Friday, July 22, 2016

Uber BANNED from setting up the cheap taxi app in Oxford after licensed drivers and private hire firms rallied together to block the application

Taxi drivers are celebrating a victory over Uber after the firm was barred from launching in Oxford.

Uber applied to operate in the city after 50,000 people tried to access the service there in a year, despite it not being available.

But licensed drivers and private hire firms rallied together to try and block the firm, which allows users to request a car through its mobile phone app.

Two of the city's biggest private hire firms, 001 Taxis and Royal Cars, merged and launched their own app earlier this year to combat the potential threat.

Uber applied to operate in Oxford after 50,000 people tried to access the service there in a year, despite it not being available (stock image)

Uber applied to operate in Oxford after 50,000 people tried to access the service there in a year, despite it not being available (stock image)

They also raised concerns about the safety of Uber, questioning whether its drivers would abide by Oxford City Council's regulations.

A year after announcing its intention to move to the city, Uber's bid has been rejected as the company 'didn't get around to' submitting vital details in time.

Local cabbies are delighted at the decision.

Niaz Mohammed, managing director of Royal Cars, said: 'It's great news for us and our customers.

'We were very concerned about the safety of Uber and whether its drivers would abide by Oxford City Council's regulations.

'Their goal is to close down all the other companies and they would have disrupted the system that has been in place for many years.'

City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association secretary Sajad Khan added: 'I'm very pleased and I'm sure all the city's drivers are.

'It would have been devastating for our trade and they would have wrecked the current system.

'They charge awkward fares and there is also the question of safety. Our drivers go through very stringent checks but you hear some worrying stories about Uber drivers.'

A spokesman for Uber said it would not rule out reapplying in the future.

This comes as plans to ban Oxford's black cabs from a new road to the city's shopping centre were put on hold.

Two of Oxford's biggest private hire firms, 001 Taxis and Royal Cars, merged and launched their own app earlier this year to combat the potential threat (stock image)

Two of Oxford's biggest private hire firms, 001 Taxis and Royal Cars, merged and launched their own app earlier this year to combat the potential threat 

Source : Daily Mail 

Uber In The Dock Using Doublespeak Over Job Creation Claims

Lawyers representing Uber workers have accused the company of “doublespeak” and speaking with “forked tongues” over claims of job creation and its relationship with drivers.

The minicab app company is fighting legal action from drivers who argue they are employees of the organisation rather than independent operators running their own businesses.

Uber says it is a technology company rather than a transport provider, working with “driver partners” who have a “commonality of interest” and offering them flexibility to control how much and often they work.

But Thomas Linden QC, representing James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam in two test cases, suggested to the central London employment tribunal that Uber was hiding behind language to claim that its drivers are not employees of the business.

He cited a response from Uber to Transport for London in October 2014 in which the company claimed it could “generate tens of thousands of jobs in the UK” by working with jobcentres and agencies to help people become Uber drivers.

Linden told Jo Bertram, Uber’s UK general manager, that the statement was “blowing Uber’s trumpet as a creator of jobs”.

Bertram suggested the word “jobs” had been misused, telling the tribunal: “I am saying the correct word to use here is an ‘economic opportunity to earn money’.”

But Linden accused the company of boasting about the idea of job creation when it suited it but dismissing the idea that drivers were employees when it did not. He said: “My suggestion to you is that Uber speaks with forked tongues.”

Bertram replied: “We emphasise that it is ‘economic opportunities’. I agree that use of the word ‘jobs’ in this context may be misleading but we are very proud of the economic opportunities that we offer.”

Linden also accused Uber of doublespeak when he said on the one hand it described itself as a technology company, like Apple, but on the other told passengers it was offering them “Uber transport” with “Uber drivers”.

He suggested a process the company calls “onboarding” was actually another word for recruitment, saying to Bertram: “You want to avoid any idea that drivers may have an employment relationship with Uber.”

Bertram replied: “Because they don’t.”

The tribunal also heard that of the 30,000 registered Uber drivers in London, 99.9% operate individually, and just 68 run small businesses with other drivers operating under them as other Uber drivers.

In her witness statement, Bertram cited a poll of 551 Uber drivers that showed the majority in the capital did not use the Uber app platform on a full-time basis, that 72% use it for less than 40 hours a week, and more than 50% use Uber to supplement their main income.

But Linden said Uber had commissioned the work to support its case in the tribunal, and it was nothing to do with employment rates.

He suggested that important statistics – 61% of drivers do not have another job, and 80% of drivers say their Uber work is a significant source of income and rely on it for their livelihoods – were buried.

Bertram dismissed his claim that Uber had asked for the poll to support its case as “a bit of a stretch”, saying: “It showcases the opportunities available to drivers.”

In her statement, Bertram said drivers were their own boss and were under no obligation to log on to the Uber app. She said: “They can do so whenever they choose, at whatever time they choose. There is also no requirement on them to only use the Uber platform.

“They can contract with, work for or be employed by any company or also have other business interests on a self-employed basis.”

The tribunal, which continues on Friday, is the first time Uber has faced legal action in the UK over whether its drivers are workers or self-employed.

The test cases will determine another 17 claims that have been brought against Uber and could have wider implications for thousands more drivers across the country.

Source: The Guardian 

Private Hire Feeder Park At Heathrow....Huge Flop.

Councillor Robert Evans expectations left deflated 

Robert Evans, Stanwell and Stanwell Moor’s County Councillor welcomed the opening of a new designated car park for minicabs at Heathrow Airport a couple of weeks ago.

For months, even years, the two villages represented by Labour’s Robert Evans have had an increasing problem of minicabs and Uber drivers, parking at the road side awaiting their passengers.

Private hire drivers, now have a dedicated, on-airport parking facility on the airport’s Northern Perimeter Road.

‘I think this is great news,’ said Robert Evans, ‘as it’s something I started  campaigning for, as soon as I was elected to Surrey County Council in 2013. ‘I’m really pleased Heathrow Airport responded to the issue and listened to local people. However, I’m not complacent,’ added Cllr Evans. ‘I’m going to wait and see if this works but I am cautiously optimistic.’

Unfortunately private hire drivers seem unwilling to use the new facilities

Taxi Leaks can reveal that the new Private Hire feeder park at Heathrow has not worked. In fact it has been an expensive flop, minicab and especially Uber drivers, have decided to give the place a wide birth, preferring to park up in residential streets, local park cafes, McDonalds and garages. 

The new toilet facilities have not proved to be enough of an attraction as you can still find bottles of urine and plastic bags full of human faeces in residential streets and gardens.

Below is a letter from local resident Clive, with reply from editor, published in the Heathrow Villager local news paper

Having just read about the so called success of taking mini cabs off the road. This is not true. We live in Sipson lane, within 800 yds there are 70 to 80 mini cabs parked up to 10 hours a day.

Not only that they park outside our houses, urinating into bottles, pooing into paper bags, sleeping in the back of their cars. This does not sound a success to me. 
What do you think sir?


Clive you are Correct I recently drove down Sipson Lane and on the side where the Cafe is. There must have been at least 60 vehicles on the road and the car park was ram jammed full, hopefully the council will send a traffic warden down there to move them all on.


Thursday, July 21, 2016


Mayor Sadiq Khan's Reply To Dads Defending Daughter's Lenny Etheridge.

  Lenny Etheridge's Reply To Sadiq Khan.

Dear Mayor Khan,
I would like to thank you for your reply to my email, dated 19 Jul 2016, but I cannot.
I felt your letter, an insult to my intelligence, was a fob.
You did not answer any of my questions or engage with any of my suggestions.
Did you actually read my email?
In your reply you suggest I may be aware of the introduction of more stringent regulations.
Are any of these regulations new?
Or is TfL finally enforcing those already in place, but never previously policed?
Correct Hire & Reward insurance has always been a requirement. TfL decided not to enforce it.
In fact, Leon Daniels lied to the GLA, that Uber had 'on/off' insurance. They did not.
Leon Daniels also lied to the GLA, stating he was in possession of Uber's landline. The landline he offered Ms Shawcross was Jo Bertram's personal number.
So these "more stringent regulations" are nothing more than TfL finally doing their job.
Do Uber now comply with all the specifications laid out by TfL, regarding landline and offices?
And taking into account that Uber have sworn on oath, that they do not receive or handle customer bookings in any way, worldwide; do they still comply to your 'stringent regulations'?
In my email, I proffered three points toward preventing rape and sexual assault in TfL Licensed Minicabs.
1. Scrapping onscreen locations.
2. Banning blacked out windows.
3. A minimum of five years residency.
You acknowledged none of them.
Your reply was like an automated TfL response on Twitter; stating all Private Hire applicants go through an enhanced DBS. "Have a nice day." "You're welcome."
The Licensed London Taxi trade has had enough political sidestepping and untrue truths from your predecessor.
Refugees and asylum seekers are afforded certain exemptions, if the DBS cannot check the applicants' background.
This is unacceptable. Do you expect someone's daughter to get into a car with a stranger?
Are our daughters not as important as yours?
You, along with most MPs and the media, refuse to acknowledge the glaring problem this trade is facing from unchecked predators.
I watched you answer the 'Uber rape' question. You were quick to qualify yourself by saying one rape is one too many. But went on to say that Uber is (only) 32 of 154.
Surely you understand that the rise in sexual assaults since 2012 is because TfL relaxed their regulations to the point of deregulation, to appease Uber.
That deregulation went across the Private Hire board.
No it is not just Uber drivers who have raped and sexually assaulted women during a twelve month period, but because of their influence over TfL, deregulation has been allowed to happen.
Now we all know that serious crime, such as murder, rape and sexual assault can happen to any profession.
Doctors, teachers, politicians, policemen, TV presenters, even Taxi drivers bring shame to their trade - but not on the scale of Uber.
And Uber's safety record is hardly enviable, is it?
It seems a Prius is crashing somewhere in London, daily.
I personally cannot remember one single day where I did not witness an imbecile with a roundel doing something dangerous.
Dads Defending Daughters is concerned about safety.
One of our members knows only too well the horror of being the father of a rape victim.
Rape can destroy lives and families.
You know that it is widely recognised that only ten percent of victims come forward.
TfL or police need to legally enter Uber's premises and view all previous complaints against Uber drivers, and make sure that all have been forwarded on to the correct authorities.
A young woman recently tweeted a complaint to Uber, against a driver for masturbating whilst driving. Did that, and similar complaints ever get reported to the police?
You promote yourself as a family man, who loves his wife and daughters. I do not doubt your sincerity for a second; it's the most natural thing in the world.
What about my daughters? What about everyone else's daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, aunts?
What about our sons? Rape is not gender specific.
If you consciously keep Londoners in the dark, then you are culpable; much the same way as the BBC are with Jimmy Savile.
An informed population may make informed decisions.
We are not going away. In fact the less you do to check this rise in rape and sexual assault, the bigger and stronger we become.
If you are going to reply to this email, please do so having read it.
Kind regards,
Leonard H. Etheridge
Dads Defending Daughters.

New York Taxis fight back and get into the Airport ride-share game with new app from CMT.

The taxi industry now has an answer to UberPool and LyftLine: an app that matches up riders for trips at reduced fares in yellow cabs from LaGuardia and JFK airports.

By the end of the year the service will be available anywhere in the city, via the Bandwagon app or a tab on Arro and Curb apps, which work with all cabs in the city. Destination match-ups will more easily be made during periods of high demand.

The airport service—a joint venture between Brooklyn-based startup Bandwagon and taxi owner-backed CMT Group, which operates Arro—was announced Wednesday. CMT manages the payment systems and backseat TVs in about 8,000 cabs, 6,700 of which are yellow cabs, or half the city's fleet. Bandwagon's integration with rival payment-service provider Verifone—operator of Curb—is in the works.

The airport service, which has been developed in cooperation with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, requires riders to go through several steps, including inputting the cab's medallion number. But the users are offered two enticements in return: They get a cheaper ride than passengers going solo and they can skip ahead to the taxi stand's priority line.

Bandwagon calculates the fares. Each rider pays in proportion to the distance needed to arrive at their destination. Although there is a flat $5 fee, the company says fares are typically 25% to 30% less than for a regular ride.

"This is about helping New York City taxis compete with UberPool and Lyft Line and reducing congestion on city streets," said Bandwagon founder and CEO David Mahfouda.

So far, the service is available only at selected terminals at the two airports and during peak use periods: Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday evenings, from 5 o'clock until midnight.

Customers lined up at the taxi stand text their destination to a Bandwagon number. If a match comes up, they move to the priority line, and a Bandwagon agent swipes their credit cards.

The company, which is based in NYU's Urban Future Lab, has been piloting the service since September. Even without a taxi payment integration it has facilitated 10,000 rides, according to Mahfouda.

The service is attractive to drivers, since they'll make more money on the extended trips.

"This is something we have to do," said Michael Epley, product manager for Arro. "I'm sure a chunk of people will say it's not for them. And others will be totally comfortable splitting a ride with a stranger."

Police hunt cyclist after chain and lock attacks on taxis in Cambridge.

Images have been released by police after a Cambridge cyclist allegedly targeted city taxis in a series of violent attacks.

A bike chain and lock have been used to batter vehicles as part of a vendetta, say cabbies - and now Cambridge police have released photographs of a man they would like to speak to in connection with the alleged incidents.

A cyclist has been reportedly spotted several times over the years, apparently targeting taxis in similar attacks.

Karl Stamper, a member of Cambridge Hackney Carriage Association, is the latest driver to allegedly suffer damage to his vehicle, during an incident which he says terrified an elderly passenger he was carrying.

Mr Stamper was driving along Hobson Street in the city centre at around 1.50pm on Monday, July 11 when he says a cyclist hit his taxi with a chain and lock as he rode past.

He said: "I had passengers in the taxi and one was senior and we both jumped. He obviously knows what he is doing.

"It seemed he had gone out to deliberately do this. It was totally unprovoked and we know he has done it before. He must be stopped."

Another taxi driver added: "We've got one nasty cyclist going round hitting taxis with his padlock."

A Cambridge taxi drivers Facebook forum has been alive with reports about the alleged cycling attacker.

One driver said a man had punched his wing mirror when he cycled past on Bridge Street. "The glass fell out and I stupidly tried to chase him on foot. He gave me a 'two fingers' sign for good measure as well."

Another alleged victim said he was targeted on Newmarket Road a few years ago. "He actually hit my car with a D-lock. Nasty man, pure mouth on him until you challenge him."

"Starting to wonder if it's the same one who punched my mirror on The Broadway," said another cabbie.

Images of a man police want to speak to in connection with the attacks have been released to the News.

Anyone with information is urged to call Cambridgeshire police on 101.