New vision for taxi and private hire services in the Capital
Transport for London (TfL) has launched a consultation on proposed changes to taxi and private hire vehicle licensing ahead of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which will be introduced in central London in 2020.
The consultation contains two key proposals. The first proposal is that, from 1 January 2018, all newly licensed taxis - and new Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) - must be Zero Emission Capable (ZEC). The proposals will be supported by a £65m fund, secured by the Mayor, to encourage the take up of new vehicles that will make the Capital's taxi fleet the cleanest and greenest in the world. The fund comprises of two parts; to help drivers upgrade to the next generation of zero emission capable taxis and to 'decommission' the oldest vehicles from the fleet.
A ZEC taxi is considered to be a pure electric or hybrid vehicle capable of running in zero emission (at tailpipe) mode for all or part of the time (maximum 50g/km CO2 and minimum range of 30 miles). TfL is working with a number of manufacturers and is confident that ZEC taxis will be available for sale from 2017, well ahead of the proposed requirement in 2018. With the number of manufacturers involved, the market is set to grow and so give cabbies unprecedented choice in selecting their vehicles. As part of the proposal, funding would be made available to enable up to £8,000 in grants for cabbies wishing to buy ZEC taxis (a £3,000 'top-up' to the £5,000 OLEV plug-in car grant).
Following discussions between the Mayor, TfL and the trades, private hire vehicles (PHVs) would still be required to be ZEC (i.e. plug-in hybrid or better), however, the Mayor is proposing to align the PHV ZEC criteria to match that of the Government's Plug-in Car Grant criteria. This will allow a greater choice of vehicles, including popular models such as the Toyota Prius and Mercedes-Benz S-class. Private Hire drivers purchasing these vehicles are currently eligible for up to £5,000 plug-in car grants from the Government.
Whilst the new ZEC PHV criteria will allow a greater choice of vehicles, at present there are no suitable models in the marketplace that can be licensed to carry six or more passengers (although some full electric vehicles exist). Therefore, TfL is proposing a two year sunset period exemption from the ZEC requirement for PHVs licensed to carry six or more passengers until 2020.
The specifications for ZEC taxis and PHVs will be confirmed once the final licensing requirements have been agreed.
The second proposal is to retain the existing 15 year age limit for all taxis and to encourage retirement of the oldest most polluting taxis through a voluntary decommissioning scheme. From 2017, drivers of taxis over 10 years old would be able to claim up to an additional £5,000, with the precise amount depending on the age of their vehicle. This is intended to reflect the current challenges facing the trade while tackling London's air quality in the most effective and sustainable way.
Garrett Emmerson, TfL's Chief Operating Officer for Surface Transport, said: `The service provided by the taxi and private hire trades is a core ingredient to London's position as a world-leading city and we are pleased to consult on this package of changes. The Ultra Low Emission Zone will deliver significant improvements to air quality in the capital and its effects will be felt ahead of 2020. Indeed, we believe the £65m fund will encourage the uptake of cleaner, greener taxis well ahead of the 2020 deadline.'
In March, following a positive consultation process, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, confirmed that the world's first Ultra Low Emission Zone will be launched in central London on 7 September 2020, significantly improving air quality and helping to protect the health of Londoners. It will require vehicles travelling in the Congestion Charge Zone of central London to meet new emission standards 24 hours a day, seven days a week or pay a daily charge.
By 2020, TfL is committed to ensuring all 300 single decker buses operating in the ULEZ are zero emission (e.g. electric), and all 3,000 double deck buses will be hybrid including 800 of the Mayor's New Routemasters. In addition, we are now proposing the retrofitting of 400 Euro V buses that operate outside the ULEZ to bring them up to Euro VI emission standards, delivering air quality benefits well ahead of 2020.
With the new proposals, the overall ULEZ package is projected to nearly halve emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) from vehicle exhausts in central London. This means more than 80% of central London is expected to meet the NO2 annual legal limits in 2020. The ULEZ would also lead to significant reduction in the number of people living in areas of poor air quality (where levels of NO2 exceed legal limits) - by 72% in central London and 54% London wide.
The consultation, which will run for 6 weeks from today until Tuesday 11 August, will be available online at tfl.gov.uk/ultra-low-emission-consult
The £65m of funding for purchasing ZEC vehicles will come from both TfL and Government. Subject to consultation, this funding could be used to support:
- A voluntary "decommissioning" scheme - whereby the owner of taxis over ten years old may claim a compensation payment for forfeiting the right to re-license that taxi, therefore helping to remove the oldest, most polluting vehicles from the fleet;
- 'Top-up' grants, which can be used in addition to the Government plug in car-grant, in order to help purchase a ZEC taxi.
- Cars and small vans - Euro 6 for diesel engines (registered from 1 September 2015 so 5 years old or less in 2020) and Euro 4 for petrol engines (registered from 1 January 2006 so 14 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles could still drive in the zone but they will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50
- Large vans and minibuses - Euro 6 for diesel engines (registered from 1 September 2016 so 4 years old or less in 2020) and Euro 4 for petrol engines (registered from 1 January 2007 so 13 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50
- Heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches - Euro VI (registered from 1 January 2014 so 6 years old or less in 2020 except TfL buses which are required to meet a higher standard). Non- compliant vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge of £100
- Motorcycles and similar vehicles - Euro 3 (registered from 1 July 2007 so 13 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50.
- The ULEZ public consultation ran from Monday 27 October 2014 to Friday 9 January 2015. TfL received 16,281 responses from the public and businesses, and 123 responses from stakeholders. TfL's report to the Mayor on the ULEZ public consultation can be viewed at: www.tfl.gov.uk/ultra-low-emission-zone
- The announcement of the ULEZ followed careful consideration of these responses from the public, businesses and stakeholders. Seventy nine per cent of respondents said it was 'important' or 'very important' to tackle poor air quality in London and 58% said they 'support' or 'strongly support' the introduction of the ULEZ
- The Mayor and TfL have intentionally confirmed the emission standards over five years in advance of the introduction of the ULEZ in September 2020 to give sufficient warning and preparation time to affected drivers as well as to accelerate the take up of low emission vehicles and stimulate the low emission vehicle market. Residents living in the ULEZ will have a three year 'sunset period', meaning that they do not need to comply with the emissions standards until September 2023
- Vehicles adapted for disabled people will also have a three year 'sunset period', meaning that they do not need to comply with the emissions standards until September 2023. The Mayor has also confirmed that vehicles in the 40 year rolling vehicle tax exemption for classic vehicles will be exempt from the ULEZ standards
- Motorists who bought a petrol car or small van manufactured after 1 January 2006, or a diesel model after 1 September 2015, will be able to drive in the ULEZ free of charge. The same applies for motorcycles and similar vehicles manufactured after 1 July 2007, large petrol vans and minibuses manufactured after 1 January 2007, their diesel equivalents after 1 September 2016, and HGVs, buses and coaches produced after 1 January 2014
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified a number of pollutants as a major public health concern. The two pollutants of principal concern in London are particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). London is now compliant with PM limit values owing to the Low Emission Zone, taxi and private hire vehicle age limits, bus retrofit schemes and the natural turnover of vehicles. However, London is not forecast to meet the legal limits for NO2 until after 2030 - alongside Birmingham and Leeds - unless targeted action is taken
- Since the Mayor was elected, the number of people living in areas exceeding NO2 limits has halved but there is a clear need to take further action. The Greater London Authority (GLA) and TfL estimate that a reduction in road transport emissions of around 70% is needed for central London to meet EU legal limits for NO2 in 2020, with the ULEZ delivering around two-thirds of this. In addition to road transport, buildings and construction activity contribute significantly to London's air pollution. Further reductions from these sources would also help bring compliance forward
- The ULEZ emission standards will be enforced using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras which are already used for the Congestion Charge. If the daily charge has not been paid then a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) will be issued. For cars, vans and motorcycles this will be set at £130 (reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days) and for HGVs, coaches and buses it will be set at £1,000 (reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days) - so in line with the Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone respectively
The proposals for a ULEZ are one of a raft of measures introduced by the Mayor and TfL to improve air quality in the capital, including:
- Tightening the Low Emission Zone standards for HGVs, buses and coaches and introducing new standards for large vans and minibuses - around 150,000 vehicles needed to take action to meet these standards when they came into effect in January 2012
- Reducing emissions by retrofitting more than 1,000 of the oldest buses with special equipment to reduce their NOx emissions by up to 88% - with plans to increase this number to 1,800
- Retiring the remaining 900 oldest Euro III buses in TfL's fleet and replacing them with super-clean Euro VI buses at a cost of £18m
- Accelerating the roll out of hybrid buses, with 1,700 to be on the road by 2016, including 800 of the iconic New Routemaster buses - equivalent to around 20% of TfL's bus fleet
- Retiring around 6,000 of the oldest, most polluting taxis by introducing London's first taxi age limits in 2012
- Introducing new measures to reduce emissions and clean up construction sites, including plans for tough new emissions standards for construction equipment in 2015 and 2020
- Investing almost £1 billion to improve cycling infrastructure and encourage less polluting forms of transport. In February, research by the Medical Research Council suggested the health benefits gained from using the city's Cycle Hire scheme outweigh the potential negative impacts from injuries and exposure to air pollution
- Using the planning system to require all new development to be "air quality neutral"
- Retrofitting hundreds of thousands of homes and public buildings with energy efficiency measures which reduce their emissions, with 400,000 already complete