World News

End of the road for these cabs

Near the English town of Epping, about 30km north-east of London, an unexpected scene awaits passers-by.

Past a forest and a charming street market, numerous black London taxis are parked bumper to bumper in a muddy field, surrounded by beehives and a barn for raising squab pigeons.

The cabs were returned by their drivers to a rental company because of the collapse in business after Britain went into lockdown in March amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As the number of taxis piled up, the company ran out of room in its garage and cut a deal with a local farmer to store about 200 of the vehicles alongside his bees and pigeons.

“I call it the field of broken dreams,” said Mr Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, which represents about half of the British capital’s more than 21,500 licensed cabbies.

Barely a fifth of London’s taxis are currently operating, Mr McNamara said, and the drivers still on the road are averaging just a quarter of their pre-pandemic fares.

The city estimates that 3,500 taxis have left the streets since June. They are stashed in carparks, warehouses, garages and fields all around the capital. NYTIMES

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