Standing as the Conservative party candidate for the role of Councillor for “Milnrow and Newhey” in Rochdale has opened my eyes to how local councils operate.
Councils have strict rules which rightly demand that they balance spending with income, as with inflation rampant in the UK, nobody wants council rates to increase to fund new services. However, councils have massive turnovers and millions in assets, that allow them to borrow money at much lower costs than local businesses.
Few local taxi firms, which tend to operate with older petrol/diesel cars, can afford to upgrade them to expensive EVs, even though these vehicles are 66% cheaper to run. Local Councils however could borrow money to create a “Green” fleet of Electric Taxis that these local taxi firms could rent.
Full business plans and evaluations will be required before we launch any scheme, but top-level research shows that the dramatically lower running costs of EVs would allow taxi firms to pay rentals to the council that not only cover costs of these EVs but provide a new income stream for the council. At the same time, average taxi prices could be reduced, whilst maintaining driver earnings and taxi firm profits.
However, I’m not finished here.
Many local councils have built new bus stations hubs in town centres, as key planks in their transportation strategies. The good news is that buses are being electrified quickly and are seen as greener transportation. However, buses need to operate on fixed routes that are often not convenient for users, reducing utilisation and often leading to empty buses that are highly inefficient, compared to taxis. EV Taxis would be far more convenient with selectable pickup and drop off points, but as with busses, councils need to incorporate them into transportation planning and consider creating dedicated town centre pick up and drop off points.
In Rochdale, I would build an “electric hub” multi-story car park at the Mecca Bingo site opposite No1 Riverside building as the council already owns the site. This is perfectly positioned for the town's new shopping centre and central pub/restaurants.
The bottom floors would offer secure storage and electrified charging location, allowing taxis to be fully recharged overnight ready for their next day’s work. The other floors would provide parking and charging points for the town's EV owners. Parking fees would include electricity charging costs so that EV owners would have an incentive to park in the hub, but the convenient parking spaces would also be available for petrol/Diesel cars whilst the migration to electric takes place.
An architectural competition would be required to make this functional “electric hub” look attractive since as well as being a multi-story car park it would need to be clad in Solar panels. These panels would charge massive storage batteries during the day, which would also store cheap electricity from the national grid during off-peak night hours. This would allow Rochdale’s taxis to be charged at the super cheap 5p per mile rate at night or during the day reducing costs massively.
Small operational changes would be required for Taxi pick up, with no queues of taxis awaiting customers, with customers instead of being allocated a bay number for their taxis, which are topped up with charge whilst they await their next fair. Some fast chargers would be required to power taxis that had been used all day, but this situation is less frequent than people might imagine, given the 200-mile range of EVs and the short length of most taxi journeys.
To maximise maintenance efficiency, Rochdale’s “Green” fleet of Taxis would ideally all be supplied by one car manufacturer, as this would make maintenance and repairs more cost-efficient, with a garage forming part of the electric hub. As one of the first councils to electrify local taxis, Rochdale would put the supply of taxis out for tender to secure bulk buying discounts.
Historically, some manufacturers have not been keen on their cars being used as taxis, as this carried a “tarnish”. However, the city of Amsterdam has shown the benefit to major EV brands like Tesla, from providing Taxi fleets. For Tesla, this was a major opportunity to show off its products to a multination’s set of domestic and international tourists and where I was first convinced to buy a Tesla as my own car.
I believe Rochdale could create a bidding war between both cars manufacturers and electric power providers like Eon, for the “naming rights” of the UK’s first electric taxi hub.
As a semi-retired successful businessman, I have several current investments including being a shareholder and Chairman of “Eco: Electric Car organisation”. It would obviously be crucial to ensure transparency over any bidding process to remove any potential conflict of interest. However, what sensible businessman would not look to incorporate his business knowledge into the role of being a Councillor, as after all these are nothing more than large business.
Career politicians are essential to the smooth running of local councils, as they understand the politics of getting things done, however adding a sprinkling of business expertise and innovation, might create a winning formula.
If you agree, please reach out and ask people in the Milnrow and Newhey area and ask them to vote for Steven Endacott, the Conservative candidate in the upcoming local elections.