Sunday, February 07, 2016

As Predicted...Media Attack Greedy Taxi Drivers Over Extra 20p Drop.

Well it didn't take the press long to take the story that every London Taxi will have to accept Credit Card payments, and turn it in to a barrage of negativity against the greedy London cabbies. 

Apparently it's an attempt to win back customers, BUT AT A HIGHER PRICE. As we predicted the fact that cash customers will also be charged the extortionate 20 pence extra on flag fall makes us second only to Dick Turpin in the annals of highway robbery. 

The story below (minus the blatant Uber advert) featured in The Memo, shows a picture of the antiquated long gone FX4 to illustrate how outdated the Taxi trade is.

We can expect much more of this type of gutter journalism in the coming weeks, putting an emphasis on the 20p extra flag drop and a proposed 1.6% rate increase. 

  • There will be no mention of the missing hour as rate 3 drops back to rate 1 at 5am instead of 6.
 
  • There will be no mention of the reduction in waiting time or the tweaking of rate 4 which will actually see more of a rate drop on most journeys.
 
  • There will be no mention that drivers will be expected to pick up the transaction fee of customers wanting credit, as the payment surcharge moves from customer to driver.

        THE MEMO...by Oliver Smith.

Black cabs offer card payments, but with a nasty sting

You win some, you lose some.

Every black cab in London will accept card payments from October… but their prices will rise to pay for it.

Transport for London’s (TfL) decision to force all cabbies to take card or contactless payments is a sure sign of progress, but it comes with an unfortunate downside for all passengers.
Black cabs will now hike their minimum prices by 20p to £2.60, regardless of how you pay.

Street fight

This is the latest round in black cabbies street fight against Uber.

Last week cabbies revealed they’re considering legal action to have Uber’s licence to operate in London revoked over the app allegedly not paying its UK taxes. (See Oliver Smith couldn't be bothered to do his research on this so made something up. Still never let the truth get in the way of a good story eh Oliver!)

Adopting environmentally-friendly electric vehicles and now card payments are also part of black cab’s charm offensive to win back passengers.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, labelled the decision by TfL to force cabbies to accept card payments is a win-win for drivers and customers:

“Most taxi drivers already accept card payments, but from October our customers can be certain that when they hail a cab, they are not only getting a safe, reliable and professional service, but will also be able to pay how they like, be it card, contactless or cash.”

We’ll have to wait and see whether card payments (but with higher prices!) will be enough to tempt commuters back into a cab.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

London Taxi Drivers are once again taking to the streets on Wednesday, the 10th of February - Whitehall 14:30Hrs to 16:00Hrs


    UNITED TAXI TRADE DEMONSTRATION 

London Taxi Drivers are once again taking to the streets on Wednesday, the 10th of February, to voice their grievance over the Government’s interference in the industry’s regulatory affairs while actively supporting a tax avoiding global corporation, Uber, that presents itself as an “IT company”. 

Some very sensible proposals were put forward by the regulator, yet they have been quashed by the Government. Naturally, this has angered decent, hard-working London Taxi Drivers who pay their taxes and conform to the strict rules and regulations. 

So the question is: why would the Government actively support a global tax avoider, a virtual company with no assets and no experience in operating the taxi trade, while providing it with a competitive advantage over its own domestic workforce? 

The answer is not one that makes our politicians look competent or above board.

But let us look at some of the statistics that paint a very gloomy picture of the way Uber operates. 

Last year it paid less tax than any four randomly selected London Taxi Drivers! Even though the company takes 25% to 35% of every journey undertaken by vehicles operating under its  umbrella. In real terms, they paid just £22,134 last year. 

The most amazing thing of all is that Uber is still not making a profit, as it is involved in undermining the competition by operating with lower fares, in the hope of establishing full control over the taxi trade.   

Which brings us to the next point about the danger that Uber poses for consumers as the future monopoly that doesn’t play by the rules. 

Once the competitors would be eliminated, prices, as it happens with all monopolies, will go up dramatically. That is how it works in the world of big business that builds its success at the expense of smaller competitors. 

And then there is the issue of sacrificing safety and quality to cut costs. Does anyone actually believe that a company that has no experience in running a taxi service and cuts costs by avoiding rules and regulations can provide safety and high quality of transportation? 

Of course not! 

Which means that customers are taking a gamble when they travel with Uber. Unlike the reliable and tested traditional purpose built London Cabs that are subject to three tests per year and with their drivers going through a very rigorous testing process over four to five years. 

And it gets worse when it comes to the attack on the interests of the London Taxi Drivers.  

The London Mayor’s Transport for London (TfL) have dropped the requirement for Private Hire Drivers to have a full CRB/DBS check

This means that TfL can now “feed the system” with 600+ new drivers every week while London Taxi Drivers are often unable to work, waiting for months for license renewals pending the mandatory requirement of a valid DBS check. 

As a result, passengers find themselves driven by people with practically no experience and of a dubious character. There are over 100 reported sexual assaults in minicabs in London every year and we know that less than 10% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported.  

Make no mistake, once Uber takes over the taxi trade in the UK it will move against other forms of transport and hundreds of thousands of jobs on the London Underground, on the railroads and in long haul deliveries will be in danger. In effect, the London Taxi Drivers are defending not only their own livelihoods but the interests of people involved in many other industries. 

As the elections of the London Mayor approach, it is time for candidates to make their views clear whose side of the argument they are on when it comes to London Taxi Drivers and Uber. We are talking about the livelihoods of tens of thousands of drivers and their families. Londoners who value their traditional taxi service should rally round it and send a signal to the candidates in the London Mayor Election that they will support those of them who give a clear pledge to put an end to the unfair practises of Uber and protect the iconic heritage of London that London Taxis represent.   

         Give this your full support, London



Further reading here:-
http://ucg-london.co.uk/2016/02/05/the-rise-and-rise-of-the-tax-avoiders/

All Press Enquiries to:

Len Martin
United Cabbies Group
0207 100 5206

France's Private Hire Drivers Protest On Heels Of Taxi Rivals


Rivals of traditional taxi drivers protested in Paris on Friday in the latest episode of a turf-war that has come to symbolise France's quest for compromise between free-for-all competition and heavy-handed regulation of economic activity.

On the heels of angry protests against them by traditional hail-down taxis, drivers relying on smartphone applications of the kind made famous by California-based Uber blocked airport access roads and a Paris roundabout to state their case.

Police had intervened overnight to halt a stone-throwing standoff between drivers of both types, police officials said, but Friday's protests were broadly peaceful.

Drivers who use smartphone applications complained that their livelihoods are being endangered by excessive regulation by the public authorities in the wake of the protests by traditional licensed taxi drivers earlier in the week.

Licensed taxi drivers accuse the government of failing to ensure application of 2014 legislation that obliges users of Uber-style online booking systems to return to base after each trip and refrain from seeking hail-down business on the streets.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has appointed a mediator to devise a solution that answers the demands of both sides - taxi drivers who have paid a high price for a licence and alternative car ride providers who say they, too, have to earn a living.

     
 

New Rules Set To Allow Hailing Of All Taxi Types In Belfast

     
The DoE will require some taxis, including public hire taxis, to display a new type of roof signage

New rules to allow people to hail all taxis in Belfast are set to come into place later this year.

Current laws only allow public hire taxis, commonly known as black taxis, to be hailed on streets in the city.

All other taxis must be booked.

But from 31 May, that will change between midnight on Friday and Saturday nights until 06:00 the next morning.

All taxis will be able to stop for passengers who have waved them down.

Modernising

The rule will apply within a two-mile radius of the city centre.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said he was "modernising and improving" taxi regulations by making the change.

 

new law over the hailing of taxis will apply within a two-mile radius from Belfast city centre

"In effect, these changes will mean that people in the north will get a much better taxi service."

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment (DoE) said that the change was being made "because often demand outstrips supply".

But public hire taxi drivers are unhappy with the change.

Essential

Sean Beckett, of the Public Hire Coalition, said: "If this is just to clear the streets [of people], it's wrong.

"You must know that the clientele and the general public are getting into a legitimate taxi and not some renegade that doesn't have insurance, so on and so forth."

Alliance Party MLA Anna Lo said the move was long overdue, but added that the two-mile Belfast zone "could be confusing" for the public, and tourists in particular.

"In any big cities where taxis are an essential means of transport, people take it for granted they can hail them anywhere without having to book in advance or walk to a taxi rank," Ms Lo said.

"I hope this move will see such practice become the norm in Belfast."

The DoE is also introducing new roof signage that some taxis will be required to display, as well as a new test for taxi drivers.


Source U TV, BBC News :

EDITORIAL COMMENT:

Remember what Leon Daniels said on BBC news-

"There are parts of the West End and City that are heaving with people at the week ends, you can't see an orange for hire light anywhere. There's not enough Taxis at night shift at the week ends...."

It's painfully obvious the Leon doesn't get invited out much at the week end.

Last night London's West End was a disgrace. Thousands of double parked, touting Uber Prius's bought Mayfair and Soho to complete gridlock.

Marshals on 100 Wardour Street, Swallow Street and Novokovs out out calls for Taxis, a call that at times, couldn't be answered without the help of a helecopter.

Shaftesbury Ave, Piccadilly, both sides of Regent Street....complete stand still. 

Hundreds or empty buses converged at Piccadilly Circus, jumping the lights at will, causing major disruption.
The air quality in Mayfair and Soho must have been well above the legal limit just from Bus exhausts alone.


Friday, February 05, 2016

Transport for London's plan to make all Black Cabs accept card payments is great news - but the details tilts the playing field against them

By Derek Stewart co-founder of CabApp, a mobile booking and payment app for Black Cabs in the UK and licensed Taxis in Ireland.

   We all love simplicity and speed.


Last weekend I popped into my local Apple Store at Bluewater to get a new charging cable. Instead of queuing, one of the staff came over to me and I purchased the cable via her handheld mobile payment device. The VAT business receipt was automatically emailed to me. What a fantastic customer service experience.

So, I welcome TfL's decision that all black cabs by October 2016 must accept card payments, making life easier for all of us by offering a similar seamless experience.

But, although supported by the London Taxi Drivers' Association, not all in the industry are happy about the decision. As always, the devil is in the detail and there are some issues in TfL's proposals as they stand.

Chief among them is the fact that Black Cab taxi drivers will have to absorb the costs charged by their banks and card processing companies. But this is not the case for private hire licenced operators who can pass on the cost to the consumer as a surcharge.

This is in common practice in the travel sector, where companies such as EasyJet and Trainline.com can legally pass on to the consumer the payment processing costs of card payments in the form of a surcharge.

TfL's insistence that Black Cab drivers absorb the cost further tilts the playing field against them. Already, cabbies have to bear the additional costs to uphold the high standards required to obtain their licenced status.

Another problem is the prescription by TfL that mobile chip and pin devices are mounted at the back of the cab at the cost of their operators.

Most taxi drivers already accept card payments, with 58 per cent of London's 25,200 Black Cab drivers accepting card payments, according to a TfL survey in 2014. 

Far from being luddites, Black Cab drivers want to embrace technology to provide the best customer experience. From medical checks to purpose-built and disability adapted vehicles, licenced Black Cabs already absorb the costs of measures to ensure higher standards of customer safety. But imposing this payments initiative, is in effect, forcing us into terms which aren't in place for other industries.

Ultimately, we don't want to compromise customer service provided by the iconic Black Cab industry, but we also don't want to see our drivers' margins squeezed in favour of the private hire sector.

Open Letter To TfL, Over Growing Contempt For The London Taxi Trade...by Will Grozier.


Dear Mr Bradley
 
Thank you for your invitation to comment, as a contributing respondent, to the proposal document being carried forward following the Private Hire Regulations Consultation.
 
I think I may speak for a vast majority of my fellow licensed Taxi Drivers in saying that in very simple terms, it stinks.
 
It stinks for a number of reasons chief amongst which are that it demonstrates an utter contempt on the part of TfL toward the licensed taxi trade.
 
Contempt because after a consultation period in excess of 3 months attracting some 16,000 individual responses TfL announce a fully formed set of proposals within 4 weeks of the consultation closure on 23rd December.
 
Given that half of that period was consumed by the Christmas break we are asked to believe that serious consideration has been given to the ideas and comments submitted in just 2 weeks. 
 
Even an organisation capable of dealing with 3000 new PH licences per month cannot move that fast unless of course the reality is that this avalanche of newbies are rubber stamped in the same cursory fashion as the sham 'Consultation'. 
Indeed TfL admit in the latest document that discussions with the PH trade had been on-going for months )
 
Contempt also because TfL have failed to address the most important issue concerning London's licensed taxi drivers, - the 'Elephant in the Room' - how best to provide a clear distinction between taxis and private hire and prevent cars effectively plying for hire.
 
TfL have dropped the proposal to oblige Private Hire to work on a 5 min time delay without substituting any other mechanism to ensure that current PH practice does not completely eclipse traditional cabs.
 
There are many gradations of 'stink' emanating from Palestra around this issue;
 
The malodorous stench of sulphur arising from TfL's perceived improper compact with Uber.
 
The waft of diesel fumes which daily exceeds any previous levels of air pollution experienced in central London and arises from a grossly distorted Bus population mixed with a soup of CO2 from the unprecedented exponential growth of Private Hire and the associated totally unacceptable levels of traffic congestion 
 
And finally the less discernible but nonetheless highly obnoxious scent of moral decay.
 
In addition to the explicit statutory remit TfL have a concomitant implicit responsibility to act as the  ‘good steward’ of a centuries old and world renown Taxi licensing system which they are failing to exercise.
 
The British Disease - the national habit of tearing down and failing to capitalise on that which we elevate and excel at - was a societal dysfunction that most people believed had been seen off in the last century.
 
Sadly it is alive and well and currently most recently diagnosed in SE1.
 
In this context the plight of the London Cab Trade is perhaps most eloquently captured in a sentence by a national treasure Tony Hancock.
 
In an episode of TV series 'Hancock's Half Hour' Tub is seen soliloquising upon the subject of friends,
 
'Friends, friends,' he says in a questioning manner wearing a pained and distracted expression to some place off camera
 
'I've got friends all over the world.....'
 
He then pauses for dramatic effect before continuing,
 
'None in this country, but all over the world'
 
So it is with the London Taxi, revered the world over and yet marginalised by a hostile administration at home.
 
Many taxi drivers are bewildered at what has happened to our business as a consequence of TfL's back door deregulation, it has caused financial loss and personal stress to some degree to every working cabbie and the emotions most keenly felt are betrayal and anger.
 
That discontent will be exacerbated if these proposals are not modified before implementation and the taxi trades inalienable exclusive right to ply for hire enshrined in the new regulations.
We may have been around for 350 years but without a radical rethink on the part of TfL we will not be here for another 350 days.

On Wednesday 10th February the taxi trade will make it’s displeasure very visible in a demonstration in Whitehall.


The blame for the ensuing traffic disruption to London on this and increasingly frequent future occasions, must rest squarely at the door of 197 Blackfriars Road SE1 8JZ
 
Yours sincerely
 
W J Grozier
 
Proud Licensed London Taxi Driver