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Taxi drivers in Cambridge asked to help stop pollution

By Adrian Curtis

16 06 16 St. Botolph Parish Church, Cambridge with Corpus Christi College to the left. Picture: Keith Heppell
16 06 16 St. Botolph Parish Church, Cambridge with Corpus Christi College to the left. Picture: Keith Heppell

Taxi drivers are being urged to clean up their act to improve air quality in the city.

It is just one of a number of measures being investigated by Cambridge City Council following a report that revealed air quality in a number of areas in the city remains poor.

The council will now encourage the taxi trade to look at low emission vehicles as they seek to bring the pollution under control.

The city’s air quality has suffered in areas where there is a concentration of emissions from buses, taxis and service vehicles.

The council’s outline air quality action plan last year identified reducing emissions from taxis and buses as key to beating the pollution.

A number of potential options and costs to encourage a shift to low emission taxis will form the basis of the consultation.

Potential incentives to encourage take-up of low emission taxis include:

:: A discount or exemption on fees for drivers of ‘low emission taxis’ (petrol electric hybrids) or ‘ultra-low emission taxis’ (fully electric);

:: Extending the maximum age limit allowed for taxis if they are fully electric or petrol/electric hybrids;

:: Creating an electric taxi-only rank;

:: Providing a number of taxi-only charging points.

:: Possible options for how an increase in low emission vehicles could be regulated in Cambridge include:

:: Setting a date for when all newly-registered vehicles would have to be low or ultra-low emission;

:: Setting a final date for when all licensed taxis would have to be low or ultra-low emission;

:: Restricting access to the city centre to be low or ultra-low emission only.

These options will be consulted on, alongside a wider review of taxi licensing policy, later this year.

The council’s bid to get funding from the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles to support rapid electric charging points for taxis, and to subsidise purchasing new low emission hackney carriage taxis, has been partly successful.

The first funding stage enabled the council to carry out a taxi scheme feasibility study on introducing ultra-low emission vehicles in Cambridge.

A successful second stage would provide funding for at least four, but potentially more than 20, rapid charge points for taxis, plus £3,000 of additional funding per taxi to discount the price of new low emission hackney carriage vehicles.

Cllr Peter Roberts, executive councillor for environment and waste, said: “Low emission taxis have the benefit of being both less polluting and having lower operating costs, so it is right that we should look at ways to incentivise their take-up by the taxi trade.

“A shift towards low emission taxis in Cambridge forms an important part of our air quality action plan to improve air quality in parts of the city dominated by buses, taxis and service vehicles.

“These proposals to reduce emissions from vehicles in the city will benefit people in Cambridge, especially those susceptible to heart and lung conditions.


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