I drove over London’s first 3d zebra crossing & it worked

A 3d zebra crossing road safety design which started in India is now on St Johns Wood High Street.

St John's Wood High Street logo
St Johns Wood High Street

 

I had just turned left from Prince Albert Road and started gliding northbound in the TXE taxi on St Johns Wood High Street with passengers on board who were talking amongst themselves. Approaching the zebra crossing just before the junction of Wellington Place I noticed the road markings looked different, getting closer and the crossing had a unique 3d design/optical illusion painted on the road. I slowed down to get a better look but could not stop as no pedestrians were present to cross the road and I had passengers on board so I continued northbound along St Johns High Street thinking did I just drive over a 3d zebra crossing or do I need to make an appointment with Specsavers ?

Dropped off passengers & headed southbound on St Johns Wood High Street and took this picture of the crossing.

3d zebra crossing

The 3d zebra crossings artwork is known as trompel’oeil which is French for “deceive the eye”.

The scheme has been a global success in reducing road traffic accidents and is now in London.

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Wetminster Council are the first London borough to trial the scheme for a duration of 12 months and I hope other councils in London follow suit as its a great idea to encourage drivers to slow down or be more observant of pedestrians when approaching the crossings. If  schemes like this helps to save just one life more zebra crossings around London should be transformed into 3d.

The Good, The Bad points of the LEVC taxi

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After renting for a good number of years I decided to finally buy my own taxi.

Unfortunately if London taxi drivers want to buy a new taxi there is currently only one choice of vehicle and it’s the longest car name in history ‘The LEVC TX eCity Vista Electric Taxi’.

When the TX Vista was launched in 2018 the company LEVC ( London Electric Vehicle Company) got so many motoring journalist to test drive and review the taxi you would think their target audience to buy the taxi was the general public & not taxi drivers. I’m surprised it did not appear on the motoring show Top Gear as even Fifth Gear done a review on it.

Here are my good & bad points from a taxi drivers point of view & not a motoring journalist who spent just one hour driving the cab.

Good – The Drive

Driving the TX does not feel like a taxi, it resembles driving a mid sized luxury suv as the drive position is higher than your average car.

The drive is pleasantly smooth gliding over the potholes on London’s roads, there is no rattling, clunking or squeaking sounds you would get from a TX2 or TX4. There is no gear changes whilst driving, just a continuous nice flowing motion.

The all round performance from acceleration, handling and comfort is a massive improvement from its predecessor the TX4.

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Bad – Price

London Taxis have always been expensive to buy. In the 1980’s till early 90’s a new fairway would cost in the region of £20k, the TX4 in 2017 £46k and now the LEVC in 2019 prices start from £55,599 up to £58,199.

Good – Drivers Seat

The luxury Drivers seat which comes with the Vista Comfort & Comfort Plus is exactly that comfortable.

You can easily do an eight hour shift in this taxi & not have any aches & pains in your legs, back or behind. The seat is electrically adjustable and also heated with three heat settings at your convenience.

Battery Life

Good as a Hybrid/ Bad as a electric car

The TX is really a Hybrid taxi. I’m not sure why LEVC continuously say ‘The electric taxi’. Most hybrid vehicles have a low battery range & uses a combustion engine to drive an electric generator which is exactly what the TX does. Compared to other Hybrid vehicles the TX range is good. If you compare the battery range with an electric car/vehicle the range is terrible.

Below are two lists,  Hybrid cars with their battery range & the other for electric cars & their range. The TX has no place in the electric car list as the range is so low.

Hybrid cars

The Audi Q7 TFSI has a range of 33 miles on a single charge

Volvo XC90 range 27miles

Toyota Prius range 28miles

BMW 330e range 35 miles

Mercedes Benz E Class PHEV range 33 miles

Tx Taxi range 43 miles

Electric cars

Tesla Model S 514 miles on a single charge,

The Nissan Leaf range 258 miles

Jaguar I-Pace range 290 miles

I’ve currently done a maximum of 43miles on electric during the winter on a full charge. I’ve never got near 70 miles as stated by LEVC & I don’t think I ever will even during Summertime. Its especially not good when you leave the charging station at 97% charged, the mileage reads 66 miles, you drive for 2 minutes & then it drops to 54miles? Where did those 12 miles go?

Good – Sensus 9″ touch screen

The Sensus 9 inch touch screen display, steering wheel & engine start all comes from the Volvo XC90 as Geely bought Volvo cars in 2010 for $1.8billion. There are also more options available on the  XC90’s touchscreen than the TX which is disappointing. The touch screen is the main hub for the driver to control the vehicle.

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Bad – Heavy passenger door

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When I pull up after being hailed many passengers just stand outside waiting for the door to automatically open like the Vito. It would be good if the doors were electric because the rear doors are too heavy for many passengers. I’ve never seen a passenger use both hands to close a taxi door until now. All passengers young, old, male or female have mentioned the weight of the door when they close it upon entering the taxi.

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When exiting the taxi passengers need to push the door shut with a fair amount of force, if they don’t the door does not shut securely & a warning light is displayed on the drivers dashboard ‘Door ajar stop safely’. It can be annoying when the door does not close properly & the passenger just walks away which happens too often with this taxi.

Good – LCD Digital Dashboard

The Drivers digital dashboard is slick & well designed with all the information the driver requires.

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Bad – Braking & surging forward

Myself and other TX drivers noticed that on occasions when braking the taxi would feel a slight ‘surging forward’ especially when it is raining. LEVC response is below.

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This happens too frequently in the TX, I’ve driven cars with ABS brakes & it rarely occurs whilst driving. If this increases during driving I’ll notify LEVC again.

Good – No engine noise

I can now have a good conversation with passengers instead of shouting or asking them to repeat what they said three times as there is no noise. I also now have the radio on low volume whilst working. Passengers now have to whisper to each other if they don’t want me to hear what their saying. You do however need to be more aware of passengers stepping into the road as they don’t hear you approaching.

BadStill no Safety Box as promised

With the Vista Comfort & Comfort Plus a lockable drawer should be installed underneath the drivers seat.   There is just a large gap underneath my seat with no lockable drawer. I complained to LEVC concerning this and they replied saying the drawers are still testing for the right material. So none of the 1000 plus TX’s has a lockable drawer underneath the seat.

Good – Cruise Control

With the expansion of average speed check cameras located on the A40, M4 and all around London the Cruise Control option is a handy additional feature available.

Bad – GPS constantly on

Drivers can not access the location settings (GPS) on the taxi so its continuously on. The taxi offers road sign assistance which informs the driver of the roads speed limit your travelling on. If you turn the road sign assistance function off the GPS within the taxi is still active. I presume LEVC are collecting data of drivers as there would be an option within the menu settings to turn it off.

So whenever you are driving the taxi big brother is always watching and I have no idea what the data is being used for.

(Only the Vista Comport Plus has satellite navigation)

Good – Spacious for passengers

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The TX can comfortably fit six adult passengers. Gone are the days when the flip down seats would slam upright when the passenger got up from the seat, now they flip back upright slowly, gone are the days when passengers would use the flip down seats as their foot rest as now they can’t reach them unless they’re over 6ft tall. Just like the long anticipated Nissan taxi there is a panoramic roof for the passengers.

The usb ports for passengers is also a good idea.

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Bad – Reverse Camera additional cost.

LEVC charge an extra £400 to install a reverse camera which should be standard on all models because visibility when reversing is not good as the back is so high. Rear parking sensors are available as standard on all models. I would definitely recommend adding the camera if you decide to buy one.

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Good – Regenerative braking

There are two setting for Regenerative braking on the TX. It’s recommended to always have it on the highest setting. Regenerative braking is an energy recovery mechanism which slows the taxi without the driver applying the brakes & converting its kinetic energy to the battery. This means less use of the brake pads resulting in them lasting longer.

Bad –  Drivers storage space

Not enough places for drivers to store their items in the drivers compartment. The compartment underneath the arm rest is not deep enough.

Good – Auto wipers

If you find it too much of a hassle to flick the wiper switch when it rains the Tx is for you because it has automatic wipers. Just press a button & the wipers will start when it detects rain on the windscreen and also change speed depending on how heavy its raining, No need to keep switching the knob up & down, just leave it & technology does it for you.

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In conclusion the TX is a vast improvement from the TX4 taxi in every way (apart from storage space). It’s in a completely different league. Geely have done an amazing job with their first London taxi. Passengers constantly compliment the smooth drive & quietness of the vehicle and I’m saving money by not using petrol as often. It can be improved in a few areas which I mentioned above but overall it’s a good London cab.

The best response I received from a passenger  when I told him how many miles I get from the battery was

“At least it looks good.”

27% decline in Knowledge numbers

7517 candidates were studying The Knowledge of London in 2015, now towards the end of 2018 there are currently 5444 candidates. A decline of 27.58% over a 3 year period.

New candidates are still applying to become a Green badge London taxi driver but the numbers are declining at a fast rate.

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Knowledge students (future London taxi drivers)

Being a London taxi driver has many rewards unlike many jobs –

You will meet tourists from all over the World, Your Knowledge of London’s roads will increase exceptionally, work hours that suit your lifestyle, more flexibility, be your own Boss and earn a good Income.

A good reason why Knowledge numbers are down is the UK tech industry. There are now more lucrative and more appealing career choices for everyone in London. The tech industry in the UK  is worth £184bn and is growing 2.6 times faster than the economy.

Every London taxi driver would say, accomplishing The Knowledge was not easy. You need to buy a moped/car, petrol, insurance, maintain your moped, purchase laminated map, buy Knowledge Books, pay school fees, pay TFL fees , have another job whilst studying The Knowledge, for 3-5 years riding a moped or driving around London in all weather conditions, learning road names, memorising locations of buildings, landmarks and attractions, revising day and night resulting in you dreaming about roads.

When you do eventually pass The Knowledge you’ll be constantly stuck in the forever growing London traffic, choices of vehicles will be very limited and expensive. You can either drive an unreliable TX4, pay £60k for the electric LEVC taxi or buy a £49k Mercedes van converted into a taxi.

breakdown taxi
broken down taxi

Or learn a tech skill, work from a laptop computer, work less hours, have a higher income and receive holiday pay.

I’ll rather do The Knowledge…..

more info Below

Become a London Taxi driver

Are you considering starting The Knowledge?

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