Have your say on updated ULEZ proposals for taxis and Private Hire Vehicle licensing
In March, following a public consultation, the Mayor confirmed that the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be launched in central London on 7 September 2020, significantly improving air quality and helping to protect the health of Londoners. It will require vehicles travelling in the Congestion Charge Zone of central London to meet new emission standards 24 hours a day, seven days a week or pay a daily charge.
In addition to meeting these standards, Transport for London (TfL) is committed to ensuring all 300 single decker buses operating in the ULEZ are zero emission (e.g. electric), and all 3,000 double deck buses will be hybrid by 2020.
At the same time, we also proposed changes to taxis and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing requirements to reduce emissions from these fleets and increase the number of taxis and PHVs capable of operating with zero emissions. In light of concerns raised by the taxi and PHV trade organisations during the consultation, the Mayor asked TfL to undertake additional engagement and to bring forward revised licensing proposals, before confirming these changes.
We are now consulting on updated proposals for taxis and PHV licensing as follows:
- The introduction of a voluntary decommissioning scheme for taxis older than 10 years (instead of the reduction in the age limit to 10 years originally proposed)
- A requirement that all taxis and new PHVs new to licensing from January 2018 will be Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) (this is as per the original consultation but with some modifications now proposed).
This consultation presents more information in the following areas:
- A voluntary decommissioning scheme for taxis
- Other age limit options considered for taxis
- An update on the production of ZEC taxis and ZEC PHVs
- Financial assistance to purchase ZEC taxis
- TfL’s approach to charging infrastructure for ZEC taxis, ZEC PHVs and other electric commercial vehicles
Zero emission capable (ZEC) requirement for taxis (as per original proposal)
As per the original consultation, it is proposed that from January 2018 all taxis presented for licensing for the first time must be ZEC, which means they must emit less than 50g/km CO2 with a minimum 30 mile zero emission range. If the vehicle utilises an internal combustion engine, it must be petrol fuelled.
ZEC taxi purchase grants
The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) currently offers grants towards the purchase of an ultra low emission vehicle (up to the value of £5k), which these taxis will qualify for. The OLEV also intends for local authorities to be able to top-up this grant when it is claimed towards the purchase of a ZEC taxi. Since the original consultation, London has been awarded a £25m fund by the Government in support of this initiative, which will enable TfL to distribute top-up grants to London taxi drivers. In total, it is proposed that grants of up to £8,000 are offered towards the purchase of a ZEC taxi from mid-2017 until 2020.
Voluntary decommissioning scheme for older taxis (new proposal)
TfL has developed a voluntary decommissioning scheme which is intended to remove the oldest taxis from the fleet without reducing the current 15 year taxi age limit.
Instead of reducing the age limit to ten years, one of the proposals put forward in this consultation that owners of taxis over 10 years old will be able to claim a payment from TfL by forfeiting the ability for that vehicle to be relicensed as a taxi in London. The amount payable to each eligible taxi owner would be linked to the number of times the taxi could have been relicensed were it not to be decommissioned. In the trade this is known as the number of ‘plates’ a vehicle has.
It is proposed that taxis with five plates remaining will be able to claim up to £5,000. The amount payable will reduce in line with the number of plates remaining:
|No of plates remaining||Proposed decommissioning claim amount|
We anticipate that the fund would be available from 2017, when ZEC taxi models are expected to enter the market, until the end of 2020.
Review of taxi age limit options
Although the voluntary decommissioning scheme is the preferred approach, options developed by TfL for taxi licensing (including a 10 year age limit as originally proposed and a lesser 12 year age limit) are put forward for consideration.
|10 year age limit||12 year age limit||15 year age limit with voluntary decommissiong scheme|
|Estimated number of ZECs in the fleet by end 2020 (approximate figures)||
4,000 – 9,000
|Number of oldest vehicles removed from the 2020 fleet on-top of normal expected numbers (approximate figures)||
2,000 – 5,000
|Percentage change in road transport NOx emissions – Central London, 2020||
|Percentage change in road transport NOx emissions – Inner and Outer London, 2020||
|Percentage change in road transport NOx emissions also considering additional measures – Inner and Outer London, 2020 (please refer below for detail on additional measures)||
 Figures form the lower and upper emissions estimates. The 9,000 uptake figure is used within the formal assessment as we aim to achieve this uptake.
 Mid-point of 3,500 used in the emissions estimates and formal assessment. See appendix 14 of the Supplementary Information Document for an explanation of how this estimate was derived.
Continued stakeholder engagement and progress review
For ZEC taxis, it is understood that this is an innovative technology and some potential owners may be wary of the financial investment required. The trade bodies as well as TfL can play an important role in providing support and information to make this policy work. This approach was put forward by the taxi trade organisations and is preferred by the Mayor on the basis that the necessary financial support package is in place to support its delivery. However, it will be kept under review and the trade organisations should be aware of their responsibility in ensuring its success.
Likewise, it is important TfL ensures both financing schemes (ie decommissioning payments and purchase grants) are developed so that it is easy to understand and administer and that taxi drivers can carry on using their vehicle during the application procedure. It is also fundamental that a supporting rapid charging network is put in place to enable owners of ZEC taxis to operate these vehicles with the upmost efficiency (and hence capture the associated monetary fuel savings).
As taxis make a significant contribution to poor air quality in central London, progress on the voluntary decommissioning scheme and ZEC uptake would be monitored annually. If this approach was to be adopted we would commit that the policy be reviewed in early 2020, or sooner if necessary. Depending on its success, this would provide an opportunity to seek further financial support from the Government to continue the scheme beyond this point in time. However, if it is apparent there has been insufficient progress, and that further urgent measures from the taxi fleet are required to address air quality in London, then a reduction in the mandatory age limit (for example to 10 years) could be necessary, subject to further consultation at the time.
ULEZ PHV proposals:
ZEC requirement for new PHVs (revised proposal)
There is no change to the original proposal to require new vehicles (defined as less than 18 months old from the date of registration with the DVLA) licensed for the first time as PHVs to meet a ZEC requirement from 1 January 2018. The existing introductory five year age limit would be discontinued entirely.
The OLEV currently offers grants towards the purchase of an ultra low emission vehicle (up to the value of £5k), such as ZEC PHVs. In the original consultation, we proposed that ZEC PHVs must emit less than 50g/km of CO2 with a minimum 30 mile zero emission range. We are now proposing to align the ZEC criteria for PHVs to match that of OLEV’s grant criteria as follows:
- ≤50g/km CO2 and minimum zero emission range of 10 miles or
- ≤75g/km CO2 and minimum zero emission range of 20 miles
Whilst the new ZEC PHV criteria will allow a greater choice of plug-in hybrid vehicles, including popular models such as the Toyota Prius and Mercedes-Benz S-class, at present there are no suitable models in the marketplace that can be licensed to carry six or more passengers (although full electric vehicles exist). Therefore, we are proposing a two year ‘sunset period’ exemption from the ZEC requirement for PHVs licensed to carry six or more passengers until 2020.
For information about the availability of ZEC vehicles in the market, please refer to appendix 1 of the Supplementary Information document.
Emissions requirement for used PHVs (as per original proposal)
There is no change to the original proposal to require used vehicles (defined as at least 18 months old from the date of registration with the DVLA) licensed for the first time as PHVs to be at least Euro 4 (petrol) or Euro 6 (diesel) from 1 January 2018. The existing introductory five year age limit would be discontinued entirely.
In line with the original proposal, it is proposed to maintain a distinction in the licensing requirements for new and used PHVs licensed for the first time. This is to provide flexibility for drivers and owners and recognises that there are many PHV drivers who use a vehicle they already own and may work only occasionally or for short periods in this sector.
In 2011, we established the Source London electric vehicle charging network. Source London consists of publically accessible slow and fast electric vehicle charge points which are conveniently located across the capital and accessed using a single membership card.
In 2014, following a competitive tender process, we transitioned Source London to a private operator, BluePoint London, a subsidiary of Bollore, which runs Paris’s charge points. BluePoint London plan to expand the network (with no public subsidy) from its current 1,400 charge points to 6,000 by 2018 (mostly fast 7kW) and improve service for customers.
Source London will continue to be the main network for the on-street charging of vehicles in London.
To support the significant uptake of ZEC vehicles by the commercial sector (including taxis and PHVs), TfL plans to create an additional network of rapid charge points across London (43kW or 50kW). This will maximise the opportunities for ZEC vehicles to operate in electric mode as a 15 minute charge could provide around a 40 mile zero emission range. We have secured £10 million from the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan towards this and we are also bidding for additional funding from OLEV’s £500m package to support ultra low emission vehicle uptake across the UK.
Additional measures to reduce emissions
In our initial ULEZ consultation, we had proposed a 10 year age limit for taxis rather than retaining the 15 year age limit. This means that there would be a marginal difference between the reduction of emissions we originally had proposed and what would be achieved with the current preferred approach.
We propose to make further emissions savings, which will ensure the new taxi age proposal would achieve a similar reduction of NOx emissions in 2020 across London.
- The retrofit of an additional 400 Euro V buses outside central London to meet the Euro VI standard;
- A demonstrator fund for bus operators to trial double decker zero emission buses in central London;
- The creation of a Low Emission Neighbourhood in central London (to address emissions from freight and logistics activity).
Further detailed information about these proposals is available in our Supplementary Information Document and Integrated Impact Assessment.*
*Please note that the Integrated Impact Assessment will be available to view on this website from 15 July 2015.
TfL invites you to provide your views on all the proposals described above, including the original proposals outlined. Please complete our online survey no later than 11 August 2015.
The consultation will close on 11 August 2015.
TfL will analyse the results of the consultation and make a recommendation to the Mayor and TfL’s Commissioner.
A decision will then be taken decide on whether to make the changes to the licensing requirement for these vehicles (this is anticipated early Autumn 2015).