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EPPING: Tony Georgiou sighed as he stood in entrance of a discipline stuffed with parked taxi cabs, admitting he has misplaced rely of what number of are there.

Many London taxi drivers hire their immediately recognizable black cabs from fleet corporations similar to GB Taxi Services, the place Georgiou is among the homeowners.
But with London’s streets emptied by the coronavirus lockdown, many drivers are unable to maintain paying for his or her autos and are handing them again in droves.
“There’s probably around 150 to 200 vehicles that are here, which we’ve had to take off the road,” mentioned Georgiou, whose firm has parked its autos in Epping northeast of the capital. “I’ve lost count.”
Famed worldwide, the British capital’s bulbous black cabs have been initially designed to accommodate a passenger in a high hat.
To earn a license, drivers must go a fiendishly tough examination referred to as “The Knowledge,” which assessments their recall of streets, routes and landmarks purely from reminiscence.
But fields stuffed with taxis are actually a mass phenomenon, mentioned Steve McNamara, common secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA).
“It’s happening all over, all round the M25 there are fields with cabs like that,” mentioned McNamara, referring to the principle orbital motorway round London.
He referred to as the scenario “totally and utterly unprecedented” and “already not survivable for some.”

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The LTDA has about 11,000 members out of a complete variety of about 20,000 black cab drivers within the metropolis.

Georgiou mentioned that about 50 of the parked autos have already been focused by thieves who eliminated catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters that can price some £120,000 ($160,000) to switch.
“I couldn’t tell you if we are confident to get through this at the moment. It is a struggle,” he mentioned of his firm, which has been working for greater than 16 years.
Currently, just some 20 p.c of cabs are working, McNamara mentioned, basing the evaluation on the affiliation’s personal automobile counts and official figures from Heathrow Airport.
The LTDA has about 11,000 members out of a complete variety of about 20,000 black cab drivers within the metropolis.
McNamara now desires taxi drivers to get extra monetary assist from the federal government, arguing that they not too long ago invested in expensive electrical cabs and digital fee machines. Covid is “without doubt the prime factor” for falling numbers of taxis, he mentioned.
Uber and different ride-hailing apps are “absolutely not” an element, he added, arguing that their costs have crept up and drivers are unpredictable.
Those cabbies nonetheless on the street could also be incomes 20 p.c of their common earnings, which might vary from £15,000 to £80,000 per 12 months.
“We’ve lost 5,000 to 6,000 vehicles since June,” he mentioned.
Some drivers have switched to creating deliveries for supermarkets however the “vast majority” are usually not working, he added.
According to official figures from Transport for London (TfL), the variety of licensed black cabs has gone down from greater than 19,000 on March 1 this 12 months to simply beneath 15,000 on November 8.
A TfL spokesman mentioned that it had suggested drivers on learn how to keep secure and mentally wholesome in the course of the pandemic they usually have had grants to assist them purchase low-emission autos.
Drivers are “calling on the government for more support” fairly than TfL, he mentioned. One cab driver, Sam Houston, was ready in a queue at Heathrow to get a fare.
With air journey constrained, hitting tourism, he mentioned that the wait might be 20 to 24 hours as a substitute of the traditional three.
The 45-year-old has been a taxi driver for eight years and says that in regular circumstances it’s a “good living.”
But the COVID-19 interval is “the most difficult time I’ve ever experienced,” he mentioned.
“The feeling it’s a semi-permanent change to the economy, a lot of people are finding that incredibly frightening.”
While some taxi drivers have claimed self-employed furlough payouts from the federal government, many haven’t certified, he mentioned, urging “targeted support for our industry from local government and national government.”
McNamara mentioned that taxi drivers ought to be singled out for assist, in the identical approach that authorities helped eating places attempt to bounce again after their enforced closure.
“We’ve been hit equally hard, if not harder than the hospitality sector,” he mentioned.



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