The City of Wolverhampton Council has prepared a bid for government funding to help fulfil a long term plan to grow the number of electric taxis in the city.

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The council has already carried out its own feasibility study ahead of the bid to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) under the £20 million Taxi Scheme.

If successful, it would see work begin in Wolverhampton on building the infrastructure to facilitate electric taxis as they become more readily available over the next decade.

The proposal covers the cost of the scheme for the calendar years 2017 to 2020, with the aid of match funding from existing council capital and revenue budgets.

It fits in with wider work to promote low emission vehicles by the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) and West Midlands Combined Authority, and has been recommended for approval at the council's Cabinet (Resources) Panel meeting next week.

Keren Jones, Service Director for City Economy, said: "We are working closely with the taxi drivers in the city on this project.

"Electric taxis bring many benefits. They improve air quality and public health, make the city more attractive, support the economy of the Midlands, and support innovation and transformation, as well as help reduce carbon emissions."

Parminder Sekhon, Chair of Wolverhampton Taxi Owners Association, added: "We have been in discussions with the council about this bid for several months.

"This isn't about forcing drivers to replace their existing vehicles with electric ones.

"There are very few low emission vehicles currently available that can be used as taxis, but that will change over the next ten years as manufacturers expand their electric vehicle fleets.

"This bid is about ensuring that the city has the necessary infrastructure in place in years to come, so that we are ahead of the game when the next generation of vehicles become available."

The council's bid aims to convert 30% of both the Hackney and private hire fleets in the city to electric vehicles by 2020 and would involve installing 7  rapid charging points within the city centre.

Top up grants of £8,000, funded by OLEV, would be provided to purchasers of new electric taxis.

The main locations identified for charging points are the bus layover at Broad Street Car Park and the taxi feeder rank at Castle Street, near Pipers Row.

Other possible locations for any future charging points include Lichfield Street, Princess Street and the soon to be redeveloped railway station.

  • released: Wednesday 20 April, 2016