Glasgow Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy has asked the Scottish Government to step in to avoid a black cab blackout and save Glasgow’s taxi trade. It comes following Glasgow Taxi’s claim that public taxi services in the city could come to an end in 2023 without urgent intervention.
Unite the Union estimate that 40% of the Glasgow Taxi Drivers have left the industry following the pandemic, and that hundreds more are expected to follow because of the Low-Emission Zones roll out. New rules set to come into force on 1st June will require vehicles to meet low emission standards or face a penalty charge for driving in the city centre. Transport Scotland are operating a Low Emissions Support Fund to help with the costs of retrofitting vehicles, but Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP has told the parliament that available grants are not sufficient to cover the costs of these adaptations, and that a lack of supply of new vehicles has left drivers fearing for their jobs.
Glasgow City Council have written to the Scottish Government to request additional funding to support drivers but have yet to receive a response. Glasgow is the only council in Scotland still set to push ahead with its pre-pandemic 2023 introduction date for low-emission zones, with all other councils implementing a delay.
Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP said:
“The industry was hit hard by the pandemic, and it’s now being squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis.
“Drivers have seen their incomes dry up, forcing many to leave the industry altogether and a lack of affordable new vehicles alongside the high costs of retrofitting older vehicles to be low-emission compliant has led to no new drivers entering the trade.
“Across the city, taxi drivers are finding themselves unable to access loans due to interest costs, and the grants currently available are just not enough to cover the costs of retrofitting.
"Glasgow Taxis have already warned that its fleet could be wiped out this year if there is not urgent intervention.
“Just last month GCC passed the ‘Get me home safely’ motion calling on safe and affordable transport home from work for those finishing after 11am, yet the current strains on the taxi industry are going to make doing so even harder, particularly for women.
“Glasgow Taxis is also the only fully accessible fleet in the city, its loss of drivers is making it harder for disabled people to get out and about in the city.
“The SNP must listen to Glasgow’s taxi drivers, disabled people, women, and it’s councillors, recognise the threat that inaction is placing on the taxi industry and take immediate action either to support drivers with additional funding, or ask the council to review the expected introduction date of low emission zones.
“If it does not do so it will not only be letting the industry down, but it will be restricting the liberty of disabled people, putting woman in danger by allowing black cabs to disappear from Glasgow’s city streets and doing taxi drivers out of their career.”