Saturday, February 28, 2015
Friday, February 27, 2015
London’s blue “Boris bikes” are to be painted red under a seven-year sponsorship deal with Santander worth around £7m a year, it has been announced.
The Spanish bank will take over the branding of the cycle hire scheme from Barclays, marking the end of a contract that attracted criticism for failing to cover the costs of the scheme, as the UK capital’s mayor, Boris Johnson, had pledged.
Questions were also asked about how Johnson had arranged the original deal, which Barclays decided to cut short rather than pursue until 2018.
The scheme, which enables short bike trips between docking stations around central London, has proved increasingly popular since it started in 2010, with more than 10m hires in 2014.
Santander will pay £6.25m a year for the rights and contribute a further annual £1m to promote and grow the scheme.
The mayor said the money would pay for new bikes, extra docking stations and a new app to make the scheme easier to use. Johnson added: “If anyone still persists in calling them ‘Boris bikes’ rather than Santander I will change my name to Santander Johnson.”
He said the money would not cover the entire costs, but said: “We have got to defray the costs to the taxpayer with a great big dollop of private sector cash.”
Asked whether the red colour-scheme was a belated recognition of his predecessor Ken Livingstone’s launch of the cycle hire plan in 2008, Johnson said: “It was never a plan. He had no budget, no sponsorship and no idea what to do.”
He added: “The colour has no political significance whatsoever. The bikes will now match London’s buses, phone boxes, and everything else that’s red.”
Green politicians in London welcomed the extra money for cycling and called for the scheme to be expanded, especially in parts of south London, but said there were “concerns over some of Santander’s international activities and its suitability as a sponsor”.
Assembly member Darren Johnson said: “The mayor should be using the extra money to review the whole way that cycle hire works. There are still complaints about over charging and the lack of compatibility with Oyster or wave and pay.”
Construction will start on two new segregated cycle superhighways in the next two months, to be completed later this year.
Johnson said the investment in cycling would improve safety. He said cyclists also needed to change their behaviour, adding: “It’s to do with educating cyclists, nabbing people who jump the lights and put themselves at risk. People can come hideously to grief.”
Ford is experimenting with its own "Uber-like" ride-sharing app, the Washington Post reports.
The US car manufacturer is toying with the idea of rolling out its own fleet of cars in what it calls a "dynamic social shuttle."
According to the Washington Post, Ford's app and vehicles could be tested on the streets of London as early as this year. Nothing is certain at this point and plans are still in development, but speculation has begun about when and how the company will roll out the project.
It looks like Ford is trying to tap into the area between complete city coverage, as taxis and black cabs do, and buses and routed public transport.
John Abernethy, Ford's project lead in the UK, told the Washington Post: "There is a white space for a new product. Between a taxi and a bus is a space for something else." Ford says the service could be faster than taking a bus, but cheaper than an UberX — yet nestled neatly in between the two, in terms of market and customer use.
Ford announced this project as one of a host of developments in January. Venturebeat says the motor company is hoping to carry out 25 experiments in cities around the world to test new driving models and initiatives. Most involved car sharing, Venturebeat adds.
At the time, CEO Mark Fields appeared to hint that Ford's plans were inspired by the likes of Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar. There's a huge trend for ride-sharing and Ford's CEO noted during CES that today's demographic seems less inclined to actually own cars.
Nobody knows when we'll see "Uber-like" Ford vehicles rolling around London. As the Washington Post notes, Abernethy and his team haven't yet identified who a Ford app customer would be, and what cars would best suit the service. (The Ford Transit has been noted as a possibility.)
At this point, it looks as though shuttle buses directly to airports are the most likely first step. Ford has been putting together an app that matches riders with a mode of transport, probably a sort of "premium mini-bus." The Washington Post highlights this as the company's vision: A high-end, on-demand pooling system. Whatever it's doing, Ford could really shake up public travel.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
In yesterday's meeting between Sir Peter Hendy and the GLA transport committee, it's been alleged Hendy made a couple of statements which if proven to be incorrect, could eventually compromised his highly paid position at TfL.
Hendy was asked why Uber had been licensed, in the face of controversy over the way the fare is calculate. He answered that TfL had taken advice from an eminent QC who had stated that in his opinion the device Uber used to calculate the fare was not a meter.
He was asked who signed this advice and he replied he had forgotten the QC's name.
Assembly member Tom Copley asked Peter Hendy if he would publish the legal advice TfL received re Uber, showing the name of the eminent QC who gave it. Hendy said he would if he can, (meaning if there is no legal reason against doing so)
Late last night, it was alleged by a Radio Circuit Tweet, that they've been told the QC involved is Martin Chamberlain QC (unconfirmed), a prominent human rights QC and not an expert in Taxi Law.
Sir Peter also said he had recently booked a Hailo Taxi using their app. He explained Hailo had informed him they couldn't send him a Taxi, as none were available and instead they offered him a mini cab. He accepted and said the driver used an iPhone to calculate the fare.
As a result of that trip, TfL have since written to Hailo, asking for into about how the fare was calculated.
Immediately after the meeting Hailo put out this statement on their Blog:
Hailo statement following the GLA’s Transport Committee meeting, City Hall, Wednesday 25 February 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
City Hall was mashed out this morning, as London Taxi drivers packed out the gallery for the GLA's Transport Committee sitting to challenge TFLs Peter Hendy about their lack of positive management of Taxi and Private hire industries.
Chair of the committee Caroline Pidgeon, asks drivers in the gallery not to protest and to let the committee question Sir Peter Hendy about their concerns.
She added, that she hoped to get detailed and heavyweight answers from Hendy.
Sir Peter started the ball rolling by saying:
"Sometimes it's hard, as most laws are over 200 years old", he added "some trade concerns rise because the Assembly have pressed for more cycling & cleaner air".
It seemed Sir Peter laid most of the current problems being experienced, at the feet of the Assembly.
Hendy said Smart Phones had revolutionised the way things are done and what Londoners seemingly want. He said TfL had no plans to develope an industry wide app, it's a trade issue.
That's quite reassuring, after the mess TfL made of the CabWise app.
He went on to say people wanted to lay by credit card and that he couldn't stop Uber price surging. Again he stated that the trade needs to modernise.
Asked about recent stories in the papers he said "I don't believe anything that's written in the newspapers, including quotes from myself. The Taxi trade deserves a good future."
His claim that the Taxi trade was expanding prompted laughter from the gallery.
There was huge applause for Val Shawcross when she suggested senior TfL management were "out of touch" with the Taxi trade.
When asked about Boris Johnson's contact with the cab trades, Hendy said "The Taxi trade get more meetings than train and bus drivers get."
When questioned about openness, Hendy promised to speak to Boris about publishing minutes of his 'cabbies cabinet' sessions.
Speaking about the trades "fragmentation" Val Shawcross drew applause from the Cabbies suggesting there needed to be a clearer trade voice. Hendy agreed saying"It wouldn't half help if you could get some consensus."
So why the fragmentising engagement policy Sir Peter?
Victoria Borwick asks about having an AM attend the cabbies cabinet. Hendy says he'd "convey" the suggestion. Val Shawcross came back with, "rather than just convey, will you recommended it to him". Hendy says "on reflection" he will.
On displaying some kind of marking of PHV, Hendy says he supports and will look at it again, but in the past DVLA & DfT weren't keen last time it was explored.
Taxi drivers heckled when he said he needed to take account of views of executive car firms who wouldn't be pleased with a mandatory scheme.
The committee moved on to enforcement, Hendy read out a well prepared list of figures from TfL's website.
Baroness Jones said Assembly Police Committee will be looking at the Met's road and traffic command which helps enforce trade regs/laws.
When asked about enforcement of Pedicabs, Hendy said there was none due mainly to court ruling and stated that new government rules would make it even harder to deal with electric rickshaw bikes. He said he wants the power to licence Rickshaws and has asked council to draft a private members bill to be presented to Parliament in May this year.
When asked about mini cabs and touting Hendy said "it's harder to prove than assumed", to loud groans from the gallery.
The question that most cabbies had come to hear about, Uber.
Deputy Mayor Victoria Borwick asked are Uber using a Meter?
Hendy said TfL had asked a top QC if the app was a meter and was told it wasn't. Hendy then told the committee all about the Uber/TfL/LTDA court cases and added as a regulator he's happy to enforce any court ruling or law.
There were cheers and loud applause when Victoria Borwick said "we don't want Uber in London".
Hailo Sent Hendy A Minicab:
Interestingly Hendy said he had recently booked a Hailo Taxi using their app, where Hailo had said they couldn't send him a Taxi but instead offered him a mini cab which used an iPhone to calculate the fare. As a result of that trip, TfL have written to Hailo, asking for into about how the fare was calculated.
Sir Peter said he's been accused of taking bribery & backhanders, but added he doesn't like Uber and that they were not nice to him!
Support For Taxi Trade From Deputy Mayor
Deputy Mayor Victoria Borwick received huge applause from the gallery when she said taxi drivers have put 2 years into their trade, are disability aware & accessible & deserve support. She added "As a city, we have to decide what we want."
Hendy argued he has to deal with operators within the law, changes need legislation. He said some drivers just want to drive, but they have to adapt & embrace new tech or others will. He added that any new laws need to be "Future Proof".
Assembly Member Tom Copley got huge applause when he asked why TfL had stopped after getting just one legal opinion on Uber's legality. He said they've had been "soft" on Uber.
Hendy said this wasn't the case and that TfL wanted a court ruling to decide the issue definitively.
When asked if he would publish their legal advice on Uber Hendy said he would.
So where do we go from here, what next?
Editorial Comment : from Jim Thomas.
Taxi leaks would like to thank Chairperson Caroline Pidgeon and the whole of the GLA Transport Committee, for their continued support of the Taxi trade.
One other thing Sir Peter mentioned, Uber intended to bring other practises to London (he didn't elaborate). He just said a warning had been put on their licence that they would be clearly acting illegally and would be revoked. He also said they already had a warning over driver with serious convictions.
Yet wasn't it TfL who authorise a wife killer fit and proper to do the knowledge a few years back?
A man who already held a PHV licence, having previously served time for killing his wife. Apparently as long as he took his medication TfL said the public were perfectly safe.
Some good news?
When asked about the backlog of 77 rank requests Hendy said there was lots of competition for road space but £600k had been put aside for Taxi ranks. When asked if TfL would work closer with boroughs to make this happen, he answered "We'll come back in 6 months and see where we are on this".
Complaint from Hendy:
We have been informed that Sir Peter Hendy complained about the behaviour of the Taxi drivers in the Gallery...but only after they had all left the building.
Complaint about Hendy:
Apparently the TfL Transport Commissioner had to be warned about swearing as a group of school children had taken seats after the cabbies had left.
LATE NIGHT EXTRA COMMENT:
Mayor Boris Johnston published a press release today, saying that TfL would invest £600,000 to raise the number of cab ranks by 20 per cent by 2020 - expanding the network to 500.
At present there is only one taxi rank per 100 Taxis. The new move from the mayor aims at increasing the ratio to one rank per 50 Taxis
TfL says it will ‘undertake a strategic review’ of rank provision across London – which will be completed by early 2016.
The plan also proposes exploring sponsorship of late night marshals at key taxi ranks.
If you couldn't make to the meeting this morning, sit back and listen to this recording made by Super Cabby Jamie Owens. Podcast is approx 1.5 hours long.
Peter Hendy & the GLA Transport Committee – SuperCabby Podcast Episode 26
With thanks to Jamie Owens SuperCabby.co.uk and MayorWatch.Com