Taxi News Roundup July 2017
Britain stops sale of petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040
July’s biggest news was the announcement that sales of all petrol, diesel, and hybrid vehicles are to be banned from 2040, as part of a government air quality initiative.
Speaking about the plan, a spokesperson commented: “Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible.”
It’s safe to say that the announcement has been met with a mixed reception. Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, says that the success of the plan depends on how willing consumers are to move to electric vehicles, saying that the measures “could undermine the UK’s successful automotive sector if we don’t allow enough time for the industry to adjust”.
However, UK automotive industry expert David Bailey says that the move “send[s] a very clear signal to manufacturers and consumers of the direction of travel and may accelerate a transition to electric cars.”
The decision also follows similar measures accounted in France, with President Macron recently making the same pledge to move to electric only vehicles from 2040. In addition, Volvo recently made a commitment to only produce electric or hybrid fuel vehicles from 2019, whilst BMW recently announced that it will begin producing an all-electric Mini at the UK’s Cowley plant at some point in 2019.
Driverless taxis take to London
Greenwich is set to become host to the UK’s latest driverless cars trial, with vehicles due to be tested along 2km of the London boroughs streets.
This isn’t the first time driverless vehicles have been tested in the UK, with Greenwich and Milton Keynes recently host to similar tests. However, the upcoming test has fewer restrictions than previous trails, with passengers not required to register in advance. Instead, the vehicles will be open to any passengers in the area, although it’s likely that waiting times may be longer than at your average taxi rank.
The autonomous shuttles can ferry up to five passengers at a time in the company of a human safety warden, who if needed is capable of slowing the vehicle or bringing it to a halt if needed.
As many of the world's leading technology companies explore the potential of a driverless future - from household names like Mercedes and Volvo, to Silicon Valley heavyweights like the Uber, Lyft, Apple and Google – a driverless future doesn’t look to be too distant.
Aberdeen charity fights for disabled passengers
Last month a cross-party group of councillors arranged by Aberdeen charity Future Choices met to discuss the possibility of restoring the city’s Taxi Card scheme.
Aberdeen City Council previously provided Taxi Cards to disabled passengers to subsidise their journey. However, alongside the scrapping of a popular Dial-a-Bus service, budget cuts forced the cancellation of the scheme in 2010.
Future Choices help around 50 disabled people in Aberdeen each week, providing a weekly club and a range of activities. At the heart of the effort to bring back the Taxi Card is its chairman, David Forbes. It’s been seven years since Taxi Card got taken away,” Forbes stated, “and look at what’s changed.”
If the scheme is reintroduced it’s anticipated to cost between £300,000 and £500,000 per annum. Councillors have already stated that they hold insufficient funds to cover the service’s daily expenditure, but Future Choices hope to arrive at a compromise. ”We can have a discussion,” Forbes said, “rather than throwing it out the window.”
Forbes recognised that one argument against the scheme’s reintroduction might be “that disabled people have got bus passes.” However, for Forbes it’s a pure question of access: “some bus stops aren’t in the places they need to be,” he said.