Over the next few years, taxi businesses that have diesel-powered vehicles are being excluded from entering Glasgow city centre in an attempt to be compliant with the city’s environmental policy. As much as I applaud efforts to make the city and world greener for my generation and the ones to follow, the immediate impact on lives is an issue that is happening now.
In Glasgow, the well-known Hackney taxi owners are being put under pressure to renew their vehicle to all-electric or at the very least a Euro 6 vehicle; a diesel vehicle which meets the emission regulations standards by 1st June 2023. A factor that might not be well known is the general demographic of the taxi drivers of Glasgow is 50+ years, therefore, there are several problems when buying a new electric taxi. Firstly the cost is high, approx. £60,000, making it an expensive purchase for those who are heading towards the twilight of their working life, with no way of retiring early to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Secondly, the current mileage range while operating in full electric mode is under 60 miles; the vehicle then switches to the petrol engine which currently does not recharge the battery and as a third point, the infrastructure for charging your vehicle is still in its infancy, these charge points are not widely available.
As we try to deter these vehicles from being in the city, businesses are being forced to close, therefore, will the new fashionable eatery remain open, and will the late-night club be a viable option in the early hours with no transportation options to get home!
As discussions take place in the coming months and years what should these drivers have on their "must-have lists" i.e. what I need is an affordable purchase price, versus their "wish" or "concession" lists i.e. a 300-mile battery life or a changeover date by June 2023? These drivers have a duty to transport people to a destination, for a fair price and in a vehicle that is compliant, whilst earning a living and paying all associated costs of their business. It's quite a complicated scenario, how can it be navigated?
Is it possible that as a business movement, cities across the country unite and put a proposal forward to include, talks on grants available for new and compliant vehicles, extend the timescale for the changeover by at least 1 year allowing a chance to recover from circumstances brought on by COVID measures, provide better infrastructure, and an incentive to bring new younger drivers to the industry thereby bringing the demographic down in age for the next generation of drivers and securing a viable business.
All the above makes for one hell of a multilateral negotiation: a negotiation for 3 or more parties i.e. taxi owners, city councils and business leaders. I urge everyone to Prepare, be realistic, package a proposal and agree on steps how to move forward. Enough said, I'm off, where's my TAXI!!