London’s black cabs pile up in ‘taxi graveyards’ on outskirts of city

Plummeting passenger numbers lead to fears Britain could lose an icon

London's unused taxis pile up on capital's outskirts

London's unused taxis pile up on capital's outskirts
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London’s ubiquitous black cabs were a common sight on bustling Oxford Street before the pandemic struck.

These days they lie dormant in dank fields on the outskirts of the city after coronavirus took a sledgehammer to passenger numbers.

Taxi drivers say the industry is on its knees as they beg for government assistance to survive the second wave.

Nearly one in five taxis has been taken off London’s roads since the summer.

The number of taxis licensed in the capital plunged from 18,900 on June 7 to 15,000 on November 8, Transport for London data shows.

The unused cabs have been accumulating in taxi graveyards in hired farmland around the capital.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association said many cabbies had received “no income at all” since March.

Self-employed taxi drivers are ineligible for the government’s furlough programme.

LTDA general secretary Steve McNamara told the Press Association that black cabs were “an integral part of this city’s DNA” but “London could lose this icon” if no action is taken.

A staff member walks through unused black cabs parked in a large area of farmland in Epping Forest, which is being rented by GB Taxi Services to store their large fleet of London taxis that are no longer being used due to a severe drop in demand as coronavirus restrictions continue to reduce travel and office working. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
A staff member walks through unused black cabs parked in farmland on the outskirts of London. Getty Images

He said: “We need a specific package that's targeted towards taxi drivers in London just to help us get through this.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that the fortunes of black cab drivers were tied to that of the airline industry.

He said minimal activity at Heathrow and Gatwick had led to a “massive drop” in taxi passengers.

He told the BBC: “I know how hard it has been for all self-employed people who rely on footfall for their business, including black cab drivers.”