London Mayor urged to ban over 10-year-old taxis

To boost air quality in London, Westminster, Camden and the City are calling for a ban on taxis over 10-years-old.

Three central London councils are urging the Mayor of London to ban taxi cabs over 10 years old in a bid to reduce pollution and improve air quality.

The call for action over old taxis comes as part of a wide-ranging letter to the Mayor calling for him to take more action over poor air quality in the capital include measures to improve the performance of buses.

In a letter jointly sent by the leaders of Camden Council, City of Westminster and City of London, the three authorities have called on the Mayor, Boris Johnson, to review the current 15 year age limit for black cabs and reduce it to 10 years. The letter calls for funding or grants to be offered to taxi drivers to help them upgrade their taxis.

c 16-17-year-old taxi pictured on June 9 2012 in London with some exhaust smoke apparently showing, particularly when accelerating. Seen in Marylebone Road, Westminster/Camden

A spokesman for Camden said that pollution from taxi exhausts “accounts for 20 per cent of the tiny, yet dangerous particles from vehicle sources in the air in the Borough of Camden. These particles, known as particulate matter, can cause serious health problems as they can travel deep into the lungs and cause inflammation, which can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.”Councillor Phil Jones, Cabinet member for sustainability, Camden Council, said: “We urge the Mayor of London to take decisive action to ban taxis over the age of ten years old and protect air quality in Central London.


“In order to do this, we need to focus on the worst polluters and our evidence suggests that black cabs account for a significant concentration of dangerous particles from vehicle sources in the air in Camden. If the Mayor and TfL are serious about improving air quality they should be offering incentives and assistance to London cab drivers to help them reduce pollution while keeping the capital moving.”

The three authorities are also urging the Mayor to reduce emissions from buses and to improve the performance of the Low Emissions Zone in order to further reduce the risks of air pollution to residents’ health in Central London.

In their letter the three boroughs state: “We are writing as leaders of Camden and the City of Westminster, and Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee at the City of London Corporation, because poor air quality is one of the most pressing environmental and health issues facing Central London. A study you commissioned attributed over 4,000 premature deaths to it in London in 2008. Poor air quality also has significant economic effects e.g. through exacerbating sick absence due to respiratory and other diseases. It is a major concern for our residents and workers.”

They continue: “We support your Air Quality strategy, but further action needs to be taken urgently. Members and officers from our authorities have started to work with the GLA and TfL to this end. We met recently with them and outlined what needs to be done.”

Council summary of actions needed:

For buses – which account for nearly half the NOx emissions:

  • a review of the network to reduce congestion, and improve load factors, particularly on the routes with the poorest air quality.
  • deployment of those buses fitted with the NOx abatement equipment on such routes — provided your people can assure us it really does achieve the amazing reductions (88%) claimed.

For taxis – which account for nearly half the PM10 emissions:

  • to reduce the age limit from 15 years to 10 years
  • a review to identify a lower limit than 10 years for private hire vehicles
  • a review of taxi licensing and the possible use of new technology to reduce pollution
  • to offer funding or grants to taxi drivers to help them upgrade their taxis

For the Low Emission zone

  •  a number of actions to make phase 5 effective

Taxi Drivers

Bob Oddy of London’s Licensed Taxi Drivers Association told AirQualityNews that he did not expect any change as the 15-year rule had only just come into force. And, he warned that a ban on taxis of more than 10-years old “would cripple the trade”.

Background information (supplied by Camden Council)

The principal sources for Particulate Matter pollution are road transport and gas boilers. Construction sites and industrial processes also contribute.

Particulate Matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers (PM10) is included under the EU Directive and National Air Quality Policy. Camden has been designated an Air Quality Management Area since 2000, which means that the Authority is responsible for monitoring concentrations of PM10 and NO2 pollutants.

In 2011 concentrations of PM10 did not exceed the EU limit values, however they were only just below the limits in certain parts of the borough.

Particulate Matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less (PM2.5) is included under the EU Directive but it is not currently the responsibility of local authorities to monitor these pollutants, however they are associated with the worst health impacts, as due to their size, they can travel far into the lungs.

Particulate Matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less (PM2.5) is included under the EU Directive but it is not currently the responsibility of local authorities to monitor these pollutants.



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Robert Kelly
Robert Kelly
11 years ago

We are experiencing the same taxi age restriction in Wirral an area with no pollution problems. In March 2010 the Department for Transport produced an advice letter to all councils (See hyperlink) since our Licensing Officers strive to comply as if the letter is a directive rather than advice. Except when the advice does not suite their intentions such as vehicle age limits then a public consultation takes place to justify their intentions.
A new vehicle costs £34.000 over ten years that’s £3.400 per year or £65 per week not including the finance interest how do these authority’s expect the taxi trade to exists with this overhead alone let alone the running costs such as vehicle insurance. If the fares rise the customer will not be able to afford a taxi resulting in fewer taxis and financial ruin to many within the trade.
The DfT (Para 32) indicates the following regarding taxi age limits….
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.
An Independent Taxi Representative.

11 years ago

Anyone who cycles in London could easily point out that it is not just the older black cabs that are pouring black smoke into London’s air, actually some of the real shockers are new cabs. It’s the manufacturer that we need to target and encourage them to develop hybrid technology asap. The buses are doing it so why can’t LTI?

12 years ago

Maybe we should be concentrating on all the road narrowing programes which have create complete gridlock in our City.

Or that cabbies have to deal with unfair competition resulting in loss of revenue which means they cannot afford to upgrade their cabs.

It’s far to easy to use them as a scapegoat though isn’t it?

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