The GLA investigation meeting kicked off in City Hall, at 10 am this morning.
Michael Galvin, late of the LTDA and Com Cab and now working for Addison Lee gave an accurate representation of the Taxi and Private hire industries.
GLA member for Merton and Wandsworth Richard Tracey asked Steve a McNamara:
"Does the Taxi trade have Union representation".
Mr McNamara answered that the United trade Group (UTG) is made up of the three larges orgs.
Taxi Leaks would of course dispute this answer as the second biggest representative group, and the largest Union the RMT, are excluded by the leadership of the UTG, therefore prevented from inclusion with any meaningful negotiations with TfL.
Garrett Emerson told the panel that TfL's Taxi and Private Hire have bought forward the archaic administration of the Taxi trade.
Another statement that Taxi Leaks would dispute.
Darren Johnson (AM) said that TfL needed to get basics of the trades in order by way of a consultation with trade Orgs. But look what happened with the last consultation, PH got virtually everything they asked for whilst the Taxi trade got nothing.
The panel were informed by Assembly Member Tom Copley, that with the onslaught of smart phone apps, Uber had blurred the lines between Taxis and private hire. Michael Galvin said that the registration of drivers using smart phone apps was open to fraudulent abuse. He also remarked that PH have no desire to pick up off the street and that the present two tiered system should remain.
(Really Mike, take a look at the touting hot spots around London and see the desire to pick up there!)
Tom Copley AM then added that TfL have failed to act on pedicabs/rickshaw bikes. He said this infringes Taxi drivers rights to ply for hire. Tom also accused TfL of failing to act over Hailo's minimum fare policy.
He added,"why do the knowledge if apps can blur the lines.
An e-hail is akin to a manual hail, plying for hire by licensed Taxis must be protected at all cost.
Tom finished on the point that, if identity is important, why allow both industries to use the same vehicle (Mercedes Vito) and the same colour?"
Chairing the meeting, Isabel Dedring spoke about the Credit Card issue also stating she was in full support of the value of wheelchair accessibility. She said Taxis were the Gold standard. Dedring was often out of her comfort zone with comprehensive knowledge of the issues and when put on the spot by Deputy Mayor Victoria Borwick she had to hand over to Garret Emerson.
Garret Emerson was asked why the ranks plan had been shelved and he replied it would be made available by the end of the year.
During a ministerial debate of the Private Hire Vehcles act 1998, it was stated that enforcement was not to become the poor relation to regulation. Many Taxi drivers would agree that this has now become the fact, as enforcement is almost invisible at night. Touts have little to no chance of being arrested.
Inspector Julian Collinson of Cab Enforcement stated that of the last 1000 arrests made for touting, over 90% were convicted. He said that Enforcement is at a satisfactory level. In a bid to conceal TfL's disastrous record on minicab related sexual assaults and rapes, the inspector finished with a damning insult to the Taxi trade by saying that the sexual assault statistics are blurred due to the fact that victims are unable to remember if they were picked up in a Taxi or a minicab.
Taxi Leaks would take issue with the inspectors statistics on convictions as they vary greatly from the ones we have manage to acquire by Freedom of Information requests.
Assembly Member a John Briggs talked about enforcement and asked Steve McNamara his thoughts on the matter. Steve told the panel that touting was now out of control in Central London and had become an epidemic.
Westminster Transport Commissioner Martin Low was asked about the affect of Marshals on certain ranks. He stated that he thought TfL should be spending more money on providing new ranks and that Westminster would be more than willing to help.
Surprisingly Steve McNamara and Mike Galvin both left before the end of the meeting.
Taxi leaks have been informed that other factions of the private hire industry have been invited to meet with the transport committee on the 17th of this month in regards to the inquiry.