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HACKNEYS: CHANGE NOW


ONE SIZE NO LONGER FITS ALL


The last four years have seen a change in the availability of vehicles that can be converted into hackney carriages. Price increases resulting from Brexit together with changes in CO2 directives, made in 2019, means that many popular vehicles previously used by the trade are no longer available in 2020.


Furthermore, the ever changing and stricter CO2 emission standards and the looming implementation of nationwide Clean Air Zones (CAZs) will mean diesel/petrol engine vehicles will no longer be viable to use in the long term.


If all restrictions were removed, then there is no doubt that the iconic TX1, with its renowned reliability as a solid work horse which could be double shifted in order to cover the pur- chase cost, would prevail as the best rank vehicle ever made. Whereas modern Euro 4 - 6 Derv engine hackney vehicles struggle with emission issues.


All manufacturers of these vehicles state that it is impossible for these engines to meet current CO2 emission standards unless they are regularly driven on motorways to enable the engines to self-clean, as they do not get hot enough on short trips therefore the DPF and EGR get blocked.


Furthermore, this year our country has experienced massive losses due to Covid-19. Taxi drivers’ incomes have been dramatically reduced due to lack of demand but their monthly overheads have remained unchanged.


This has unfortunately resulted in many drivers leaving the trade. Those remaining hackney drivers now have to address a fundamental decision as they look to the future; what is an affordable vehicle to purchase to do the job, whilst adhering to council criteria and meeting current CO2 thresholds.


WAV REQUIREMENT FOR ALL HACKNEY CARRIAGE – IS THIS STILL REQUIRED?


• In reality, the work of the modern hackney driver has now diversified. They do not just rely on rank work but also cover hospital contracts, school transport and airport work which requires bigger vehicles with seven or eight passenger seats and a large boot space as compared to using traditional black cabs.


• Most wheelchair customers actually prefer to call and book through an operator in advance or use the same hackney driver on a regular basis.


• Very few wheelchair jobs are actually picked up on the rank or flagged in the street in most towns and cities.


• Many hackney drivers are exempt from loading wheelchairs due to their own health issues.


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• Vehicles being on the wrong side of the road to load a wheelchair safely.


• As such, we now really need three types of hackney on the road as some councils already allow.


Before selling hackney vehicles, which I have now done for the last eight years, I had no idea how hard it was to actually load a wheelchair. There are issues such as:


• Height, width and leg room • Parking or blocking roads to load • Length of time it takes to load a wheelchair correctly


I have personally become involved with mobility groups and have listened to wheelchair users’ issues and what they generally need and prefer:


• To travel in as normal and convenient a way as possible. • To not wait at ranks. • Do not like sitting backwards or sideways. • Do not want to feel they are being a ‘burden’ on the driver. • Want to feel safe getting in and out of the vehicle and whilst the vehicle is moving.


• I have seen many wheelchairs not secured correctly as the hackney vehicle may not be suitable for all sizes of wheelchair or it is too long a process to do it properly.


SCHOOL CONTRACTS:


More and more councils are now insisting when children are transported for school contracts, they must: • Not sit on tip-up seats and / or • Face backwards within the vehicle


HOSPITALITY:


When visitors come to the UK from abroad or people are travelling round the country and require a WAV they will generally pre-book this transportation via an operator rather than be inconvenienced by waiting at a rank.


BUGGIES, PRAMS, SHOPPING BAGS AND LUGGAGE:


Currently when pushchairs are transported in hackneys they are not secured and shopping bags and luggage are generally just put inside the cab. Whilst this is not illegal, it has to be ad- dressed as it is really isn’t safe. There should be a way of se- curing these items in the vehicle or they need to be put in the boot, just like a private hire vehicle. Unfortunately, most hack- neys do not have room for storage as they have more seats.


SO, WE ASK, WHAT VEHICLE DOES A HACKNEY DRIVER WANT?– AND WHY IN A HACKNEY VEHICLE?


We believe these are the following criteria: • They don’t want to pay a weekly radio fee.


FEBRUARY 2021


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