t’s a far cry from the as soon as bustling hub of Piccadilly Circus: scores of iconic black cabs parked in open land near Epping Forest.
The unimaginable image reveals the autos saved across the fringe of town after drivers handed them again to rental corporations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It comes because it emerged that one in 5 black cabs in London have been taken off the street since June as drivers wrestle to earn a dwelling throughout lockdown.
The variety of taxis licensed within the capital plummeted from 18,900 on June 7 to fifteen,000 on November 8, based on Transport for London (TfL) knowledge obtained by the PA information company.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Affiliation (LTDA) mentioned the pandemic has been a “full and utter nightmare” for cabbies who’ve “fallen by way of the gaps” within the Treasury’s furlough scheme.
LTDA believes solely 20 per cent of cabbies are nonetheless driving their autos. Normal secretary Steve McNamara mentioned they’re incomes “hunger wages” round 1 / 4 of regular ranges.
Drivers are additionally “doing determined issues” equivalent to promoting their taxis for properly under market worth to “get by way of the subsequent few months”, he added.
These embrace those that not too long ago purchased a brand new £65,000 electrical taxi, or obtain a small pension from a earlier job. Many have obtained “no earnings in any respect” since March, he mentioned.
“We’re ready now the place London may lose this icon,” he mentioned. “We’re a really viable enterprise. We’re an integral a part of this metropolis’s DNA.
“We want a selected package deal that’s focused in direction of taxi drivers in London simply to assist us get by way of this.”
North London-based rental firm GB Taxi Providers has seen the occupation price of its fleet of 100 black cabs plummet from 95 per cent earlier than the disaster to simply 10 per cent, regardless of halving its charges to encourage drivers to carry on to their autos.
It’s utilizing the world of farmland in Epping Forest to retailer round 220 undesirable taxis to allow them to cease paying to insure them.
However the plan backfired when intruders stole catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters from round 50 of them.
Simon Georgiou, a director at GB Taxi Providers, mentioned: “We bought our knees taken away with Covid and a great deal of autos getting handed again. Then this theft occurs, which value in extra of £120,000. We’re in a proper mess.”
One other rental agency, Sherbet London, has employed a carpark to assist retailer 400 unoccupied cabs, representing two-thirds of its fleet.
Chief government Asher Moses mentioned: “The entire commerce has suffered. There should be 2,000 taxis on fields in the mean time.”
He accused ministers of failing to ship on their commitments throughout the pandemic.
“When Covid struck, we had the Authorities say ‘don’t fear we’ll assist companies like yourselves’. However sadly they didn’t, they usually left us out to rot,” Mr Moses mentioned.
London cabbie Andy Biggs, 63, mentioned demand has “evaporated” and he’s fortunate if he has three prospects a day.
“Once we first went again after the preliminary lockdown, issues began to get a little bit bit higher very slowly,” he mentioned. “However now it’s as useless because it’s ever been.”
“If I used to be 20 years youthful I’d contemplate doing one thing else.”
LTDA figures present drivers arriving at Heathrow Airport’s taxi feeder park final month waited a median of 9 hours earlier than being dispatched to select up a passenger.
TfL mentioned it has offered drivers with “sensible recommendation on numerous points” throughout the disaster, and insisted black cabs “stay an integral a part of the transport community”.