Saturday, May 31, 2014

LTDA To Take Out Summonses Against 6 Uber Drivers.

According to their twitter page, yesterday Friday the 30th of May, the LTDA formally applied for summonses against 6 uber drivers for offences under the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.


The LTDA have stated from day one, that the demo to be held on June 11th is not about the Uber issue. It's solely about the incompetent administration of the a Taxi and Private hire industries by TfL. Uber is just a small part of their incompetence.

However, TfL's PR department has gone into melt down. 

The worlds media have been fed story after story about how the "Greedy London Cabbies" are up in arms at a bit of competition from a TfL stakeholder. 

The media in the United States are all carrying stories of how the London Taxi drivers are going to bring London to its knees because they don't like the heat of competition from the billion dollar backed American company, who's business is registered in the tax heaven of Holland. 

Our own press are full of the same type of stories, plus BBC, ITV and LBC are all going with the Uber theme to the June Demo.

Not one story in any form of media, has gone with the truth.

TfL have decided to defuse the situation by asking a high court judge to define the meaning of the word "Taximeter".

Why wasn't this done when Uber first applied for an operators licence two years ago? 

Suddenly, after news of a Taxi Trade demonstration, TfL now need a judge to give them a definition, of a word they have been using in respect of the administration of the Private Hire Act for the passed 14 years. 

Are TfL now a Licensing Authority with no authority?
Are they finally admitting the the Private a Hire Act 1998 is unclear and unenforceable? 

Thinking that this action could take years to come to fruition, they now believe this should be enough to defer any impending demo and have asked the LTDA to postpone any action until after a legally binding judgement has been made.

                  Well think again TfL


The demo was never about Uber
It has always been about TfL's incompetent administration and the fact they are totally failing taxi and private hire drivers, plus putting public safety at risk on a daily basis.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: An authority, out of control?
Let's just remind ourselves that back in 2007 when satellite offices first became common place, head of Cab Enforecment Unit Joe Royal state that in his opinion these new licences were unenforceable. 
And with the benefit of hindsight, Joe was bang on the button.

Why was the need for planning permission for PH operators licences dropped?
Why was TfL's policy in respect of the acquisition of licence variation changed in 2012? 
Allowing operators to recieve multiple licences without the requirement of being in business for a minimum of one year.

Why were Uber granted a Private Hire licence having no landline facility for taking booking?
Did a TfL compliance team check out Uber's facilities before granting the licence?

Why have TfL cut enforcement manpower to the bone?
Why have TfL adopted a blind eye attitude to illegal plying for hire?

Questions that need to be addressed.

As always, space will be made available on this blog, should TfL wish to answer these questions.



Friday, May 30, 2014

UBER'S CEO is raising money to fight the "Asshole" Taxi industry.

In an interview in the US, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick referred to Taxis as "Assholes". He also said that Taxis were " Dark, Dangerous and Evil".

“We’re in a political campaign, and the candidate is Uber and the opponent is an asshole named Taxi,” Kalanick said. “Nobody likes him, he’s not a nice character, but he’s so woven into the political machinery and fabric that a lot of people owe him favors.”

Think Uber’s going to take the high road? 
No such luck. The company is looking to hire a senior executive who has run political campaigns, or who has run cities, Kalanick said. “We have to bring out the truth about how dark and dangerous and evil the taxi side is.”

The Mayor Boris Johnson, has also defended Uber saying they knock Hailo into a cocked hat. When told about the reaction of Taxi trades around the world he said: 
"It seems we have another peasants revolt, wielding their cudgels".

Is this how the Mayor views the "Best Taxi Service In The World", as no more than peasants?

Last night on BBC radio London, TfL's Leon Daniels sickeningly defended the controversial actions of Uber. 
A company which never should have been licensed in the first place.
A company that did not meet with all conditions required by the Private Hire Vehicles act 1998.
A company that had no landline to take bookings
A company that had no Central London base which recorded all booking details, ready for inspection by compliance teams. 
A company who's drivers illegally use a Taximeter to calculate fares.

It's also wrong to say no other company would have received a licence to operate without meeting the conditions of the 1998 act, because they have. And Taxi Leaks has proved this.

TfL are not fit for purpose.

EDITORIAL COMMENR:
It's not what's true, is what people believe is true that matters

Uber say their drivers smart phones are not a meter
TfL defend the use of Uber's smart phones saying in their opinion, they are not a meter.

The Taxi trade say Uber's smart phones are being used as a Taxi meter

So what do the public think.
It's obvious that the public believe Uber cars use a Taxi meter. Pricing calculated on time and distance, exactly what a Taximeter is used for. 


Young woman sexually assaulted by what she thought was a minicab.

A 21-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in Aldershot after she got into a car that she thought was a taxi.

The victim left The Funky End pub on Friday 23rd May at 2am and was standing on a traffic island in Station Road for about 30 minutes.

At around 2.30am, the woman then got into a dark-coloured car which she believed was a minicab.

She was then driven away to Station Road and was then seriously sexually assaulted.

The woman was later seen on foot at Aldershot Train Station at about 3.30am.

We are extremely keen to hear from anyone who may have seen this woman in the early hours of Saturday or anyone who has information which could help this investigation.

Make sure you look after your friends and use licensed taxis when you need to travel home."

– CHIEF INSPECTOR ANNABEL BERRY

Also in the news earlier this week.

Rapist jailed eight years after attack through DNA match following minicab touting arrest.



Mohammed Kobir Ahmed aged 34, from Seyssel Street, London, E14 has been found guilty of rape and sentenced to six years in prison after his DNA was matched to an offence he committed eight years ago.

​In 2005 the City of London Police investigated a rape after a woman was assaulted in the Cannon Street area in the Square Mile. Officers exhausted all leads but were unable to find a match for the suspects DNA taken from the victim.​​​

However, eight years later investigating officers were sent a DNA match report after a man was arrested in 2013 for a minicab touting offence in the West End. This was enough evidence to arrest Ahmed on suspicion of rape.

When asked about the offence, Ahmed denied the allegation of rape and stated that he had only ever had sexual intercourse with his wife and had no knowledge of Cannon Street in the City of London.

Officers then searched his property finding documents evidencing that he was working as a restaurant owner near Cannon Street when the offence occurred.

Detective Constable Nicola Allen from the forces Major Investigation Team said:

“The success of this investigation owes a huge debt to old fashioned detective work by a committed team, but also to the advancement of DNA profiling.

It sends a strong message to those committing sexual offences that they will be found no matter how long it may take.”

He was later found guilty of rape at the Old Bailey on 16 May 2014.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Taxi drivers are stripping fare dodgers and covering them with blue paint

Some cabbies in Russia have taken the issue of fare dodgers into their own hands and are forcing them to cover themselves in blue paint.

The taxi drivers force the dodgers to strip, cover themselves in blue paint, and stick a sign on their backs before releasing them onto the streets.

These drivers from the western Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod are being hailed by cabbies across Russia as heroes, but many in the city have described them as hooligans and vigilantes.

This rather drastic move was inspired by an epidemic of fee dodgers trying to get free rides across the city.

A few painted victims have protested against this form of punishment after being forced to run home naked covered only in smeared pigment.

It seems two wrongs do not make a right even if stripped and doused in blue paint.


source: http://metro.co.uk/

When Is A Minicab, Not A Minicab? When It's Avoiding Congestion Charge.

Boris puts up Congestion Charge And Goes After Non-Payments From Forgein Embassies.

But some motorists are fighting back. Many have registered their vehicles as Private Hire Cars and avoid paying a weekly £70 in congestion charges. 
As TfL do not check to see if the vehicle is being used for the purpose it is licensed, the scam is flourishing.

We expect to see a lot more vehicles licensed as minicabs after the news Boris was to increase the congestion charge, to pay for a new cycling superhighway.

                     

Boris himself has a history when it comes to non payment of the congestion charge:
Before his election to the Mayors office, Boris agreed to test drive the Kia on behalf of the Guardian newspaper. After test driving a Kia Picanto for five days, it transpired Boris had accrued five London congestion charge fines.

Boris eventually left the car outside the paper’s London HQ, Grays Inn Road, where it was ticketed, clamped and finally towed away.

This from the Mail Online 3 June 2011:
Fans of London mayor Boris Johnson applaud his gumption in tackling President Obama (during the state visit) about the U.S. Embassy’s £5.5million of unpaid London congestion charges. 

But What Do They a Think Of Boris At Kia The Korean Carmaker? 
Six years ago, after test driving a Kia Picanto for The Guardian, Boris clocked up five London congestion charges. 

Then he left the car outside the paper’s London HQ, where it was ticketed, clamped and towed away. 

A Kia source said: ‘This cost us the best part of £500. He drove it into town every day, didn’t bother paying the congestion charges, then dumped it.’


TfL Go To High Court Over Taximeter v SmartPhone Issue.


           STATEMENT FROM TfL:

Transport for London (TfL), which regulates and licenses the taxi and private hire trades in the capital in the interests of passengers, is to invite the High Court to rule on whether smart phones that use GPS technology to measure the time and distance of a journey and then receive information about fares comply with current law on 'taximeters', which can only be used in London by taxis.

The rapid pace at which smart phone based technology has been developing in recent years has led to a need for clarity about what is required in order for apps to comply with the regulatory framework in London and to ensure there is a level playing field for all operators.

TfL has listened to the taxi and private hire trades, sought to address the concerns raised, and is taking the following action:

· To avoid any future ambiguity, TfL will hold a consultation with the trades on what amendments may be necessary to the regulations on recording particulars of private hire bookings, including journey destinations, to keep them clear and relevant in a changing world and to promote public safety.

· TfL set out its provisional view that smart phones used by private hire drivers – which act as GPS tracking devices to measure journey distances and time taken, and relays information so that fares can be calculated remotely from the vehicle – do not constitute the equipping of a vehicle with a ‘taximeter’.

· However, given the level of concern among the trade, and the fact that some of the legislation in this area is unclear and able to be interpreted in various ways, TfL is to invite the High Court to give a binding determination on this issue.

· TfL has carried out its largest ever compliance investigation - scrutinising Uber’s record keeping and business model. TfL has found that Uber meets the current requirements on record keeping, including in relation to ensuring its drivers hold the relevant licenses and insurance. TfL remains concerned about certain technical aspects of Uber’s operating model and this is being addressing with the operator.

This wide range of action by TfL is designed to ensure that taxi and private hire passengers can benefit from new technology whilst being assured that the highest safety standards are being maintained.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said:
“We welcome developments that make life easier for passengers. As in many other areas of transport and retail services, apps can offer passengers the potential of better and more convenient services, but we must ensure that the highest standards of safety are being met.

“We have carried out the largest compliance operation in our history to ensure that the highest standards are being maintained. More needs to be done. We will consult with the trades to ensure the regulations are kept up-to-date. On the issue of taximeters, the law is unclear and we have taken a provisional view. We will be asking the High Court to provide a binding ruling. This is the sensible approach, and we hope that London's taxi drivers and private hire drivers and operators will work with us to bring clarity on this issue.


EDITORIAL COMMENT:
Irrespective of the court’s judgement, it’s unlikely to appease London’s Taxi drivers and their representative orgs, who clearly feel it’s one rule for them in terms of confirming to acquire the necessary license to run a Taxi, and another rule for the likes of Uber.

Last night after hearing the news that TfL were taking the issue to court, the consensus of opinion of many Taxi drivers was that if there were no threat by the trade to bring London to gridlock, TfL would not be going to court.

The planned Demonstration on the 11th June is not about Uber, but the escalating drop in standards and complete incompetence by this licensing authority.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Your chance to ask Boris why he has decimated the London Taxi trade?


London's Taxi Drivers, you now have a  chance to question the Mayor, Boris Johnson, about his process of decimating the London taxi trade at the 2014 State of London Debate.

This year’s debate will take place at 7pm on June 25th at the O2 in Greenwich, with LBC’s Nick Ferrari putting audience members questions to the Mayor.

This is a perfect opportunity to put Boris on the spot. 

Would also be a perfect opportunity for disgruntled Taxi drivers to protest. 

Tickets are free but attendees must register in advance, >either online: Click here< or by calling 020 7983 4762.




It's got harder to get A Hailo cab: .....from the Evening Standard Letters Page

As an IT specialist I consider halo a well-designed app and have been using it regularly for the past seven months

This morning at St Pancras, following Hailo's announcement that it is to take business from private hire cars and reported mass defections by black cabs drivers, there were no Taxis showing on the map in the locality.

Despite hailing a cab with the app on three occasions it couldn't link me up. Forth time lucky, but the cab had to come from Faringdon, 11 minutes away, twice the usual waiting time.

It's a poor business strategy by Hailo. 
Black cabs exude an air of trust and deep knowledge of London, what mini cab driver would know where the only Nazi Dog memorial in London is?

There are many different ways to book minicabs. Hailo has managed to shrink its driver base and tarnish its reputation in a matter of days.

Harry Brayford


Uber hits back at London critics, says it gives ‘consumers more choiceand drivers better futures’

With just over two weeks before a planned protest by London taxi drivers, Uber has issued a statement defending the way its private car service is operated in the capital.

“London cabbies are iconic – arguably the best taxis in the world,” Rose Johnson, marketing and community manager for Uber said. “However, there is room for all and there is room for more and better. We are bringing competition to an industry that hasn’t evolved in years.”

The London Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) has taken issue with the way Uber calculates its fares. The company is licensed as a private hire operator in the UK which, unlike the taxi industry, means they’re banned from using meters.

Uber negotiates passenger payments through its smartphone app, but, in addition to the hardware used inside the vehicle, there’s confusion around whether the set up should be classified as a ‘meter’.

“The driver uses a specific device,” Steve McNamara, general secretary of the LTDA said in a recent interview. “It’s not an app on a smartphone. It’s a specific device that’s programmed to be a meter.”



Transport for London (TfL) has already published fresh guidance around the use of smartphone apps by private hire operators such as Uber. “Smartphones used by private hire drivers – which act as GPS tracking devices to measure journey distances and relay information so that fares can be calculated remotely from the vehicle – do not constitute the equipping of a vehicle with a taxi meter.”

The LTDA also argues that all of Uber’s drivers should be licensed – not just the company itself. In an interview with Wired, McNamara compared the situation to buying a saucepan with PayPal. Customers are buying the product from a seller, rather than PayPal, and the LTDA believes the same should apply for new Uber bookings. “The guy taking the booking is the operator and so needs a licence and a licensed operating centre which can’t be a car,” McNamara added.

In today’s response, Uber clarified its position: “As a licensed operator, Uber London accepts the bookings and manages the dispatch of drivers through its dispatch system, monitored and controlled by our local operations team here in London.” It then proceeded to explain the various safety features built into the app, in a bid to reassure passengers about its drivers.

“All drivers are thoroughly screened, carry full commercial insurance, and at the end of every trip, a rider anonymously rates his/her driver, to help maintain and improve the Uber experience,” Johnson argued.

Rival service Hailo was recently targeted by London protestors, following backlash against Uber in France and Belgium. Details of the demonstration in June are scarce, but it could put further pressure on TfL to clarify the regulations around services such as Uber, and in doing so threaten the way it operates.

     Source: Washington Post

EDITORIAL COMMENT:

Smart phones used by private hire drivers - which acts as a GPS tracking device to measure journey distances and relay information so that fares can be calculated is illegal, it states as much in the Private hire vehicles act 1998 section 11 subsection 3, where a clear and concise definition of taximeter is given.

Private hire vehicles act 1998

11.        Prohibition of taximeters

(1)No vehicle to which a London PHV licence relates shall be equipped with a taximeter.

(2)If such a vehicle is equipped with a taximeter, the owner of that vehicle is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(3)In this section “taximeter” means a device for calculating the fare to be charged in respect of any journey by reference to the distance travelled or time elapsed since the start of the journey (or a combination of both).


TfL's argument is that the vehicle is not equipped with a Taximeter, as it's a mobile device, it's the driver that's equipped. 

We believe this argument would not stand up in court, taking for instance the many burglars who have been prosecuted for going equipped, having had breaking and entering tools found in vehicles they have been stopped in by police. 

It's not the burglars that were equipped, as the tools could be argued are mobile and found in the vehicle.

If TfL were to win their case, then every burglar who had been found guilty of going equipped would have a case to appeal against their verdict. 

This could start a new plague of cold calls

"Good morning, going equipped lawyers for you: Have you ever been found guilty of Going Equipped? Were you in a vehicle? Then our lawyers can help you claim"


Apparently Uber Doesn't Trust Its Own Drivers!


So children traveling in an Uber Car have to be accompanied by an adult to protect them from predators. All nicely licensed by TfL.



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TaxiCab App: Statement to the trade from Alex White.



I am sure most of you are aware of the current challenges the trade faces. Basically, technology is moving forward at a much faster rate than the trade is. Due to this, a number of commercial companies are exploiting this gap in technology, e.g. Hailo, but more recently Uber and other companies.

As you may have seen, there was a significant backlash last week, when it became clear that Hailo had applied for a Private Hire licence. Please be sure that the only reason Hailo have done this, is to increase profits. They have also made it clear that they intend to offer the work to the closest taxi/mini cab when jobs come in.

Personally, I'm not sure that this will happen. Hailo make 10% from black taxis and Uber make 30% from private hire. Will Hailo be working hard to get enough Private Hire drivers on board, so they can make 30% from each journey? Only time will tell.

With all of this in mind, I have sat down with a number of like minded green badge drivers and we have made plans for an app that will compete directly against all the other apps.

These are the details:
* We have started work on an app called TaxiCab app.
* It will be a run on a "not for profit" basis.
* It will need to make money to run, covering its overheads, plus a little more to cover promotion, expansion etc. 
* The organisation will be setup so the app can never be sold to private enterprise and will be run with the primary goal of supporting the London Black Cab Trade at minimal costs to the drivers. 

We already have more than 900 followers on twitter and outside of twitter there is also a lot of interest in the app. 

Other than myself, Pete Crane (AKA PeteCee) is involved, Jamie (Owner of Sherbet Radio) is involved and Steve (@CabbieLDN) is also deeply involved. We have a number of other drivers involved as well, but these are the main people getting their hands dirty in the project. 

On twitter our account is @TaxiCabLDN. 
Please give us a follow if you use twitter (we will follow you back so we can discuss things privately if you want). We have a number of features that none of the other apps can do, because they would lose money if they did.

We are totally focused on the trade and look to promote the black taxi trade exclusively within the app. 

In the coming weeks when we hit certain milestones in the development, we will be giving out demo versions of the app. This will enable us to test some of the features. We will be doing the same with a number of drivers as well. 

The news feed for progress will be 

https://twitter.com/taxicabldn 

Some features will not be discussed in open discussions, as like most things, you can only show some features once they are ready to go and tested fully.

I can't stress this enough, we are fed up with money men coming into the trade and messing with things to turn a quick profit. 
We are hoping this app will reverse this trend. 

Alex

Monday, May 26, 2014

15 Connecticut cab companies sue to block Uber, Lyft

Richie Cassella, manager of driver services at Metro Taxi, fills one of the wheelchair-accessible taxis at the natural gas filling stations at fleet headquarters in West Haven

A coalition of 15 Connecticut cab and livery companies filed suit in federal court Wednesday to block ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft from doing business in the state.

The cab and livery companies, represented by Hartford attorney Mary Alice Moore Leonhardt, filed a 42-page complaint in U.S. District Court that contends because Uber and Lyft are Internet-based, they are putting passenger safety at risk by skirting state and federal regulations that govern the industry. Uber and Lyft arrived in parts of Connecticut, including New Haven, in April. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Thompson in Hartford, Leonhardt said.

“We wanted to get this before the court as soon as possible,” she said. “It’s possible that other companies around the state may join the case at a later date.”

The lead plaintiff in the case is Greenwich Taxi, Leonhardt said. Anthony Boskello, Greenwich Taxi’s manager, said the ride-sharing companies pose “a very serious threat to safety.”

“Because they are not regulated as we are, their cars are not properly inspected regularly to ensure they are maintained in safe operating condition,” Boskello said in a written statement. “Their drivers have very little training, if any, do not possess the certification and driver’s licenses ours must have, nor are they subject to the rigorous criminal background checks we perform on our drivers.”

The state Insurance Department issued a consumer alert earlier this month for drivers at transportation network companies, warning that their personal auto insurance policies may not cover them while driving customers.

Uber and Lyft operate via smartphone applications, which customers use to request a ride from a company-sanctioned driver in the area. A map pops up on the screen, indicating if a car is in the area.

Riders pay the driver a suggested donation with a credit card. A spokeswoman for Lyft told the New Haven Register last week that company officials don’t believe the rules that govern taxis and livery services apply to them.

“Lyft’s peer-to-peer business model doesn’t fit the existing regulations for taxi and livery services,” Lyft spokeswoman Katie Dally said via email. “Lyft drivers use their own vehicles and generally only give rides a few hours per week. It’s a flexible way for local residents to earn additional income, when they’re available to share seats in their cars.”

A Lyft spokeswoman said the company was not aware of the lawsuit and had no further comment. Uber officials were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

In addition to Greenwich Taxi, some of the other cab companies or livery services participating in the case are from Bridgeport, Cromwell, Waterbury, Torrington, Plainville and Manchester.


      Source: New Haven Register


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Law Commission Recommendations:

We have been asked to give a simplified synopsis of the Law Commission Report, as many drivers will be put off reading the 290 page document. We've tried to highlight the most important issues but we would still recommend this document be read in its entirety.

Below are what I believe to be serious changes to the working practises of both the Taxi and Private Hire a Trades. 
In no particular order.

All current Hackney Carriage Laws will be repealed,
complete with all case law and replaced with new recommendations.

Plying for hire is to be replaced with 'There & Then' hiring, but only for Taxis (page 22). 
No more convictions then of illegally plying for hire. 
Recommendation, the offences relating to plying for hire should be abolished. They propose replacing the concept of plying for hire with a new scheme of offences, resting on the principal prohibition of carrying passengers for hire without a licence, alongside a new offence making it unlawful for anyone other than a licensed taxi driver to accept a journey starting “there and then”.

Also there will be a statutory definition of pre-booking in order to create a clear distinction between the work of a taxi in its licensing area and the work of a private hire vehicle.

We are no longer to be called Hackney Carriages.
The words "Hackney Carriage" will be eradicated from legislation and replaced with the word "Taxi". Only Taxis will be able to use the word TAXI in advertising (p22) 


Most devastating recommendation: 
Ranks for private hire?
It's recommend that there should be a new defence to touting, where the solicitation is in respect of a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle, if the soliciting occurs in a place which has been designated by that licensing authority for that purpose, and that conditions as may be specified by the licensing authority have been complied with. (Page 187).

This would give TfL the ability to specify and implement private hire ranks outside venues.

COs to be given the power to stop. (p33) 
This is what we've been expecting:
COs will be given the power to stop licensed vehicles and these local authority stopping officers, should have a new enforcement power to require licensed vehicles to move on where the officer considers that:
(a) there is a reasonable likelihood that the public may believe the vehicle is available for immediate hire;
(b) the vehicle is causing an obstruction to traffic flow; or
(c) the driver is attempting to take work away from ranked taxis.

This is also covered on (p183)
It's recommended that licensing officers who have been suitably trained and accredited should be given the power to stop licensed taxi and private hire vehicles in a public place for the purpose of checking compliance with licensing requirements.

New Fixed Penalties 
These officers will also have the power to issue fixed penalties and power to impound touts vehicles, which should be among the sanctions available in respect of minor criminal offences under taxi and private hire legislation.(p193/195)

Compellable distances to be retained (p37)
They recommend that compellability should be retained in its current form. It should be open to licensing authorities to express compellability as a time or distance from the point of hire, or as extending to the boundaries of a licensing zone. 

Licensing authorities should also be able to extend the compellable distance up to seven miles beyond the boundary of the licensing area, or twenty miles in the case of Transport for London.

(If this is correct, it would mean in London we could be compelled to accept a hiring up to a distance of 20 miles "beyond" the boundary of the Met, with no legal right to refuse. Surely this can't be true. Perhaps the word "beyond" is wrong and should have been up to)

One of the more dangerous proposals;
The loss of our right not to stop for a hail. (P38)
Licensing authorities should have the power to make a determination that in their areas, taxis should be under a duty to stop when hailed. In such areas, it would be an offence for a taxi driver in a vehicle displaying a “for hire” sign to fail to stop in response to a hail, without reasonable excuse.
This is a ridiculous proposal which we must fight at all cost.
 
No need to be a fit and proper person to own a minicab:
In future there will be no requirement to own a vehicle to get it licensed and vehicle license holders will not have to be fit and proper. Applicants for vehicle licences should not be subject to a fit and proper person test. (p95)

Signage requirements for private hire vehicles should form part of the national standards determined by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State should impose requirements that aim to ensure that the public are able to distinguish easily between taxis and private hire vehicles (p112)

Data protection gone?
(p140) it's recommend that licensing authorities should be under a duty to publish their driver, vehicle and operator licensing data in such form as the Secretary of State may require.
Here we go again.... full names and registration details freely available on TfLs website? 

Limit on Taxis but not Minicabs
Power to limit the number of Taxi drivers, but no restriction on PH drivers (p159).

A complete list of recommendations made by the Law Commission can be found on page 10 to 19 of the summary document


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Uber To help 100K drivers buy new cars: Top executives play dirty with competitors


Last week Uber rolled into our 60th city – Moscow.  It was Cali, Tokyo and Montreal the week prior.  Jacksonville and Abu Dhabi the week before that.  Their global growth is happening fast. 

Uber is partnering with auto manufacturers – GM and Toyota – and leading financial institutions to reduce operating costs for drivers and get cars on the road faster. The key to this new platform? Uber partner-drivers have a robust, reliable cash flow through the Uber platform.  Their cash flow lowers the risk of financing drivers and means better access to cheaper credit than otherwise available on the open market.

“Collaborating with a technology company like Uber is a great opportunity to introduce our latest products to Uber users and partner-drivers. GM and Uber are innovating together to revolutionise transportation alternatives in cities around the country.”  - Steve Girsky, GM Vice-Chairman
 
But Uber Are Playing Dirty:
Uber are taking on Get-Taxi in New York, but are not playing a clean game. Uber is a company that doesn't care about being hated. It flips off regulators, thinks taxi cabs are obsolete, and when it comes to other smartphone car services, plays very dirty. And the sabotage is happening right at the top.

You probably haven't heard of Gett, and Uber would love to keep it that way. Gett provides an almost identical service—order a black car pickup from your phone, no cash needed—but lacks Uber's high profile or mammoth war chest. It also, crucially, uses a flat pricing system, without "surge" multipliers. During a recent snowstorm in New York, Uber's prices were an unpredictable "3x" of normal, while Gett just tacked on a $15 charge. It's an underdog in every way.

But Uber considers Gett a threat: over the past few weeks, Uber employees have been posing as pedestrians, creating Gett accounts for the sole purpose of scheduling and then canceling Gett rides. The result is clear: wasted time for Gett drivers, fewer available rides for Gett users, and general disarray for the whole service.

And it's coming from the top brass at Uber NYC.

Screenshots provided to Valleywag show multiple instances of Uber staffers using dummy Gett accounts for the sole purpose of canceling rides as a diversion. This includes Uber's New York General Manager, Josh Mohrer, who ordered and canceled at least twenty Gett rides from December 30th, 2013 to January 14th of this year. Uber's Operations and Logistics Manager, Jeanine Mendez, faked three ride requests in two days—Uber's Community Manager Kimiko Ninomaya faked seven in a single day. After these rides had been canceled, Uber texted the affected drivers in an attempt to recruit them—and after all the frustration they'd had with Gett, it'd seem like a sweet offer.

Altogether, at least 13 Uber employees of varying seniority took part in the scheme to derail Gett: Community Manager Amy Perlman, Operations Manager Andrew Salzberg, Operations and Logistics Manager Benjamin Stein, Operations and Logistics Manager Chad Dobbs, Community Manager Elliot Beltzer, Social Media Strategist Jake Langbecker, Community Manager Jake Naughtrip, Operations and Logistics Manager Kyle Thomas, Community Manager Michael Fine, Operations Manager Shalini Challa, Community Manager Randy Berridge. Uber sure has an interesting notion of community.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Uber PR chief Andrew Noyes attributes the scam to mere over-zealousness out of the local office, a "sales tactic" gone too far: "It was likely too aggressive a sales tactic and we regret the team's approach to outreach of these drivers." Noyes adds "We have messaged city teams to curtail activities that seek lead generation by requesting transportation services." This makes it sound like it was a team effort. But it wasn't—the man in charge of Uber New York was perhaps the worst offender.

Given everything we know about Uber's shark CEO and the company's general fanatical free market indifference towards the people it services, it's hard to imagine this was some rogue initiative of startup bullying. Corporate culture, poison or positive, always comes from somewhere—and all's fair in love and Ayn Rand book clubs.


      Sources: ValleyWag &VentureBeat