London’s taxi drivers are proud to be leading the drive to cut pollution and help save lives across the capital.
Transport for London (TfL) found that taxis produced almost one third (29%) of central London’s nitrogen dioxide road emissions from 2019, with toxic air pollution contributing to thousands of premature deaths, rises in asthma levels and lung damage in children.
But now, more than half of London’s iconic black cabs are zero emission capable (ZEC), and new figures show pollution is falling.
This is partly because 7,972 of the 14,690 black cabs in the capital are now ZEC. This means they emit no more than 75g/km CO2 in exhaust emissions and can be operated with zero emissions for a minimum range of 20 miles.
Since 2018, all taxis licensed in London for the first time had to be ZEC and in the past six months, the number of ZEC taxis has grown by 10%, TfL figures show.
At the start of this year, the rule was extended to include new private hire vehicles in a bid to further reduce emissions. With 90,559 private hire insurance-covered vehicles in the capital as of October, 2023, – more than six times the number of black cabs – this change is expected to have a huge impact on pollution.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “London’s licensed taxi drivers are leading the way in cleaning up the capital’s air. The self-employed drivers we represent have invested more than £500 million in these fantastic zero-emission vehicles and continue to invest at record levels.
“Our members take great pride in driving these clean, green vehicles and passengers enjoy travelling in them. With continued financial support and further investment in rapid-charging infrastructure, cabbies will keep working towards a fully zero-emission fleet, whilst providing the same high-quality, reliable, accessible service London’s taxis are known for.”
Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing and regulation, said: “London’s black taxis are recognised worldwide and we are proud to see that so many drivers are helping clean up our air and assist us in tackling the city’s health emergency by driving zero-emission-capable vehicles.
“Reaching this milestone is a great reflection of how London is working hard to be a greener, more sustainable, environmentally friendly city.”
Leading the way
And LEVC, which makes the iconic TX black taxi, believes greener cabs can make a difference around the world.
Chief executive Alex Nan said: “Other cities can learn from London’s world-leading approach, improving air quality throughout urban settings, to the benefit of the public and the environment.
“Globally the TX has saved an incredible 200,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, with London leading the way in helping us to achieve that.”
Cleaner bus and taxi fleets are key to the Mayor of London’s strategy to cut pollution and TfL says emissions from the fleet have reduced following the introduction of a range of “industry-leading changes” including greener cabs, which have replaced more than 4,000 older, more polluting vehicles from the fleet.
TfL is also reducing the maximum age of the most-polluting taxis from 15 to 12 years between 2020 and 2022, as well as incentives to encourage taxi drivers to make the switch.
And there are already more than 1,100 zero-emission buses in operation while the rest are low emission and meet or exceed Euro VI emission standards.
TfL’s goal is for a fully zero-emission fleet by 2034, which will have an estimated 4.8m tonnes of carbon.
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