The Coronavirus pandemic has really hit hard to UK black cab drivers. Since June, one in five black cabs in London are off-road due to lack of passengers preferring to ride in it.
From 18900 on 7 June, the number has come down to 15000 on 8 November, the data from Transport for London (TFL).
Black cab rental firms hired field to store vehicles, and are now lying vacant, and the number is increasing. According to the Licensed Taxi Driver’s Association (LTDA), only 20% of drivers have vehicles in the capital.
According to the General secretary Steve McNamara, “London cabbies were earning “starvation wages”, at around a quarter of normal levels. Drivers “are doing desperate things” such as selling their taxis for well below market value to “get through the next few months. We’re in a position now where London could lose this icon,” he said. “We’re a very viable business. We’re an integral part of this city’s DNA.”
The North London-based rental company GB Taxi services has seen the drop in the occupation rate of 100 black cabs falling to 10% from 95%.
GB taxi service is one such firm using field area of farmland in Epping Forest Essex, storing 220 black cabs. This is will help them to stop paying the insurance. However, there was a huge backfire.
“We got our knees taken away with COVID and loads of vehicles getting handed back. Then this theft happens, which cost in excess of £120,000. We’re in a right mess,” said Simon Georgiou, director at GB Taxi Services.
Similar, Sherbet London has hired a car park to store around 400 cabs. Chief executive Asher Moses said: “The whole trade has suffered. There must be 2,000 taxis on fields at the moment.”
Drastic fall in Service
Over the past few months, there has been a drastic fall in services. Black cab drivers arriving at the Heathrow Airport’s taxi feeder park, waited for an average of nine hours before dispatching pick up passengers.
Many drivers have lost hope for riding their black cabs, and seems no ray of hope. Howard Taylor, who has been driving black cab for more than three decades, went back to work having no expectation.
“I’ve never seen London like it. In 33 years I’ve never seen it as quiet, as desolate and depressing.”
Black cabs, over the decades have earned fame globally, and were designed to accommodate a passenger at the top.
To get a license of Black Cab, driver has to undergo a difficult exam called as “The Knowledge” to test drivers’ memory about streets, routes and landmarks.
Now with travel constrain, low tourism and passengers avoiding to travel in cabs, these iconic taxis are failing to get back to the roads.