THE Low Emission Zone has not led to a fall in the number of taxis in Glasgow according to the transport minister.

Fiona Hyslop said the fact there are fewer black taxis had more to do with a fall in demand.

The minister was asked by Annie Wells, Glasgow Conservative MSP about a fall in the number of cabs in the city.

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She said it was down to the LEZ enforcement, putting non-compliant taxis off the road as costs are prohibitive.

Hyslop confirmed the reduction from 1390 taxis in Mary last year to 1347 in January this year.

“However,” she said: “That reduction can be attributed to declining public demand for taxis rather than being a direct result of the low-emission zone, because Glasgow City Council offered its taxi fleet a 12-month exemption, from June 2023 to June 2024, from LEZ penalty charges.”

She added: “Glasgow City Council has announced that it will offer a further extension to the exemption for some taxis beyond June 2024, if taxi operators can demonstrate a commitment to retrofit vehicles or purchase compliant replacement vehicles.”

Wells said hundreds of taxis are still non-compliant and risk going out of business when the exemption ends next month.

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She asked: “For the sake of Glasgow’s black taxi drivers, will she back the extension of the exemption for those taxis—not the 76 that are already exempt?”

Hyslop said there is an extension available if owners can provide proof they are making efforts to comply.

She said: “If the member was listening, she would have heard that that is exactly what Glasgow City Council is doing. It is offering a further exemption, should there be a demonstration that retrofitting is planned.”

The minister added the LEZ retrofit fund is open for applications and provides up to £10,000 towards the cost of retrofitting a taxi.

Paul Sweeney, Glasgow Labour MSP said the grant was not enough and asked for it to be reviewed.

He said it can cost between £60,000 and £100,000.

Sweeney said: “The £10,000 grant is simply not sufficient, particularly when a lot of the affected taxi drivers are approaching retirement age or are in their 50s and cannot take out that huge amount of finance.”

The minister replied: “On the finances for individuals, I am sure that engagement with Glasgow City Council will help to scope out requirements.”

Meanwhile, Bob Doris, SNP MSP for Maryhill and Springburn asked if the LEZ was having an impact on the quality of air.

Hyslop said: “Because it takes many years for fleets to adapt to LEZ entry standards, the improvement is spread over a long period ahead of LEZ enforcement, rather than happening overnight, when enforcement commences.”

She said there has been improvement in Hope Street with lower nitrogen dioxide readings.