Tuesday, December 31, 2013

French Cabbies Show What A United Taxi Trade Can Do....by Jim Thomas.

January 1st, 2014, the Parisian Taxi Commission implement the ’15-minute law’.

The 15 minute law will take effect, requiring smartphone Private Hire apps to wait at least 15 minutes, after customers order a ride before a pick up can be completed.


Paris has a long history in the Taxi market and the number of taxis in Paris has remained relatively unchanged since 1950. When Paris taxis want to flex their muscle, they need only block all major roads and highways in order to get their way. This is made relatively easy as all representative groups, drivers, owners and associates belong to one body...the Paris Taxi Commission.

Uber founder Travis Kalanick has tried to expanded his brand in Paris but has come up against a united Taxi trade, probably the best represented divers in the world.

The ’15-minute law’ is not news to most. We heard earlier this year that the decree had been proposed. After the initial shock of such a law set in, it seems that PH companies with apps such as SnapCar, LeCab, Chauffeur Privé, as well as Uber, spoke with the Minister of Transportation and had convinced the group in charge of the decree to include a clause stating that the law would only apply to users who had signed up in the past 24-48 hours. 

This would rendered the decree useless, as there is no way to verify on sight, when a passenger signed up for the service, nor do new passengers make up for a large percentage of daily users on chauffeur apps. But even so, the licensing authority considered the inclusion of said clause. 

In the days leading up to the announcement about whether the decree would be put in place, it seems the Paris Taxi Commission threatened once again to block all major thoroughfare unless the caveat to the decree was removed and the decree enacted as originally announced.

Just the threat of action was all it took and now we find ourselves here - looking at a precedent about to be set in France, which has encouraged the preservation and tradition of  their historic industry.

Vive la france, vive la différence, vive l'unité.

Monday, December 30, 2013

ALL OVER, BAR THE SHOUTING? .....By Jim Thomas.


Most of the trade are completely unaware just what lies in store for us in the new year. The majority believe what they are fed by the Vichy trade press, which purveys the myth that everything is in hand and under control. Truth is, we are in dire straits and it's not going to get any better by carrying on regardless.

Most subscribers to trade representative bodies haven't got a clue what's going on and to be honest, don't really care. 

A short while ago the trade received a wake up call from the most important tool we have ever seen, the United Cabbies News. Sadly, because of the general apathy and lack of support, this publication was consigned to the annals of history and now sadly along with it, the United Cabbies Group. Remember my prediction from last year: "When the final battle comes, there will be no one left to lead the fightback".


So, what went wrong:
Our licensing authority (TfL) have for some time, been running an agenda towards harmonising both Private Hire and Hackney Carriage. Project Horizon (incorporating the STaN Agenda) has been implemented over the last ten years or so, in a number of separate phases. 

Horizon covers a multitude of strategies which also include cutting back TfL staff to the bone, selling off TfL property and outsourcing many departments workloads.

Current phases have seen the lowing of our standards, while giving our competitors more and more respectability. Previously, our trade leaders did nothing as suburban ranks were given away to PH. This was followed by a major expansion of licence variations (satellite offices). Uniformed cab enforcement, replaced by compliance with no powers, plus TfL/LTPH showed a total disregard to enforcement of illegal plying for hire. Testament to this is the fact that since TfL took control of Licensing Taxis from the Met, there has been just one conviction for this offence. 

We have seen many venues where minicabs are allowed to openly flout the law, forming unlawful ranks, illegally plying for hire and touting. Some PH companies rarely dispatch work in the traditional manner. They operate solely from venues, with clipboard Johnnies feeding illegal rolling ranks. This factor alone has seen the number of serious sexual assaults in unbooked minicabs go through the roof. Police estimates put this figure at around 25 such attacks weekly. Victims are seen by the authority as collateral damage.

But to find the tipping point for our troubled future, we must look at what happened with the Olympic issue.
TfL used anti terrorist legislation to stop mass demonstrations and sidelined our trade at venues, moving Taxi ranks out of sight.
They then heavily promoted private hire, giving them waiting areas outside exits. Research by Westminster City Council has previously shown that passengers leaving events will get into the first mode of transport they see waiting outside the exit when leaving.

Along with being hidden away, we were also banned from the Olympic road network. The reason, simply because of demands from sponsors who didn't want to compete with liveried Taxis. 

A minority stood up and demonstrated against the attack, but the major representative groups refused to get involved for fear of being black balled from the prestigious emgagement policy, another stroke of genius from the men in grey suits at Blackfriars.



The Olympic issue could have easily been won, as was the case in Sydney and Beijing, which saw just threats of mass demonstrations by their united trades, winning the day.

We've seen what can be achieved only recently, by our French colleagues in Paris. With just the mention of a demonstration their demands were met in full. Basically because the authority in Paris know the French taxi drivers would stand united.

Once TfL saw the piss poor resistance to their Olympic proposals they knew the Taxi trade could be defeated on every level.

The solidarity this trade enjoyed in the 70's and 80's, simply fell by the wayside, being replaced by decades of general apathy.
Most of today's drivers are oblivious to the successes gained by our trade when, under leadership from the Transport and General workers union (now Unite),we won various issues against a similar onslaught from the GLC. 

Over the years, perceived militant action has been bought off in secret meetings, with private contracts, offers of highly paid marshalling jobs and more recently, continued inclusion to the inner circle of engagement.

During the Olympics, the carrot dangled on a stick (better known as the Cabbies Cabinet), was waved in front of the last few dissenters standing. 
We were informed of the possibility of an elected representative on the board of TfL to complement the Mayors appointed advisor.
We were told: "Do you want to be confined to the outside pissing in, or would you rather be on the inside pissing out?"
Promises, that later proved to be complete lies.

Now, having served its purpose, LTPH is kicked into touch.
The lines between us and PH have been purposely blurred, with entrepreneurs from within our own trade, building financial empires working alongside the competition. Worst of all, the general state of apathy, which plagues the vast majority of the rank and file, has been instilled and kept alive by selected, sanitised trade press. 

How do we move forward?
The parasites have to be removed before we can get anything near unity. Their trolls infiltrate blogs, forums, cab shelters and meetings like a virus, spreading lies and perpetuating the myth that "all's well".

At present, the trade orgs currently available to us, offer little or no solution. Most are run for the self-gratification of the chosen few. Unless the membership of these benign trade bodies stand up and demand action, it's all over bar the shouting.


Project Horizon, spawned the award winning STaN report.
The STaN Agenda....was totally ignored and unchallenged by the trade.
We then saw the emergence of Satellite offices....these went unchallenged.
Next came the proliferation of clipboard johnnies, resurrected from a seedy past, supported by minicab marshals....they also went unchallenged. 

The begining of the end.
Now TfL's legal department have stated PH can legally wait to become hired outside venues....so far as we know, this has also been unchallenged. 

Yes we have had a decent year
Yes the work levels have been good throughout the recession
But it's all about to change, with a new set of rules, put in place by the insistence of large transport groups owned by vast multi-nation financial institutions. 
The writing has been on the wall for some time, the clues are all there. You don't have to be a genius, apathy rules and in the world of the blind, the man with only one eye is king.

It's not hard to defeat an army who won't fight back.
Our complete demise has only been held back by a few active militants. 
As a great man once said:
"Never has so much been owed, by so many, to so few". 
But the few are getting fewer by the week.

And who really is to blame for all this?
It's YOU, the driver who can't be bothered.
It's YOU, who continue to pay subscriptions without question.
It's YOU, the "I'm all right jacks" of the trade.

While this situation remains, TfL will piss all over us and we will have no hope.

Yes the UCG came close, but collapsed. 
Basically because YOU never gave them the support needed to finish the job.

What does the future hold for the trade?
In 2014, the true fate of our trade will emerge.

PH sharing our major ranks, using wheelchair accessible vehicles, plus our sole right to ply for hire, the reason we spend on average 44 months "doing the knowledge"will soon be gone forever.

Steve McNamara, vice general secretary of the LTDA when asked to meet the RMT and discuss a united trade action plan said;
"We don't see the same dangers in the law commission as you" 
But at least he replied, unlike the LCDC and Unite, who just ignored the invite.  

Addison Lee are about to replace their fleet of Ford Galaxys with Wheelchair accessible (WAV) Mercedes Vitos. Cheaper than their Taxi counterpart, because they don't have to meet the same strict conditions of fitness (RWS)
Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat, are currently in talks to take TfL to the European Court in their bid to introduce their vehicles into the London market. 


Geely's will soon be launching the PH version of its TX4. 
The distinction between taxis and minicabs will be diminished.

One myth that needs dispelling, is that PH companies don't want their drivers to be able to ply for hire, as they can't make money out of that.
Many PH companies already operate solely from their vehicles plying for hire outside clubs and bars. Most of the larger PH companies are in the process of moving over to rental and leasing services. PH owner-driver circuits are gradually disappearing, being bought up by the bigger boys in the business. 

We now have companies that have hundreds, even thousands of vehicles, where once minicab firms were considered large, if they had a couple of dozen drivers at their disposal.

If this were more than a myth, Com Cab, Dial a Cab and Radio Taxis would have disappeared years ago. They've had no problem with their drivers plying for hire. 

The die has been cast and deals has been done.
Griffin and sons are no longer major players after selling control of their companies to the Carlyle Group, who in preparation for the Law Commission proposals, are presently buying up PH operators all over the country, to form a nationwide network. 
Do they know something we don't know?

We've been informed that the Law Commission (LC) mean to introduce a national standard for PH and that plying for hire is not to be defined in law and current restrictions on cross border hirings will be dropped nationally.
Why do you think the LC didn't published their draft proposals earlier in December?

It's the lemmings who will be the first ones jumping up and down screaming "why did no one do anything".

The answer is they did............the truth is, it's YOU that let them down.

This from our Liverpool colleagues:
THE LIVERPOOL HACKNEY AND PRIVATE HIRE TRADE ARE BEGINNING THE FIGHT BACK WITH THIER UNPRECEDENTED VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE, AND THE RESPONSE FROM THE COUNCIL HAS SO FAR BEEN PROMISING 

The Liverpool cab and private hire trade have begun operation clearout, which will see the perpetrators of underinsured operators pushed back beyond the city boundaries, those scabs who steal our work don't like the truth to be told 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cambridge Council Plan To End Taxi Over-Ranking, Not with Threats, But With A Feeder Rank.

An end to taxi congestion in central Cambridge could be in sight as a new trial gets under way.



New signs have been installed which allow the rank in Drummer Street to be used as a feeder for the main rank in St Andrew’s Street – where there have long been complaints about cabs causing obstructions by queuing beyond the approved bay.


At first, closing the St Andrew’s Street rank to ease disruption was suggested but more than 600 people signed a petition opposing this, amid fears elderly shoppers could not walk to Drummer Street.


Following this, the feeder plan was drawn up and, while it has been welcomed by hackney carriage drivers, they have warned there is still a need to provide more space for taxis in the city centre – warning that ‘over-ranking’ in Drummer Street could be the next problem.


Cllr Ian Bates, the county council’s cabinet member for planning, said using Drummer Street was a good solution.

He said: “For a long time people have told us they want improvements to the traffic flow and safety on St Andrew’s Street.

“It is one of the busiest streets in Cambridge and is really important to our local economy. Many people visit the city to use the shops and facilities around this area.


“We have listened to what the people here want, and I am pleased we have been able to provide a system that is beneficial for all.”

The £30,000 project, which was supported by 78 per cent of people in a consultation, was funded by the Government.


Taxis will still be available directly from the Drummer Street rank, which can offer a cheaper trip for passengers heading south.



David Wratten, chairman of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, which represents the trade, said the changes were much-needed – although he cautioned more still needed to be done.


He said: “I’m delighted to see this idea come to life. For a long time we’ve wanted to get a solution to the bottle-necking of traffic in this incredibly busy area.”


At first, the feeder rank is operating on a month-long trial, from 9am to 9pm.

After this, the council and drivers will agree how it should work permanently.


Cllr Ed Cearns, who represents Market, said: “We will need to closely monitor the trial, but the scheme has the potential to make the city centre a better experience for all.”



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Message to The Best Taxi Service In The World, From Sir Peter Hendy.

By now, everyone who used our template to email Hendy and Co will have recieved this reply, posted below.

Not only has Leon Daniels failed to answer any of the questions, he has made a statement which shows just what our licensing authority think of us.

Daniels said "We have in fact identified a small number of cases where, had we issued temporary licences in the absence of DBS checks, it would have resulted in TfL licensing drivers with the types of criminal records that would have prevented them from holding a licence."

Temporary licences are just that Leon, temporary.
Your belligerent stance is causing great hardship to too many drivers, can you not see this?
We are talking about given every driver the chance to carry on working while the checks are made. A system that has always worked well in the past.
It is not the trade's fault that the subcontractors chosen to carry out these checks are woefully incompetent. 

No system is 100% fool proof. If a driver is found to have committed any offence that would prevent him/her being relicensed, then he/she could be denied a renewal. 
Surely common sense?
Innocent until proven guilty, the basis of British law.

Apparently, in Hendy's eyes we are all possible of committing heinous crimes while waiting for licence renewals, not worthy of having our previous good character being taken into account and are all guilty until we categorically prove ourselves innocent.

It seems quite ok for the TfL Commissioner to surf adult websites and dabble with highly paid sextrade workers, yet should a Taxi driver become involved with any form of prostitution, they would have their licence revoked as not being a fit and proper person.

TfL have shown no mercy to drivers and their families who at present, are off work and experiencing serious financial difficulty. 

The man who last year earned more than the President of United States, says he cannot issue you a temporary licence, incase while waiting for the CRB check, drivers commit heinous acts of raping and pillaging. 
This is Hendy's opinion of London's Licensed Taxi Trade?


Merry Christmas Sir Peter. Hope you and Sue can pay your mortgage in January 2014.



Below is Hendy's reply, penned (allegedly) by Leon Daniels. 

Dear Mr Thomas,

 

Thank you for your email to the Commissioner, Sir Peter has asked that I respond on his behalf.

 

I am aware of the impact that the delays in the Home Office’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checking system are having on taxi drivers and understand the difficulties faced by drivers unable to work.

 

TfL and the Mayor have made strenuous efforts at Ministerial level to get the situation resolved as quickly as possible. We also took the decision to start issuing license renewal packs to drivers four months in advance of drivers' licenses expiring. Since October, the number of outstanding disclosure applications from London taxi drivers renewing their licences has significantly decreased. The DBS now reports that the number of such applications that have been with them for more than 45 days has reduced by 60 per cent. We will continue to work with the Home Office and the DBS to reduce all the backlogs further and eliminate the risk of taxi drivers not being able to work.  

 

TfL has made the decision that we must be fully aware of a driver’s criminal history before issuing a license, on the grounds of public safety. We have in fact identified a small number of cases where, had we issued temporary licences in the absence of DBS checks, it would have resulted in TfL licensing drivers with the types of criminal records that would have prevented them from holding a licence.

 

I hope you find this helpful.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Leon Daniels

Managing Director – Surface Transport

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Thomas [mailto:thomasthetaxi@googlemail.com
Sent: 19 December 2013 01:06
To: Hendy Peter (TfL)
Cc: Daniels Leon; Gareth Thomas; Navin Shah;Caroline.Pidgeon@london.gov.uk
Subject: Drivers renewals delays, causing financial hardship.




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Real Dangers Of Cross Boarder Hirings.

Liverpool taxi drivers blast council over out-of-town firms

Cabbies say out-of-town firms are stealing trade from Liverpool drivers and are planning a no confidence vote in licensing bosses.


 Liverpool cabbies are to take a vote of no confidence in council taxi licensing bosses over the amount of trade they’re losing to out-of-town firms.

Hackney and private hire drivers said they were losing up to 70% of their business to firms licensed outside the city boundary, but that the council was not doing enough to crack down on out-of-town cab companies which they said should not be operating in Liverpool.

But the council claimed it was doing its best to enforce against drivers and firms breaking the rules, and Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said he wanted customers to use city firms instead of out-of-town firms like Delta.

The council said the law made it difficult to stop firms like Sefton-based Delta from doing business in the city.

On a petition being distributed among the city’s 6,000 hackney and private drivers, the Liverpool Taxi Alliance states: “Our trade morale has now arrived at its lowest, taxi and private hire drivers have lost all quality of family life, some are depressed and suffer stress related illnesses, sometimes up to 80 hours a week to make ends meet.

“It is about time that Liverpool City Council viewed all those taxi and private hire drivers who pay fees ... as honourable custodians of the trade, who deserve help in safeguarding the trade and our jobs.”

Spokesman for the Liverpool Taxi Alliance Jimmy Bradley told the ECHO: “Most taxi drivers are now relying on working tax credits, drivers who are going out of their way to work 50 to 80 hours a week need the government to help them pay the bills.”

He added there were times drivers themselves were having to point out to  enforcement officers what the rules were, and that “the rules seem to be being made up as they  go along.”

A council spokesman said the authority was putting more resources into enforcement in order to protect the trade of legitimate, licensed drivers.

He added: “We are working closely with taxi driver representatives and UNITE to tackle the issues they are concerned about. We have doubled the size of our enforcement team over the  last year and they now work overnight to deal with issues when pubs and clubs close.

"Over the  past two months alone we have issued a total of 78 summons, written cautions and fixed  penalties tickets to drivers found to be flouting the law and carried out enforcement operations in  partnership with Merseyside Police every single weekend in the city centre and at football  matches. 

“The number of hackney ranks in the city centre has been increased, including a double lane  super-rank on Victoria Street which is marshalled at weekends, and we have also improved signage.”

Mayor Joe Anderson added: “We are restricted and constrained by the law in what we can do  but, as far as I’m concerned I want everyone in Liverpool to use Liverpool registered taxis and  private hire companies.”

Paul McLoughlin, boss of Sefton-registered Delta Taxis, said the rules meant that as long as  the driver, vehicle and operator were all licensed in the same borough, they could operate anywhere in the UK.

The firm this year is on target to have taken 10m bookings, double the nearest competitor in the UK and second only to a firm in Singapore.

He added: “As far as we are concerned, the council’s doing a fantastic job, everything the law requires, but it’s the city taxi drivers who want to take the law back 100 years.

“If other firms invested the same in technology and training as we do then they might have the same success.”

Source: the Liverpool Echo.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Press Release : Hyde Park Winter Wonderland will be closed on Monday 23/12/2013 Due to possible extreme weather conditions.


Due to the forecasted severe weather conditions of high winds and extreme rain predicted for London tomorrow, PWR Events and The Royal Parks have taken the decision to close Hyde Park Winter Wonderland on Monday the 23 December for the whole day.


All ticket holders for the Lycamobile Ice Rink, Zippos Circus, Magical Ice Kingdom and the Giant Observation Wheel will be refunded for Monday.


PWR Events are  very sorry for the inconvenience caused, but Hyde Park Winter Wonderland will be open as usual again on Tuesday 24thDecember at 10am .


Posted by Peter Reeves, City of Westminster, Contingency Planning Team

Message sent at December 22, 2013 20:49

Saturday, December 21, 2013

News flash: POSSIBLE 5 YEAR EXTENSION TO 15 YEAR AGE LIMIT.


It is heavily rumoured that during January, TFL are to announce that they are to allow a new exhaust system ( VORTEX ) to be fitted to cabs about to be removed from service which are subject to the fifteen year age limit.

By all accounts it will be a complete exhaust system and is said to cost around £2000.
It is believed that this new system will give an additional five years life.

The new Vortex exhaust has been tested for the last year by Mag Diesels of Brixton, they have had the system fitted to three different cabs and it has passed Euro 5 emission standards, Mags Diesel have recently been told by TFL that the new exhaust system is to be allowed.

Source: London Taxi Drivers Forum.


http://www.vortex-performance-exhausts.co.uk

Editorial Comment:
According to reports a taxi company in Tilbury who had 36 cabs fitted with Vortex Eco-Flo System at a cost of £32,490 found that through Vortex they could get a possible European Regional Funded grant towards the cost and was referred to Low Carbon Business, who assisted them with the ERDF grant application.

The grant was approved and they were reimbursed 40% of the cost. 

Even without the grant the quote is still a lot less than £2000. 
Anybody with a 15 year old cab would be a fool not to make enquiries particularly as Tilbury Taxis has set a precedent, endorsed by their town’s Mayor".

Also while on this subject, the Mayor has made it clear that he wants a Zero Emmission Zone in the Congestion Charge area by 2020.
As of yet he has made no mention of an exception for Taxis.
So, where does that leave a driver who buys a new Euro 5 TX4 in the new year.
Will this new vehicle only have a working life span of 6 years?

One for our trade orgs to sort out....don't hold your breath!

Friday, December 20, 2013

More than 30 injured' after bus crash in south London

Bus swerved to avoid vehicle and crashed into a tree
Last updated Fri 20 Dec 2013


A double decker route 59 bus swerved to avoid another vehicle and hit a tree, Transport for London said.

Mike Weston, TfL's Director for Buses, said an investigation will be carried out as a matter of urgency.

At around 10:50 today a route 59 double deck bus, operated by Arriva, swerved to avoid another vehicle and struck a tree.

The incident took place on Kennington Road near the Imperial War Museum SE1.

Our first concern is, of course, for the driver, passengers and others involved in this incident and we can confirm the emergency services are in attendance.

There will be a thorough investigation into this incident as a matter of urgency.



METROPOLITAN POLICE STATEMENT
Police were called at 10:52hrs on Friday, 20 December, to reports of a bus in collision with a tree in Kennington Road, SE11.

Police and London Ambulance Service attended the scene along with London's Air Ambulance (HEMS).

A number of people have been injured; we await a full assessment.

At present, 23 people are described as walking wounded.

Seven people are still being assessed, of who two remain trapped on the bus.

At this stage, there has been no fatality.

There was no police vehicle involved in the collision. Two uniformed police officers were travelling on the bus, both were injured, we await further details.

Traffic officers are at the scene.

There has been no arrest.


Wonder If The Mayor And TfL Will Subsidise This Folly, Like The Buses?...Is Boris Off His Trolly?



Boris Johnson has been given an exclusive preview - and impromptu ‘roadtest’ - of a ‘clean’ new electric-powered black cab planned to revolutionise travel in the capital next year.
Designed and built in Britain, the all-new zero-emission Range-Extended Electric Metrocab (REE) runs on a powerful, near-silent electric motor.

Drivers will be able to slash their running costs by charging the taxi’s lithium-ion polymer batteries at home on a standard three-pin plug, or by topping up at designated charging posts around London.

Even on long runs the new-generation Metrocab will never run out of electricity: its bank of batteries will also be re-charged by a small ‘range-extender’ petrol engine shoehorned under the bonnet. The engine kicks in to generate fresh electricity when the batteries become depleted.

The Metrocab’s makers - Ecotive, and Frazer-Nash Research based at Mytchett, in Surrey - claim their new taxi will drive down costs for drivers while delivering enhanced comfort and performance.

They say it is ‘street ready’ and that it will undergo trials in London early next year. If it proves successful it will go on sale in 2014 for the same price as the rival diesel-powered TX-4 cab that is produced in Coventry, with parts from China, by the Geely Group. The Metrocab would become the first electric cab on sale in London.
It was unveiled to Mr Johnson at a car park near City Hall last night.

Apparently, Boris couldn’t resist jumping in and driving it around the carpark to see what it was like. He was accompanied in the cab by Frazer-Nash chairman Kamal Siddiqi.

Metrocab chairman, Sir Charles Masefield: “ The Metrocab is designed as the next-generation taxi and represents a revolution in the market as the first electric-powered cab to meet the duty cycle of a London taxi, where cabbies typically drive many miles outside the city, making pure electric cars impractical with current technology and infrastructure.

“Ready now, our ... technology offers the solution London and other world-class cities are looking for.”

Power will be delivered to the vehicle’s rear wheels from two electric motors. Its makers claim that the passenger compartment, with seating for six, has generous ‘panoramic’ glazing for good views out. They says it has increased luggage space compared with the previous, discontinued Metrocab, and full disabled access. Metrocab will reveal further details next year when London trials begin, but say the vehicle fully complies with Public Carriage Office rules, including the tight turning circle required for the capital.

Frazer-Nash has developed electric and hybrid-electric drivetrains for quarter of a century. It was an Official Vehicle Partner with its fleets of electric vehicles to the Olympic Games in Sydney and the Commonwealth Games.
 
Editorial Comment:
Begs lots of Questions such as:

Just what is the maximum distance this vehicle can achieve?

How will having the heater, windscreen wipers, Radio, phone charger and headlights on together affect the vehicles overall radius?

What if you live in a tower block in Stepney, how do you charge it overnight?

How often during a shift will you have to stop to top up batteries?

How long does the battery lack last?

How much are the battles packs to replace?

Will we have to lease/rent battery packs?

How fast do the batteries degrade with frequent charging?

Will TfL subsidise the cost of the vehicle, as they do with bus companies?

Is this just another foolish folly, in the same vein as Boris bikes and Cable cars, that Boris expects us to pick up the tab for?

Source: Standard on line.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Years Resolution: Lets Get Together And Hold TfL To Account.....by P Bond

I see the chairman of the LCDC has written to Hendy complaining that the trade has no one to 'engage with' on Taxi matters.

The LCDC served their purpose and kept the trade from playing its golden ticket over the Olympics and now surprise surprise, TfL treat the LCDC as the irrelevance that organisation has become!

Pity he did not write to Hendy demanding TfL to issue temporary licences so cab drivers of good standing can get back to work.

Yes there can be delays about CRB but that was always dealt with by the issue of a cover note from the PCO, it's entirely lawful for TfL to issue them today.

They issue PH licences to those who have lived outside the UK where no such CRB. System exists.

Asking for another carefully selected talking shop is ducking the real issues that confront us and that why the LCDC are irrelevant as any such talks would continue to divide the trade BUT they don't have to be.

The cabbies cabinet, taxi engagement policy etc. only served TfL's ends not the trades, the failure for the cab drivers club to see that is to be criticised.

It's like campaigning for ranks, often you will have two or three trade groups and individuals pursuing the same council and TfL about the same rank issue!

All because people refuse to sit down together and pool resources.

It's a waste of effort on ALL sides and of course shows us as divided and incoherent.

There can be 100 trade bodies of all sizes but they could all meet TUC or CBI style and issue a joint statement on major issues, now that would have authority.

The alternative is we carry on as we are, more worried about claiming credit, photo calls and publishing letters about how XYZ's legal team saved a driver from the firing squad!

There are many good and dedicated people in ALL these organisations including the LTDA, UNITE, RMT, HATDU, LCDC and whoever else and none of them always get it right.


They all have in common more than the matters that divide them and that's the health of the cab trade.

So as a New Years resolution get together and hold TfL to account.

Forget who said what to who, man up!
. ...P Bond, former vice chairman RMT.

***********************************

Below is an open letter to TfL commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy.

Please copy and paste into your email client and send to:
peterhendy@tfl.gov.uk

copy in and your MP/MEP/Assembly member

**************************************



Dear Commissioner 

As you are well aware, many licensed Taxi drivers are being refused the right to carry on working, while waiting for their licence renewal to arrive on their doormat.

As yet, you have made no public statement as to why you are personally refusing to issue temporary licenses.

The process of issuing temporary licences was first implemented under Metropolitan Police administration. A process that worked extremely well for many years. In those years, London's licensed taxi drivers served the capital well. 

If you have any evidence of abuse of this system, please publish the details.

In spite of the private hire related serious sexual assault figures that according to the Mets estimates, are higher then ever recorded before, you seem content to license foreign nationals, who arrive in this country devoid of references, with no chance of checking their past. And yet drivers from the best Taxi service in the world, who have been of exemplary character are forced out of work. In some cases for up to 15 weeks. This truly is unacceptable.

The only sensible solution would be to reinstate the issuing of temporary licences as was standard before the start of this new, incompetent system. 


Will you do the honourable and sensible thing and help these unfortunate drivers and their families, who through no fault of there own have been plunged into financial difficulty in the run up to Christmas.

SIGNED ......




Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Man in his 70s dies after being hit by London taxi in Belgravia


An elderly man has died after being hit by a licensed taxi in central London.

The man, believed to be in his late 70s, suffered serious injuries after the incident at the junction of Eaton Square and Eccleston Street in Belgravia, Scotland Yard said.

Police were called to the scene at 6.45pm yesterday and the man was taken to hospital by ambulance, but later died. His next of kin is yet to be informed.

The driver of the taxi stopped at the scene but was not arrested.

Officers from the road death investigation unit are carrying out inquiries into the incident and anyone who witnessed the collision or has information is asked to call police on 0208 285 1574 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


We noticed today that the Evening Standard carried this story and yet they published not one word about a similar accident which occurred in Southwark Street SE1 last night. The incident in South London was between an Addison Lee Van and a pedestrian. 

It would seem that the Standard is very apprehensive about stories which contain Private Hire vehicles. Very often, they refer to PH wrongly as Taxis, especially when it comes to sexual attacks on passengers. 

Jack Wilshere: Arsenal player charged by FA for gesture:

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has been charged by the Football Association over an alleged abusive hand gesture.


Television pictures appeared to show the Gunners midfielder, raising a finger towards the crowd during the 6-3 defeat by Manchester City.
The incident went unnoticed by match officials but was caught on video and assessed by the FA retrospectively.
The 21-year-old has until 18:00 GMT on Wednesday to respond to the charge.

Wilshere has previous form for abusive behaviour. Back in 2011,  a taxi driver told how the Arsenal star spat at him and hurled abuse – because the cabbie had a Spurs hat on.

63 year old Brian Spence, said the £50,000-a-week England midfielder launched into a foul-mouthed rant after seeing the driver was a fan of his team’s North London rivals.


Wilshere, was on a boozy night out with three pals in London’s West End when he saw Brian standing by his cab outside Sophisticats lapdancing bar shortly after midnight.

Grandfather Brian said: “I had no idea who he was. He pointed to my cab and said, ‘You’re f***ing taking us’. When I told him he was too drunk he got even more aggressive.”

Brian of Gants Hill, North East London, got into his cab but Wilshere lurched towards the open window and spat, hitting the window.

As Brian got out again Wilshere put his fists up ready for a fight. Brian said: “He was looking at my Spurs hat and there was real hate in his eyes. Fortunately his friends pulled him away before it got really violent.”

After the bust-up, the doorman at Sophisticats told him Wilshere’s identity. The player from Hitchin, Herts, accepted a police caution after Brian reported him.

The taxi driver said: “Wilshere’s behaviour is the worst I’ve ever seen in my 38 years as a cabbie. No one deserves to be spat at because of the team they support.”

A family spokesman said: “Jack is only 19 (in 2011) and adjusting to life in the spotlight. He realises his behaviour was wrong and he is full of remorse”.

A spokesman from Arsenal later added: “Jack apologises for his actions and understands his behaviour was unacceptable. We take this matter seriously and it has been dealt with internally.”