Well Boris’s long awaited announcement on Taxi age limits finally came a few weeks ago. Boris has announced that he intends to introduce an age limit for London’s taxis from January 1st 2012 where no taxi over 15 years of age will be issued a license.

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Personally I think that this regulation is wrong and will do nothing except place and unnecessary financial burden on the ordinary working London Taxi Driver. For too long we have been the scapegoat for London with the London Taxi Trade paying for the sort comings of the rest of London’s transport infrastructure.

It was not so long ago when the Taxi Trade footed the bill so that London could go some way towards having a wheelchair accessible transport system. Why was it that every London Taxi needed to be wheelchair accessible by the year 2000, my thoughts are it was because none of the other transport options came anywhere close to offering a wheelchair accessible format. The trains were and still are far from being fully wheelchair accessible, the buses are gradually becoming wheelchair accessible although the drivers are often not willing to assist a wheelchair bound passenger as they are not allowed to leave the drivers seat and as for the Underground, well they are nowhere near being wheelchair friendly, some stations will never become wheelchair friendly due to their design. So basically to pacify the wheelchair user the London Taxi trade were compelled to become fully wheelchair accessible.

Then a few years later Ken decided to blame the London Taxi Trade for the Capitals clean air problems, he decided that all London Taxis would need to confirm to Euro 3 emission standards, once again an attempt to pacify another group of people where the Taxi Trade again footed the bill, why were all other vehicles not required to meet Euro 3 standards at the same time as London’s Taxis? Probably because to bring London’s buses up to Euro 3 standard would have cost the taxpayer whereas to bring London Taxis up to Euro 3 was not going to be a financial burden on the taxpayer, but instead would cost the individual taxi owner in the region of £2,500 per vehicle.

Now once again the excuse for enforcing a 15 year age limit on London’s taxis is because of the air quality in the capital. It really does seem strange to me that at the same time that the Low Emission Zone comes into force for all other vehicles requiring them to be Euro 3 compliant the Mayor is requiring London’s Taxis to attain a higher standard. All of London’s Taxis comply with Euro 3 standards due to the previous Mayor requirement for taxis so why are we being compelled to scrap perfectly good vehicles in the name of being green when all other vehicles are only required to conform to a lower standard.

I believe that once again the taxi trade are being used as a scapegoat for the rest of London’s short comings. It seems strange also that this new regulation is due to come into force in the same year as London is to host the Olympics, now this would not be so much of a joke if the London Taxi trade were being considered as an integral part of the Olympic Transport infrastructure, but from what we have so far learned it seems that London Taxis will be excluded from the Olympic Village!

So what effect will this 15 year age limit have on the trade?

  • Will the average age of taxis become younger?
  • Does this mean that we will all be driving around in shiny new taxis?
  • What will happen to those older semi retired drivers
  • Will this affect Taxi Rental prices?
  • Will this affect taxi resale prices?

Personally I don’t believe that the average age of taxis in London will decrease, I think that drivers may have no choice but to hold onto their vehicles longer due to the fact that resale values will not be high enough for them to trade their vehicle in for a newer one.

With fewer taxis on the road the rental prices for those taxis available will obviously be higher, this will put the price of renting a taxi on a part time basis out of the reach of the semi retired driver who only does a few hours per week.

This proposal could ultimately mean that drivers will have to return to the days of driving a cab on the half flat or sharing a cab with a friend as the cost of a new taxi will still increase but the resale value decrease at such a rate to make it unviable to drive a taxi on the owner driver basis. For those drivers who do take the plunge and buy a new vehicle to be the sole owner driver they will obviously want to hang onto the vehicle longer in order to get their money’s worth from the vehicle, they would probably have to keep it until the finance is paid off in full otherwise they may find that they are in negative equity due to the poor resale value of second hand taxis.

Those older taxis that are still plying for hire on London’s streets are mostly in very good condition, most are owner driven and are very well maintained, there are of course exceptions to this rule and some of the taxis being in a condition that is less than desirable.

Had Boris just left things as they were then the older taxis would have started to come off the road due to parts shortages and the fact that it would have started to become uneconomical to keep putting these vehicles through their annual overhaul, also I know of many owners who were considering upgrading their taxis but have now decided to run their vehicle until they can no longer plate it as they now have no resale value to speak of.

In conclusion this age limit will do nothing to improve the average age of Taxis in London, in fact it could have an adverse effect and the average age of taxis could become older!

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