£1.6m could be freed from the Mayor’s Budget to pay for new taxi tech

Changes to the upcoming Mayoral budget should be used to bring card payment machines to over 11,000 cabs without this technology, according to Gareth Bacon, GLA Conservatives budget spokesman.

New card payment machines could be funded by City Hall back office efficiencies but also by scrapping the over generous TfL “nominee pass”, which allows free travel for flatmates and lodgers of staff.

Gareth Bacon, GLA Conservative Budget Spokesman, said;

“Modernising our Black Cab fleet is critical for its future competitiveness. With half of London Black Cabs without card payment machines, funding this improvement will bring consistency to the entire fleet. Card payments give Londoners the confidence to hail them without worrying about how much cash they have in their pocket. This £1.6m annual cost will go a long way to protecting London’s Black Cab trade. In the future this cost can be recouped by TfL through private sponsorship of the machines.”

Gareth Bacon’s budget amendment proposes using the estimated £22.5m raised by cancelling the nominee pass scheme, and a further £1.1m found from other City Hall back office cuts, to fund:

· £1.6m to be used to roll-out the installation of card payment terminals in London Taxis.
· £76k for the creation of a London Infrastructure Trust. As proposed in the “Burrowing for Success” report.
· £26k of funding for male rape charities to be introduced for 2016/17, with a commitment to extending this funding through to 2019/20 to a total of £104k over that period. As proposed in the “Silent Suffering” report.
· £5.9m to be allocated to the extension of the Student 18+ Travelcard for up to five months after graduation, i.e. to the end of the calendar year rather than at graduation.

These changes will be proposed to the Mayor at the London Assembly Budget Plenary Wednesday, 27th January 2016.

· Calculating the cost of card payment machines: CabVision, a leading supplier of cashless technology in taxis, has indicated that it costs approximately £1,000 per annum to retro-fit taxis to take card terminals, supply the hardware, provide ongoing technical support and rent a phone line. Given there are 22,584 taxis on the road, and half of these already have terminals, the cost of rolling-out the technology in all taxis would be £11.3m. However, most of this would be capital expenditure and outside the ambit of this amendment. Only terminal and line rental would be classified as rental, which would amount to approximately £1.6m per annum. (According to http://www.adelante.co.uk/taxi-payment-solutions/card-machines, rental is £12 per month including VAT. Across the year this would be £144. As half of London’s 22,584 taxis would need this, this would cost TfL £1.6m per annum.)
· Bringing in private sponsorship of the card payment machines could cover both the capital costs and the annual costs.