Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Will TfL Cover Up Death And Destruction To Protect A Third Party Company? ...by Jim Thomas

The irony of the situation faced by motorists across the country and outlined in Semtex's latest post, has been lost on a couple of our more negative regular commentators.

There's no way of candy coating the fact that using a smart phone while driving is highly dangerous and that's the truth, even if it does upset drivers using Hailo, Gett and TaxiApp.

The modus operandi of all Taxi and minicab Apps is highly dangerous, as it requires taking your eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. Drivers have to read, understand, accept/reject job offers. 

Boris Johnson called us luddites and told us to get with the new technology. Like everything else from TfL/GLA/the Mayor's Office, they never checked out public safety thoroughly. 

Sometimes, when you rush forward without thinking, it's wise to stop and take a step backwards, just to reassess the situation properly.  
We already had one of the safest forms of connecting with passengers and that was voice dispatch radio cabs. Old fashioned, yes, but completely safe. 
There's an old saying, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Obviously customers should use an app to call a Taxi. As far as they are concerned, they are using state of the art, new technology!
But to keep everyone safe, job should be dispatched by voice. 

"Credit card job. First call queens gardens Bayswater going to terminal 5.
Second call queens gardens"
...."Echo 5"
"Echo 5 where are you?"
..."Echo 5, Craven Road".
"Echo 5 make your way to no49 Queens gardens and ask for a call out on Channel 6"
..."Echo 5"
"Echo 5, I've text them to say you are outside"

Job dispatched and received, without anyone other than the customer looking at their phone screen!

It's not impossible to turn back the clock, who would have thought 10 years ago that there would be a mass exodus from cars to bicycles across the capital. 
Time is running out though, as we are losing long established radio circuits, at a rate of knots. 

Cheaper isn't always safer!
Safety however, comes at a price. To run a successful radio cab company you need to employ staff. 
But if every form of taxi and private hire have to abide by the same regulation...i.e. No smart phone dispatch... they would also have to have a 24 hour, manned control room, staffed by operators and dispatchers. Pricing would be comparable. 

Uber for one, wouldn't be able to operate profitably under these circumstances.

Progressing to new technology is not always the best solution. 
By flouting their dream on the horizon, we are being mesmerised by the promise of fully electric vehicles, silent and clean, with no emissions. 
There should be many millions in subsidies available, but most of this money will be syphoned away by TfL, under the umbrella of creating a fully functioning infrastructure.

TfL are gearing up to cause maximum congestion, maximum pollution by implementing bike lanes. Cyclists are currently being exposed to toxic fumes while being told that what they are doing is healthy. The cyclists are being used as a tool and they can't see it.

Are TfL's policies covering up corporate manslaughter?
TfL's true aims are transparent. The agenda is to get people back onto public transport. It appears they are willing to slowly kill thousands of Londoners just to increase their profits.

The evidence is there!
Caroline Pidgeon has been pressing the Mayor to release comprehensive statistics which should show the frequency of road traffic accident's involving PH vehicles using smart phone technology and sat navs.
She received this reply from the Mayor in the 30th of last month.

The worry is, are TfL busy spinning and manipulating these figures in the same way they've interfered with the rape and sexual assault statistics?
Are they willing to cover up the deaths and destruction being dealt to London, by a third party app?

Monday, December 05, 2016

Uber Now Tracks Passengers' Locations Even After They're Dropped Off

In its latest update, Uber gathers user location information even when the app is not open during a ride.

Uber's latest update allows the ride-hailing app to track user location dataeven when the application is running in the background. The change in location data gathering is quite apparent — after the update is completed, Uber prompts users to accept the new policy by enabling their phones to make the change.

Previously, Uber only collected data from the user if the rider had the application open. Now, if a rider calls for an Uber and closes the app, Uber says it will continue to collect location data up until five minutes after the ride ends. That means Uber can see where you end up after you leave the car.

So your secret rendezvous may not be so secret.

Uber now will be focused on collecting rider data, rather than just driver and trip data. "We do this to improve pickups, drop-offs, customer service, and to enhance safety," Uber says on its website.

Uber hopes to eliminate the most frustrating part of the experience: the game of phone tag that both the rider and driver play when trying to coordinate the pickup spot. By collecting location data when the ride is called, Uber can use the information gathered to gain a better sense of locations at large venues. Hopefully this will lead to less confusion when dropping a pin, or maybe it will improve the chance that users will be picked up on the correct side of the street.

The update raises worries for privacy advocates. The Electronic Privacy Information Center previously filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over Uber's plans to collect more user data. "The FTC failed to act and Uber is now tracking users non-stop," EPIC says on its website.

Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, who expressed disappointment with Uber previously, told NPR in a statement that the update "raises questions" that the app is requiring users to "grant permission to track their location at all times." Franken said he plans to look at the issue further.

One reason this update could be causing a stir is the change in privacy settings necessary to use the Uber app. iOS users' location-sharing choices changed from "Never" share location and share location "While Using the App" to "Never" and "Always." The "Always" setting implies that Uber could access riders' locations when they are not on rides. 

However, Uber says on its site that location data will only be collected from the inception of the ride through five minutes after the end of the trip. iOS and Android users can choose the "Never" option, which will require riders to manually enter pickup information.

Uber has previously faced issues with location information collection. In January, Uber paid a $20,000 fine in New York following an investigation into the company's "God View" tool. The tool allowed employees to view and track individual riders in real time.

A Game Of Phones ..... By Semtex

None of us will have failed to notice the latest tragedies and loss of lives, that has erupted on the UK's roads. Furthermore, it has been proven that a horrifying percentage of these fatalities , have been caused as a direct result of using a mobile phone whilst driving.

More worrying, the statistics are rising rapidly. More and more grief stricken families, are having to deal with the loss of a loved one, due entirely to somebody selfish enough to put a phone call or text message, in priority over somebody's life.

The game is about to be changed now though, and so it should be. Police Forces across the nation are initiating a huge crackdown on this life taking trend, and punishments of fines, points and imprisonment are being escalated in an effort to reduce it.

To most drivers, waiting till you have safely stopped should be no problem at all. Pulling over, waiting till later or ignoring a call altogether would be a much safer and potentially life saving option.

For an Uber driver though, ignoring the phone or being unable to use it in transit, will be a huge detrimental disadvantage to their living. Their priority is to earn money, not to pay attention to the ever changing road conditions. Without a phone, the unqualified cheap labour Uber driver has no idea of where he is.

How many times have you pulled alongside an Uber driver to see four, five and even six phones stuck to the windscreen, and that's without the sat nav.

To a professionally trained London Black Cab driver, the phone is just another tool in the box. We have managed perfectly  well for hundreds of years without one. I have both a top quality satellite navigation system, and a top quality smart phone. They are both extremely handy, and I would miss either if I didn't have them. But if you took both tools away from me, would my professional income be affected ? 

Not by a penny ! In fact, the loss of the smart phone would probably stop me grannying on the phone to my mates in a longer than deserved lunch break. As a result, more money in my coin bag. Taking my sat nav away would also cause no professional heartache either, as I have been thoroughly trained and am highly skilled in my topographical competence. 

Have no doubts whatsoever though, that this adroitness is due entirely to four years of high quality training. Take away my sat nav, take away my smart phone and take away my map books, and I can with hand on heart, promise you that I could circumnavigate you through the catacombes of one of Europe's heaviest congested traffic cities, in safety, comfort, knowledge and incredible skill. The indelible maps of the, roads, clubs, hospitals, museums, galleries, restaurants, theatres, synagogues, parks, cafes, police stations, clinics and streets of London are stored in encyclopaedia order of merit, deep within the hippocampus of my brain.  Impressive isn't it ? I'm even amazed at myself. I can't believe I know so much !  So with this in mind, ask yourself an honest question. Do you think an Uber driver could do what I can do ? 

I wont even wait for your answer !

    Uber driver takes his eyes off the road, Texaco Garage, Scrubs Lane last night

However, I have an even more incredible revelation up my sleeve for the uninitiated. This is no one man captivating, implausible circus trick, and as much as I would like to, I cannot claim sole rights to this phenomenal art and formidable skill. There are actually another 24,999 others like me ! Unbelievable, isn't it ? But absolutely true.

The obvious answer as to whether an Uber driver could replicate the honed and sharpened skill of a Licensed London Cab Driver is undeniable. Of course they couldn't ! 

Uber drivers are made up of a huge mass of unskilled, often foreign, imposters. Many of them can't speak our national language, many of them are driving on stolen and multiple owned driving licences. Many of them are uninsured. Many of them have not passed a bona fide medical examination. Many of them are not who the vehicle roundel and details actually state that they are. Many of them are sexual predators, and ALL OF THEM need at least one  phone in front of them to allow them to work. Many of them choose to use two, three, four, five or six phones. Dangerous ?   

You bet your life it's dangerous ! Cheap ? 

Sometimes they are, but how cheap is cheap ? 

When your nineteen year old daughter is having a highly stressful and invasive sexual swab test done by the Met's elite trained Sapphire Unit ? 

Cheap ?   

You tell me.  Or how about when a police officer knocks on your door carrying your twenty year old son's motorcycle crash helmet and asks you to sit down first ? 

Cheap ?   

What do you think ? 

When your eighteen year old daughter shrinks into her self and refuses to come out of her bedroom for sixteen months. Her confidence along with her personality and future dreams, lost and savaged in a reminiscent nightmare of sexual attack in an unlicensed mini cab. Cheap?  

Well, somebody thought it was.

Folks, the travelling public get what they pay for. If you want cheap, then roll the dice, take your chance and jump in with the Uber cowboy. Transport For London moved mountains to let the Uber platform succeed. Despite being licensed illegally in the first place, the seas are parted to allow them to continue to flourish. They even assisted them by allowing their phones to double up as meters ! Unbelievable ? 

Yes, Sir ! You bet ! Imagine my trade be allowing this ? 

Funny game, isn't it ? 

But remember this, if Uber were forced to compete financially with the professionals, ie the London Black Cab trade, they would fold within a week. Our business model hasn't lasted for this long due to luck. It is established and proven to be sound both financially and in safety. Both the drivers and vehicles of the black cab trade are vetted and monitored to an entirely different level to mini cabs, and don't let TFL tell you otherwise.

Next time you jump into your Uber ride, have a glance at the windscreen. See those phones ? 

Those are the only things that the inept and unqualified driver that you are paying to trust, is looking at. As good as their phones and sat navs may be, they wont show the car stopping in front of you, the child stepping out off the kerbside, the motorbike rapidly coming up the inside or the foreign national stepping out thinking the traffic flow was the same as his home town many miles from Oxford Street. Neither will they show what occurred as you were punched senseless and sexually attacked and had your skirt ripped off in a side street at three in the morning.

Harrods, Fortnum & Masons and Claridges haven't remained trading successfully in London because they are cheap. They have remained because they are the BEST ! They are quality, they are superior and they are established !

Uber's flawed business model has only been successful in London due to a complicit licensing regulator, a necessity to work through the phone and a never ending supply of foreign, unqualified, cheap labour.

There is an irony to Uber's business model, which if not so serious, would be comical. To gain a basic mini cab Operator's Licence, the  potential operator applicant requires a London address and phone landline on application. Uber had neither when they were initially licensed, but was awarded their status anyway. I find it strange that a company whose core business model relies solely and absolutely on a phone to make the operation workable...........................................didn't have one themselves !

How remarkable. What a game, eh ? Without doubt........A Game Of Phones !

Be lucky all.

8829 Semtex.


True to his word, TfL commissioner Mike Brown (who speaking to Grant Davis said he wanted to go on record as not being party to the corrupt licensing of Uber, at Palestra 21/11/16) released a set of the statistics for serious sexual assaults, including rapes broken down over the past 14 years.

On close inspection, it's plain to see that the figures have been spun, manipulated and massaged. 
How do we know this?....simple. 

We're already in possession of statistics obtained by freedom of information request from the Metropolitan Police. 

The figures given to us earlier this year by the Metropolitan Police, were for reported minicab related sexual assaults, including rapes, from just 6 London boroughs, not including the City of London police. 

Mayor Sadiq Khan read out the result of this FOI (no 2016020000642) to at Mayors question time when asked for the latest statistics by GLA member David Kurten, UKIP. (see video below)

So it should be safe to assume that TfLs figures which they say they have acquired from the Met and cover the whole of London's 32 boroughs (including the City Of London), would be of a greater amount.

Wrong....TfL have spun these statistics so much they've actually come up short with a total showing less attacks than in the original FOI request read out by Khan at City Hall, an impossibility.

This being the case, we can dismiss these results. 
We strongly believe this action confirms that TfL's directors and top managers are again complicit in fabricating the truth.

Why would a government body, who has a duty of care towards informing and keeping the public safe, lie about the amount of rapes occurring in private hire vehicles?

In our opinion, there can only be one answer, they are part of the overwhelming corruption embedded in our licensing authority. 

It is our opinion these stats have been manipulated so as not to cause alarm to the public and to grease the passage of a certain minicab app's relicensing early next year.

But with all TfL's spin, there are certain patterns that TfL have failed to hide!

Going by the figures published on the TfL website, in 2012 (the year Uber were first licensed) there was a massive rise in the amount of reported sexual attacks, at least 20% more than in the previous year. 

Moving on, the figures agains show an unprecedented rise between 2013-2014, a 35% increase which correlates to the escalation of drivers working on the Uber platform. 

Amazingly, TfL have given exactly the same figures for 2015 as 2014. We've ask them to confirm this and have been assured the figures are correct...So, what a coincidence !
Could it be that TfL's propaganda machine wants to go into overdrive ...telling the media last year saw a zero percentage increase in attacks, from the previous year?

The reason why we don't believe for one moment TfL's stats, is that when he left the Cabbies Cabinet meeting with Mike Brown, Chairman of the LCDC Grant Davis, informed drivers protesting outside, the figure we had received from the met of 154, were from just 6 London boroughs. Now we have TfL saying their figure of 136 attacks, includes all 32 London boroughs, including the City of London Police. 

Why did Mayor Khan present the exact same figures we had received, on request to David Kurten  at City Hall and not the ones shown on TfL's website....?
Click here for Khan addressing the GLA https://t.co/fLFgNOZQHw

Perhaps now would be a good time for TfL to explain why their statistics were inexplicably less, than the figures we obtained by FOI request. 

Sunday, December 04, 2016

COUNTING SHEEP : DO YOU TAKE CASH? Dads Defending Daughters

In a situation where tourists ask "Do you take cash?", and shoppers wonder why the queue at the check-out takes so long: I ask, how did plastic become the new paper?
And why would Transport for London fool the public into thinking they have the right to pay by any means they wish and the business owner has no say in the transaction?

TfL are very anti cash. If you want to hop on a bus with cash, forget it.
If you do not have a card or you are overdrawn, you have to purchase an Oyster card in a shop. Yes walk away from the bus, watch it drive off, and go purchase your Oyster.
I know you are confused, but this is TfL we are talking about, and they do not think like you and me.
TfL are not the only culprits. Councils like the 'convenience' of plastic too. Try parking your car without a smartphone or money in your account.
When I say 'convenience', I mean convenient for the Council, not for the consumer.

Taxis are the last bastion of consumer choice. For decades Taxis have been accepting both card and cash, for their customers' convenience.
So why are the likes of TfL and Westminster Council pushing so hard to for a cashless society?
Firstly you have to look at who gains from a plastic economy.

The reason card payments are being foisted as the only way to pay José, is so some fat phuk can sit sucking on his Cohiba, with a flute of Gout de Diamants in one hand, and an under-aged Russian prostitute in the other, sunning himself on his yacht in the South of France, as five percent of everyone's spending makes its way into his offshore account, without him have to put his champagne or child bride down.
Cash is no good for his lifestyle. He would have to start working for a living. And his Swiss banker would stop inviting him around for Christmas on the piste.

Back home his minions in Parliament are encouraging debt, and educating trendies on how entering your card and then your PIN and then wait for clearance, is so much more convenient than that dirty money with its meat based fivers.
What a job, hey?
Sitting there on your yacht, waiting for the suckers to start spending.

Once the 'suckers' have paid their 'income tax' and their oxymoronic 'value added tax', they can then pay more for the privilege of spending their own hard earned non-cash.
And if they run into debt, because they are uncertain of how much they actually possess, they can use their plastic credit to bide them over till the end of the month; at a reasonable rate of interest of course. Deemed reasonable by your mate on the yacht moored next to yours.
What a great scam, hey?
But would anybody fall for it?
Maybe not. But you can dream can't you?

Dream of a land of blinkered sheep.
Spring lambs, whose only worry is where they are going out on the weekend.
Or the muttons dressed as lamb, who buy bacon by the slice, and live in perpetual debt.
And then there are the tups, who believe they have everything sorted, who don't own their house so much as it owns them. They got on the treadmill years ago and they will keep pushing themselves until it finally kills them.
Sheep literally dying to pay for your newer, bigger yacht.

Wake up!

The wolf is at the door.

IT JUST KEEPS GETTING WORSE : Minibus Licence Loophole Has Been Putting People At Risk

A legal loophole that allows minibus drivers to operate without undergoing a criminal record check is putting passengers in danger, councils say.
Drivers of "public carriage vehicles", which seat 9-16 people, are not subject to a criminal check - unlike hackney carriage and private taxi drivers.
This allowed "unscrupulous drivers" to work even if councils have banned them, the Local Government Association said.
A Department for Transport spokesman said it was planning immediate action.
Under the current rules, drivers of public carriage vehicles are licensed by the DVLA, whereas councils license taxi drivers.
Taxi drivers require an up-to-date enhanced criminal record check to be issued with a licence.
The LGA said a loophole meant drivers who have been refused a taxi or minicab licence - or whose licence has been revoked by councils - could instead obtain a minibus licence and continue to operate in the same area.
Some had continued working with the same company, the LGA added.

'Extremely worrying'

It urged the government to change the law to ensure vehicles seating nine to 16 people were instead licensed by councils.
Simon Blackburn, from the LGA, said the majority of minibus drivers were "people who the public can trust".
However, he added: "This loophole provides an opportunity for unscrupulous drivers to continue to work in close proximity to passengers, even when a council has determined that they are not safe to do so.
"Larger minibuses are often sent in place of a regular taxi to pick up individuals or small parties, purely because they are nearest to the pick-up point rather than because there is a requirement for such a large vehicle. 
"They are used to take groups of children to school, or to drive groups home after nights out.
"It is therefore extremely worrying that councils' proactive work to protect taxi passengers from harm - and particularly those who may be most vulnerable - is being undermined by this loophole."
A Department for Transport spokesman said public safety remained "our first priority".
It said: "It is the responsibility of councils to meet their legal requirements to ensure all drivers are 'fit and proper' persons before issuing a taxi or private hire driver's licence.
"We are taking immediate action to provide the same level of protection for passengers in minibuses as they receive in taxis."

Editorial Comment:
Unbelievably this loophole has existed for years yet only now do they promise 'action'. It's not prevalent in London but it is elsewhere and you can bet an infamous operator is watching closely if it's another money maker.

No date set but it does show that if the authorities WANT to do something they can (usually after negative PR) but with our travails they find all sorts of now patently bogus reasons why it can't be done.

Perhaps the same LGA should look at illegal PFH and cross border hiring and ask the same Dept of Transport to act or will the lobbyist get in first?

No wonder ordinary people have little faith in politicians or the authorities to act in their interest as opposed to that of lobbyists of the tax avoiding exploiters propped up by the tax and housing benefits system.

Time for change!

I'm Spartacus