Nearly half of Glasgow’s black cabs are to be forced off the road by the SNP’s low-emissions zone (Lez) in the city centre, taxi drivers have warned.
They said that more than 600 vehicles, about 45 per cent of those in service, will be unable to pick up passengers from next summer as they do not meet the scheme’s emissions standards.
But the trade union Unite said details released under Freedom of Information showed the scheme was “floundering”, with an average of fewer than one cab per week being retrofitted due to a shortage of components and labour.
It estimated that 118 taxis are awaiting retrofitting, a total that would take more than two years to complete at the present rate of progress. Some cab drivers have been forced to send their vehicles to Chester for work to be performed.
About a further 500 of Glasgow’s 1,383 hackney cabs also have an exemption that will also run out by the end of May.
The Glasgow scheme is stricter than London’s Ulez as drivers in older vehicles are banned from entering the city centre, rather than being given the option to pay a daily fee.
An older car entering the zone each day would face penalties of £60, a penalty that doubles with each further breach of rules up to a daily cap of £480 for cars and vans and £960 for buses and HGVs. The fine is reset to £60 if there are no breaches for 90 days.
Steven Grant, Unite Glasgow (Hackney) Taxi Branch secretary, said: “Despite the council granting a one-year exemption for retrofitting cabs, it is clear that the Lez is still going to force hundreds of cabs off the road by June next year.
“There is grave concern in the trade about the deadline given the lack of components and expertise available to carry out retrofitting. Part of the problem throughout this debacle is that Glasgow City Council has no idea of the actual logistics facing taxi drivers.”
About 40 black cab licences have been handed back to the city council, the union said, with drivers left with no other option but to cease trading rather than sell a non-compliant vehicle to a new owner.
Mr Grant noted that the average age of Glasgow black cab driver was 57, adding: “A brand new cab would cost around £75,000, which is not feasible if you are approaching the end of your career in the trade.”
Glasgow was the first Scottish city to introduce an Lez, with Dundee’s scheme to be enforced from May 30 next year and those in Aberdeen and Edinburgh from June 1 next year.
A Glasgow city council spokesman said: “The Lez retrofit fund has been available to eligible taxi operators since 2019. In the same year we amended licensing conditions to allow for a new licence or change of vehicle to be applied to taxis more than five years old.
“This was a direct intervention ahead of the Lez coming into force to increase the options available to operators of vehicles unsuitable by reason of age for retrofit.”