With the current air quality crisis in London and the new ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) regulations that have recently come into force in April 2019, many people are asking why London’s iconic ‘black cabs’ are still exempt from the charge. According to Transport for London’s own figures, black taxi cabs are responsible for spewing out nearly one fifth of the total amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) fumes in central London. Despite being responsible for 18% of NOx in the air, black cab drivers won’t have to pay the £12.50 ULEZ charge, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the centre of London. Controversially, many other types of diesel vehicles that are regularly seen on the Capital’s roads aren’t exempt. This includes buses, waste collection trucks, police cars, ambulances and fire engines. According to a spokesman for Sadiq Khan, London’s Mayor, all new black cabs that roll off the production line must already be zero emission capable; i.e. plug-in or hybrid or they won’t be able to get a license to operate. Transport for London (TfL) is also providing funding of £24 million to help speed up the process of getting older polluting black taxi cabs off London’s roads once and for all. Despite this, it could still be around another decade before the older, already licensed black cabs are finally gone for good.
The reason for the exemptionAside from current and future plans to ensure black taxi cabs are far greener, one of the main reasons given to justify the current exemption is that they have wheelchair access and as such, are essential for providing a convenient form of transport for the disabled people that rely on them.
Keeping the engine runningOne of the factors that seemed to annoy many of the vocal protesters of the exemption were claims that many black cab drivers were notorious for keeping their diesel-powered vehicles running even while they were parked up in taxi ranks waiting for a fare.
Why are ambulances, police cars and fire engines being forced to comply with @SadiqKhan‘s ultra low emission zone, but not black cabs?— Ross Lydall (@RossLydall) April 4, 2017