Over-arching St Albans electric taxi proposals scrapped

St Albans taxi drivers are unhappy with plans calling for them to convert to all-electric.

St Albans taxi drivers are unhappy with plans calling for them to convert to all-electric. - Credit: Archant

Proposals to force all taxis registered in St Albans to be fully electric within five years have been scrapped after they were condemned by cab drivers.

Between March and June this year, St Albans district council (SADC) consulted approximately 1,000 drivers on the plans to write off petrol or diesel cars in licencing regulation.

Existing taxi drivers would have five years from January 1 2018 to convert to a suitable model - in a voluntary trial conducted by 17 cabbies between March 2015 and October 2016, carbon emissions dropped by 29 tonnes and £17,100 was saved in fuel costs.

Seventy-five per cent of drivers in the trial said they would use an electric car but all those who participated wanted more charging points - there is only one on Adelaide Street which is dedicated to taxis.

There were 136 responses to the consultation, with about a quarter of comments concerning the price of electric cars and about another quarter on the constraints on battery life.

Some others noted competition from Uber drivers not constrained by the same rules and on the limited options for electric cars, many of which are potentially not big enough for wheelchairs. ?

The consultation concluded that although St Albans residents were in favour of the proposal, taxi drivers were not.

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SADC’s licensing and regulatory committee have now decided not to make the eco-friendly cars compulsory, but to incentivise cabbies to make the switch with a licensing discount for electric cars.

Chair of the committee, Cllr Richard Curthoys, said the idea has not been completely scrapped but he is focussing on installing new charging points before the proposal is revisited: “The main thing is we need to do is get the infrastructure in place [before it is made compulsory], once we have that we have start to look at changing it.

“Obviously it would be so unfair to say ‘you have got to go electric’, and when taxi drivers ask ‘where are we going to charge?’, to say, ‘it’s not our problem’.

“The taxi drivers saw this as some kind of attack on them and no how many times we said ‘it’s a consultation’, they thought we weren’t listening, but we were listening.”

He described pollution in the city centre as a “problem” that he would like to tackle while in office.