Chelmsford City Council has granted 20 Hackney Carriage licences to electric vehicles (EVs), making it the leading Local Authority for electric taxis in Essex.
Hackney Carriages are taxis that can be hired from designated taxi ranks or hailed down (as opposed to a private hire licence, i.e. ‘minicabs’, which must be pre-booked).
All 20 vehicles are brand new – with a range of models from MGs to Teslas – and look good while doing good by cleaning up our city’s air! With 20 licenced electric taxis in the district, Chelmsford is far ahead of the trend across Essex, with other Local Authorities hosting between one and four EV taxis, if any.
Driving towards a Greener Chelmsford
In 2019, after declaring a climate and ecological emergency (C&EE), Chelmsford City Council agreed a C&EE Action Plan. It pledges to reduce carbon emissions, lower energy consumption, reduce waste and pollution, improve air quality, increase biodiversity, and encourage more sustainable travel choices.
Significant steps have been made towards fulfilling these goals and the council’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030. Fuelling public transport with greener energy is another exciting step in creating a Greener Chelmsford.
Special EV licences released
To encourage City Taxi drivers to make the change to electric cars, the council’s Licensing Committee agreed to release ten special Hackney Carriage plates for saloons. The demand for these plates was so high that a further ten were then granted.
Chelmsford Taxi Licensing rules state that new Hackney Carriages must be wheelchair accessible. For electric vehicles, this will add between £10,000–20,000 to the purchase price. In order to make new EVs more obtainable for drivers, this limited run of EV plates waives the requirement to be wheelchair accessible.
Demand from drivers is high, with over 40 expressing an interest in these limited EV plates. Councillor Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for a Greener and Safer Chelmsford, says the important next step is to get wheelchair accessible electric taxis on our roads.
“Seeing these electric vehicles and their green Hackney Carriage licences a very proud moment. It’s wonderful to see our city’s taxi drivers taking such pride in their cars and in their commitment to progress.
Our aspiration now is to see wheelchair accessible electric taxis, and eventually for all vehicles in the fleet to use only clean energy. There is work to do to support this, such as installing more on-street charging stations, and of course within the current economic climate there will be challenges.
But, with so many drivers already on board and residents equally determined to improve the air quality in our city, I believe we will meet our goals.”Councillor Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for a Greener and Safer Chelmsford
More green initiatives from Chelmsford City Council
The council’s 2023/24 budget includes a £6.5m extension to a Green Initiatives Fund, facilitating ambitious plans to decarbonise the city council’s activities and operations over the coming years.
The Green Initiatives Fund includes spending to reduce energy consumption through replacing traditional lights with LED lighting, implementing new heating technology to replace gas boilers, and decarbonising the council’s vehicle fleet.
Well received by drivers and residents
To celebrate the recent launch of the EV fleet, Councillor Moore met with some Chelmsford taxi drivers to learn how they have found the transition. Mr Sedat said the highlight has been customer reactions:
“Clients all love the new car! Almost everyone comments on the interior and tell me they’re happy to see an electric taxi. I’ve had a wonderful response.”Mr Sedat, Chelmsford City Taxi driver
Chelmsford City Taxis must display their licence number both outside and inside the car. Electric taxis can easily be identified by their green licence markings.
Councillor Terry Sherlock, the council’s Climate and Ecology Ambassador, says it’s encouraging to hear the public response.
“This initiative is a significant step towards fulfilling our commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030, so for it to be so well received by Chelmsford residents is fantastic.
Choosing to ride in an electric taxi is a simple but effective way to incorporate greener choices into our everyday lives. Greener living can start with small steps, such as recycling and sustainable travel, and build up to bigger lifestyle changes over time. We can all do our bit to achieve a Greener Chelmsford.”Councillor Terry Sherlock, Climate and Ecology Ambassador
The choice is yours
You are free to choose which taxi you take. There is no rule to say that you must take the next in line if you’re at a taxi rank. So, next time you take a taxi home, whether you’re hailing one down or visiting a taxi rank, why not look out for a green licence and do your bit to promote cleaner air?
If you’re interested in making greener choices Love Your Chelmsford provides inspiration and advice. Love Your Chelmsford can help you choose to live and work in a more environmentally responsible way, for the benefit of current and future generations.