In the latest in a series of hard-hitting measures to clean up the UK capital’s toxic air, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Transport for London (TfL) have launched a £42m (US£55.5m) fund to encourage the owners of the oldest, most polluting diesel black cabs to retire them from the city’s fleet.
Taxis are a significant contributor to the city’s poor air quality, and are responsible for 16% of NOx and 26% of particulate matter (PM) road transport emissions in central London. The owners of black cabs between 10 and 15 years old can now check whether they are eligible for TfL’s ‘delicensing’ scheme, and then apply for a grant of up to £5,000 (US$6,614) in exchange for retiring their taxi.
For example, the owner of a 10-year-old taxi would receive the maximum amount, scaling down to £1,200 (US$1,587) for a vehicle aged between 14 and 15 years old. The three-year scheme aims to speed up the process of tackling the city’s dirty air, ‘greening’ its taxi fleet, and working toward the goal of making London a zero-carbon city by 2050.
No more new diesel taxis will be licensed in London from January 2018, and a number of manufacturers are prioritizing delivering new greener, state-of-the-art Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) taxis. The London Electric Vehicle Company are the first to confirm the opening of their order book, later this month.
The UK government’s Plug-in Taxi Grant, part-funded by the Mayor, will also give cabbies purchasing new ZEC taxis up to £7,500 (US$9,920) toward the purchase of a new vehicle. When combined with a delicensing payment, drivers could have up to £12,500 (US$16,530) toward the purchase of a brand new ZEC taxi. A greener fleet could reduce harmful NOx emissions from taxis by 45% in central London by 2020, making a major contribution to cleaning up the city’s air and preparing for the introduction of zero emission zones from 2025.
“Cleaning up London’s taxi fleet will play a significant part in our toxic air battle,” explained Khan. “However, it is important we financially support drivers to help them retire their oldest vehicles and upgrade to greener models. I hope this fund helps deliver a new generation of zero-emission taxis on our roads and paves the way for the government to offer a diesel scrappage scheme so all London motorists can ditch their dirty diesels.”