yes, that is right.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We have looked into this and we are in regular contact with Birmingham City Council and the Department for Transport (DfT) regarding the trial.  Historically, this technology has had limited uptake in London and so I disagree with her about that.  There are many issues associated with retrofitting older diesel vehicles and we have to be cautious in our approach.  My main priority is to make every effort to ensure that the new ZEC taxis are a success, although I recognise that the newest taxis today will be the last remaining diesel vehicles in the fleet and so we need to continue to explore options for drivers to convert to a cleaner fuel whilst their vehicle has a lot of life remaining.


We are lobbying the Government to see what it can do to support us because black-taxi drivers work incredibly hard and they need all the support that we can give them.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  It is something that you will be considering as a sort of “meanwhile” option while you are pursuing the electric network as well?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I have already explained some of the challenges in relation to LPG in London.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  I appreciate that.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We will carry on talking to Birmingham and the DfT regarding the trial in Birmingham.  What is important, though, is that we support the black taxis.  Some people criticise me for giving too much support for black taxis; others imply that I am not giving enough.  It is important to recognise that black taxis are part of public transport and they are iconic.  If we want them to stay in use rather than become a relic, they need the support of the Mayor.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Is this also something you might consider for light goods vehicles across the GLA and TfL fleets as a short-term fix to try to clean up our fleet as well?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  One of the things that I have been impressed by is how the Crown Estate has used, in relation to logistics, cleaner vehicles.  We are speaking to those local authorities that are doing a good job about lessons we can learn, but there is clearly more that we can do.  She will remember from the mayoral election some of the ideas I had, which I am hoping to bring to fruition during my mayoralty.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Thank you very much.