May 25, 2009
Since being passed by the Council last August the Peugeot E7 cab has become a regular sight in and around taxi ranks in the Merseyside borough of Knowsley.
The decision by the licensing committee to approve the E7 taxi as a Hackney Carriage was backed by local taxi operators and trade groups and local cabbies have been quick to take to the new hackney.
Commenting on the decision, Veronica McNeill, a Knowsley licensing councillor, explains: “The Licensing committee examined the facts from both sides and decided that accepting the E7 would bring Knowsley into the 21st century in terms of public transport. It provides great comfort, as well as greater access for drivers and passengers.”
One such driver is Lee Warriner, from Tarbock Green in Prescot, who couldn’t be happier with his new taxi from Cab Direct. Lee comments: “I think it’s far better that drivers have the choice of which cab they want to buy. It’s a lot fairer across the board. Besides, it makes for healthy competition.”
Fit for Purpose
For drivers, the Peugeot E7 taxi offers a significant improvement in the working environment compared to other cabs currently available. Standard equipment includes driver and passenger airbags, a spacious cab area and a fully adjustable seat and steering column. Considering the amount of time drivers spend behind the wheel of their cab, such equipment can drastically improve their working conditions.
Lee, who works for Choice Cabs, says: “I find the E7 far more comfortable. It’s fit for purpose. It’s a better cab for me and for my passengers – wheelchair users in particular.” New E7 raises standards in accessibility for disabled passengers thanks to Cab Directs revolutionary EasyGlide ramp.
Lee adds: “Where I work, everyone has to be BTEC qualified and we all agree that the E7 is far superior to the alternative in terms of accessibility. The ramp makes a huge difference and the space is a big plus point too.”
Nothing but Positives
As far as Lee is concerned, the E7 is the perfect vehicle for the job. He says: “For driveability, New E7 is fantastic. And it’s great on fuel too.”
Using the latest diesel engine technology from Peugeot, the E7 is also more efficient than other ‘black cabs’ on the market. Increased fuel economy serves to reduce running costs for drivers and lower CO2 emissions. This, coupled with a diesel particulate filter, could assist in improving air quality within areas using the cab.
And it’s not only drivers who have welcomed the change. Lee explains: “I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from customers. Everyone has had lots to say – all good comments. My customers think of it as a fancier, more executive taxi.”
Paul Nulty, Chairman of All Black Cabs, the largest operator of Hackney Carriages in Knowsley, comments: “For our drivers the campaign has been all about choice. Until now there has been no option to use a different vehicle within the area and the majority of our drivers felt this was unfair. They are now looking forward to comparing the new E7 with other models when the time comes to replace their current vehicle.”
Time for Choice in Liverpool
Despite all the positives, Liverpool Council has yet to pass the Peugeot, making it the sole licensing authority in Merseyside where choice is not an option.
The rejection of the E7 by the council’s licensing committee – led by Cllr. Malcolm Kelly – sparked a storm of protest last spring. However, campaigners received a major boost in October last year when Judge Sir Michael Harrison approved the judicial review application brought by wheelchair user Alma Lunt, overturning efforts by council lawyers to block the matter from going to court.
The hearing at the High Court in London is due to be heard this July. The 300 plus Liverpool cabbies who signed a petition in favour of the E7 are optimistic that the council will re-consider and license the wheelchair-friendly cab. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time until all Merseyside drivers have the right to choice.