Taxi drivers and air pollution
The first ever National Clean Air Day in the UK took place on June 15, 2017. The event brought thousands of people together with the aim of creating a groundswell of action to make UK cities cleaner, healthier and greener. Taxi drivers play a unique role when it comes to our cities and the air pollution crisis – they are a primary source of harmful emissions and they are exposed to significant levels of poor air. Therefore, Calor GB joined forces with Global Action Plan – the NGO organising National Clean Air Day – to discover what UK taxi drivers think about the challenge of air pollution.
Concerns about health
Global Action Plan spoke to 19 taxi drivers in London, Southampton and Glasgow about air pollution. We wanted to know their thoughts, their concerns, and any perceived barriers to the move towards cleaner vehicles. It turns out that taxi drivers are indeed concerned about the impact on their health while sitting in city environments for up to 8-12 hours a day. As London taxi driver Theresa Johnson says: “I have to do up my window because the fumes are actually choking me”. Taxi drivers are worried about the health impact on themselves, as well as on the people in their communities – particularly children.
Barriers to the move towards electric
In terms of solutions, the taxi drivers we spoke with were clear: there remain significant barriers towards moving to electric or zero-emission vehicles. The main factor is financial: a new black cab costs about £45,000, while an electric vehicle is likely to cost at least £60,000. Many taxi drivers find this unaffordable. All drivers said that charging infrastructure is key, as the current charging estimate of 25 minutes is too long. Range is also a factor, as many drivers are worried about losing business for fear of not being able to get passengers to their destinations.
An affordable LPG solution
Policies aimed at improving the quality of our air are rightly being prioritised. However, taxi drivers need affordable and readily-available solutions to bring their emissions down quickly and get older diesel models off the road. Calor GB was able to present them with an alternative, cost-effective transition solution: an LPG retrofit. At £10,000, a retrofit to LPG will drastically reduce emissions: a 99% reduction in particulate matter (PM), an 86% reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) and a 7% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2). The solution is also compliant with Clean Air Zones in the UK’s most polluted cities, and because LPG costs much less that diesel, taxi drivers will save money at the same time. It’s a solution whose time has come.
Would you like to find out more? Click here to watch a video that was made about the project.