Taxi drivers

‘They’ve all lost their minds’: Taxi drivers blame Trafford Council and environmental regulations for mass exodus

Trafford has lost more than one in five licensed taxi drivers since the start of the pandemic, according to Department for Transport statistics.

The borough, along with Tameside, is the worst affected area in Greater Manchester.

Local bosses blame the exodus on new region-wide congestion charges, over-regulation and a breakdown in communication between commerce and Trafford council.

advice Number of licensed taxis in 2019 Number of licensed taxis in 2021 % cash
Bolt 1,966 1,873 -5
Bury 1,194 1,089 -8
Manchester 6,889 7,687 11
Oldham 1,362 1,311 -4
Rochedale 1,800 1,686 -6
Salford 1,307 1,248 -5
Stockport 1,341 1,349 0.6
Tame 1,104 863 -22
Trafford 1,546 1,207 -22
Wigan 1,548 1,430 -8
A breakdown of the number of licensed drivers in Greater Manchester

Mike Brown, director of i-Cabs Disabled Transport, which provides services for disabled, elderly and special needs passengers, said: “We’ve been saying for 20 to 30 years that we don’t need rules anymore.”

He added: ‘All the taxi drivers say it’s not worth it financially so we quit the job and go work for Tesco or Amazon.’

The new rules, which Mike describes as “anti-competitive”, are incorporated into two new schemes: the minimum taxi licensing standards which came into force in December 2020 and Clean Air Greater Manchester which will be introduced in May 2022.

The Greater Manchester Taxi Minimum Standards is a comprehensive plan designed to make services ‘safer and more customer-focused, with high environmental and accessibility standards’. The scheme bans petrol and diesel taxis from the road after 10 years, requires drivers to undergo regular medical check-ups, requires a DBS check at least once every six months and insists on stricter reservation registers.

All of Mike’s vehicles are equipped with hydraulic lifts to lift wheelchairs

In a bid to push current workers towards electric cars, the city’s Clean Air Strategy will hit drivers who own older diesel and petrol engines with a daily surcharge of £7.50.

Many taxi drivers fear that new taxes and the additional costs of buying and maintaining an electric vehicle will drive them out of the market.

On a Saturday evening in Altrincham town centre, a black cab owner said Altrincham today“I worked all day today and made £20.

“How do you think we’re going to buy an electric car at the same time?”

Altrincham’s hospitality sector depends on the taxi business

Another driver said: “They’re all mad [Trafford Council]they must realize that we can’t afford to buy [electric cars].”

Drivers will receive grants of £5,000 for a replacement vehicle, and those who purchase compliant wheelchair accessible motors will receive up to £10,000.

However, research from Altrincham today suggests a new electric black taxi costs £52,000 and specialist vehicles large enough to transport disabled customers can cost up to £80,000, more than eight times the eligible grant.

While a used version of a standard electric taxi can be had for £37,000, used diesel and petrol vehicles can be found for less than £5,000.

Hale Station on a quiet Saturday night

Added to this, the battery life of an LEVC electric taxi – the UK’s leading manufacturer and retailer of electric vehicles – only travels 64 miles, the equivalent of a trip from Altrincham to Leeds.

Paul Kinsey, a member of the Trafford Taxi Drivers Association, a local employee representative body, is leaving the industry due to new regulations and financial penalties.

“The problem is that with these new rules, they’re bringing them in to reduce emissions, but drivers will have to work a few more hours to recoup lost costs,” Paul said.

Outside Altrincham Interchange after Christmas

He added: “My badge expired on November 30, 2021 and I haven’t renewed it. I don’t want to invest a large amount of money in a business I can’t rely on.

“I have no incentive to invest in an electric vehicle because [I] will lose.

A call to stop Manchester’s new ‘Clean Air Zone’ collected 10,000 signatures.

On Twitter, Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, responded to the online petition, explaining that although the new scheme was a “local decision”, it was “the government [who] initiated the process” and that “they alone have the power to stop or delay it”.

Nevertheless, Burnham is in favor of the new regulations arguing that “we will all benefit from clean air”.

Burnham hit back on Twitter after growing unrest over the new rules

Another concern for bosses is the lack of charging stations available for new vehicles.

Manchester has received £2.4million from central government to install 30 electric taxi service stations across the city.

At the rate of three per municipality, the 1,207 Trafford taxi drivers will have access to a pump less than one day a year.

There are currently no electric charging points for taxis and private hires in Trafford.

MEN’s Jen Williams recently reported on the growing pressure Burnham is facing

As well as concerns over Greater Manchester’s new rules and regulations, local taxi bosses have made specific criticism of the Trafford council.

Ray Tandy, director of Passenger Cars, says wait times for a taxi badge are unnecessarily long in Trafford compared to other neighboring councils.

In a statement, Tandy said: “Drivers in the area had to use regional councils to obtain their badge, [they are using] Wolverhampton for example because they don’t have such a long application process or wait time.

“Drivers can complete the badge process within four to six weeks with further guidance. I have known people who waited 3-4 years with Trafford. Drivers are retiring or leaving their jobs. It seems impossible to replace them.

He added: “Our fleet has been massively reduced, but not the demand.”

England has lost more than 20,000 fired drivers since the start of the pandemic

Earlier in 2021, the government provided local councils with the Additional Restrictions Grant (AGR) to support local businesses.

During the pandemic, i-Cabs owner Mike Brown claimed the council failed to tell all of its drivers about funding during the pandemic. Of Brown’s 10 employees, only two received an email from Trafford Council about it.

In documents seen by Altrincham todayTrafford’s senior licensing manager Kieran Hinchcliffe said a letter had not been sent to all of its drivers due to ‘practical issues around Covid’, and said he was pleased that ‘the word [had] has moved” regarding funding.

i-Cabs’ Mike Brown says issues facing taxi drivers ‘are not Covid-related’

The dwindling number of taxis available in Altrincham has not gone unnoticed, with local residents voicing their concerns on social media and in public.

In a separate message to Altrincham today Rick Bowen, former journalist for the Altrincham and Sale Messenger, said: “Waiting for a taxi after bars and pubs have left can be a very scary experience, that deadly combination of alcohol and the desire to get home.

“Especially for me, as a person with dual disabilities who is medically unable to drive.”

In a joint statement, Trafford Council Leader Cllr Andrew Western and Mayor of Greater Andy Burnham said: ‘In March 2020 the Government asked the 10 councils of Greater Manchester to introduce a clean air zone paying to tackle harmful levels of air pollution and comply with legal standards by 2024 at the latest.

“We know this is a major challenge for many individuals and businesses, which is why we have always been clear with ministers that it must come with a fair package of support. financial.

“Although the government has provided £120million, we are concerned that they have so far not agreed to our request for additional support for those who will find it most difficult to make the change. We have also warned them our continuing concerns regarding the vehicle supply chain and national highway cooperation.

“Over the past few months, Greater Manchester has continued to monitor these issues alongside the continued impact of the pandemic and the rising cost of living. In addition, late last year, we commissioned new work to understand the impact of growing global supply chain issues in the automotive sector, which could affect the availability of certain vehicles and the ability of people to upgrade.

“Leaders of Greater Manchester will consider the outcome of this work next week before asking the Clean Air Joint Committee to consider the implications for the Clean Air Plan later this month. We are committed to reducing air pollution in Greater Manchester, but also to protecting the jobs and livelihoods of our residents. We are listening carefully to the concerns expressed about the current situation and will make a decision shortly on our next steps. »