Last week, Sheffield City Council confirmed it would introduce a clean air zone covering the inner ring road and city center, with charges for some heavily polluting vehicles expected to come into effect at the end of 2022 .
These changes will include a charge of Â£ 10 per day for Hackney cars and Private Hire taxis that do not meet Euro 6 Diesel or Euro 4 Petrol emission standards.
However, some taxi drivers in Sheffield believe the fees unfairly target taxi drivers and fear the fees could drive up prices or make the profession untenable for many.
Tariq Nazir, GMB representative of the S75 taxi branch and taxi driver for over 20 years, said: âWe are not against clean air zones, they will benefit us in the long run, even our children. children.
âBut we feel like we are part of the integrated public transport system even though we are classified as independent. We have a lot of people who rely on us – parents who take their children to school, the elderly, the elderly. who cannot drive, Taxi drivers should be exempt because we are part of the integrated system.
âThe council should promote taxis and public transport and encourage the public to use them – letting normal motorists use areas of clean air does not encourage it. There are just under 3,000 vehicles registered in Sheffield. Taxi drivers will feel the pinch, they will have to suffer a loss or the fares will have to increase.
âA lot of drivers are going to look for other work, they have families to support and utility bills to pay.
âWe need to find other solutions – this is not about imposing a tax on taxi drivers, it should be proportionate to that on normal drivers. A simple solution would be to have heavy goods vehicles and trucks come at a certain time, early in the morning or late at night, so they don’t stop in traffic and there are less traffic jams.
âBecause the city council authorized Euro 6 vehicles, it took some of the pressure off us, it gives you that little space for the drivers to save for the next vehicle. “
Ibrar Hussain, former Burngreave union adviser from 2000 to 2016 and a taxi driver for 34 years, agreed the cost to drivers whose vehicles did not meet emission standards would be prohibitive.
He said: âIf that happens, the taxi business will be over. A new London-style cabin costs over Â£ 60,000. The monthly payments on them are Â£ 900 – more than a mortgage. They have stopped doing Euro 6 and there is not much availability.
âThe clean air zone appeared when I was an advisor. I have always said that it should be treated very carefully and take into account the taxi business. Not everyone can afford Euro 6, what will happen to them? We got around 200 euros 5 taxis in Sheffield.
âWe all want clean air, but if taxi drivers are only one percent of the problem, why not tackle the 99%? It is because it is political. If they make everyone pay, they will not be elected.
âI submitted a petition asking for a mixed fleet, this will have the ability to have sedans like the Leeds model – so drivers can afford to buy and have them as a licensed vehicle. The cost of one sedan will be Â£ 10,000 on the rise. â
Yasmin Majid, who has been a taxi driver in Sheffield for 16 years, said: âThe problem I see is that Sheffield is built on seven hills – EVs aren’t specifically designed for drivers and five or six passengers, they struggle as they do. now to climb these hills.
âThere are too many Uber and Bolt cars crossing borders asking to be hired in the Sheffield district, they should stay in their district.
âWe are the Sheffield District Drivers, I love my job, I love my clients. My clients say we have some really good jokes because I’m a boy from Sheffield. They want to know their driver and they want that the driver knows the roads.
âThis is a very sensitive issue, Sheffield Taxi Licensing needs to come together and we need to keep the hackneys in Sheffield.
“If this does not get resolved now, there will be a lot of stabbing in taxis because people will not be able to take cabs because there will not be enough drivers.”
Last week, the council said CAZ was a historic step forward towards a cleaner, greener city where people wanted to live. Air pollution kills 500 people a year in Sheffield.
Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh said it was a “major public health challenge affecting our health and our chances of living”.
She added: “This is not acceptable, and the introduction of this Clean Air Zone will go some way to reduce the polluting nitrogen dioxide.”
Funding of Â£ 20.4million will be used to help drivers upgrade. A consultation on this financial support will begin in November.