Green Cabs May Get Prime London Ranks in Plan to Cut Pollution

By Jess Shankleman

Electric taxis may be about to get a leg up on the competition for passengers in London’s financial district.

The City of London is looking at new taxi stands reserved for electric vehicles near the offices of Lloyds Banking Group Plc. and Macquarie Group, according to planning documents. The new ranks would let drivers plug their cars into charging stations while they await clients.

“We will be introducing green taxi ranks, these discussions are in place,” said Jennifer Ogunleye, a press officer for the City of London Corporation, on the phone. “Budgets are being signed off and further decisions are being made later this year.”

The plans by the City’s transport and planning committee aim to help reduce smog in the heart of the city by giving a boost to clean-running taxis. Cab drivers are facing a government crackdown on pollution. From next year, all new London taxis have to be zero-emissions capable.

The lack of recharging infrastructure across London has been a barrier to the uptake of electric cars, which could improve air quality in London, one of Europe’s most polluted cities and one which has failed to meet air quality targets since 2010.

To encourage more electric vehicles, the City of London broke away from the wider Source London recharging program and instead signed a new contract with Chargemaster Plc to install standard and semi-rapid charging points.

The 50 kilowatt stations being planned in the City allow drivers to recharge in about half an hour instead of three to four hours, making it more suitable for London’s taxis. The capital’s 23,000 diesel-powered taxis are expected to spew about a fifth of central London’s nitrogen oxide emissions in 2020 without measures to curb pollution, according to the London mayor’s office.

“By focusing on taxis, who are the primary source of NO2 pollution from road based transport in the City, this will help support the creation of a critical mass of London-wide infrastructure to facilitate a shift from diesel to electric taxis,” according to the committee proposals that are due to be updated again in October.

London may need a network of at least 150 rapid charging points to cater for electric taxis in the long run, according to research commissioned by Transport for London.

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