23 Nov Sheffield Taxi Drivers Call For Exemption on Congestion Charge
Taxi drivers in Sheffield are opposed to plans by councillors to charge them for driving into the city centre, according to a report in the Sheffield Star.
The council is looking to introduce toll aimed at cutting pollution for vehicles driving along the ring road and the inner ring road.
But drivers and campaigning groups have said there should be an exemption for taxis and private hire vehicles of the £10 charge especially since private cars are exempted.
Fareed Baloch of Zoom.taxi said the idea to charge buses and taxis was “an absurd way of thinking.”
“To charge public transport – and taxis and private hire vehicles are public transport – is ludicrous. It will make journeys more expensive, making business harder for already hard pressed drivers and businesses.
“The sorts of people who rely on private hire vehicles in particular are those who do not own a car but have limited mobility and need to travel to hospital appointments or for trips into town.
“It is also a preferred way for people to get home after a night out and I am sure many people would prefer to know their children or family members are in a vehicle for which they have tracked pick up and journey details rather than waiting at night at bus stops in the city centre.”
Former Labour councillor Ibrar Hussain, of the GMB union, said: “This will have an immediate impact and costs for public transport. What assessments have been done on the impact of taxi drivers?”
Lee Ward, chairman of ALPHA which represents taxi firms and drivers, said: “We have got 185,000 private vehicles and only 3,000 have taxi licences. This council is too scared of charging the public so it’s targeting taxi drivers instead. If everyone is making a pollution problem, everybody should be in the same pot to solve it.”
The council says if it doesn’t take action and lower nitrogen oxide levels quickly, it could face a substantial fine from the Government.
Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “It appears a brutal approach but it won’t be in the fullness of time. This is not easy or comfortable for any of us but that’s the scale of change we are facing as a city. “It is highly controversial and difficult to solve but we don’t see an alternative and the most important thing is we have a taxi fleet that’s clean, safe and reliable and we have clean air for everybody.”
The plan is dependent on securing £40 million from the Government to pay for signs and cameras and around £10 million worth of loans and grants to help taxi drivers and bus companies upgrade.