Tag Archives: London

What it’s like driving a green black cab in London

For London Climate Action Week (#LCAW2021), we spoke to a driver of one of the most iconic forms of transport in London, the black cab. Green Alliance’s senior political adviser, Joe Tetlow, interviewed cabbie Sardar Manyana about his experience of driving one of the newer ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs). 

How long have you driven a black cab? Have you always driven a ULEV? 
I’ve been a taxi driver for over four years. Previously, I drove a conventional TX4 black cab, but for the past 18 months I’ve been driving a hybrid ULEV, made by the London Electric Vehicle Company, which I rent.

What incentives are there to switch to a hybrid black cab? 
Non-ULEV black cabs are still allowed to operate and avoid London’s ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) charge. However, the advantages of having a ULEV cab are that it’s quieter and has a sunroof with six seats, and some customers love the fact it is a ULEV too. The government offers a grant worth £7,500 to own one. However, they are very expensive, costing between £55,600 and £58,000 plus insurance, which is why I rent.

What about the cost of running your cab and the ease of charging it?
The cost of charging is between £5.50 to £7.00 per charge, depending on the chargers used. If it’s done at home it’s cheaper, but I live in an apartment, so don’t have access to charging at home.

Even though ULEV manufacturers claim you save money, you don’t, mainly because finding a working charging point is so hard and the interruption to your working time of charging. Even a fast charger, at 50KW, takes between 45 minutes and an hour to charge. On full charge, vehicles run for about 50 to 55 miles which isn’t very practical as the average cabbie covers between 70-80 miles in a day and many live outside London. The battery power needs to be improved.

With current technology, this vehicle is not yet very cost effective to run. Some charging points are out of action for months at a time, and there are constant problems with contacting customer service to get them working. The chargers that do work are often illegally occupied by parked private vehicles, or are being used by private hire vehicles when the chargers are meant to be exclusively for taxis.

Overall, there are far too few rapid electric charging points in important central areas like Kensington, Westminster, Fulham, and there are no chargers that I know of in Mayfair. Some chargers are in car parks, but then you have to pay to park while you charge.

What can the government do to help? 
If the government seriously wants to cut congestion and pollution, they must be more serious about funding road users to switch to electric or other cleaner methods of travel. And they need to look at how the whole system works and increase clean energy access to support it, including many more rapid chargers.

I also believe they should consider restricting the use of private cars on London’s roads, and prioritise public transport, including black cabs, pedestrians and cyclists to encourage the public to use their cars less. We also provide a service to a lot of vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, so it is vital that we have access to all roads, which we currently don’t have in some areas of London. London’s ultra low emission black taxis should be seen as part of a clean public transport system and be given 100 per cent finance at no interest to buy electric vehicles, and a scrappage scheme for older vehicles could help speed it up.

Better planning of road space would also improve the flow of traffic and sharing with bikes, as would more carefully timed traffic lights. Road closures for low traffic neighbourhoods should be planned along with other measures to cut traffic, otherwise they simply squeeze more traffic onto other roads, increasing pollution and congestion there, which still negatively affects people’s health.

We black taxi drivers work very hard to get our badge and know the city’s roads inside out, so we should be consulted and included in plans for greener city transport, as we’re an important part of that future.

Can city leaders succeed where national politicians fail?

Victoria Square BirminghamThis first appeared in Breakthrough Birmingham: outputs from the UK Green Building Council city summit 2016.

If you despair about the lack of sustainability leadership from Westminster, you may have higher hopes for what city leaders can achieve. London’s mayoral candidates are currently competing to be greener than each other. We haven’t seen this in national politics since 2010 when Cameron ran for election on an explicitly green ticket. But that’s the rub. It proved only a short term boost to UK sustainability. So, are green promises from city leaders likely to be any longer lived? Read more

My proposals for a Greener London: Sian Berry

Mayoral Candidate Photoshoot - Richmond.jpgLast month we launched Greener London with eight other environmental organisations, a set of 20 practical actions for the next mayor that together would make London a greener, fairer and better place to live and work.

In the lead up to the London mayoral election, we are publishing blogs from candidates, laying out their plans for a Greener London.

Today’s post is from Green Party candidate Sian Berry.

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What I want for London: a healthy and sustainable food system

 

Last month we launcComposition with assorted raw organic vegetableshed Greener London with eight other environmental organisations, a set of 20 practical actions for the next mayor that together would make London a greener, fairer and better place to live and work.

While mayoral candidates are outlining their plans for the city, we also asked people from organisations active in the capital to tell us the one thing they’d like to see for a greener London.

Today we hear from Sofia Parente, London Food Link Officer at Sustain.

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My proposals for a Greener London: Sadiq Khan MP

Sadiq headshotLast month we launched Greener London with eight other environmental organisations, a set of 20 practical actions for the next mayor that together would make London a greener, fairer and better place to live and work.

Starting today, with exactly a month to go until the London mayoral election, we will be publishing blogs from candidates which will lay out their plans for a Greener London.

Today we hear from Labour candidate Sadiq Khan MP.

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What I want for London: more efficient buildings

London, Canary Wharf (blue hour)This week we published Greener London, with eight other leading environment groups, setting out 20 practical actions for the next mayor of London. Tomorrow, mayoral candidates will be quizzed by Londoners at our Greener London hustings. 

We’ve asked people working at organisations active in the city to tell us the one thing they want for a greener London. Today’s post is by Sarah Williams of the Aldersgate Group. Read more

What I want for London: road pricing

londontrafficFotaliaFeb08100This week we’ve launched Greener London with eight other environmental organisations, a set of 20 practical actions for the next mayor that together would make London a greener, fairer and better place to live and work. And, at our Greener London hustings on 4 March, Londoners get their chance to quiz mayoral candidates on their plans.

We’ve also asked people from organisations active in the capital to tell us the one thing they’d like to see for a greener London.

Today, it’s the turn of Dr Ashok Sinha, chief executive of the London Cycling Campaign. Read more

How London is shifting the nature debate

Vauxhall Pocket Park Piazza 2 credit Vauxhall OneThis post is by Peter Massini, principal policy officer – green infrastructure, at the Greater London Authority. He writes here in a personal capacity.

The natural environment sector shares a general aim: the protection, conservation and improvement of nature. It has had some notable successes, mainly relating to the protection and enhancement of the most special parts of the natural environment. But, despite the array of policies, protocols and projects the sector has helped to develop and deliver, most of us would admit we haven’t been as successful as we would have liked. Most indicators show many UK habitats and species continuing to decline. Read more