SUBSIDIES for taxi drivers in West Berkshire could be introduced to encourage them to switch to electric vehicles

The change would help reduce carbon emissions and air pollution in the district. 

Taxi drivers have to pay West Berkshire Council, who issue them licences. But the council could make it cheaper for those who drive electric vehicles. 

Age restrictions could also be brought in, meaning taxis older than eight years might not be allowed on the road, unless they pass inspection checks. 

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Taxi drivers in Reading will have to switch to electric or ultra-low emission vehicles by 2028, after Reading Borough Council recently introduced a new policy. 

And taxis in Bracknell and Wokingham both have age restrictions — a maximum of eight years for private hire vehicles and 10 years for hackney carriages. Although drivers can still keep taxis on the road if they are inspected and found to be in good condition. 

Councillor James Cole (Con, Hungerford & Kintbury) said: “Should we change our approach and move towards what the others are doing? Should we begin to squeeze a bit to make our vehicles more eco-friendly?” 

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He made the comments at a meeting of the licensing committee on November 18. 

Cllr Graham Bridgman (Con, Burghfield & Mortimer) said: “There’s some logic in saying we should all be singing from the same hymn sheet.” 

The council currently doesn’t have a maximum age for taxis, but the oldest taxi in the district is 16 years old.

There are 155 hackney carriage taxis, of which 55 are eight or more years old. There are 165 private hire taxis, and 37 of these are eight or more years old. 

Council officers will report back to the licensing committee in the near future, with a paper setting out what happens elsewhere with age restrictions and electric vehicles, and what the options are for the council. 

Cllr David Marsh (Green, Wash Common) said: “Can we also include [in the paper] how the fleet can be transformed to encourage them to switch to electric vehicles? 

“That’s what we really should be doing. Then we are really looking to the future.”