Hundreds of black tabs in London have been razed to the ground around the capital as work dries up during the coronavirus epidemic.
The number of taxis licensed on November 8 fell from 18,900 to 15,000, according to figures obtained by Transport for London’s (TFL) PA news agency.
And the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) estimates that one in five cabs is still driving.
Secretary-General Steve McNamara described the situation as a “complete and utter nightmare” for the Cabbies, who have “fallen through the cracks” in the Treasury’s Farlow project.
He said some were now on “starvation wages”.
There have been claims that in recent months black cab rental companies have been forced to rent land and lands around the outskirts of the city.
North London-based rental agency GB Taxi Services has seen its fleet of 100 Black Cabs occupancy rates rise from 90% to just 10% before the crisis, even after halving the fee to encourage drivers to park their vehicles.
It saves about 220 unsolicited taxis so it can stop paying for their insurance.
The plan failed when intruders stole catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters from about 50 people.
Simon Giorgio, director of GB Taxi Services, said: “We have taken our knees off Covid And lots of vehicles are being returned. Then came the theft, valued at over 120 120,000. We are in the right mess. “
Sherbet has rented a car park to store 400 illegal cabs from another rental company in London, representing two-thirds of its fleet.
The latest LTDA figures reveal just how drastic the demand has been.
Cab drivers who arrived at Heathrow Airport’s Taxi Feeder Park last month waited an average of nine hours before sending a passenger to pick up.
Caby Andy Biggs, Ab3, says he’s lucky if he gets three customers a day.
“Things started to get a little better very slowly when we first went back after the initial lockdown,” he said.
“But now it’s dead like before.”