Plan to turn York’s taxi fleet green – with only electric or hybrid vehicles allowed

The taxi rank at Duncombe Place in York. Photograph: YorkMix

More environmentally-friendly taxis will appear on York roads, as the council moves towards only granting licences to electric and hybrid vehicles.

New emissions standards would see all new private hire licences from January 2021 only issued to fully electric vehicles, plug in hybrid vehicles, petrol hybrids that are less than seven years old or wheelchair accessible low emissions vehicles.

A “significant number” of the city’s taxi and private hire drivers will need to change their vehicles by 2023 as a result of changes to make the fleet greener, a City of York Council report says.

The changes will “ensure a more environmentally-friendly and modern hackney carriage and private hire fleet in the city in response to the declared climate emergency and continuing desire to improve air quality”, according to the report.

“There are many cars in the fleet that do not meet the latest Euro [emission] standards and there is still a large number of vehicles operating in the city which are Euro 5, Euro 4 and even some Euro 3 vehicles.”

Grants will be available to help drivers buy more environmentally-friendly vehicles and there are also rental deals.

Charging bays

An electric car charging point at Nunnery Lane car park in York. Photograph: YorkMix

There are plans for taxi charging bays at York train station under the council’s revamp scheme.

And the report says the local authority aims for at least 5 per cent of spaces in its car parks to have charging points by 2023.

Traffic is responsible for between 50 and 70 per cent of nitrogen dioxide emissions in the city, so the council says it is promoting low emission taxis to help improve air quality.

It adds: “Coronavirus and the resulting ‘lockdown’ imposed to help curtail the spread of the disease has had a huge impact on the income of taxi drivers.

“It is not known what the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has had on the number of vehicles that will continue to be licensed, but as things stand, the figures are still representative of the fleet as is.”

As a result, a full investigation into the level of demand for taxis in York has been postponed until next year.

A survey carried out about changes to licensing standards found that more than 63 per cent of respondents were in favour of new licences only being issued to vehicles that are fully electric, plug in electric petrol hybrid, petrol hybrid or wheelchair accessible vehicles of Euro 6 emission level.

The plans to make changes to vehicle license will be discussed at a council meeting on Friday at 5.30pm and can be watched on its YouTube channel.