Turn off your engine: Idling cabs targeted by eco-marshals

David Williams, Motoring Correspondent
22 Sep 2011

Teams of “eco-marshals” are to patrol London telling taxi drivers to switch off their engines when stationary to cut pollution.

New research shows black cabs create a quarter of PM10 emissions in central London – fine airborne particles linked to health and breathing problems – and up to 15 per cent of that pollution is believed to be caused by drivers leaving engines idling when parked.

Marshals will monitor ranks at Charing Cross, Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Marylebone, Paddington and Victoria stations and
at street ranks where pollution levels are high.

Transport for London research shows idling engines create “significant” local pollution. The crackdown is the start of a series of similar campaigns aimed at other professional drivers, as well as private motorists.

It will be backed by new Department for Transport-approved signs urging drivers to switch off engines when they are not needed. Councils will also adopt the campaign.

TfL is writing to coach, bus and freight operators asking them to encourage their drivers to switch off their engines while parked.

“Pollution is a serious health issue and Boris Johnson is determined to reduce its impact,” said Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor’s environment director.

Action being taken to deliver a permanent legacy of cleaner London air includes the first age limit for black cabs, tighter standards for the Low Emission Zone, cleaner buses and an expanded bike hire scheme, he added.

TfL said: “We want to work with drivers not against them, which is why some of the eco-marshals are former cabbies themselves and know the challenges faced. Turning off the engine when possible also cuts fuel consumption and so saves drivers money.”

Other anti-pollution moves include expanding Transport for London’s dust suppressant trial, which sees a coating sprayed on to carriageways to prevent PM10s re-circulating.

Your say: Views of the cabbies

Louis Cafun, 52, from Norwood:
“I don’t agree with it. I need to work so what’s the point of constantly turning my engine off?
I work all the time. I never stop. Most of the time you need to get to another job very quickly. This new scheme will stop me from doing my job.”

Chris Gray, 42, from Hertfordshire:
“In London you’re working all the time so switching your engine on and off is actually not good for the vehicle. If you’re sitting at a rank for a long time that’s fine but I’m not sure how I’d feel about being told what to do.”

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