Four hundred black disabled taxis will be put off the roads in Glasgow as drivers can’t afford to get their vehicles ready for the low emission zone, a taxi boss has warned.

Taxi operator Brian O’Hara fears there will be a lack of black taxis available for people with disabilities, children with special needs going to school and for women to get safely home at night.

Mr O’Hara who is the managing director of Glasgow Taxi Credit Union said the lack of taxis “will get worse” and said the impact of the Covid pandemic on the trade had affected the roll-out of the LEZ.

Currently he believes there are about 1,300 black cabs in Glasgow and fears the 400 being lost are all wheelchair accessible.

The former chairman of Glasgow Taxis added: “Most of the 400 taxis being lost will be one man bands. It is putting 400 small businesses out of business.

“Imagine if you went to Dumbarton Road and shut 400 shops.”

A huge shortage of second hand LEZ compliant vehicles available to buy, drivers unable to afford a new car or retrofit costs, difficulty in getting credit to borrow and a waiting list for retrofitting work are all exacerbating the problems.

Mr O’Hara said he has 18 “good” hackneys including a number of Mercedes Benz, that will be left sitting parked up as they don’t meet pollution targets.  He has managed to get 12 to comply with the new low emission zone (LEZ) requirements.

Commenting on cars going off the road, he said: “They are good safe vehicles. You would be allowed to drive them in Aberdeen for example.”


He bought a Euro 6 compliant vehicle recently but said it was the only one available – with not even a selection available to choose from.

He said: “There is a distinct lack of vehicles we can buy to qualify. I bought the last second hand cab last week. It’s a big concern. You can’t get parts.”

Another taxi operator Michael Traynor who is a board member of the Glasgow Taxis Credit Union believes the LEZ conditions are “prohibitive.”

First minister Humza Yousaf has been contacted over the concerns and is supposed to be visiting the credit union office on Wallace Street to discuss the issues.

Mr O’Hara admitted many drivers have not yet recovered from the lack of trade during the pandemic.

“The attitude of the council and the government is ‘you knew LEZ was coming’ but we didn’t know Covid was coming, he said. “Four years down the line people are still paying bounce back loans.

“We are trying to rebuild our company. We are struggling. Without Covid the LEZ roll-out  would have been okay.”

Mr Traynor and Mr O’Hara insist they are not against LEZ – just how it is being  implemented and believe more time is necessary for taxis in the public interest.

Another issue is drivers are leaving the trade and the new rules, which require investment, are speeding up their exit.

Describing their predicament, Mr O’Hara said: “Guys are giving up. If you are 60 a lot of guys don’t want to shell out £67,000 for a taxi.”

Mr O’Hara said although grants have been made available – not everyone qualifies. He points out they hoped taxis registered in Glasgow could operate outside the periphery of the circa 200 streets forming the LEZ but was told that was not possible.

Commenting on all the issues, Mr Traynor said: “It is actually quite frightening the ramifications this could have.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We have at every stage, supported the shift to LEZ compliance by encouraging eligible taxi operators to take advantage of funding for clean, new vehicles, or for retrofitting existing vehicles. We also amended licensing conditions several years ago to increase the options available to operators of taxis which could not be retrofitted due to vehicle age.

“Whilst the vast majority of taxis operating in the city already meet the less-polluting LEZ standards, we need to ensure that all vehicles entering the city centre are of a standard that is not contributing to air pollution problems. However, it is recognised that for some taxis, retrofit is not an option or the retrofit has not yet been completed.

“Extending further flexibilities beyond the first year of LEZ enforcement to operators who are actively moving toward compliance is therefore a practical way for the council to continue supporting the taxi sector.

“To ensure the health benefits of cleaner air are realised as soon as possible, where an extension to an existing one-year taxi exemption is agreed, it will be limited to the minimum time required.”

Taxis had to meet LEZ requirements by June 1, 2023, in order to operate in the city. However eligible operators of non-compliant taxis were given an extra year to prepare by way of an exemption until 31 May 2024. It is understood the council will extend exemptions on application for those who are moving towards LEZ compliance.

Heavily polluting cars cannot enter about 200 streets under the LEZ requirements.

Around £3 million of retrofit Scottish Government funding has been made available to support taxi operators get their vehicles ready.

Diesel vehicles registered after September 2015, petrol vehicles registered from 2006 onwards and buses, coaches and HGVS registered from January 2013 will meet the required LEZ standards.