United Cabbies Group – Formal Response to TfL Regarding ULEZ consultation.
The Mayor of London has imposed an unlawful and improper London Taxi Age limit which actually means that harmful pollution is INCREASED and is therefore not for proper purpose.
He has now proposed to reduce the London Taxi Age Limit from 15 years to 10 years.
This is despite the Mayor’s own statement in a written report to the Environmental Audit Committee in 2010 that a new Euro 5 vehicle would create 5 times as much NO2 as a 15 year old vehicle.
It also contradicts solid technical and scientific evidence published by Defra in May 2013 following the testing of 10,000 taxis in London by the Environmental Research Group at Kings College London and proved that the new taxis are creating MORE pollution than those that are being scrapped.
The Mayor has needlessly scrapped 6000 London Taxis at great expense to taxi drivers and operators which has now created a significantly increased cost of taxi rental and purchase as a direct result of a monopoly situation.
There is only one type of taxi that drivers are forced to buy at an extortionate price manufactured by the London Taxi Company. (Possibly two, however the continued future of the Vito Taxi is unclear after a recent halt in production and the exit from the Taxi market by Nissan after Mayor Boris announced this consultation, they decided the goal posts are moving faster than the time it takes to develop a new vehicle)
There is no new taxi available to buy which is proven to be less polluting than existing taxis.
The London Taxi Age Limit is therefore not only improper in purpose it clearly breaches competition laws and creates a monopoly market and raises serious questions about the impartiality of the Mayor of London, Transport for London and the London Taxi Drivers Association who have argued supporting the 15 year taxi age limit (against its own members interest) and have argued against the removal of the requirement of the turning circle (against its own members interest), which is a serious restriction on the type of vehicle which can be manufactured and approved as taxis.
We are calling for
1/ An immediate suspension of the London Taxi Age Limit as it breaches competition laws and creates a monopoly situation and because it is for improper purpose as there is no new taxi available which has improved emissions. It also does not comply with the requirements of Public Law as it is not evidence based , rational, reasonable, fair or for proper purpose.
2/ A full independent investigation of London Taxi Age Limit which was initiated by Tory MP Tim Yeo who was Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Air Quality Inquiry in 2010 which led to the London Taxi Age Limit but was also Chair of Eco City Vehicles , the company selling a new Mercedes Vito taxi which drivers were forced to buy at a cost of 340k. At the time this was also a monopoly situation because there was no other taxi available. This is a clear breach of Parliamentary Rules which state that if the Chair of a Committee has a vested interest he should step aside for that committee (so as not to improperly influence it)
3/ A full independent investigation into the Mayor of London and TFL who have implemented an improper and unlawful 15 year London Taxi Age Limit and who now propose to reduce this to 10 years even though there is only one manufacturer of taxis available which creates a monopoly. The Mayor of London and TFL also continue to impose improper requirements for conditions of fitness of taxis , which deliberately creates and perpetuates a monopoly situation.
4/ We have concerns about the impartiality of some members of the United Trade Group and what connections they have with taxi manufacturers.
There seems to be an improper process for the election of board members who have not changed for many years.
There are also concerns about the impartiality and conflict of interest of the LTDA Chairman , Bob Oddy who is also paid £30k a year Transport for London as a board member for them. There are concerns that he cannot properly represent his members whilst being paid by the organisation that he is supposed to challenge on behalf of his members.
1. The concept of a Taxi Age Limit to reduce pollution is improper.
2. The Mayor himself said in a report in 2011 to the Environmental Audit Committee that ‘ a new Euro 5 vehicle creates 5 times as much pollution as a 15 year old vehicle’
3. Camden Council among others commissioned emissions testing of vehicles in London, The result of that testing by the Environmental Research Group confirmed that the new taxis were creating MORE pollution than the 15 year old taxis. It seems that Camden Council are ignoring the evidence of the testing that they themselves commissioned.
4. The London Taxi Age limit has therefore INCREASED pollution by scrapping older less polluting 15 year old vehicles.
5. The London Taxi Age Limit should have been stopped as soon as the Defra report confirming that new Euro 5 vehicles were more polluting was published in May 2013. Instead it has been ignored
6. It is therefore not reasonable, rationale or evidence based to impose any taxi Age limit of any sort .
The suggestion that a 10 year taxi age limit will somehow reduce pollution is clearly not based on evidence, as has been proven.
7. It is also therefore not reasonable to suggest that it would be acceptable to do so if certain criteria are met i.e. electric charging points for taxis (because there are no electric taxis and even if there were they are not commercially or logistically viable)
8. There are no new vehicles available as taxis as of today which would offer a commercially and technically viable solution to reduce pollution.
Until there is a reasonable solution actually in place then it is improper to scrap perfectly serviceable taxis on the false premise that it is reducing pollution
9. The proposal for a 10 year London Taxi Age Limit is a distraction from the proper and effective emissions strategies in relation to taxis that should be implemented immediately.
10. A regulation for Clean Diesel (as used in Sweden) could be implemented overnight. It would reduce PM by 30% and NO2 by 10% and would do so in every diesel vehicle in London immediately. There would be no cost because the fuel economy would increase. The scale of emissions reduction would be massive because the emissions of every single vehicle would be reduced immediately, compared with changing of vehicles which cannot take place quickly and only has a small incremental effect.
There is no reason why this should not be implemented.
11. BioDiesel is another option which has been ignored
12. Another measure could include a diesel engine clean up system (previously proposed to TFL and ignored) and improved traffic management.
13. A ban on peak time deliveries would massively reduce overall pollution and has again been ignored
The Unlawful and Improper London Taxi Age Limit
The Mayor of London acknowledged in a written report to the Environmental Audit Committee in 2011 that the new Euro Emissions standards were not delivering reductions in pollution.
He said ‘ A Euro 5 car, for example, emits around five times as much direct NO2 as a fifteen year old car.
He then completely contradicted his own evidence and needlessly scrapped 15 year old taxis falsely claiming that it would reduce pollution, knowing full well that it would not.
It is a requirement of Public Law that the Mayor’s decisions are evidence based and for proper purpose.
The London Taxi Age limit is neither ; it is not evidence based as he conducted no testing whatsoever and if he had it would have shown than the new taxis create MORE pollution.
It is therefore also not for proper purpose; the Taxi Age Limit was supposed to reduce pollution and his policy has actually INCREASED pollution.
The Mayor was asked on many occasions by London Assembly Members to at least conduct basic testing to prove that scrapping taxis would reduce emissions. He point blank refused to conduct any testing whatsoever..
In May 2013 Defra released a report after the Environmental Research Group tested 10,000 taxis which confirmed that the new taxis were creating more pollution than those that had been scrapped.
The Mayor has ignored this further conclusive evidence and continues to force taxis off the road on a daily basis creating financial hardship for drivers and doing nothing to reduce pollution
Emissions reduction of PM could have been achieved by retrofitting Diesel Particulate Filters.
The Mayor has written to the Environmental Audit Committee boasting that he has reduced pollution in London by scraping 3000 of the most polluting taxis, even though the technical and scientific evidence proves that he has not reduced pollution at all and in fact the new Euro 5 taxis create MORE harmful NO2 than the 15 year old taxis.
Ref to Mayors statement in 2011
‘’11. NO2 levels have not fallen in recent years as modelling had predicted. This is a problem across major cities in the UK and across the EU. Emerging evidence, including a report by King’s College London, suggests that this may be due to the failure of recent Euro standards to deliver expected reductions of NO2  . A Euro 5 car, for example, emits around five times as much direct NO2 as a fifteen year old car.’’
Link to Defra report which proves that newer taxis are causing MORE pollution than older taxis.see page 44 onwards for taxi results
Taxi Drivers are probably the group of workers most affected by air pollution in London ; (how many drivers do you know with one of the above diseases?) and yet the Mayor sees fit to implement improper policies which will not reduce pollution but which deliberately cause financial loss to taxi drivers.
It seems like it is part of his master plan to destroy the London Taxi Trade.
The Cross Party Environmental Audit Committee are currently conducting an Inquiry as to why there has been no improvement in air quality.
They summoned the Mayor of London to appear before the committee and he reluctantly agreed to appear on Wednesday September 10th at 2 pm.
He goes on to acknowledge that the new emissions standards are not delivering cleaner Nox emissions from diesel vehicles
He is acknowledging that the new taxis will be no cleaner than the older taxis he is forcing off the road
Also the DFT advice to NOT impose an Age Limit on the basis of emissions as older taxis are no worse or better than newer taxis.
The Key points of the Document are reproduced below (the above link is to the entire document)
32. There is considerable variation between local licensing authorities on vehicle
testing, including the related question of age limits. The following can be regarded as
Frequency Of Tests. The legal requirement is that all taxis should be subject to an
MOT test or its equivalent once a year. For PHVs the requirement is for an annual
test after the vehicle is three years old. An annual test for licensed vehicles of
whatever age (that is, including vehicles that are less than three years old) seems
appropriate in most cases, unless local conditions suggest that more frequent tests
are necessary. However, more frequent tests may be appropriate for older
vehicles (see ‘age limits’ below). Local licensing authorities may wish to note that a
review carried out by the National Society for Cleaner Air in 2005 found that taxis
were more likely than other vehicles to fail an emissions test. This finding, perhaps
suggests that emissions testing should be carried out on ad hoc basis and more
frequently than the full vehicle test.
Criteria For Tests.
Similarly, for mechanical matters it seems appropriate to apply
the same criteria as those for the MOT test to taxis and PHVs*. The MOT test on
vehicles first used after 31 March 1987 includes checking of all seat belts.
However, taxis and PHVs provide a service to the public, so it is also appropriate
to set criteria for the internal condition of the vehicle, though these should not be unreasonably onerous.
*A manual outlining the method of testing and reasons for failure of all MOT tested items
can be obtained from the Stationery Office see
Age Limits. It is perfectly possible for an older vehicle to be in good condition. So
the setting of an age limit beyond which a local authority will not license vehicles
may be arbitrary and inappropriate. But a greater frequency of testing may be
appropriate for older vehicles – for example, twice-yearly tests for vehicles more
than five years old.
It can be seen above that DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) state that setting an age limit beyond which a licensing authority will not license vehicles may be (In the UCG opinion is) arbitrary and inappropriate.
Certainly the manner in which this is being implemented is unlawful and improper.
I also include a link here to a transcript from a BBC Radio 4 podcast from their “File on 4” investigative journalism team. Within this link is a full transcript that discusses the fundamental error in the assumption that later Euro standard diesel engines are less polluting, this investigatigation uncovers the hidden truth that older vehicles (and for my purposes particularly Taxis) are in fact much less (as much as 5 times less) polluting than the newer Euro standards Vehicles Mayor Boris is forcing upon the Taxi trade, resulting in cleaner Taxis being scrapped at great expense to Taxi drivers and in the process making matters worse for Londoners lungs. I have previously submitted this to TFL/TPH but they have never investigated this scientific research undertaken by two leading British Universities.
Below I include some additional comments regarding the Mayor’s statement that all new Taxis entering service from 2018 must be zero emission capable.
Zero Emissions Taxis…..
The IT industry call these proposals “Vaporware” all talk and promises but no actual product. Zero Emission Taxis are “Vaporware”
There are no Zero emissions Taxis available to buy at 9th January 2014 (Closing date for this consultation) [Yes I know there are some hybrids on test, but they aren’t in service, they aren’t in volume production and the long term reliability is an unknown]
How can legislation be passed to mandate the use of a Non existent vehicle?
How will Taxi drivers Charge their vehicles?
There is not one single fast Charging point in London.
Where will you find space for charging points for 23,000 Taxis?
You “TfL” cannot and will not keep our charging points clear of illegally parked vehicles and PHV (this is demonstrated by a complete disregard by Enforcement of the existing Taxi Ranks) Has it occured that there are peak times and slack times…. All working Taxis will seek to charge their vehicles at the same time, “Slack time” which is the same time for every Taxi, you can’t “Take it in turns” when you need to work busy periods and charge-up the batteries in slack periods.
Does the Underground Electricity Network have the additional capacity to charge electric vehicles Taxis and PHV…?
Has any research into the capacity of the Electricity supply been undertaken?
Have TfL even spoken to the power supply companies to enquire if they can supply this much power?
Who pays for the electricity at these points?
Will the price per KWH be regulated?
subject to price consultation?
Have TfL Spoken to the local councils about providing thousands of spaces for vehicles being charged?
A Taxi driver that lives in a block of flats or has no parking outside his home cannot charge his vehicle.
What if a desperate passenger needs to get home to the suburbs and a Taxi stops for a Hail, but the passenger wants to travel in the opposite direction to the drivers home, the driver realises he has enough power to travel to the passengers destination, but not back home or even make it to a charging point…. Is this a refusal of a fare?
In Japan they have trialled the use of these zero emissions vehicles and the frequent use of fast charging points is destroying the batteries. Disposal of rechargeable batteries is an environmental disaster, Will TfL pay compensation for prematurely failed batteries?
This is the most ill-conceived and poorly thought through of your consultations to date.
It is an embarrassment that I should have to point out the obvious shortcomings of this proposal. These are such glaringly obvious mistakes it proves once again that TfL have no understanding of how to operate a privately owned fleet of vehicles that isn’t subject to massive taxpayer subsidies to make it work.
If I have one comment to make that you may understand…..
Go back to the drawing board….. This is unworkable. There are no vehicles available that meet your criteria, There are no charging points in London and Taxi drivers who live in homes without off street parking? You will create claims for constructive restraint of trade as they will not be able to work.
Nordenfelt v Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Co Ltd
This is the bedrock of restraint of trade claims.
If TfL prevent Taxi drivers from earning a living due to enforcing unreasonably high barriers to licensing then the Taxi trade will have no option but to take legal action.
Special Thanks for the assistance we received from David Davis of Cabbies Against Boris (David, you know more about Emmissions than anyone I know, thank you for your help)
For and on Behalf of the UCG
United Cabbies Group
Tel: 0207 100 5206E/ firstname.lastname@example.orgW/ www.ucg-london.co.uk