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Boris Pushes for Green Cabs in London

BY Boon Koh
Published 18 December 2010

This past week, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, published his much anticipated Air Quality Strategy, aimed at improving the air in London so that it will meet strict EU standards.

Whilst London’s air might seem one of the best amongst capital cities around the world, the technocrats in Brussels have deemed that its not doing enough to meet EU-wide standards. As a city without any polluting industries or manufacturing, the vast majority (80%) of London’s air pollution comes from road transport (with presumably the other 20% from City Hall). Of this 80%, emissions from London’s iconic black cabs make up 20%. This is the group that Boris Johnson is targeting in him Air Quality Strategy to help him meet strict emission targets.

From 1st January 2012, black cabs over 15 years old will no longer be licensed by the Taxi and Private Hire Office. These are generally the old iconic London Taxi International (LTI) TX1 and TX2 series. However, London is not going to lose one of its iconic icons; the latest model, TX4, looks exactly the same on the outside as its predecessors, but is much cleaner and fuel efficient. Alternatively, London cab drivers can elect to get a more modern looking Mercedes Vito taxi, which has been customised by KPM UK Taxis to be suitable for London roads.

In addition, all cabbies will be required to take a mandatory eco-driving course from January 2012, and from 2013, all cabs will need to undergo an MOT twice a year instead of once a year. By 2020, it is envisioned that all London cabs will either be electric-powered or hydrogen-powered, but that is still a fantasy at the moment as both KPM and LTI (the two incumbent providers of cabs in London) are still testing prototypes of electric cabs.

It is hoped that these new regulations for London taxis/cabs, as well as other initiatives for London buses and transport planning, will help reduce PM10 emissions in central London by around 13% by 2011 and 33% by 2015.