Age Limits for Taxis: Correspondence between RMT and Mayor

Below is a letter from RMT London Taxis branch to Mayor Boris Johnson, and attached is the Mayor's response.

Dear Boris Johnson,

My name is John Kennedy and I chair the RMT London taxi branch and we recently responded to a consultation on your air quality strategy and the policies you wish to introduce for the taxi trade. You should note even though we represent many taxi-cab drivers we were excluded for no good reason from the workshops that Transport for London and the Taxi Private Hire Directorate held, on a personal note I found this rather childish and to be honest foolish for how can we solve issues/problems the taxi trade faces if people are going to be excluded from these kind of events.

In recent days I have been contacted by some of my members who have asked me to contact you directly and ask you not to impose an age limit on London's taxi-cabs, in the reason these drivers have asked me to do this is that they feel any age limit imposed will merely force many taxi-cab drivers into hanging onto their taxi-cabs for this period of time e.g. 10 years. I feel this is a valid important point and needs to be raised with you and your office even though the date has closed this point needs to be taken or given real consideration if possible.

The solutions to emissions from London's taxi-cabs though has always lay in the hands of the licensing authority and that authority is TFL we understand you have not being the Mayor for too long but TFL has failed this trade and failed to get the manufacturers to produce a better cleaner product at a reasonable price. The trade has a role/part to play in its own future and in recent times we believe many have been asleep and failed the very people they are meant to represent and that is why we exist and why we care more than most about our jobs, our trade and our future.

If the trade is expected to scrap their taxi-cabs with any age limit resale and residual values will plummet at a time of fragile recovery, the whole trade meets euro 3 standard with thousands meeting euro 4. A scrappage scheme would assist the trade in moving from euro 3 to 4/5 but who would or could fund this sort of programme which would need at least £50 million to have any real impact in the market place. When it comes to other incentives you should note that the bus industry receives a discounted vehicle excise duty e.g. tax disc of £165.00p for a euro 3 bus seating over 62 persons, however a London taxi cab driver pays just over two hundred pounds for a euro 3 taxi-cab (TX1) but if he or she upgrades they pay over £405.00p for a tax disc for a newer cleaner greener taxi-cab. Honestly where is the incentive and this proves yet again how lazy taxi trade representation has been in the past.

I urge you on behalf of my members and the wider trade not to introduce an age limit just yet but open your doors to sensible inclusive discussions where this trade can thrash out this and many other problems for the benefit of Londoners and all its taxi-cab drivers.

For and behalf of the RMT London taxi branch, John Kennedy Chairman.