Taxi News Roundup October 2017
Scotland’s first Hydrogen taxi comes to Aberdeen
Scotland’s first all hydrogen taxi is set to take to the roads of Aberdeen. The hydrogen powered Hyundai ix35 will be operated by Aberdeen Taxis on a one-year trial basis, after Aberdeen City Council granted the vehicle a private hire license in September.
Aberdeen is fast becoming a city known for its adoption of alternative fuel; alongside being home to Europe’s first all hydrogen bus fleet, Aberdeen also operates 9 hydrogen powered vehicles owned by the city council and local authorities, and three all hydrogen vehicles operated by car club Co-Wheels.
The taxi was funded by the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, with the hope of encouraging other cities and private hire firms to consider alternative fuel.
Yvonna Alan of Aberdeen City Council commented that the use of the vehicle by a private hire firm will “play a part in improving the air quality of our city”, and that its adoption will allow Aberdeen’s residents “the opportunity to […] broaden [their] understanding of the technology”.
In addition, Aberdeen Taxis director Chris Douglas said: “We believe the smoothness and quietness of the hydrogen vehicle will be appreciated by not only drivers but also our passengers [and] that the environmental benefits of running pure hydrogen and electric vehicles will make a real difference for the people of Aberdeen.”
Oxford Bans Petrol and Diesel from 2020
New proposals by Oxford City Council could lead to all petrol and diesel cars, buses and taxis being barred from driving in the city’s streets from 2020.
A six-week public consultation on the proposals is set to take place throughout October and November. The councils’ environment chief John Tanner commented that the proposals were “urgently needed”, and that air pollution in the city is damaging the health of its residents.
The plans suggest first barring vehicles from six city centre streets, with this area then expanded at 5 year intervals. If the plans are approved, by 2030 the area would encompass the entire city centre. Finally, in 2035 HGVs would additionally be banned from driving within the area, making Oxford’s City Centre the world’s first Zero Emissions Zone.
Environmental health experts say that the scheme could reduce nitrogen dioxide to background levels, with one street having the potential to see 74% reduction in the level harmful emissions.
However, it’s estimated that local councils and businesses could end up paying around £14m over the rollout period. This includes the Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach, taxi firms, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, who will need to fork out around £7m in order to replace affected vehicles. However, as the zones are expected to be gradually expanded, the two councils expect to be able to backload the majority of the cost to the second half of the 18 year rollout period, allowing them time to properly budget.
Aberdeen City Council abandons accessible taxi plans
Aberdeen City Council has abandoned plans to make all of the city’s taxi fleet accessible for disabled passengers by 2018.
Many of the UK’s biggest cities now have fully accessible fleets, equipping all licensed cars with ramps for wheelchair use and hearing aid induction loops for passengers with hearing aids, whilst allowing guide dogs into cars at no extra cost. However, only 54% of Aberdeen’s vehicles are currently considered accessible, with the remainder being more traditional saloons.
Aberdeen City Council has for some time faced calls to universalise the accessibility of its taxis, and was expected to pass legislation into law in that would make full accessibility a legal requirement for by 2018. However, the Council’s licensing committee recently voted to abandon the current discussions altogether, instead planning to revisit the issue next year.
Graham McColl, a spokesperson for Aberdeen Taxi Group, declared his backing for the session's outcome, saying that ‘while it has been pushed back for a year and the council is set to do another consultation, the trade will be happy that they will be consulted on this and the potential for a mixed fleet’.