March 25, 2015
Let me preface the correspondence that follows by stating that this is no way affects me personally, I am not an expert on this matter and do not claim to be. I am not specifically making a proposal, only hoping to spark further dialogue. Lastly, while this email appears to be only sent to the City of London Taxi Licensing Office with the London Taxi Association cc’d – there are in fact a number of others that were bcc’d simply because I felt they should also be included. With that out of the way...
I have just recently returned from a trip to Chicago and was pleasantly surprised to find that not only that my cab driver from the train station to the hotel had recently moved there from our very own London, but that he was in fact driving a hybrid cab. “They are all hybrid or electric,” he replied flatly. I have since discovered that this is not exactly the case – but far too late as it has been on my mind ever since. In fact, of the 6,951 taxis in Chicago – at last count 40 percent of the city's fleet is already "green", made up of hybrid and natural gas vehicles, and the city is aiming for a 75-80 percent green fleet in the near future. Which got to me to thinking: if they can do it – why not us?
Sturdy, simple and cheap to buy, cars like Ford's Crown Victoria have been part of the taxi landscape here in London. All cities actually. Maybe with mini-vans working their ways into the fleet. But with rising gas prices and concerns over emissions, things are really changing. While not yet a dominant force in taxi fleets, hybrid and electric vehicles are increasingly popular as a way of cleaning up city fleets. Initial concerns over the reliability of hybrids have long passed thanks to taxis still going strong at 300,000 miles, and electric vehicles are proving their worth in the environment to which they're most suited--inner cities. And they continue to improve with each passing year.
The London Taxi Association recently claimed that in conjunction with their spokesman Roger Caranci and with the City of London administration and councillors that they have achieved a new level of cooperation between the taxi industry and city hall in London. I think it’s time to build on that and continue in that spirit of goodwill and progress. Additionally, I have been informed that “The LTS are moving to hybrid vehicles as they are being replaced. It makes environmental and economic sense for the industry. No need for incentive. Fair hike is being studied. That helps.” In short, it appears that what I’m suggesting be discussed is a rare win/win/win situation: a win for taxis, for the city, and the citizens.
All I’m suggesting is this: let’s draw a line in the sand. Just pick a date. Ten years from now? Sure. My thinking here is by simply making it a date further out then current replacement dates, so as to avoid the unfair situation where an owner might have to replace an already recently replaced vehicle. To refresh your memory:
Taxicab & Limousine Licensing By-law (L.-129-51–Consolidated Sept. 17, 2013)
2.4 No motor vehicle more than eight (8) years old and no Low Emission Vehicle more than nine (9) years old may be plated as a Cab under this By-law. No motor vehicle more than nine (9) years old may be plated as an Accessible Cab under this By-law.
Listen. I understand that motorized vehicles will always be an important component of London’s transportation and economic system. Recognizing the value vehicles provide along with the impacts on health and quality of life, London should simply increase vehicle efficiency to save money, reduce fuel consumption, and lower air emissions. I actually hope to hear that this is something that is already in the works – but if this conversation is being had, I can assure you the public is not aware of it. To be clear, I hope and trust this would only be one of a number of initiatives that the city is currently working on.
A sustainable London is a city that spends less on energy use with each passing year and ensures each of us has the opportunity to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Diverse and affordable transportation options are essential to the quality of life for our amazing city: promoting and respecting pedestrian traffic, (It is estimated that people who live in a walkable neighbourhoods weigh 6-10 pounds less than those who don’t.) creating new protected bike lanes and development near transit are critical attributes for a sustainable London (Households that are likely to use public transportation on a given day save more than an estimated $10,000 every year.) These few initiatives, which I believe are already being developed; will have an undeniable impact to reduce air pollution, improve health, decrease traffic congestion, and save money for residents and businesses.
I’ve taken up enough of your time. Once again, just something to consider if you haven’t already. This correspondence should in no way suggest that I question the intentions of the London Taxi Association, because that is certainly not the case. I simply think everyone would be best served by picking a date and working together towards it. With that, keep warm and stay cool.
All the best!
 ) “Low Emission Vehicle” means a motor vehicle that is a hybrid vehicle or a vehicle powered by electricity; as per Taxicab & Limousine Licensing By-law (L.-129-51–Consolidated Sept. 17, 2013)