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Taxi age changes are a ‘lifeline’ to city’s drivers

Black cab

Buying a car is a huge financial undertaking that requires years of planning and saving by taxi drivers.

Many factor in the cost of replacing their vehicles every 10 years – or the maximum time allowed by their licensing authority.

This is why changes such as the introduction of clean air zones and ultra clean air zones heap extra pressure on taxi drivers and other professional drivers who must either decide to pay the daily charges or fork out for a vehicle that is exempt from them.

But this means drivers have to come up with the money sooner than expected, or take out finance they hadn’t bargained on.

Age change for taxi and private hire vehicles

This is why Cambridge City Council’s decision to extend the age at which taxis and private hire vehicles are allowed to operate has been described as a “lifeline to struggling drivers”.

Cambridge Independent reports that the council has agreed to change its policy to increase the age limit for taxis from nine years to 11. It comes after a petition calling for the policy changes was signed by 159 taxi drivers licensed with the council.

As part of the changes, it has also altered its policy requiring new taxi drivers to have a vehicle less than four years old when they apply for a licence. Instead, a new taxi must meet a Euro 5 standard or higher. This covers vehicles first registered on or after January 1, 2011.

While the city council last month scrapped plans to charge drivers at least £5 a day to drive into or around a Cambridge Sustainable Travel Zone, the Euro 5 minimum standard would have made these vehicles exempt to the daily charge.

More choice with cheaper vehicles

The council’s decision to extend the age of taxis is good news because it gives drivers more choice to buy cheaper vehicles. It also creates the opportunity to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible taxis.

And the way most taxi drivers look after their cars means they are still in good condition even after years of service, something rigorous annual licensing checks keep track of, so it would be a waste to get rid of a taxi or PHV that still has life left in it.

The decision to extend the age of vehicles has been welcomed by taxi drivers across the city. The Independent reports that Ahmed Karaahmed, chairman of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, told councillors at a meeting of the city council’s licensing committee last month that the new policy would be a “lifeline” to “struggling drivers and their families who were grappling with the cost-of-living crisis”.

Improved wheelchair access in taxis

He added: “Just to be clear, we did not ask for this only for the benefit of taxi drivers – the public will have a huge benefit, too, especially the most vulnerable of our city, wheelchair users.”

The council acknowledged that “the policy change will mostly impact wheelchair-accessible taxis, due to most of the saloon-style taxis already having switched over to ultra-low and zero-emission vehicles”.

Cllr Gerri Bird said there had been problems with having enough wheelchair-accessible taxis, and disabled people could get “stuck at home”.

Cllr Naomi Bennett: “I am quite a regular taxi user and quite often I have to go to things without my wheelchair if I have to use a taxi because I cannot get a wheelchair taxi.

“Sometimes that is not a problem because I have other mobility aids, but sometimes it really is, so I echo what Cllr Bird has said about the importance of keeping up the wheelchair-accessible numbers.”

The committee unanimously voted to approve the policy change.

How old is your taxi or private hire vehicle and when are you planning to change it?

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