Mothers of young children are urging Sadiq Khan to press ahead with controversial plans to force the most polluting black taxis off London roads.
The Mums for Lungs group has joined the London Cycling Campaign in calling on the Mayor to implement proposals to ban taxis older than 12 years old to tackle the capital’s toxic air crisis.
But Mr Khan faces opposition from his Tory rivals for “crucifying” the taxi trade – while cabbies claim that retro-fitting exhaust filters to older vehicles would be cheaper and lead to quicker and bigger cuts in emissions.
A 10-week Transport for London consultation on reducing the maximum age of the capital’s 20,000 cabs from 15 years to 12 years closed last week. More than 4,000 responses were received.
Black cabs cause a fifth of road emissions in central London but are exempt from the congestion charge and the new ultra low emission zone (Ulez).
There are about 12,000 older cabs that fail to meet the Ulez emission standards and Mr Khan believes that introducing an age restriction – alongside scrappage grants of up to £10,000 – would speed their removal and replacement with “zero-emission capable” cabs.
The maximum taxi age would be progressively reduced from next year, with the 12-year limit applying from 2022.
Jemima Hartshorn, founder of Mums for Lungs (campaigning with the Mayor at City Hall, above), said: “Black cabs are really polluting vehicles and in some parts of London they’re the second highest source of emissions. That is the reason why we think age limits need to be shortened.
“We are very aware this is a livelihood for some people and they have invested in expensive cars and licences but that needs to be dealt with in a different way.
“Our concern is about our children’s lungs. London is such a polluted city that our children cannot wait any longer.”
Tom Bogdanowicz of the London Cycling Campaign said: “Improving London’s air quality faster is vital and, with emissions from traditional taxis among the worst on our roads, getting the oldest and most polluting vehicles off our streets more quickly will mean a swifter switch to zero-emission capable black cabs.”
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said that cutting the age limit would send the residual value of older taxis plummeting – meaning that drivers would not be able to afford to trade them in for the new £67,000 electric cabs.
The LTDA has submitted an alternative proposal to TfL to retro-fit £3,600 exhaust filters to older cabs to bring them in line with the Ulez emission rules.
Mr McNamara said his plan would result in a 50 per cent greater reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions and be achieved much more quickly than the TfL plan.
There are around 20,000 black cabs in London, of which 1,500 are the new electric vehicles. Read the LTDA’s submission to TfL’s consultation here: LTDA Taxi Age Limit Response-Final Draft
Mr McNamara said: “We accept that some of the vehicles we drive are old and polluting but there is a reason for that – we were made to buy these vehicles. Until January last year we had to buy diesel or nothing.”
The age restriction is opposed by Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey and his Tory assembly colleague Keith Prince, who accused TfL of “crucifying the cab trade in every direction.”
Mr Bailey believes the change will “cost many cabbies their retirements” and urged the Mayor to install more electric charging points for taxis, of which there are only 71 in London.
Cabbies are also upset at access restrictions to areas such as Bank junction, Tottenham Court Road and Tooley Street.
TfL commissioner Mike Brown said action was needed to clean up the air. “London’s filthy air is a real challenge for our city,” he told the London Assembly last week.
“Fundamentally, my concern is to ensure we deliver on the Mayor’s commitment to improve air quality.”
Campaigning mums urge Sadiq Khan to boost toxic air crackdown by cutting maximum age of London black taxis | rosslydall
Ross Lydall Mothers of young children are urging Sadiq Khan to press ahead with controversial plans to force the most polluting black taxis off London roads. The Mums for Lungs group has joined the London Cycling Campaign in calling on the Mayor to implement proposals to ban taxis older than 12 years old to tackle… [Read More]