Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Gradual Eco-Destruction Of A London Icon

As someone who operates in the same sector, it's always interesting to hear of developments from those in other areas of the transport industry to my own.

Yes, this is another in an occasional series of transport posts at Dick's place, so if it's not your bag feel free to disembark here.

Two years ago, I recounted a discussion with a London black taxi driver over the problems which the Mayor's Air Quality Strategy (amongst other imposed regulations) would present to their trade.
Boris Johnson is apparently soon to implement the policy, mooted by Ken Livingstone before his being kicked out (no surprise that Tory=Labour there), of banning the use of taxis which are over 10 years old. 
Now, one reason that the iconic 'jelly-mould' black cab has changed little in sixty-odd years is because they were originally built to last as long as possible. That is, to do the job intended for them, for a long, long time. As a result of cabbies driving the same taxi for decades, which was cost-effective, it wasn't as lucrative for new models to be produced for taxi drivers as it was for the domestic market. Such was a unique London sight created. 
Taxis are designed to run for hundreds of thousands of miles, and their reliability and profitability reflected in the £35,000 price tag for a new one. By placing a time limit on their use, a raising of overheads will be created for cabbies, and thousands of vehicles will be rendered obsolete overnight. 
In pursuit of a cleaner engine, waste is being encouraged and producers incentivised to skimp on reliability, thereby leading to more manufacturing (err, bad for the environment?) and, no doubt, higher fares to further dissuade leaving one's car at home.
At a friendly gathering yesterday, I saw him again and was updated on progress (or, more accurately, erosion) for London hansom cabs in the intervening period.

Just as in my part of the industry, taxi driver associations lobbied hard for a rethink. The result was the black taxi trade being afforded an extra 5 years, meaning that cabs built before 1997 are now not permitted on London streets. A slight improvement, but around 120 taxis are still being ruled out of service every month which - along with the main manufacturer going into administration recently - is now causing real problems with supply of eligible vehicles.

As we have come to expect whenever some remote state employee puts ideological pen to paper, the unintended consequences are coming home to roost. Most London taxi drivers rent their vehicles due to the prohibitive cost of purchase, and this market has been skewed dramatically by government intervention. Demand is out-stripping supply and rental charges have almost doubled in places.

There is still the option to buy, of course, since the Mercedes Benz Vito is in production ... but only if you have nearly £40k in cash or are able to shell out £585 per month on top of a £2k deposit.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that this relentless pressure on overheads must eventually lead to higher fares than they already are in London.

And don't think you can escape the increase in costs if you use a minicab firm, either. They are also subject to the MAQS and are forced to ditch their vehicles after only 10 years, along with many other new restrictions and regulations, all of which have their roots in Brussels. I found this to my cost last month when quotes for an uptown 2.1 mile journey varied from £9-£13 (£4 to £6 for every mile!).

Of course, Boris's insistence on green policies doesn't just end with this. Last month I reported on one of the many who his London Emissions Zones legislation had put out of business, with its resultant addition to the ever-increasing welfare bill.

And it's not as if any of this is going to do diddley squat for the planet, anyway. Our own company's disbarred vehicles, for example, merely get exported to other countries which don't have the same head-in-the-clouds regulations.
The last two exited our premises today ... bound for Ukraine. Two others have been taken to Ireland, with the last of the five now somewhere on its way to Zimbabwe! 
It would appear that although the UK has very strict emissions regulations to save the impending environmental catastrophe, they don't seem to be as harsh elsewhere. I'm not too sure how this helps protect the polar bears, myself, unless the countries mentioned are somehow using a different atmosphere to us. Nope, I simply can't work out how re-arranging the planet's vehicular furniture is going to stop global warming.
I fully expect now redundant black taxis follow a similar export route.

Now, I'd like to lay the blame squarely at the door of Boris, his enviro-loon advisers and those who nag them, but it's a wider problem.

We now have local legislators (councils), just beneath regional legislators (like, err, Boris), along with state legislators (Westminster), and supra-national legislators (the EU Commission). And if we're paying people with around 50% of GDP to be legislators, what do you think they're going to do? Legislate, of course.

There is never going to be a day where they turn up to 'work' and see no 'problem' to fix, simply because that way leads to the dole and a possible cancellation of the conservatory Mrs Pen-pusher had her heart set on. As such, we're actually paying these people out of our taxes ... to cost us all more money. Probably why an institution as vast, wasteful, and corrupt as the EU declares - with a straight face, apparently - that it cannot identify even a single euro to cut from its budget.

When even a group as fundamentally working class as London taxi drivers are being beaten into submission by ill-conceived, dogmatic governmental interference - for no reason better than public sector smugness and self-enrichment - it's clear that the whole system is desperately messed up and no longer seeks to serve the public as it is supposed to do.

And just to round this all off with some high comedy, you may be interested to know that one politician was particularly annoyed about how London taxi drivers are being forced - by Boris Johnson's air quality strategy - into a position where there might be a shortage of black cabs this Christmas. He was quite livid, so he was.

The name of this determined champion of the black taxi trade? Boris Johnson.


14 comments:

Ivan D said...

It is almost as idiotic as not being allowed to charge young men more for car insurance than young women because they are massively more likely to have an accident. We appear to be living in an age in which ideological nonsense routinely triumphs over reason.

nisakiman said...

One wonders if the likes of Boris are:

a) Stupid. (Something I rather doubt, but I might be wrong).

b) Totally blinded by the ideological fervour of their green mentors.


c) Working to an agenda that will bring the country to its knees so the system is ripe for replacement.


I'm starting to favour c).

PatNurse said...

I always thought it was about c. You can't rebuild until you destroy and no can remember what the new compared to in the past. Smoking ban anyone?

Dick_Puddlecote said...

A policy which came from you-know-where ... in Belgium. ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Boris is b), following those who work to c)

moonrakin said...

I'd add that UK public servants are now so obsessed with ideologically contrived, turgid, triple redundant "process" that they perceive it as their purpose - rather than the delivery of actual services that the great unwashed actually think they're paying for.....

And they continue to pile on demands for more money with menaces...

Road tolls for everybody

eco-levy on anything

Something's going to snap - and it looks like it might be da wevver

http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/french-meteo-forecast-for-nov-30-it-aint-pretty/

Able said...

All this will just continue ad infinitum. Just look at how many are 'employed' in the public sector (countless secretaries, administrators and managers - admittedly very few actual workers though). In many areas the majority of working aged adults are employed in this mad bureaucracy. It just makes me wonder who exactly is paying for all of this when such a tiny minority are actually earning real money with which to pay the tax to pay them all.

The thing which confuses me most though is - why, with these Dictats coming from Brussels as EU wide directives, is it only our gormless government that enforces the regulations, not only to the last letter, but sometimes beyond? Go anywhere else in Europe and smoke, drive a dodgy motor or fancy a cheap bit of plonk and nobody bats and eye. Here they have you in a cell faster than a mass murderer, take your kids into care and have you denounced as a 'cancer causing, polluting, alcoholic, right winger' in the Guardian.

I wonder what happened to my country at times. I really do!

Able said...

All this will just continue ad infinitum. Just look at how many are 'employed' in the public sector (countless secretaries, administrators and managers - admittedly very few actual workers though). In many areas the majority of working aged adults are employed in this mad bureaucracy. It just makes me wonder who exactly is paying for all of this when such a tiny minority are actually earning real money with which to pay the tax to pay them all.


The thing which confuses me most though is - why, with these Dictats coming from Brussels as EU wide directives, is it only our gormless government that enforces the regulations, not only to the last letter, but sometimes beyond? Go anywhere else in Europe and smoke, drive a dodgy motor or fancy a cheap bit of plonk and nobody bats and eye. Here they have you in a cell faster than a mass murderer, take your kids into care and have you denounced as a 'cancer causing, polluting, alcoholic, right winger' in the Guardian.


I wonder what happened to my country sometimes. I really do!

sam said...

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Sam Duncan said...

“hansom cabs”

Hackney carriages, surely? Hansoms had two wheels.

Of course, “London” cabs are used in several cities around the country. We've seen a lot of Peugeot 806 conversions here in Glasgow, rather than the Vito. One of the requirements - and most celebrated features - of the purpose-built cab is its extremely tight turning circle, to aid maneuverability and avoid congestion in city streets. The 806 has, I'm reliably informed, the worst turning circle of any car on the market.

Well done, everyone! Or as Glenn Reynolds is fond of saying, the country's in the very best of hands.

Neal Asher said...

Not relevant to this particular post, but you'll like it, Dick: http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/smoking-makes-smokers-more-like-non-smokers-2012112650493

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Interesting about the 806. The London cabbie told me an amusing anecdote surrounding turning circles on London taxis and TfL regulations/inspections. I can't tell it here though as it might get people into trouble. ;)

Ivan D said...

I do. I am less EU hostile than some but I loathe stupid laws and bureaucrats

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Glorious! :)