May 11, 2020
The Glasgow Cab division of Unite the Union has called for a reprieve from the planned move for the city to become a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) by 2022. They have proposed that the implementation should be delayed until at least 2027 in light of the current global pandemic.
Glasgow City Council has previously promised to meet the LEZ goal, with all petrol taxis meeting the Euro 4 and all diesel cabs the Euro 6 standards, by December of 2022. This was one step in the overall strategy by the city to become completely carbon-free by 2030 – which would mean that by this time all private hire and black cab drivers would have to trade up again to an electric taxi by this point at the latest. Unite the Union argue that the move to LEZ will cost taxi drivers in the city anything between £40,000 and £60,000 and that given the present bleak situation faced by cabbies all over the UK, this is becoming less achievable than ever.
Trade in Crisis
Calum Anderson is the Unite The Union Glasgow Cab section chairman and has stated that the Coronavirus has greatly affected the trade and thus will impact drivers ability to afford a new vehicle in advance of the 2022 target. He explained: The current crisis is an existential threat to the taxi trade, and it could take at least two to three years to recover normal earnings.”
“The absence of the night-time economy for the foreseeable future will see many operators having to rent out taxis on a single shift basis. This will reduce income that goes towards new vehicles by around 50 per cent.”
It is thought that if drivers are forced to change vehicles before the existing target and do not have the financial capabilities to do so, they may be forced to utilise more affordable vehicles such as saloons. This could impact passengers that require the use of wheelchair accessible taxis such as those travelling with prams, in wheelchairs or with other disabilities and that rely on this type of transport for their freedom and independence.
A Carbon-Free City
Mr Anderson also highlighted the problem that taxi drivers face in terms of purchasing a new vehicle before 2022 with the upcoming carbon-free 2030 goal looming in front of them. “It is perverse to have operators spending huge sums on transition Euro 6 diesel vehicles that won’t have an economically viable lifespan. Glasgow City Council is well behind the curve in terms of charging infrastructure. Thousands of charge points will be needed to achieve the 2030 goal and there are only 165 at present.” The union also believe that there will be a much better choice of electric cabs available by 2027, another reason for their proposal to postpone the ruling.
The chairman concluded: “We know we have to follow the LEZ rules but we are just asking for some help from the council to make this possible.”