Glasgow's taxi drivers are reporting an unprecedented exodus from the profession, attributing this trend to the financial strain of complying with the city's Low Emission Zone (LEZ) regulations. Since June of the previous year, the LEZ has prohibited the most polluting petrol and diesel vehicles from entering the city center.
A gathering is anticipated later to advocate for the reversal of this scheme. Neil Schofield, a private hire driver, expressed his concerns to Clyde 1, citing a decrease in city center traffic at night and the financial challenges of the job, which he now considers doing only part-time.
The LEZ standards in Scotland dictate that petrol vehicles must comply with Euro 4 standards, diesel vehicles with Euro 6, heavy-duty petrol vehicles (like buses and HGVs) with Euro IV, and heavy-duty diesel vehicles with Euro VI. Typically, petrol vehicles registered post-2006 and diesel vehicles registered after September 2015 satisfy these criteria.
Neil had to purchase a new vehicle last year as his previous one failed to meet these standards, leading to additional monthly expenses and an exhausting work schedule.
The council defends the LEZ, citing its critical role in addressing air pollution and its related health risks, such as asthma and respiratory infections. The LEZ, democratically agreed upon in 2018, targets the most polluting vehicles which contribute disproportionately to air pollution in the city center. The council also noted that the majority of city center visitors use buses, trains, walking, or the Subway, and most vehicles already meet emission standards.
Acknowledging the combined challenges of post-COVID recovery and inflation, particularly for the night-time economy, the council still maintains that the city center remains a popular destination. They also pointed out that city center footfall, especially during evenings and weekends, has increased compared to pre-pandemic levels, and significant investments are being made to enhance the city center's resilience.
Regarding taxi compliance, the council mentioned the LEZ Retrofit Fund available since 2019 and amendments to licensing conditions allowing for new licenses or vehicle changes for taxis over five years old. Taxi operators who had applied for funding or were ineligible for it received a one-year exemption prior to the LEZ's implementation in June. The council is open to further flexibility for operators actively working towards compliance.
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