"Time to turn off your engines when you’ve stopped," Bedford councillors tell taxi drivers

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Taxi drivers who don’t switch off their engines when they are stopped have been thrust into the front line of the battle against climate change.

Councillors on one committee have decided to ask their colleagues on another to consider whether they want to make wasting fuel a condition when licensing the trade.

“I’m getting fed up of taxi drivers leaving their engines running outside of schools,” said deputy mayor Cllr Charles Roydon (Lib Dem, Brickhill), at Monday’s climate change committee. “It really drives me bonkers. We can stop this through licensing.”

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And Labour group leader Cllr Sue Oliver (Kempston North) was so impressed with a presentation on the council’s use of spy-in-the-cab telematics that she wanted to see the technology “rolled out” to other vehicles, like taxis.

Bedford Council's climate change committeeBedford Council's climate change committee
Bedford Council's climate change committee

Telematics equipment records driver behaviour, including braking, and accelerating. The committee was told that the council has used it in its 204-strong fleet with good results.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “We might want to take this to the licensing committee to see whether they want to in future, introduce them for new vehicles.

“I think Aviva have it that you can reduce your insurance if you have telematics, because it logs how you drive.

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“If you drive badly, it increases your insurance. So you can get it to reduce your insurance by driving sensibly.

“Most of the licensing committee are here so perhaps you can take it away and look at that. It’s something we could do immediately and say from year X we expect you to have telematics.

“And if you didn’t hit a certain level you’d have to come in front of the committee.”

Gurdeep Dosanjh, the secretary of the Bedford Hackney Carriage Association, spoke to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting. He was not impressed.

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“What about the buses in Bedford that are 20 years old and don’t switch their engines off?” said Mr Dosanjh. “I am sure that buses are polluting the area more than taxis are. They are all running their engines.

“The council should start with them first, then they should come out to taxis.

“Instead of sitting there making decisions, the councillors should get out with the trade and do a day’s work with the trade,” he added.

He said he would be speaking to Cllr Roydon, the council’s elected head of environment, highways and transport, to find out more about what was being suggested.