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London taxi shortage: United Trade Group’s letter to the Mayor

07/11/2012

Dear Boris

The London Taxi company (LTC) is now in administration and has issued redundancy notices to most of its Coventry workforce and closed the London Dealership (Mann & Overton). This action has seriously impacted your previous decision to allow LTC to temporarily licence Euro IV taxis, which had not been previously licensed in London, and has resulted in only a handful of vehicles being made available.

The shortage of cabs in London is growing by the day and some drivers are entering a fourth week of enforced unemployment and the consequent inability to support their families. A further 509 taxis will be forced out of service over the next 8 weeks as a result of the 15 year age limit and this, coupled with a likely dearth of vehicle spares, will result in a real shortage of taxis in the Capital. An increasing number of drivers will be unable to work approaching Christmas and the ability of the trade to service the heavy demand for taxis, particularly in the early hours of the morning during the party season, is in doubt.

I cannot overstress how important this issue is to individual drivers, the trade in general and Londoners, whose ability to find a taxi will be significantly reduced. I once again request that you temporarily extend the life of taxis due to be retired by a short period of say 3 months, which would enable us to get beyond the festive period and into the New Year when hopefully the situation with LTC will be a lot clearer.

Steve McNamara

General Secretary

On Behalf of the LTDA, Unite the Union and The London Cab Drivers’ Club

Black Christmas as London Runs Out of Cabs

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Taxi drivers and hire companies are warning of a worsening shortage of London black cabs that will coincide with the run-up to Christmas, traditionally the busiest time of year for the trade. Part-time taxi drivers typically hire cars in November to work over the holidays. Some of them report long waiting lists if not a complete absence of vehicles. Renny Raphael-Campbell, owner of a taxi-hire company in northwest London, told the Financial Times that other would-be drivers are “being laughed at for asking”. “The demand for vehicles completely, massively outstrips supply,” Mr Raphael-Campbell said. “We have drivers who have been out of vehicles for three weeks who can’t find one to work.” Manganese Bronze the black-cab manufacturer, entered administration last month after reporting four years of financial losses, rising warranty costs and supply problems that culminated in a recall of 400 TX4 black cabs owing to faulty Chinese-made steering boxes. In addition to the recalled cabs – which are now parked in garages awaiting a fix – hansoms 15 years and older were pulled off London’s streets earlier this year as part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s clean air strategy. “We’ve got a perfect storm,” taxi driver Graham Spero said on Tuesday. “All sorts of things have come together at the wrong time.” Following Manganese Bronze’s failure, some cabbies also report that garages are no longer honouring warranties for repairs or parts. PwC, Manganese Bronze’s administrators, confirmed that the warranty on black cabs had been suspended at independent service centres until further notice, but repair work was “being reviewed and allowed on a case-by-case basis” at the company’s own service centre network. Last week the administrators sacked about half of Manganese Bronze’s 300-odd staff, and said they would continue to service taxis and refit faulty steering boxes once a solution had been found. London’s taxi market was supplied solely by Manganese Bronze until 2008. Mercedes-Benz, which now claims 40 per cent of the market, says that it sold 40 cabs last month, compared with 18 in September. “This has not been sprung on the trade overnight,” said Peter Da Costa, whose company distributes Mercedes taxis. “There’s a shortage of cabs for people to rent, but not for people to buy.”

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