Taxi drivers in Bristol are being offered a â€˜package of incentivesâ€™ by the city council, which is seeking to boost the number of cleaner and low emission taxis operating within the city.
The council is aiming to see as many as 100 Hackney Carriage owners switch to low emission models, following an award of Â£449,500 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The incentives are being offered over a five-year period totalling Â£3,635 per proprietor, which will cover subsidies for a number of fees that are required for operating a taxi in Bristol.
Included within the five-year package are Â£187 per year for licencing fees, a Â£50 per year certificate of conformity fee, and a permit to operate at Temple Meads Railway Station, totalling Â£490 per year.
The subsidy announcement coincides with the current implementation of a vehicle licensing policy aimed at improving vehicle emissions that requires between 250 and 300 Hackney Carriages to be ULEVs or fitted with Euro VI standard engines.
According to the city council, should the incentives be taken up by taxi drivers, the city could benefit from a 20% reduction in emissions across the whole taxi fleet.
Councillor Mhairi Threlfall, cabinet member for transport at Bristol city council, said: â€œIt is great news that we were successful in our bid for government funding, which will allow us to help our taxi drivers to buy electric vehicles and reduce pollution in the city.
â€œHackney Carriage taxis play an important role in Bristolâ€™s public transport system, often providing trips that are difficult to replace by other modes of transport, such as trips for elderly and disabled people.
â€œHowever, frequent travel in the central area and higher level of idling means that they do also make a significant contribution to the current unacceptable levels of air pollution in the city, which we are determined to reduce.
â€œWe also realise that running a business often involves juggling lots of different costs, so this scheme of financial subsidies will make it much easier for our taxi drivers to make an immediate difference to our air quality by switching to electric or low emission vehicles.â€
Bristol city council has recently outlined its five potential options for the establishment of a clean air zone within the city, which include options based around either a small or medium-sized â€˜Class Câ€™ or â€˜Class Dâ€™ charging clean air zone in the centre of the city, which could levy a charge for the use of buses and coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles, heavy and lights goods vehicles, and potentially also private cars (see airqualitynews.com story).
A final proposal is expected to be put forward later this year, with an expected 2019 rollout of the scheme.