Thursday, October 31, 2013

TfL Threatens Taxi Drivers, After Hailo Accused Of Overcharging...by JB.


In their recent Blog post, London's top Taxi hailing app "Hailo", controversially announced a new minimum fare policy. The Blog post states: 
"Let’s look at this from a driver’s perspective. Understandably, they want to spend as much time as possible with a passenger on board." 

“When they’re offered a Hailo job, they are happy to drive to the pickup location and wait a couple of minutes, but all that time is non-earning time. They may pass people with their hand out on the way to picking you up. So it can be quite disappointing if the resulting job is 200 yards down the road to the shop.

“In order to give you the most chance of getting a cab when you want one, we need every driver to know that the job is worth accepting – and that means guaranteeing them a reasonable minimum fare.”

The decision to impose the new minimum charge is a commercial decision taken by Hailo. 
Hailo's customers are advised of the new charges when making a booking. By signing up to use the app they are agreeing to the terms and condition published by Hailo.

Apparently a few customers have reacted adversely, with some saying they will in future be forced to use alternative apps.
We are led to believe, a complaint has been made to LTPH, saying;
"London Taxis are licensed by TfL and are subject to a fares policy set by the Mayor that already includes a minimum fare of £2.40"

Helen Chapman, interim General Manager for London Taxi and Private Hire, said yesterday:
“We are investigating complaints about Hailo introducing a minimum fare policy. 

“It is against the licensing regulations for any taxi driver to charge a customer more than the metered fare.  
Action will be taken against any driver found to be doing so.”

When Hailo first introduced a £5 minimum fare, it was welcomed by John Mason, former Director of LTPH and at that time, no one at TfL or LTPH mentioned anything about it being in breach of licensing regulations.

Indeed, a couple of years ago TfL along with Westminster City Council, introduced a new type of Taxi rank in the centre of London's West End. The Golden Rank, as it was known, had a range of minimum fares. The cheapest being £25. Some passengers were charged £25 to travel just a few hundred yards.

The Golden Rank was welcomed by TfL with no word of it being in contravention of the fares policy or driver's licensing regulations.

Again we've seen LTPH unfairly attack the London Taxi Driver. 

If Helen Chapman is so worried about the public being overcharged, or breaches in licensing regulation, why has she said and done nothing about the nightly rip off of passengers who are touted by RD2 drivers illegally parked in Regent Street, by the Swallow Street Arch, illegally plying for hire?

Passengers from bars in Swallow Street wishing to go just a few hundred yards are often touted and charged between £15-25 for jobs of under a mile.

This situation has been ongoing for over a year since RD2 were controversially issued a satellite office license by LTPH for The Groucho Bar in breach of TfL's own licensing regulation.

If TfL/TPH are to take issue over minimum fares, it must be right across the spectrum and take into consideration minimum fares charged by radio circuits and ride sharing schemes at stations, both of which were ongoing practises long before TfL came into existence.

Helen Chapman's statement yesterday was uninformed and should be retracted immediately. 

Taxi Leaks will make space available should Hailo wish to reply to Helen Chapman's statement. 

Read Hailo's Blog post here:  https://t.co/VjOmssduzH

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New York Taxi Of Tomorrow, Has Finally Hit The Streets.

It is now done, the Nissan NV200T taxicab is now in service on the streets of New York City.


The meter on the first NV200T fare officially kicked-off at JFK International Airport on October 23, dropping its inaugural passenger near 13th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. Mr. Ranjit Singh, an owner/operator of Medallion No. 7F20, took delivery of his NV200T from Koeppel Nissan in Queens on October 18.

Eight Nissan dealerships in the New York City region now have the NV200T available for purchase by New York City medallion owners.

These milestones mark the next phase in Nissan’s commitment to deliver the most innovative, custom-designed taxi experience ever to the more than 600,000 people who ride in New York City taxicabs every day.

“The Nissan NV200T demonstrates the company’s leadership in advancing global mobility through modern vehicle design and technology,” said Andy Palmer, executive vice president for Nissan Motor Company. “From its fuel-efficient powertrain, to its space-saving design and passenger-centric interior, the Nissan taxi is a prime example of innovative spirit that goes into all Nissan vehicles. We are excited to see the NV200T now carrying passengers around Manhattan, and look forward to bringing the same NV200T experience to drivers and passengers in new markets outside New York.”

The NV200T is powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, made, per Nissan, to enhance the emission performance and fuel efficiency of the taxi fleet.


Nissan’s goal is to change the taxi experience worldwide.

Drawing on its full range of commercial vehicle experience – including providing taxis for municipalities around the world – Nissan said it has been called on by some of the world’s largest cities, including London, Paris, Tokyo and Bangkok, to explore how the company can support delivery of custom taxi solutions – whether gasoline, hybrid, electric, handicap accessible or any other desired configuration.

Most notably, London’s cityscape will have a new ‘black cab’ to call its own with the addition of a Nissan taxi to its fleet in 2014. Modified to meet Transport for London’s legal requirements, Nissan said the London taxicab’s custom-tailored design maximizes passenger space and comfort with occupant-friendly features. The five-seater layout complies with specific headroom height requirements that were originally introduced to enable passengers to wear a top hat in the back while delivering significantly reduced CO2 outputs compared to current taxi models.

Nissan has worked with Mayor’s office during the design and development stage of the new London Taxi, and will continue to do so as the project reaches production.


Source: Hybridcars.com

Dublin's Taxi drivers demand damages over 'disastrous' licence liberalisation

MANY cabbies suffered a "financially disastrous overnight catastrophe" as a result of the liberalisation of the taxi licensing regime in 2000, the High Court heard.

They should now be entitled to damages as a result of what was an unlawful and unreasonable move, it was claimed.

Drivers who bought licences from other licence holders for sums as high as €100,000 had their constitutional rights to property, equal treatment and to earn a livelihood breached when the value of those licences was wiped out overnight in November 2000, Michael Collins SC said.

Some drivers bought licences as late as August 2000 but, months later, licences could be acquired by any appropriately qualified person for about €5,000.

While there was some discussion of liberalisation before November 2000, various reports and consultants who addressed the issue recommended it should be implemented on a phased basis and drivers could not have expected it would happen overnight, Mr Collins said.

Counsel was opening actions by three taxi drivers - Alphonsus Muldoon, Vincent Malone and Thomas Kelly - which are regarded as test cases for actions by some 1,200 other drivers arising from liberalisation of the taxi licensing regime in 2000.

The case of Dublin-based Mr Muldoon, the first being opened, is against the Minister for Environment and Local Government,  the State and Dublin City Council.  The defendants deny liability.

Mr Muldoon (66) bought a licence from another driver for IR£80,000 in 1998, plus a IR3,000 licence fee. He claims the 2000 regulations deprived him of an anticipated substantial asset which he intended to use for pension purposes.

He paid for the licence with his IR£40,000 life savings and by remortgaging his home for the other IR£40,000. While he was later paid

€13,000 compensation under the Taxi Hardship Scheme which had a maximum payment of IR£15,000, that did not compensate him for the loss suffered, he claims.

As a result of the new licensing regime of 2000, he was unable to meet mortgage repayments over certain periods, his earning capacity and health were affected and he has been unable to provide for a pension with the effect he faces having to work indefinitely, Mr Muldoon also claims.

Today, Mr Collins argued the licensing regime in force between 1978 and 2000 was not in the interests of drivers or taxi users as it unlawfully allowed local authorities limit the number of licences issued via an impermissible delegation of Ministerial powers.

While there was no dispute the number of taxis that existed during this time was wholly inadequate to address demand,  drivers had not set up the licensing system and just had to deal with it.

While they could benefit if they paid a large sum to operate in this restricted market, what they were buying was a licence expected to be a long-term benefit.

All the drivers did was play by the State-created "rules of the game" and their losses were a direct consequence of that unlawful regime, counsel argued.

The court heard no new licences were issued in Dublin over a ten year period from 1978 beyond the approved number of 1,800. During the 1990s, approval was given for some additional licences. Mr Muldoon claims, when he sought to enter the industry in 1994, he was advised he would have to buy a licence from an existing licence holder.

The State's failure to address issues concerning the secondary market arising as a result of the hackney industry compounded problems, it is claimed.

The "laudable aim" of the new regime from 2000 was to address the clear need for more taxis but the manner in which that was done was unlawful, unreasonable and disproportionate, Mr Collins argued.

The manner of liberalisation involved impermissible delegation of the taxi regulation powers of the Minister for Environment & Local Government under the Road Traffic Acts, he submitted.  It was also contended there were breaches of competition law arising from how, and in what quantities, taxi licences were issued.

Source: independent ie

And now, for something completely different: A thing of beauty is a joyforever...by Jim Thomas

We've had a lot of talk about a new purpose built Taxi for London. Manufacturers such as, Nissan, Peugote, Ford and Frazer Nash, have all shown interest in producing a new London Cab.

The only vehicle that seemed to comply fully with the conditions of fitness and looked ready to go, was the Nissan. Unfortunately the NV200 appeared to have dropped out of sight for a while after certain problems in New York with the "Taxi of Tomorrow". But finally it was given the go-ahead

Although it looks the part complete with turning circle and wheelchair access ability, many London cabbies seem disappointed with the size of the engine. Would a 1.5 petrol/deisel be powerful enough to get a full payload of 5 passengers plus luggage, up Highgate West Hill?

Truth is, the answer lies in the vehicles weight. What most drivers don't realise, it's been done before and quite successfully with the wonderfully eccentric Winchester cab which sported just a 1.5 lump.

But reports in the press today state the NV200T went into service in New York this October 23rd, powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine

When I got my badge in 1973, I like 90% of the trade drove an FX4. There were still a few old Beardmores around, plus 3 different versions of the Winchester Taxi. 
After I had been driving for about 6 months, the fellow I was renting my FX4 from offered me the chance to drive his Petrol/Gas Mk11 Winchester. Similar to this one below


Garages that sold LPG were few and far between in the 70's, so I ran the cab on petrol for most of the time I had it. The model I drove was manual and had a 1.5 ford Cortina engine which was an absalute dream to drive. 

The most amazing thing about the Winchester Taxi, although the last one produced was built over 41 years ago, if put on the road today, it would be more economical to run and less polluting than the any current model.

Below is a piece I managed to find online about the 9 years the Winchester was in production. 
Makes interesting readin.

Winchester
In 1963, the Winchester MkI was the first taxicab to feature fibreglass bodywork. It was the brainchild of the managing director of Winchester Automobiles (West End) Ltd (a subsidiary of a specialist insurance group which had been formed in the late 1940s specifically to cater for the insurance needs of owner-drivers). 


The deisgn had been developed in consultation with a team composed of cab drivers, opertors and mechanics, with the aim of producing a design which would excel in all areas. The plastic bodywork, initially built by West Drayton-based fibreglass specialists James Whitson over a chassis constructed by Rubery Owen (best known for their classic “Rostyle” wheels), gave the cab two key advantages over the FX4 and Beardmore Paramount MkVII: lower weight and panels that couldn’t rust.


Originally launched with the same Perkins engine as used in the Beardmore, the launch of the MkII version in September 1964 saw this give way to the much quieter and brisker 1.5-litre petrol unit from the Ford Cortina, with the cab’s lower weight ensuring that performance remained adequate. From 1965 the bodywork was made by Wincanton Transport and Engineering (who also built milk floats for their parent company, the United Dairy Group), and MkIII version followed, with minor modifications.


In 1968, the Winchester MkIV appeared, with an all-new body design giving it a much more modern appearance. Chassis production moved to Keewest Development Ltd in Hampshire, who also carried out the necessary modifications required for it to accept the new bodywork (which was still produced by Wincanton). The Winchester MkIV remained in production until 1972, before the laws of economics proved it to be unsustainable, due to its pitiful 2% share of the market. Indeed, total production for all versions failed to reach 200 over the 9-year run.

Source: www.aronline.co.uk

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Action Speaks Louder Than Just Words. Press release concerning licence renewal hold ups.

TfLTPH Press Release Concerning DBS/CRB Checks.

I know you all share concerns regarding the issues with the DBS following the changes implemented by the Home Office earlier this year.

The Mayor and TfL have continued to raise this issue with the Home Secretary and other delegates within the Home Office. As a result of our correspondence the Home Office agreed to a meeting with Sir Peter Hendy and this took place last week.

I am pleased to advise you that following discussions, the Home Office have agreed to escalate cases for taxi and private hire drivers that are older than 45 days with the relevant police forces to ensure these are prioritised. Usually the DBS would not escalate a case until it is over 60 days old.

We are confident that this will go a long way to resolving the issues of drivers being unable to work.

For the longer term with renewal packs now being sent with four months notice and drivers signing up to the update service this issue should soon diminish as everyone settles into the new ways of working and the transition period comes to an end.

The Home Office have confirmed the agreement in writing and I attach a copy of the letter.

Regards Helen Chapman

REPLY FROM THE HOME OFFICE

22 October 2013

Dear Sir Peter,

DISCLOSURE AND BARRING SERVICE CHANGES
Thank you for your letter of 17 September to Mike Anderson here, and for attending our meeting on 15 October. I hope you found it helpful.

As we discussed, the change in your licensing procedures has coincided with a backlog of DBS checks which have been referred to police forces. These cases have been referred to police forces because they may be holding relevant police intelligence information. The police must in each case consider whether or not the information relates to the applicant and, if it does, whether it should be disclosed. Delays in this part of the process have resulted in delays in the issuing of some checks and this is clearly impacting upon taxi drivers seeking to renew their licenses.

The DBS already has specific recovery plans in place with the police forces responsible for the greatest delays but we agreed some additional measures for taxi drivers. As I explained, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has agreed to put in place specific arrangements to help conclude those checks as quickly as possible.

It will actively follow up on individual applications from taxi drivers which are significantly delayed, highlighting these cases so that they can be quickly resolved. We agreed that we should focus on clearing the oldest checks first and, as a result, DBS will highlight any case which has not been resolved after 45 days, drawing it to the attention of the relevant police forces. This new process will be brought into effect immediately.
You also indicated that renewal packs are now being issued to drivers at least 4 months in advance, which should provide sufficient time for certificates to be issued.

In addition, the DBS e-bulk service provides information on when certificates have been issued and whether they are clear of any criminal record information. In these cases, TfL are able to go ahead with renewing licenses as soon as this information is available.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Safer Transport Command tells Cyclists - Be safe, be bright, be seen

The Metropolitan Police Safer Transport Command (STC), funded by Transport for London, is urging cyclists to be safe, be bright and be seen this Autumn in a bid to further improve cycle safety in the capital.

    


During the week of 28 October 2013 the STC Roads Policing Unit (RPU) will be running a pan London initiative at designated sites to encourage cyclists to equip their bikes with front and rear lights or be given a £50 fine if they fail to do so. 

Should a cyclist receive a fine by the RPU they will be given three days to have a set of lights fitted to the same bike and if they comply the fine will be cancelled. The onus is on the cyclist to return and satisfy these requirements or the ticket will be processed as normal.

By law a bicycle must have a working white front light and a working red rear light. October is a peak month for cycle fatalities and serious collisions and with the clocks going back on Saturday 26th/Sunday 27th October, cyclists used to commuting home after work in daylight may now find they do so in darkness.

Additionally cyclists should make themselves as visible as possible by wearing bright clothing in the day and reflective clothing or accessories at night.

Chief Superintendent Sultan Taylor, Safer Transport Command said: 
"The Safer Transport Command (STC) and Transport for London are committed to promoting safe cycling and reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on London's roads. 

"With fewer daylight hours at this time of year, it is even more important that cyclists have good lights on their bikes - white at the front and red at the rear - so that they are visible to motorists and pedestrians. It is also a requirement by law that they do so. 

"I urge every cyclist to affix lights and wear highly visible clothing. Our message is clear: BE SAFE, BE BRIGHT, BE SEEN." 

Siwan Hayward, Transport for London's Head of Transport Policing, said: 
"As the days become shorter and we approach winter we want to remind all cyclists to check their lights are working, ensuring they are bright enough to be seen clearly in the dark. 

"As part of the Mayor's Vision for Cycling and our commitment to cycle safety we will be working with our policing partners on educating cyclists on violations such as this to help increase their safety. 

"We also work closely with the borough's to offer cycling training to help educate cyclists about how to stay safe whilst cycling which I would like to encourage everyone to take advantage of." 


The law requires that a bicycle has a working white front light and a red rear light between sunrise and sunset  (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1989/1796/regulation/4/made)

Taxi Leaks Offer LTPH "A Simple Solution To Taxi Bill Renewal Chaos"

An open letter to whoever will be taking charge of LTPH, after last weeks reshuffle.


Dear Sir or Madam  

We have noticed that even with the bad publicity, appertaining to the incompetence and poor performance of your licensing department, the former interim General Manager failed to come up with a solution to the "Bill renewal" hold ups.

Many drivers have been forced off the road for weeks because of your new system that clearly doesn't work in respect of DBS/CRB checks. 

Some drivers are even calling for Brazilian national Marcos Gurgel to be reinstated, saying: "At least he could get you back on the road, same day".
  
We have previously been informed by your office, that the reason for the delays lies with the contractors picked to handle the CRB checks. I believe that's referred to as passing the buck!

Your subcontracted agent has consistently failed to achieve desired targets, therefore the contract should be scrapped and given to a company who can actually deliver and meet required targets. 

As transport commissar Sir Peter Hendy refuses get involved and your department seem unable to find such a company, we have taken the liberty of finding one for you.

uCheck Ltd and Crb-checkonline.co.uk "

The company we found, promises to return CRB enhanced disclosures in a matter of hours (instead of months) and they claim their current record stands at 4 hours 

Below is an email received by one of Taxi Leaks top researchers.

 Good Morning,

We contacted organisations recently giving full information about our rapid online disclosure service. The take up was huge and here are some of the reasons why:-

·         Disclosures back much quicker – Enhanced Disclosures can now be with you in hours (our record is four hours!).

·         You still get a Disclosure certificate for clear Disclosures.

·         We charge the minimum we can so you save money too!!

If you would like further information about our service, please email enquiries@ucheck.org.uk and we’ll forward further details without delay.

Kind Regards,

The UCheck Disclosure Team

uCheck Ltd and Crb-checkonline.co.uk


General Outsourcing Of Services.
We've spoken to drivers who have enquired about their Bill renewal over the phone. It transpired they were told at the time of the call: "LTPH are in possession of the completed renewal and CRB and admin staff will process and post to you, as soon as possible."

These drivers then had to wait even longer while the bills were sent out by 2nd class post.

Also, to help clear the present backlog, what's wrong with letting the driver come over to Palestra to pick up the renewal from reception?
They could then go straight off to work!

Could it be that licensing is no longer carried out at Palestra and the whole process has been subcontracted out to a private company outside London?
(Sort of a Project Horizon by stealth!)

Let's remind ourselves what happened the last time "Project Horizon" reared it's ugly head.

Headlines Evening Standard 10th November 2011.
 TfL manager plunges to his death at HQ 'after hearing of redundancy'


Headlines, Daily Mail, 11th November 2011.
TfL manager, 53, falls six storeys to his death in front of colleagues 'moments after being told he was redundant'

          

A senior manager of Transport for London jumped six storeys to his death in front of shocked colleagues at the company's headquarters after allegedly hearing he was being made redundant. 
Jack Shemtob, 53, landed in the lobby of the new office block next to the O2 Arena in Greenwich, South-East London, minutes after catching the lift to the top floor. 



Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Curious Incident of the Three-Legged Dog in the Nightime

Police in Lambeth have arrested three people after a police vehicle was rammed by a van in Tulse Hill.

At approx 2250hrs on Thursday, 24 October an unmarked police car in Cherry Close, SW2 indicated for a white Citroen van to stop after the van had triggered an ANPR activation for involvement in the theft of mopeds.

The van pulled over and the unmarked police car pulled up behind, indicating its presence by activated its blue lights. As it did this, the van reversed - ramming the police vehicle at least two times and injuring the two officers inside. 

The van then made off from the scene and a short pursuit occurred with a marked police vehicle. As the vehicles travelled along Brixton Hill, again the white van rammed the police vehicle. The van was then abandoned in St Saviours Road, SW2 and the occupants fled on foot.

The details of the van's occupants were circulated, including one particularly distinctive description of a grey haired man seen carrying a three-legged black dog.

Approximately an hour later, a Lambeth officer on patrol in Leigham Court Road, SW16 saw a blue Nissan car containing three men - one of them carrying a remarkably similar looking three-legged black dog. A quick check noted that this vehicle was registered to the same keeper as the white Citroen van.

Backup was called and the vehicle was stopped at a petrol station a short distance down the road.

Three men, aged 18, 42 and 67, were arrested for a variety of offences including GBH, failing to stop, possession of a bladed article and driving offences. They remain in custody at a south London police station.


Borough Commander for Lambeth, Chief Superintendent Matt Bell, said:

"I am thankful that the reckless actions of these people has not resulted in any serious injuries to my officers, but this incident once again demonstrates the dangerous work that police officers carry out on a daily basis.

"This series of events demonstrates the best qualities of Lambeth officers - from the bravery of those involved in the initial stop, the pursuit and arrests, to the eagle-eyed work of the officers who identified the suspects.

"I am immensely proud of their actions."

None of the officers were seriously injured during the incident.

Source: Met Press Bureau.

Over-strength' Lambeth police defend officer cuts

Police officer numbers in Lambeth have fallen by 20 per cent over the past two-and-half years, it has been revealed, after the borough’s top cop claimed the borough had been “over-strength” for years.

A week after the police chief of neighbouring Southwark resigned and claimed the Metropolitan Police was in “financial crisis”, the latest figures for Lambeth show a drop of nearly 200 officers in two-and-a-half years – 1,038 in March 2010 to 846 at present.

Sergeants, including those who led the borough’s safer neighbourhood teams, also fell over the same period from 119 in 2010 to 88 at the beginning of October.

Chief Superintendent Matt Bell said Lambeth police had been “over strength” for years and now has just over the number of officers it should.

Chief Supt Bell said: “While there are fewer officers than in 2010-11, performance in the borough has improved this year, with reductions in burglary, robbery, serious youth violence, gun and knife crime.

“The Metropolitan Police Service remains committed to maintaining operational capability during the current financial climate and the challenges that presents.”

Last week, Southwark’s borough commander Charles Griggs announced his departure from the Met after only nine months in the job, saying the force faces a “financial crisis”.

He told colleagues: “Sadly, as part of the budget cuts in response to that crisis it has not been possible for the Met to honour their commitment to my three-year tenure.”

Lambeth and Southwark’s London Assembly member, Val Shawcross, said she feared the drop in police numbers could result in a resurgence of crime in Lambeth.

Ms Shawcross said: “It has been clear that police numbers have been falling last year and this year.

“I think it’s a real concern to the community.

“It’s a very poor situation at the moment and I fear it could get worse.”

She said the cash crisis and cuts were being “very badly managed” with no clear information coming from the Mayor of London’s office.

In Gipsy Hill the safer neighbourhood team has been halved since the start of the year because Sergeant Lee-Ann Mills is on maternity leave and two PCSOs have left without being replaced.

David Green, chairman of the Gipsy Hill Safer Neighbourhood Panel, said: “We must have police officers patrolling the streets and if this is being cut down they cannot be in two places at the same time.

“The impact is loss of confidence and the sense of personal wellbeing would be that much diminished.”

Source: Gaurdian. 

Swansea taxi drivers "like a collection of tramp and scarecrow look-a-likes"


A CALL has gone out for a code of conduct and dress code to be introduced for taxi drivers - to stop them looking like "a collection of tramp/scarecrow look-a-likes".

Swansea resident Kelvin Hughes raised the issue after what he said was a bad experience with a cab in the city.

But cabbies and Swansea Council had defended taxi drivers in the county.

Mr Hughes said: “On crutches I caught a taxi: did the driver get off his backside to help? Of course not.

“People, tourists or business people arrive in Swansea for the first time and what do they see? A collection of tramp/scarecrow look-a-likes purporting to be taxi drivers.”

In the light of Swansea Bay’s bid to become the City of Culture in 2017, Mr Hughes called for a code of conduct and a dres code to smarten-up the image of taxi drivers.

But registered cabbies have rejected the accusation of slovenliness.

One driver, Andrew Bennett of Gorseinon's Phoenix Cabs, said helping people was part of the job.

Mr Bennett, who has been a taxi driver for 18 years, said: “I always make sure I look presentable as it provides people with a good opinion. I wear a polo shirt with my firm's name on it.

"Our job is dealing with the public and helping people is part and parcel of our job. If someone is struggling we make sure we help them."

He added: "A lot comes down to the driver’s personality – it’s in my nature to help someone out if they need assistance.”

A spokeswoman for Swansea Council said there were safeguards in place, and that the byelaws covering hackney carriages stated that drivers "must be suitably attired in suitable clean clothing" and their cabs must been clean, inside and out.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cabmans Shelters Get Lottery Grant To Ensure Their Place In History.

To the untrained eye, they are green sheds - an incongruous sight on the busy streets of urban London.
But these wooden structures have, in fact, been part of the street-scene in the capital since 1875 - a refuge for taxi drivers to eat, drink and take shelter from the weather.
These days, just 13 remain - and many now serve the general public at large. But cabbies remain their core customer base. Now, as in the 19th Century, they are looked after by the Cabmen's Shelter Fund - a charity.
A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will now ensure their place in history is recorded. The Creative Intelligence Agency, a non-profit design and arts organisation, is working with the London Transport Museum to document the shelters' past, gather oral histories from cabbies and commission art works.
Archive images courtesy of London Metropolitan Archives
Video Journalist: John Galliver
Source BBC.

Will Time Bell Ring For Late Night Drinking In Lambeth?


A London borough is planning to use new powers to stop alcohol being sold after midnight in an attempt to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Lambeth, with support from the Home Office, is in public consultation on imposing the curfew in part of Clapham to deal with noise and disorder linked to four licensed premises: a nightclub, two bars and an off-licence.

It would be London’s first early morning restriction order (EMRO)

If implemented, the EMRO will ban the sale of alcohol from midnight to 6am, and breaches would mean the venues could be stripped of their licenses and prosecuted.

Lambeth councillor Jack Hopkins said: “We’ve worked for years with businesses and residents trying to resolve this problem, but it hasn’t worked.

“We are consulting on using this strong measure, and if there is support for it from people in the area then the council will seriously consider putting the EMRO in place.

“Many councillors in other boroughs have contacted me expressing a lot of interest in this new licensing.”

The EMRO is a power, detailed in the Licensing Act 2003, which has now been extended to councils. The Act allowed premises to apply for 24-hour alcohol licenses, but critics claim that government attempts to encourage a “café culture” have failed.

Lambeth residents have complained about nightclub The Artesian Well, bars Lost Society and Mist on Rocks, and Vesco News off-licence in Wandsworth Road and North Street for eight years.


The Artesian Well has already suffered a drop in trade after their operational hours were cut to 1:30am last year, after complaints.

Patrick Watson, 58, who lives in Wandsworth Road, said: “The venues evacuate people onto the streets but they don’t disperse properly. They urinate, vomit, scream, fight, and congregate outside our homes and opposite the retirement home and intimidate people every single weekend.”

The council will hear the views of residents and businesses until the end of next month. If there is enough public support, the EMRO will come into force in January.

Lost Society owner Mark Banks said: “We feel it’s unfair as we’re the earliest venue to close anyway, and we’ve complied with the council every step of the way regarding dealing with antisocial behaviour.”  Mr Banks and Rudy Weller, director of The Artesian Well, said their venues would have to close if forced to stop selling alcohol at midnight.

The owners of Mist on Rocks and Vesco News were unavailable for comment.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The EMRO was introduced to restrict the sale of alcohol within the minority of premises that drive crime and disorder.”

Other councils are holding similar consultations on EMROs

Source: Evening Standard.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Travel Safer minicab passenger app launched by Bedford man

A man whose friend was sexually assaulted by an unlicensed minicab driver has developed a mobile phone app to track the route of taxis and minicabs.

Anthony Price, from Bedford, says his free Travel Safer app allows the user to record the registration number of the vehicle they are getting into.

Their journey is then traceable and can also be followed on social media.

Bedfordshire Police said they welcomed safety initiatives but warned people to be careful what they share online.

Mr Price said in 2005 a friend had unknowingly got into an unlicensed vehicle in Peterborough and was sexually assaulted.

She was not able to get the registration details after the attack and the offender was never traced.


'Privacy policy'

"We thought there must be a way to prevent it happening again but at that time the technology didn't exist," he said.

"As soon as technology allowed, we went to the drawing board; now phones have got GPS it's a lot easier to track [people]."

The app captures the user's time and location of check-in and posts the vehicle details to the user's Facebook timeline.

All the passenger's social media "friends" can see where they are so Mr Price said the app was subject to "the person's own privacy policy".

"They can opt out of it being posted on social media, but the journey is still traceable," he said.

"Not only does it give friends and family reassurance their loved one is traceable, it provides accountability to both passengers and drivers of taxi or private-hire vehicles," he said.

Mr Price said any profits made from a "pro" version of the app, which allows passengers to check out of a vehicle and add an image, would go to rape victim charities.


Source: BBCnews

Minicab smash could have been deadly

TAXI driver Will Russell has described the moment a minicab hit his vehicle and flipped onto its roof.

Will, 40, a self-employed driver from Lambourn, was standing next to his Peugeot Expert people carrier waiting to collect a passenger at the train station on Saturday when the incident happened.

Two minicabsowned by Cross Street Radio Cars were involved in the crash on Station Road at around 9.30pm. One of the cars, a Ford Mondeo, upturned onto its roof after driving into a Vauxhall Vectra and Will’s people carrier.


“It was all a bit of a blur because I was standing next to my vehicle as it happened,” he said. “I was on the phone when the Mondeo came round the corner. The next thing I knew I heard a massive bang and my vehicle was thrown 10 feet down the road.

“The red Vectra had been parked just past the traffic lights. I spoke to the driver afterwards and he said it all happened in slow motion for him.

“When the Vectra driver saw me standing next to my taxi he thought I was a gonner. Luckily it did not hit me. Two minutes earlier I had been standing at the rear of the car and it could have been a very different story. I think there must have been a guardian angel looking after me.”

Reports that the Mondeo was speeding have not been proven, and Cross Street Radio Cars has stated unequivocally the Mondeo had not been travelling over the speed limit.

“There were between 50 and 100 people there at the time around the pubs, and it could have been a lot worse had he gone into some people at the station,” said Will, who is unable to continue his business because he says his car will be written off.

“My taxi is undriveable now and I am waiting for a replacement from my insurance company. The rear axle is snapped and part of the rear is caved in. I work for myself so I can’t carry on with my business.”

A spokesman for Cross Street Radio Cars said: “Reports of speeding are wide of the mark. We have a system which tracks our drivers and runs off a GPS.

“It gives a figure accurate to within half-a-mile an hour. The speed limit in this street was 30 miles per hour and our machinery shows the car was on 30 miles per hour.

“The worst case scenario is he was driving at 30.5 miles an hour.”

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “Even though we have spoken to witnesses, we would ask anyone else who may have information to contact us immediately.”

Wiltshire Police can be contacted on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Source: This is Wiltshire 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Taxi Fares and Tariffs Consultation TfLTPH 23 October 2013

1. Introduction

1.1.  This consultation document sets out proposals relating to the annual revision of taxi (black cab) fares and tariffs in London.

1.2.  The proposals in this document cover the possible taxi tariff revisions which would take effect in April 2014.

1.3.  Comments are invited from all who have an interest in these matters.

1.4.  The procedure for responding to this consultation is set out in section 14 and consultation responses must be received by Wednesday 20 November 2013.

2. Background

2.1.  Taxi and private hire services in London are licensed and regulated by London Taxi and Private Hire (LTPH), part of Transport for London (TfL). TfL is the transport agency of the Mayor of London.

2.2.  We license London taxis (hackney carriages) and taxi drivers under the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869. Section 9 of this Act allows us to make regulations which fix the rates or fares to be paid for hackney carriages (i.e. taxis). The London Cab and Stage Carriage Act 1907 allows us to make regulations to fix the fares to be paid for the hire of taxis fitted with taximeters, on the basis of time or distance or both. The London Cab Order 1934 (the 1934 Order) is the main set of regulations made under these Acts and (as amended) sets the fares regime that covers most taxi journeys in London.

2.3.  Section 10 of the Transport Act 1985 allows us to make a scheme which allows for shared taxi journeys whilst the London Taxi Sharing Scheme Order 2005 allows for fixed fare shared journeys.

2.4.  Annex A summarises the regulations governing taxi fares.

2.5.  London has about 25,000 licensed taxi drivers and around 22,500 taxis. Drivers can be licensed to ply for hire anywhere in London (All London/Green Badge, of which there are around 21,800 drivers) or in one or more of nine suburban sectors (Suburban/Yellow Badge drivers, of which there are around 3,700)1. All licensed taxi drivers must only pick up passengers within the areas they are licensed to ply for hire, however they may drop off passengers in all areas.

2.6.  There are estimated to be approximately 185,000 passenger-carrying taxi journeys per day, with an average taxi fare of almost £13.00 per journey and an average journey length of about 3 miles. Although all taxis can carry five passengers and some can hold six, there are one or two passengers in a typical hiring2.

2.7. In 2012 the overall passenger satisfaction score for London’s taxi services was 85 out of 1003 and the overall satisfaction score has remained fairly consistent since 2002. The 2012 survey showed that around one third (35 per cent) of taxi users thought taxi fares were about right, with almost two thirds (65 per cent) thinking taxi fares were either a little too expensive or much too expensive4.

3. Annual revisions–general change in tariffs

3.1.  Previous tariff reviews have adhered to three basic principles which are:

Using the taxi cost index to guide the increase in average fares

Maintaining reasonable differentials between the day,

evening/weekend and late night tariffs

Maintaining a reasonable progression of fare with journey length

3.2.  A list of the current status of the cost index elements is attached as Annex B. The final cost index figures will be published in December and will include the latest figure available for the cost of fuel, which could result in the final average fare increase figure differing from the figure currently shown in the table in Annex B.

3.3.  The increased tariffs in the evenings, at weekends and at night are intended to encourage drivers to work at these times, when the supply of available taxis has been poor.

3.4.  The cost index has been used for several years and provides a mechanism for calculating tariff changes and takes into account fluctuations to the cost of operating a taxi. However, the cost index does not allow driver or public opinion to be taken into account when reviewing tariffs and does not necessarily reflect the general economic or social state at the time.

3.5.  Any review and change to taxi tariffs needs to based on robust information and it would not be acceptable to impose arbitrary changes or increases. The cost index provides a well established mechanism for reviewing taxi fares and tariffs and the average fare increase based on the cost index is currently shown as 1.0 per cent.

3.6.  Full details of the proposed tariff changes based on the cost index are shown in Annex C.

3.7. We invite your views on the general change in tariffs including on:

The principle of a revision based on the cost index

Whether you feel alternative approaches to reviewing taxi fares and tariffs should be considered and any alternative suggestions you wish to put forward

Whether you feel the days and times when the current tariff rates apply are still relevant and appropriate

Whether you feel that any of the tariff rates are too high or too low – if you feel any of the tariff rates should be higher or lower then please include your reasons for this

4. Date of tariff update

4.1.  Taxi fares and tariffs are reviewed annually with any changes coming into effect at the start of April each year. Prior to the changes coming into effect a consultation is conducted around October/November and then any proposed changes are submitted for review and approval by the TfL Board in February.

4.2.  Changes to rail and bus fares and tickets normally come into effect on 2 January each year and it has been suggested that changes to taxi fares should be aligned with the rail and bus changes so that it is clearer to the public when taxi fares increase and what the increase is.

4.3.  This would mean that on 2 January each year the tariff rates would be changed and all of the actions associated with the tariff revision would need to occur on 2 January or in the first week of January. This would include updating taximeters and replacing fare cards5 in all licensed taxis.

4.4.  At present to update a taximeter with the new tariff rates and fares information requires having physical access to the taximeter. If the tariff was updated on 2 January each year one of the biggest challenges would be ensuring that resources were available to update all taximeters from meter companies. Even if all taximeters eventually became capable of being updated remotely the taxi fare card displayed in the passenger compartment would still need to be physically replaced.

4.5.  We invite your comments and views on changing the date when new taxi tariffs come into effect from early April to 2 January. We are particularly keen to know:

Whether this would cause problems for drivers, taxi garages, taxi proprietors or taximeter companies

Whether this would be preferable to the current arrangement where taxi fares and tariffs are updated each April

What are the advantages and disadvantages for the licensed taxi trade with the current tariff changes in early April, and what would be the possible advantages and disadvantages for them if the tariff were to change on 2 January

What are the advantages or disadvantages for passengers with the current tariff changes in early April, and what would be the possible advantages and disadvantages for them if the tariff were to change on 2 January

5. Fuel prices

5.1.  Since July 2008, special provisions have been in place to allow an extra charge to be added to taxi fares if rising fuel costs make this appropriate. Fuel prices can vary rapidly and unpredictably, and a high increase during the year would result in additional costs for drivers which they would not be able to recover from passengers.

5.2.  The extra charge would be authorised if fuel prices reach a threshold and if this was reached then an extra of 40 pence, added by the driver to the metered fare, would be applied to every taxi journey. The threshold represents the price at which the overall increase in taxi costs would be in proportion to the increase in the average fare, represented by the fuel charge.

5.3.  To illustrate, if the fuel charge were a 4 per cent increase on the average taxi fare, the threshold would represent a 4 per cent increase in the total costs; and if the fuel costs represented 10 per cent of the cost index elements, this would correspond to a 40 per cent increase in fuel prices. The current threshold level for diesel fuel prices (as measured by the AA fuel price report6) is set at 178.9 pence per litre and the new threshold figure would be calculated in late December 2013.

5.4.  If the threshold diesel price is exceeded before the next tariff revision (i.e. between April 2014 and April 2015) we will ensure appropriate publicity is produced to inform passengers and taxi drivers of the fuel charge. Once in place, the metered extra would remain in force until the annual tariff revision, even if fuel prices subsequently decreased. 

5.5.  We propose to extend this arrangement, setting an appropriate threshold for fuel prices to trigger the approval of an extra on taxi fares during 2013/14. The threshold will depend on the level of the general fares increase and the fuel price used in the calculation of the fare increase.

5.6. We invite your comments and suggestions relating to the scale of the increase, the time of year and the ease with which the extra charge can be added.

6. Telephone bookings extra charge

6.1.  For taxi bookings made by telephone an extra charge of up to £2.00 can be added to the metered fare. This was introduced prior to Smartphone, mobile applications and online booking services becoming available but in recent years a number of new taxi booking services which do not involve the passenger making a ‘traditional’ telephone call have been launched and these have become increasingly popular and successful.

6.2.  No change to the £2.00 maximum limit is planned but we are proposing to review the telephone extra and clarify whether this charge could also be applied to bookings made using Smartphones, mobile applications and via online services. It is important to remember that this extra charge only applies to black cabs booked by telephone and does not apply to private hire vehicles/minicabs booked by telephone.

6.3.  We invite your comments on this proposal and whether this extra should apply to taxi bookings made using Smartphones, mobile applications and online services or whether it should be restricted to only telephone bookings where the passenger physically makes a telephone call to a company to book a taxi.

7. Card payments–surcharge

7.1.  On Saturday 6 April 2013 The Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012 (the Regulations) came into effect7 banning traders from “charging consumers more than the cost borne by them for accepting a given means of payment”. This includes processing card payments.

7.2.  The regulations cover taxi passengers who pay by card and were introduced following a consultation by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. A copy of the consultation outcome, the regulations and guidance on the regulations are available on the Inside Government website at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-the-early- implementation-of-a-ban-on-above-cost-payment-surcharges.

7.3.  The current card payment surcharge for taxi journeys is set at £1.00 or 12.5 per cent of the metered fare, whichever is greater. The cost to drivers of processing card payments will depend on a number of factors (e.g. card processing equipment used, methods of acceptance, contractual agreements, etc.) and will vary between drivers and taxi companies. Allowing a percentage of the fare to be charged as the surcharge when paying by card means that for taxi journeys with a higher final metered fare there is a risk that the surcharge will exceed the cost of processing the card payment, which would be an offence under the Regulations.

7.4.  It is important for both drivers and passengers that excessive charges are not made when a passenger pays by card. This is because there is the obvious issue of the passenger paying more than they should do, plus a risk of reputational damage to the taxi trade as a whole if passengers do not feel confident that they will be charged the correct amount when paying by card. If a driver is found guilty of breaching the Regulations then they risk their fitness to remain licensed as a taxi driver being reviewed.

7.5.  We are keen to see the number of taxis accepting card payments increase as this gives passengers a wider choice of how to pay. We know that the majority of passengers expect to be able to pay for taxi journeys by card with 86 per cent of taxi users saying that they should be able to pay by card and 78 per cent saying that they would be very likely or quite likely to pay for a taxi by card8.

7.6.  In order to ensure compliance with the Regulations the card payment surcharge is being reviewed and new options considered. These options are:

A. Remove the card payment surcharge completely

This option provides certainty for passengers, as they know there will be no extra charge when paying by card, and would ensure full compliance with the Regulations. However, this option could lead to fewer drivers accepting card payments as they would not be able to recover the costs of processing card payments.

B. Retain the current surcharge of £1 or 12.5 per cent with the greater figure charged but also require drivers to ensure that they do not charge more than the cost borne by them for accepting and processing card payments

This option would retain the current surcharge of £1 or 12.5 per cent with the greater figure charged. However, drivers would also be required to ensure that they do not charge more than it costs them to accept and process card payments. So if the cost of accepting and processing a card payment was less than £1 then the driver would be required to charge the lower amount.

This option ensures that a cap on the surcharge is retained and that drivers can recover some or all of the cost for accepting or processing card payments. It does mean there would continue to be some uncertainty for passengers about the exact amount they would pay as this would vary with the fare if the surcharge is 12.5 per cent of the fare.

C. Not set any surcharge but allow drivers to charge passengers the cost borne by them (the driver) for accepting and processing card payments

This would place the responsibility for complying with the Regulations on the driver, as they would need to determine what their card processing costs were and they could then add this to fare when a passenger pays by card.

This option would introduce uncertainty for passengers, as they would be charged different amounts depending upon the card processing equipment used by the driver and the contract each driver has with the card processing company. This in turn could lead to drivers being accused of applying excessive charges when accepting card payments and damage the reputation of the taxi trade as a whole.

D. Set a maximum surcharge
A maximum surcharge could be set and this charge applied if this was less than the cost of processing a card payment. Where the cost of processing a card payment was lower than the maximum surcharge then the driver must apply the cost of processing the card payment, as to charge more than this would be a breach of the regulations.

So for example if the maximum surcharge was set at £1.00 this could be applied to all fares where the passenger pays by card and the cost of processing the card payment is equal to or more than £1.00. Where the cost of processing a card payment is less than £1.00 then the lower figure would be the maximum surcharge that could be applied.

This option provides more certainty for passengers, as they will know what the maximum surcharge will always be, and would still allow drivers to recover some or all of the costs of accepting card payments.

7.7. Comments on the current card payment surcharge were invited as part of last year’s consultation. Several responses to last year’s consultation stated that the 12.5 per cent fee could be lower with 10 per cent suggested by some respondents.

7.8. Our preferred option is to reduce the 12.5 per cent surcharge to 10 per cent and allow £1 or 10 per cent to be charged, whichever is the greater,but with all taxi drivers also required to ensure that they do not charge more than it costs them to accept and process card payments. The reasons for this are that it ensures that the costs of accepting and processing card payments can be recovered but also provides some reassurance for passengers as they know what the maximum surcharge will be.
7.9. We invite your comments on card payment surcharges including on:
• The options listed above
• Whether there should continue to be a surcharge at all for accepting
card payments
• The costs of processing card payments
• If you currently charge the surcharge, the method by which you do
this
• If a maximum surcharge was set what value this should be at
• If a percentage was retained as part of the maximum surcharge
could this be lower than 12.5 per cent and what would be an
appropriate figure
• Any other suggestions for the surcharge for processing card
payments

8. Christmas and New Year extra

8.1. For taxi journeys made between 20:00 on 24 December and 06:00 on 27 December or between 20:00 on 31 December and 06:00 on 2 January there is an extra charge of £4.00. This extra charge must be added to the metered fare manually by the driver at the start of each journey during the period covered.

8.2. In the 2012 taxi fares and tariffs consultation comments were invited on the proposal for this extra to be added to the taximeter automatically instead of manually by the driver. There was widespread support for this proposal and the intention was for the change to be made in time for Christmas 2013. However, it was not possible to introduce this change due to some taximeter companies being unable to modify their taximeters in time.

8.3. It is still intended to introduce the change to the Christmas and New Year extra and for this to be added to the fare automatically at the start of the journey when the extra applies. Where a journey starts before the extra applies then this would not be added to the meter. The £4 must be displayed on the taximeter as an extra. The current intention is for this change to be made as part of this tariff review so that it is in place for Christmas 2014.

8.4. In doing this it is possible that some taximeters may not be modified before Christmas 2014 and where this is the case these taximeters would no longer be approved for use in London licensed taxis and would therefore need to be removed before 24 December 2014 and replaced with a TfL-approved taximeter that could add the Christmas and New Year extra to the fare automatically at the start of the journey.

8.5. We invite your comments on the intention to introduce this change to the Christmas and New Year extra in 2014 and the potential implication this has for some models of taximeter which will no longer be approved for use in London licensed taxis.

9. City Airport extra

9.1. One of the busiest taxi ranks in London is at City Airport with taxis providing an important service for people arriving at the airport. Until recently the taxi rank consisted of a long feeder rank on Hartmann Road which fed the head of the rank located on the forecourt area. As a result of Crossrail works in the area and the need to divert buses along Hartmann Road, in October 2013 the layout of the taxi rank changed with the feeder rank on Hartmann Road moving into a taxi holding area.

9.2. London City Airport Limited (LCAL) has informed us that they now intend to introduce a fee for taxi drivers using the airport rank to pick-up passengers. LCAL has requested that we introduce an extra charge that drivers can add to fares from City Airport in order to allow them to recover part or all of the costs incurred when using the rank.

9.3. The fee for drivers using the rank is planned to be introduced on 1 April 2014 and the proposed fee is between £3.30 and £3.50. LCAL has suggested that taxi drivers should be able to charge passengers the full cost of the driver fee or as close to this as possible.

9.4. LCAL’s proposal is similar to the scheme already in operation at Heathrow Airport where drivers pay a fee to enter the taxi feeder park and there is an extra charge payable by passengers for all taxi journeys starting from any of the ranks at Heathrow Airport. The driver fee for entering the feeder rank at Heathrow Airport was until recently £6.00, with the extra payable by passengers £3.20 – this is 53 per cent of the fee drivers must pay. Since the passenger extra was increased from £2.40 to £3.20 the driver fee at Heathrow Airport has in fact been reduced to £5.22.

9.5. Any extra charge introduced would need to be a multiple of 40 pence, as the extra button on taximeters increases in 40 pence increments. If an extra was introduced for passengers taking a taxi from City Airport and it was in line with the Heathrow extra (i.e. approximately 50 per cent of the driver fee) then this would equate to an extra charge of around £1.60.

9.6. We are not responsible for whether LCAL should or should not introduce a fee for taxi drivers picking up passengers at City Airport and any potential driver fee is not part of this consultation. We are aware that the main taxi driver associations are opposed to the introduction of a driver fee at City Airport and have made LCAL aware of their position and views. If you do have comments or concerns regarding a driver fee then these should be directed to LCAL.

9.7. However, through this consultation we are inviting your views on whether, in the event of a driver fee being introduced at City Airport, an extra charge for passengers should be introduced and if a passenger extra is introduced what level this extra should be set at.

9.8. We invite your comments regarding an extra charge for passengers taking a taxi from City Airport including on the following:
• Whether an extra charge should be introduced if drivers are required to pay a fee for picking up passengers from the taxi rank at City Airport
• If an extra charge for passengers is introduced how much should this be
• Whether you agree that any extra charge should be in line with the extra at Heathrow Airport and approximately 50 per cent of the fee payable by drivers
• If you feel the extra should be higher or lower then please include your reasons for this
• Any comments about the likely reaction and views of taxi passengers if an extra charge payable by them is introduced

10.Heathrow Airport extra

10.1. There are well served taxi ranks at all main terminals at Heathrow Airport. Every taxi accessing a rank needs to pass through the taxi feeder park. Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) charge a fee for entering the taxi feeder park to cover the administration and maintenance costs of operating the feeder park. To compensate drivers for having to pay this fee, a “Heathrow extra” is charged to passengers for every taxi journey that starts from Heathrow Airport and ends in Greater London. At present, the Heathrow extra is £3.20 per trip.

10.2. The extra was increased from £2.40 to £3.20 last year and when the feeder park fee was £6.00. Since this increase HAL has reduced the charge for taxis entering the feeder park to £5.22.

10.3. As the feeder park fee has fallen we are reviewing the extra passengers pay and are proposing to change this to £2.80, which is just over 50 per cent of the feeder park fee and broadly in line with the revision in 2012.

10.4. We invite your comments and suggestions regarding the Heathrow extra and whether this should be changed or kept at the current level – if you feel the extra should be higher or lower then please include your reasons for this.

11.Wimbledon fixed-fare, shared-taxi scheme

11.1. Fixed-fare, shared-taxi schemes operate at Euston Station on weekday mornings, Buckingham Palace at the end of Garden parties, and from Wimbledon Tennis Ground and the nearby stations during the tennis championships.

11.2. These schemes have been regulated since 2005 and benefit all parties involved as:
• Passengers have a shorter wait and reduced fares
• Drivers get more revenue than for an equivalent exclusive hiring
• The local community benefits from fewer taxi movements, resulting
in less congestion, noise and pollution

11.3. During the Wimbledon Tennis Championship a fixed-fare, shared-taxi scheme operates between the ground and Wimbledon and Southfields stations. This scheme has been successful and there are no plans to change this or review the fare charged.

11.4. A fixed-fare, shared-taxi scheme also operates from the ground to other parts of London during the Championships but this scheme has been less successful and there have been complaints about passengers either being overcharged or refused. It has been suggested that part of the reason for the fixed-fare, shared-taxi scheme from the ground to other parts of London not being as successful as the service from and to Wimbledon and Southfields stations and the ground is due to some fixed-fares being too low and therefore not worthwhile for drivers.

11.5. The fixed-fares from the grounds to other parts of London have now been reviewed and the proposed new fares are below:


We invite your comments on the new fares plus any other comments on the fixed-fare, shared-taxi schemes at Wimbledon and also any comments on problems or issues with the scheme plus suggestions for improvements.


12. Fixed-fares between Heathrow Airport and central London

12.1. The typical taxi fare between Heathrow Airport and central London is currently shown on the taxi fare card as being between £45 and £85. This is intended to provide passengers with some indication of what the fare might be if they take a taxi between the airport and central London but this is still quite a wide range and the fare could be higher if there are delays during the journey.

12.2. The uncertainty about what the fare will be for a taxi trip between Heathrow Airport and central London does not contribute to a positive passenger experience nor improve passengers’ satisfaction with taxi services and could deter some people from taking a taxi to or from the airport.

12.3. Some cities provide fixed fares from the airport to certain locations. 
For example for trips from John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport to Manhattan there is a flat fare of $52, which is approximately £33, with any tolls added to the meter at rate 29. Fixed-fares also operate between Rome city centre and Fiumicino/Leonardo da Vinci Airport and Ciampino Airport10.

12.4. It has been suggested that a fixed-fare should be in place for taxi trips from Heathrow Airport to central London and also from central London to Heathrow Airport and we have been asked to consider setting a fixed fare for these trips and consult upon this. A fixed-fare would provide passengers with certainty about how much their trip will cost, which may be particularly important when they first arrive at the airport. It may also lead to more people taking taxis to and from the airport as they can be confident of the exact cost and not concerned that if there are delays their fare will be excessive.

12.5. A fixed-fare could operate only from Heathrow Airport to central London, only from central London to Heathrow Airport or in both directions. The destinations covered in central London could be particular areas – for example it could be based on postcode districts and one possibility would be W1J, which is the postcode district around Piccadilly Circus. Alternatively it could operate to or from certain locations such as the main hotels in central London and this could be limited to hotels in a particular area such as Park Lane. Just one fixed-fare could be set however, it is felt that it would be more appropriate to set a fixed-fare for each tariff rate, so there are three fixed-fares in total.

12.6. We invite your comments on the proposal for fixed-fares to operate between Heathrow Airport and central London including on:
• Whether fixed-fares would benefit passengers
• If a fixed-fare was introduced what the fare should be
• The days or times when a fixed-fare should operate – should this be
24 hours a day or limited to certain days or times
• Should there be a different fixed-fare for each tariff rate
• Whether a fixed-fare should operate only from Heathrow Airport to central London, only from central London to Heathrow Airport or in both directions
• The destinations in central London that should be covered by a fixed-fare scheme and whether this should this be limited to certain destinations

13.Impact assessments 

13.1. Costs
a. Any taxi fare increase will be borne by taxi customers. The cost index has been established for around thirty years as the most appropriate way of ensuring that regulated fares remain in line with the costs of providing the taxi service.

b. Any changes not based on the cost index would represent a break with the established method of reviewing taxi fares but it is expected that any changes not based on the cost index would only be implemented if they resulted in lower increases to taxi fares and therefore would benefit passengers.

c. Taxis are heavily used by disabled and elderly visitors and Londoners and these groups will be affected by fare increases.

d. We part fund the Taxicard scheme and so any increase to taxi fares will affect this scheme and will potentially result in members being able to make fewer trips if funding is not increased.

e. No other significant cost implications have been identified.

13.2. Crime and Disorder
a. Licensed taxis play a vital role in providing safer transport late at night and a balance needs to be maintained between ensuring that taxi drivers are encouraged to work late at night but that the public do not perceive taxis as unaffordable and see illegal, unsafe “cabs” as a cheaper and preferable option.

b. A 1.0 percent increase to taxi fares would help ensure that drivers are able to meet their costs and maintain earnings. It is important to ensure that taxi drivers are able to meet their costs and maintain earnings so that taxi driving remains a viable career for drivers who have invested time and money in completing the Knowledge of London. It is also important to ensure that the supply of licensed taxis, especially at key times such as late at night, is not affected by drivers reducing their working time or leaving the trade.

13.3. Equalities
a. Taxis are heavily used by disabled and elderly residents and visitors to London. These groups will be affected by the fare increases. Disabled residents should be eligible to apply for a Taxicard and benefit from subsidised taxi journeys. An increase in taxi fares means that unless the Taxicard subsidy increases or Taxicard members are able to pay more towards fares then they will not be able to travel as far. The Taxicard service does provide a door-to-door service, using an accessible taxi however, members can only use the Taxicard service for social trips

b. Elderly residents are likely to have a Freedom Pass and so potentially they will be able to use other forms of public transport free of change. However, not all other transport services provide a fully accessible door- to-door service that may be essential for some elderly travellers.

c. Wheelchair users can use bus services free of charge and will be able to continue to do so. Although all buses, with the exception of the Heritage routes, are wheelchair accessible they do not provide a door- to-door service.

d. Some other disabled travellers may also be able to travel for free on the bus or Tube but again these services do not provide a door-to-door service that may be essential.

e. Some residents may be eligible to use the Dial-a-Ride service which does provide a door-to-door service and accessible vehicles.

f. However, although elderly and disabled taxi users will be affected by a taxi fare increase the proposed increase is lower than both the Retail Price Index (RPI) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which are 3.2% and 2.7% respectively11.

13.4. Health and Safety
a. No significant implications for health and safety have been identified.

13.5. Environmental Sustainability

a. No significant implications for health and safety have been identified.

14.Making a submission

14.1. This consultation document seeks views on a number of issues relating to taxi fares. Respondents are also invited to provide relevant information to support decisions by us on these issues.
14.2. The document is being sent to the organisations and individuals listed at Annex D. Comments from other interested organisations or individuals are also welcome and we welcome suggestions as to other organisations that should see this document.
14.3. An Aide Memoire is provided in Annex E listing the issues on which comments are specifically invited. However, the document in its entirety forms the consultation document and any part of it may be referred to in a response.

14.4. Consultation responses must be sent in writing by Wednesday 20 November 2013 to:
Email: tph.consultation@tfl.gov.uk
Post: Taxi Fares Consultation TfL – London Taxi & Private Hire 4th Floor Yellow Zone
Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road London, SE1 8NJ

14.5. If you are responding by post, please submit two copies of your
response.

14.6. If you are responding as a representative organisation, please include in your response some background information about your organisation and the people that you represent.

14.7. Consultees are asked to make clear which part of the consultation document their comments refer to by reference to the paragraph numbers used in this document.

14.8. We will give full consideration to all points raised in responses to this consultation. A summary of the comments received will be published.

14.9. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires public authorities to disclose information they hold if it is requested. This includes information contained in responses to public consultations. Our intention is to publish the responses received but with the personal information (e.g. name, address, email address, etc.) of individuals such as licensed taxi drivers who have responded, but not organisations, removed. If you ask for your response to be kept confidential this will only be possible if it is consistent with our obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.

14.10. Enquiries about the contents of this consultation document may be made by email to tph.consultation@tfl.gov.uk.

14.11. Further copies of this consultation document can be obtained from our website by visiting tfl.gov.uk/tph or by telephoning 020 3054 2945.

15.Next steps

15.1. This document has set out issues concerning taxi fares, it is a consultation document and responses are invited from all interested parties.

15.2. A summary of the responses will be published after the consultation period ends.

15.3. The responses to this consultation will be considered and taken into account in deciding whether to act on the proposals contained in this document or other proposals that are put forward. If appropriate, the TfL Board will be invited to approve changes to appropriate Regulations.

15.4. We would plan to make such decisions within a period of four months from the end of the public consultation. Following the decision we then plan to make an announcement about the implementation of any changes.
 
Annex A: 
Summary of taxi fares regulations
General

The 1934 Order sets the fares regime that covers most taxi journeys in London. Article 35 of the 1934 Order provides that taximeters must be fitted to cabs to calculate the fare. Article 40 of the 1934 Order provides the maximum fare payable, which is a hiring charge plus the applicable rate
 (a sum based on the time and distance travelled and the circumstances of the journey).

Values prescribed in article 40 are programmed into taximeters which automatically calculate the amount the driver can charge.
These values are revised each year by decision of the TfL Board after a consultation with taxi trade stakeholders, with new fares taking effect at or about the first weekend in April. Fare changes are legally implemented by revision of the 1934 Order.

Most revisions since the early 1980s have been based on a cost index that reflects the costs of operating a taxi in London, with a few other amendments such as the introduction of evening and night tariffs and the removal of extra charges for luggage or additional passengers.

Specific provision has been made to cater for exceptional costs, such as the additional costs of making the fleet wheelchair accessible in the 1990s. In 2005 a 20 pence extra for all taxi journeys was introduced to cover the costs of bringing all taxis up to the Euro III emissions standard. The 20 pence emissions charge was included in the minimum fare which was set in The London Cab Order 2005.

Taxi sharing schemes
Section 10 of the Transport Act 1985 provides that we may make a scheme which allows for shared taxi journeys. The London Taxi Sharing Scheme Order 1987 provides for separate fares to be calculated based on the metered fare for the journey. This requires a conversion chart to be carried in the taxi and explained to the passengers, and works best if all passengers are going to the same destination. It is not believed that this scheme is used widely.

The London Taxi Sharing Scheme Order 2005 allows for fixed fare shared journeys. The 2005 Order sets a pre-determined, per-passenger fare that applies to a journey from a specified origin to a particular destination or area at a certain time. Each passenger pays less than they would do for an exclusive taxi journey, although the total fare received by the driver is more than the metered fare would be. This operates successfully in a number of sites, particularly where marshals are employed to group passengers with similar destinations. These arrangements have proven popular with drivers and customers.

The London Taxi Sharing Scheme Order was revised in 2012.



Notes
1. The index components are as normally used in the cost formula. Further details are available on request.
2. ‘Weight’ is the proportion that the component contributes to the total cost per mile.
3. ‘Contribution to total’ indicates the importance of each component’s cost change in determining the overall cost change. It is calculated for each component as the product of its percentage cost increase and its weight. The Grand Total is the sum of the individual components’ contributions.
4. The ‘latest’ column under ‘Data availability’ indicates the dates to which data in the ‘cost increase’ column relates.
5. As agreed in 2011, costs for Parts, Tyres and Garaging will be uplifted by the yearly change in the Office for National Statistics RPI figure for “motoring expenditure: maintenance of motor vehicles” (DOCT) published on 15 October 2013.
6. The change in fuel costs relates to the change from the average of the AA diesel price for the 3 months to December 2012 to the 3 months to September 2013. This figure will be revised as further monthly data becomes available.
7. As agreed in 2011, costs for insurance will be uplifted by the yearly change in the Office for National Statistics RPI figure for “motoring expenditure: vehicle tax and insurance” (DOCV) published on 15 October 2013.
8. Provisional Knowledge, Social Costs and Average National Earnings changes are derived from the ONS average weekly earnings averages for the three months to August in 2012 and 2013.

TfL Pricing & Forecasting 21 October 2013



Parts, Tyres, Garaging & Servicing
In 2011 a study was conducted comparing the changes in costs associated with parts, tyres, garaging and servicing incorporated into the cost index over recent years with the yearly changes in the Office for National Statistics RPI figure for “motoring expenditure: maintenance of motor vehicles” (DOCT). The study concluded that the two series were comparable and it was agreed to use this ONS RPI figure to represent these cost index items in future.

In September 2013 the DOCT RPI series showed an annual increase of 2.4 per cent. This gives an increase in the cost per mile of these components from 16.60p in 2012 to 16.99p in 2013.

Fuel
The Derv price index from Arval, which has been used to calculate the change in fuel price, was discontinued in 2013. In deciding on an alternative source of fuel price data analysis of London diesel prices from the AA (available at www.theaa.com/motoring-advice/motoring-costs.html) shows close correlation with the Arval Derv price index. Based on Arval data last used to calculate the index, the average fuel price over the thirteen weeks from 15 October 2012 to 7 January 2013, was compared with the AA average price over the latest three months to September 2013. This gives a value of 142.9p per litre compared to 141.2p, giving a decrease of 1.2 per cent.
Insurance

A similar comparison to that made for parts, tyres and garaging costs was made of previous years’ cost index insurance figures versus the ONS RPI series figure for “motoring expenditure: vehicle tax and insurance” (DOCV), and again it was decided to use the RPI figure in future cost index revisions.
In September 2013 the DOCV RPI series showed an annual increase of 6.8 per cent. This gives an increase in the cost per mile of these components from 9.74p in 2012 to 10.40p in 2013.

Miscellaneous
This comprises the cost of hiring a meter, smoke test, vehicle licence and driver licence. The requirement for a receipt printer to be installed in all taxis was removed from 1 January 2013. The average cost in 2012 was £461 or 2.27 pence per mile. The average cost for the same strategies in 2013 was £494 or 2.43 pence per mile, giving an increase of 7.2 per cent.

Earnings Related
The latest average weekly earnings data (headline rate ONS series KAC3) show a 0.7% year on year increase for the three months to August 2013. This gives a cost per mile figure for the updated index of 137.8, representing 58.5 per cent of the total index cost.

The “knowledge” and “social” costs have also been uplifted each year in line with national earnings. In 2013 these increased to 12.52p and 6.42p respectively, together representing a further 8 per cent of the total index cost.

TfL Pricing & Forecasting 22 October 2012



Annex E: Aide memoire

Purpose of the consultation
We are conducting this consultation on matters relating to taxi fares. In particular, we seek your views on the following proposals set out in this annex.

This document in its entirety forms the consultation document and any part of it may be referred to in a response.
Comments or information are specifically invited on the following points, but comment need not be limited to these. 

Below is a brief summary of the points covered in each section.
3. Annual revisions – general change in tariffs
Whether to use the cost index again to calculate the average increase to taxi fares or to consider a different method.
4. Date of tariff update
Should the date of the tariff review and update be changed and aligned with bus and rail fare increases.
5. Fuel prices
Should the provision for abnormal fuel price increases be continued.
6. Telephone bookings extra
Should the telephone booking extra be extended to cover taxi bookings using Smartphones, apps and online services.
7. Card payments – surcharge
What change to the card payment surcharge be made in order to ensure compliance with ‘The Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012’.
8. Christmas and New Year extra
Should the Christmas and New Year extra be changed so as it is automatically added to the taximeter, even if this results in some model of taximeter no longer being approved for use.
9. City Airport extra
In the event that LCAL introduce a fee fro drivers using the City Airport rank should an extra charge for passengers be introduced and should this be in line with the Heathrow Airport extra.
10. Heathrow Airport extra
Should the Heathrow Airport extra be reviewed following the reduction of the feeder park fee.
11. Wimbledon fixed-fare, shared-taxi schemes
Are the revised fixed-fare, shared-taxi fares for taxi trips during the Wimbledon Tennis Championship appropriate.
12. Fixed-faresbetweenHeathrowAirportandcentralLondon
Should fixed-fares be introduced between Heathrow Airport and central London.
14. Making a Submission

Instructions and requirements for responses are given in Section 15.