London taxi drivers with diesel cabs between 10 and 15 years old are being offered up to £5,000 in incentives to switch to lower emission vehicles, under a scheme being overseen by Transport for London (TfL).
The ‘delicensing’ scheme, unveiled by the Mayor of London on Friday (28 July) will see up to £42 million in funding available to encourage drivers to remove older diesel cabs from the capital’s fleet.
Under the scheme, the owner of a 10-year-old taxi would receive the maximum available amount of £5,000, scaling down to £1,200 for a vehicle aged between 14 and 15 years old. Taxi drivers are being asked to check their eligibility for funding, via the TfL website.
It is hoped that the funding can then be used by the drivers to switch to vehicles with lower emissions of NOx and particulate matter, in a bid to help improve air quality in the city.
The incentive is being offered ahead of a change in licensing requirements, due to come into force in the capital from January 2018, which will require all taxis licensed for the first time to be ‘zero emission capable’.
This will mean that vehicles must have CO2 emissions of no more than 50g/km and a minimum 30 mile zero emission range. Taxis with petrol engines must meet the Euro 6 emission standard to be eligible.
Commenting on the delicensing scheme, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London’s filthy air is a health crisis that needs urgent action. The plans announced by the government this week go nowhere near the action needed.
“Cleaning up London’s taxi fleet will play a significant part in our toxic air battle and there will be no new diesel taxis licensed in London by the end of this year. However, it is important we financially support drivers to help them retire their oldest vehicles and upgrade to greener models.
“I hope this fund helps deliver a new generation of zero-emission taxis on our roads and paves the way for the Government to offer a diesel scrappage scheme so all London motorists can ditch their dirty diesels.â€?
Helen Chapman, TfL’s general manager of taxi and private hire, said: “Diesel taxis contribute significantly to London’s poor air quality and the financial assistance we have made available will encourage take-up and assist taxi drivers in making the transition to cleaner taxis.â€?
The cost barrier to switching to low emission vehicles has been identified as a major barrier to moving away from conventionally fuelled vehicles, in research conducted by the behaviour change charity Global Action Plan, and LPG fuel supplier Calor (see airqualitynews.com story).
Support for cabbies to switch to low emission electric vehicles is available, and in March the government announced a £50 million Plug-in Taxi Grant programme, which includes offering taxi drivers up to £7,500 off the price of a new electric vehicle.
London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) – formerly the London Taxi Company – is among the manufacturers offering new vehicles compliant with the licensing requirements due to come into force next year. The company is bringing a range-extended electric model to market later in 2017 (see airqualitynews.com story).
Commenting on the delicensing scheme, a spokesman for LEVC, said: “No other drivers in London have committed to cutting emissions as quickly as the capital’s cabbies. This targeted delicensing scheme recognises this commitment, and should help drivers of older vehicles upgrade to modern, cleaner vehicles.â€?