An Around Midnight Publication ©2012-2014. Taxi trades biggest following.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Bill-Gate"... How Much Longer Can These People Last? Post Removedafter harassment from TfL.





This post has been removed by the administrator after harassment and threats of legal action from LTPH.

Blog moderator and occasional poster Jim Thomas said:
We did everything possible to insure the facts in the post were correct. But sometimes LTPH/TfL won't let you get to the whole truth. It's hard because Director of LTPH John Mason has in the past, ignored important questions.

We were given three points said to be incorrect. As a good will gesture, we immediately removed and rewrote the post. Apparently this action wasn't good enough and we were told that the post contained other incorrect facts which LTPH refused to point out, demanding the whole post be removed. Threats were made about contacting Google UK and getting the blog removed.

We take reasonable care to ensure articles are factual and advertise an email address for queries. Mason refused to use the facility we offer and instead went straight for bully boy tactics threatening to take the blog down.



Removing this post, is in no way an admission. We shall be posting the offending bullet points in future articles. We intend to post, one point at a time, backed up with all the evidence in our possession.

CPS Taxi Fraud: Two staff charged over £1m Taxis for witnesses.

Two workers at the Crown Prosecution Service are to be charged with a fraud plot over false taxi claims totalling at least £1m.

Lisa Burrows, a finance manager, and an administrative officer who has not been named, work for CPS West Midlands.

The allegations concern false claims for witness care taxi services to the value of at least £1m when no such services had been supplied, the CPS alleged in a statement.



Source: Skynews

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Operation Big Wing Update

As of 17.20hrs officers working on Operation Big Wing have arrested 343 people across London.

The arrests have been for a range of offences including theft, possession of class A drugs, possession of class B drugs, possession with intent to supply, burglary, robbery, handling stolen goods and possession of an offensive weapon.

Highlights have included:

Officers arrested a man on suspicion of absconding from prison after he was found hiding in a loft at a house in Beckenham.

Acting on intelligence officers attended the address and arrested the 35-year-old man who was taken to a south London police station where he remains in custody.

It is believed the man had absconded from an open prison in Kent in November 2009 and had been circulated as wanted since then.

Inquiries are continuing.

A search warrant was executed by Southwark Trident Gang Team at an address in Walworth, SE17, this morning.

Officers found approximately a half of a kilo of what is believed to be crack cocaine, evidence of its production, white powder - believed to be cutting agent - and around £3,000 cash.

A 35-year-old man was arrested at the scene and is currently in custody at a South London Police Station.

Officers working on Operation Big Wing have seized a number of items today including a CS canister and asp from an address in Kingston and a stun gun from an address in Waltham Forest.

Officers in Bromley have raided a cannabis factory and seized 80 plants.

In Kensington and Chelsea officers seized more than £35k of designer handbags and arrested a woman on suspicion for money laundering and theft

Kensington Safer Transport Teams has recovered cash and six suspected stolen bikes and cash.

In Greenwich there have been 27 arrests for a variety of offences from burglary to GBH and possession of drugs, 82 vehicles stopped in ANPR operations, four of which were seized for no insurance and no MOT. A total of 950 people went through a knife arch outside a school today in Abbey Wood. No knifes recovered.

In Brent 86 vehicles have been stopped in an ANPR operation and seven vehicles seized so f ar. A knife arch also has been erected at a school in Brent

Officers executing a search warrant at an address in Westminster this morning seized a Porsche as part of Operation Big Wing activity.

The vehicle has been taken away from the address pending further inquiries. No arrests at this stage.

OPERATION BIG WING


Criminals from drug dealers and gang members to uninsured drivers and burglars are being targeted by the Met Police in a major day of coordinated activity to cut crime and disrupt those who cause harm to London’s communities.

Borough officers will be joined by specialist colleagues to carry out arrests, search warrants, licensing enforcement, ANPR operations, high visibility patrols and a range of other activity in what will be the biggest ever Big Wing operation to date.

Officers will also be conducting street briefings and police surgeries across the Capital’s 32 boroughs to inform and engage the public on what is being done to tackle crime and disorder.

Chief Superintendent Simon Letchford said:

“Gang violence, drugs, and knife crime are serious, high harm crimes that can sadly have a devastating and lasting effect on local communities; however, there are also many other issues which might be seen as ‘lower level’ offences, such as anti-social behaviour or uninsured drivers, that we know can and do blight the daily lives of too many people.

Today’s operation is about showing Londoners that we have listened to their concerns and we are committed to taking robust preventative and disruptive action to stop this criminal activity and make their communities safer. It’s also about warning those intent on breaking the law and engaging in criminal activity that we will be doing everything we can to stop them, and wherever possible we will be putting them before the courts.

Officers from every part of the Met have been mobilised and will be out and about on your streets today, tackling the crimes that affect your neighbourhood. You will see police carrying out licensing checks, uninsured vehicle checks, executing search warrants, and patrolling your local transport hubs throughout the day.

Some of you will notice police surgeries where you can drop in to speak to an officer about your concerns; or street briefings, where you can listen in and find out what police are doing to make your neighbourhood safer. All members of the public are encouraged to engage with the officers, get some crime prevention advice, ask questions.

We are here to serve the public, and we hope today’s activity will be one way of showing some of what we do every day to make London safer for our communities.”

The activity taking place across London today will include execution of warrants; arrests of those on outstanding warrants; arrests of gang members; arrests of domestic violence suspects; licensing checks; uninsured vehicle checks; ANPR; flying columns; street briefings;

The units and departments involved include all 32 London boroughs; Dog Support Unit; Mounted Branch; Territorial Support Group; Firearms Command; Trident and Gang Crime Command; Air Support Unit; Royal Parks Command; Traffic Unit; Special Constabulary; Police Cadets; Safer Transport Command;

To find out more details for your specific area please visit your borough page on the MPS website.

RMT Statement on NSL Test Fees.

The Taxi Specific test (conducted by NSL) commences this week and there is
an anomaly in that those who booked a test before the publication of the
new LOWER test fee had to pay the HIGHER test fee.

Cab Owners are significantly disadvantaged and the law clearly states that
Licensing Authorities can only charge licensees the actual cost of
providing the service.

RMT London Taxi Branch will therefore seek to recover the excess costs for
affected members, hopefully by TfL seeing the obvious injustice here and
issuing a credit for subsequent years or a refund.

If however TfL are not forthcoming we will not hesitate to take legal action.

TfL's policy in the past about timing of fees has nothing to do with the
above and was a policy decision by them alone.

We will also be keeping a close watch on proceedings at the test centres
to ensure no MOT items are retested or cabs denied licenses on trivial
matters, indeed we expect a 'failure' to be rare occurrence.

Can any member affected please contact the branch on 07899 786433 or email
us on Londontaxi@rmt.org.uk

CRONY CAPITALISM: Boris Johnson, Tim Yeo, conflicts of interest, ignored evidence, and utterly pointless London taxi regulations

Eco City Vehicles supply new taxis to cab drivers in London. The Chairman of ECV is Jolly Green Giant Tim Yeo (right).

In 2010, consultations took place about a maximum age limit for London taxis. The main supposed motivation for having a maximum age involved the question of pollutants being emitted by older taxis. In fact, scientific testing showed conclusively that the new generation of London taxis were no better than the old ones: for that reason, the Department of Transport actually advised Local Authorities not to implement an Age Limit on Taxis on the basis of emissions. All evidence and objections on this basis were ignored by Mayor Boris Johnson, and the coming Age Limit for taxis was formally announced.

During 2011, further scientifically valid arguments were raised with the Mayor. There were protests by owners of older taxis, but these too were ignored. In January 2012, the Age Limit for taxis was introduced, forcing hundreds of drivers out of work….but doing nothing to reduce pollution.

By the passage of this rule, Tim Yeo’s company stands to benefit massively in terms of sales. Tim Yeo is a member of the Conservative Party. Boris Johnson (left) the London Mayor is also a member of the Conservative Party. When at Oxford, Johnson was a member of the infamous Bullingdon Club. Nick Hurd, Tim Yeo’s Chief of Staff while Shadow Minister, also went to Oxford. Nick Hurd was also a member of the Bullingdon Club. In 2005, Boris Johnson and Nick Hurd were founder members of the Conservative Green Chip Club.

Tim Yeo was Minister for (nota bene) the Environment from 1992 to 1993 in the government of Prime Minister John Major, and then Shadow Minister in that role while in Opposition. Before the last election, Tim Yeo initiated a debate about lowering London taxi emissions, the positive outcome of which he knew would benefit his company ECV. When the improper involvement of his company in the Mayoral Age Limit consultation was exposed, Tim Yeo and the CEO of Eco City Vehicles Peter Da Costa resigned from the process. No action was taken against them.

Asked whether there had been any involvement of ECV and Yeo in the decision making process for London, Boris Johnson wrote to Labour MP Andy Slaughter stating categorically that he had never discussed any of the proposals with Yeo, and that Eco City Vehicles ‘had absolutely no involvement in any way in the consultation process’. The Transport for London minutes appear to suggest that this was simply untrue: Peter Da Costa attended consultation meetings, and is quoted in the TFL minutes several times.

Campaigners like ecologist Dave Davies have pressed for the Age Limit to be declared improper and unlawful given the flagrant ignoring of vital evidence. Davies appears to be on sound legal ground here: in a High Court Judicial Review brought by Newport Taxi Drivers, the Judge ruled that the consultation process had been improper there too, and thus the Age Limit that was being introduced was unlawful.

Let’s not beat about the Shepherd’s Bush here: Tim Yeo had a massive conflict of interest while Shadow Environment Secretary, and a massive conflict of interest regarding the decision to introduce a London Taxi Age Limit rule. Boris Johnson rode roughshod over entirely reasonable, evidential objections to the taxi cab Age Limit (for which there is no scientific basis whatsoever) and those involved in it all bring with them the unpleasant whiff of crony capitalism. (See the Deliverance inbreeding traced above)

In need of more evidence about double-dealing Timmy? Read on. Yeo sits as Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, while at the same time being Chairman of ECV, a company proclaiming emission advantages that are illusory. He is also pro-fracking. Obviously a man of firm principles.

Yeo’s time as Environmental Champion in the Major years was shortlived, as he was forced to resign after siring a love child with Conservative councillor, Julia Stent. Earlier, Yeo had said in a speech to Relate in his constituency, “It is in everyone’s interests to reduce broken families and the number of single parents.” Obviously a case of droit de seigneur, then: or crime passionelle. Or double standards. Or all of them. Well why not eh? We’re the élite, we’re worth it!

Want more evidence about political cronyism? In a dramatic U-turn in August 2012, Mr Yeo switched sides on the UK airport debate, saying a decision on expanding airport capacity in the South East was needed urgently to maintain Britain’s competitiveness. This of course put him entirely on message with….London Mayor Boris Johnson, who’d just helped him drive a taxi through the City’s emission laws.

But now let us turn to the aforementioned Dave Davies, a man batting for the right to breathe clean air. As he rightly points out, 4267 people a year are dying in London from pollution (the Mayors own statistic from his 2008 campaign). In the 4 ½ years that he has been in office, however, Mayor Johnson has, claims Davies, “implemented improper and failed emissions strategies which have seen no reduction in pollution.” Live, die, sword etc.

However, here’s a few more problems Dave is having…with the media. He can’t seem to get the Mail (where Boris’s sister writes) or the Telegraph (where Boris writes) to pay any attention to his concerns. Just fancy that.

Source: http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/


Sat-nav vs taxi

Who is the best navigator: Mat Watson with a sat-nav or a London taxi driver? Watch the video to find out

Source : www.autoexpress.co.uk : with thanks to Les

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Met Police Action Over Rape Victim, Catastrophic for Women

A damning watchdog report published today found that a Police unit based in Southwark, who's job it was to tackle the increasing number of sex crimes in London, wrote off large numbers of rape allegations as no crimes to reduce the number of unsolved cases on their books.

Met Police rape victim failings
The police watchdog has published a highly-critical report on the Met Police's Sapphire sex crime unit. It said officers pressurise women to drop rape claims, including one against a man who went on to murder his two children.

The Women's Resource Centre, a charity which supports women's organisations has condemned Metropolitan Police after an IPCC report found officers had pressurised women to drop rape claims:

VIVIENNE HAYES, CEO, WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTRE SAID:
"Yet another catastrophic outcome for women and children as a result of serious and endemic institutionalised failings within the police, and even more worryingly within a specific unit of the police set up to deal with rape and sexual violence."

"They are obviously not fit for purpose! When will the institutionalised sexism obviously rife across the country be properly and satisfactorily addressed? Furthermore, in the wake of £3billion worth of cuts to the women’s sector under this coalition government, when will the life-saving work of women's charitable organisations be fully resourced to ensure appropriate support is available to women who have experienced such heinous crimes?"


Unbelievably all the officers involved in these cases based with the Southwark squad, have been reinstated within the force and two have actually been promoted.

The subsequent fall in minicab related serious sexual assaults in 2010 is alleged to be a direct result of officers pressurising victims into retracting reports of rape and sexual assault and also to prioritise on motor crime, graffiti and mobile phone thefts instead.

A survey carried out by ITN in 2012 showed that 80% of victims of rape fail to report to the police who they see as hostile.

London Taxi Company to take on 100 staff and start production again by June.

With Derv about to hit £1.50 a litre, a Hybrid engine, which we already know works, will save LTI, BUT, can they develop it quickly enough.

The maker of London's black cabs, which was rescued from administration by the Chinese car company Geely, is to double its workforce as it aims to restart production of the taxis in a matter of months.

Having bought Manganese Bronze, the owner of the London Taxi Company, out of administration earlier this month, Geely is to add about 100 jobs over the next year, almost all at the Coventry plant where the distinctive taxi is made. The factory currently has 107 workers, after 156 lost their jobs following Manganese's fall into administration last October. "Geely is committed to retaining the facility in Coventry," said Peter Johansen, the former finance director of Manganese who is now executive vice president of the London Taxi Company. "The factory in Coventry will continue to manufacture taxis. That's the home of the taxis."

The company is also working towards restarting production of black cabs at the factory. The workers at the plant have been concentrating on repairing vehicles in the wake of a fault with steering boxes that resulted in 400 of its TX4 taxis being recalled last year, prompting Manganese's fall into administration.

Mr Johansen said that with this complete, "it will be probably June before we actually start producing a brand new vehicle off the assembly line".

Geely, which also owns Volvo Cars, has restarted selling cabs in the UK . The business has also received orders for 200 from both Australia and Saudi Arabia, in deals believed to be worth up to £15m in total.

With Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, recently proposing that only zero and low-emission vehicles should be allowed in the centre of the capital by 2020, the London Taxi Company plans to develop a hybrid taxi and in the long term, one powered by hydrogen.

source: www.independent.co.uk

Monday, February 25, 2013

Latest News From The London Taxi Company

EVP Peter Johansen talks to Global Partners

To our global partners,

Following the recent purchase of The London Taxi Company by Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, I felt it was important that I write to our global partners, both existing and potential, to introduce myself and our new company.

Geely has appointed me as the Executive Vice President of The London Taxi Company. I am relatively new to the industry but I hope to bring a fresh approach to how we operate and interact with our customers and stakeholders. The last few months have been a huge trial for all parties concerned and I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you for the support shown to us over the difficult recent past. We want to repay our gratitude to you through improved service delivery and products.

I would also like to thank Geely, not just for their pledges as new owners to invest in and develop The London Taxi Company brand and products but also for their unswerving support over recent years. Over the next five years Geely have committed to new products, new power trains and increased model range of taxi specific vehicles.

With that in mind, I am pleased to announce that Matthew Cheyne, Director of International Sales, will now take the lead on all global sales for all markets excluding China. This renewed focus will allow us to maximise opportunities across the world and deliver a consistent, mutually beneficial offer to our customers; his team are absolutely integral for The London Taxi Company to be recognised as the leading global provider of purpose-built taxis, on a sustainable, profitable business model.

We have a lot of hard work and challenges ahead of us in order to re-establish ourselves and I believe that our very first step is to express the trust and respect that we have for our customers across the globe. We can only truly do that by demonstrating our focus on customers and quality in everything that we do from this point forward.

Actions speak louder than words and we are going to focus on demonstrating our passion and commitment through improvements in customer satisfaction and product quality.
We believe that the future of this business depends on these fundamental principles.

Peter Johansen
Executive Vice-President
The London Taxi Corporation Ltd t/a The London Taxi Company

Minicab driver jailed after growing cannabis.

A pot smoking minicab driver has been jailed after he was caught growing the drug at his home.
Andrew Rochester admitted to a judge that he smoked up to four joints a day but denied he was cultivating it to sell to others.

The 49-year-old married father claimed that the possible yield of a kilo of cannabis worth up to £33,000 would last him “a lifetime”.

But a judge said it was clear to him that some of the drug would have been passed on for commercial gain.

Rochester, of Cavell Way, Sittingbourne, was jailed for eight months after admitting cultivating cannabis and possessing amphetamine and a police Parva spray.

He declined legal assistance and represented himself when he appeared for sentence at Maidstone Crown Court.

Forty-two plants and growing equipment was found at his home on June 13 last year, along with a small amount of amphetamine and the spray.

Asked how long the cannabis would last him, Rochester, who has a previous conviction for possessing the drug, said: “Judging by what was coming down, it would last me forever.”

He bought the equipment “very cheap”, he said, for £300 on the internet. He rented a minicab and earned about £50 a night, he added. His wife suffered from diabetes and was going blind.
Judge Philip Statman told the self-employed mini-cab driver: “I am satisfied this was not just a case of growing cannabis for your own use. I am also satisfied you are not a major dealer.

“I am satisfied you played a significant role and ran a small cannabis factory at your home. I accept you acted on your own. You were clearly motivated by financial gain.”

The judge said because of Rochester’s previous conviction, when he was given a suspended sentence, he knew precisely how seriously courts viewed such matters.

The most significant factor in mitigation was that he cared for his sick wife.

source: kentonline.co.uk/

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Japan's Electric Taxis Falling Out Of Favor With Drivers

Two years ago, in February 2011, the city of Osaka introduced a fleet of fifty Nissan Leaf taxis. The deal was a cooperative arrangement between Nissan, 30 taxi firms, and the government--each was being subsidized to the tune of 1,780,000 Yen--over $21,000 at the time.

The car's would clean up Japan's clogged streets, an improvement on the ubiquitous, square-jawed Toyota Crown taxis used throughout Japanese cities.

Like many countries, the incumbent taxis are often chosen for their reliability and simplicity, rather than their comfort or driving characteristics. That's why New York is full of hardy Crown Vics, London's streets are crowded with rattling diesel black cabs, and Mexico only recently relinquished the ubiquitous VW Bug.

Would an electric Nissan really feel like the future to the average taxi driver.



Turning tide?
However, problems have begun to emerge.
The first came in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, following 2011's earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

As we reported at the time, many people were worried that electric cars would be giving off the wrong image--conspicuous consumption of electricity at a time when power was in high demand and very short supply. Electricity is no longer seen as the clean, safe option it once was.

There are other issues too--the cars themselves.

While reliable, comfortable and smooth as ever, high-mileage drivers are finding degredation of the battery packs to be an issue.

Where a 60-mile range was once common in regular use, some are finding that cut to as low as 30 miles--and to save energy as much as possible, some drivers are shunning the car's heater in favor of chemical pocket warmers, and even blankets.

Degredation of the battery pack has also had an effect on the battery's ability to take a quick charge. A 15-minute charge has turned into a 40-minute one for many drivers. They can't travel as far, and they can't spend as much time on the road--and it's ruining business, for some. Customers requesting longer trips are even being turned down.

There's no get-out for the drivers, either. To qualify for the government's subsidy, the electric cars must be run for a minimum of three years. That's a year too long for some--“I’m getting out of this business,” said one driver, “This is no way to earn a living.”

Perspective

Osaka's electric taxi drivers aren't facing unheard-of problems, but nor can their experiences be considered the norm--either for electric car owners, or electric taxi drivers.

Climate, driving routes and charging habits all make a difference to how well a car lasts, and the life of a taxi is never an easy one.

The main issue for Leaf batteries is still excessive heat, rather than cold (though cold climates do reduce the car's range). And as a recent survey showed, frequency of quick charging seems to have little bearing on a battery's life or health.

What it does suggest is that in some localities, electric vehicles aren't yet ready for heavy-duty tasks like taxi work.

While that's no consolation to the drivers losing business through degrading vehicles, progress can only be made by analysing these kind of trials--and it'll make electric taxis of the future much better suited to the task at hand.

Source: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1082483_japans-electric-taxis-falling-out-of-favor-with-drivers

Friday, February 22, 2013

Exclusive: Fraud Scandal at LTPH. By Taxi Leaks Roving Reporter.

A member of staff at LTPH has recently been dismissed for accepting cash for licence renewals. It is alleged some 50 drivers may have been approached over a 3-5 month period. The person concerned has been arrested but is yet to appear before the courts.

Senior GLA members have been asking questions about the robustness of the auditing systems at Palestra. Also, just how safe is your personal data kept by LTPH?

'Cloned' Bills', Forged Identifiers, Phantom SGS PH Test Certificates etc. etc. all leads to great concern as to the competence and security of the LTPH licensing regime and the safety of the public.

Are TfL and LTPH up to the task? It sure doesn't appear that way.

After massive staffing cuts, can they cope with the thousands of PH applications and give them proper scrutiny?

Touting and illegal Plying for Hire continue without anything much in the way of enforcement, Safer Travel Officer at the Met manage one arrest per officer per year (Arrests not convictions).

The few LTPH Licensing prosecutions that do happen fall because they target the operators (who come and go like smoke) and not the activities of the drivers.

Operators in contravention of the law get brief suspensions, in some cases just days and continue much the same as before and thousands of pounds of our money is wasted on legal fees.

Of course, every barrel has a few bad apples and LTPH like the Cab trade has a few as well of course as good ones.

The question we ask and so should you, your MP, the GLA, Travelling Public, The Mayor and yes even the non effective UTG be asking today is:

Does it matter about any of the apples, if the barrel that is meant to contain them is rotten?

P.S.

Leon 'Olympic Lanes' Daniels of TfL recently told the London Cab Drivers Club that the London Cab Trade needed to 'get its act together', Can we suggest Leon that a visit from you to Palestra might be a better use of your very expensive time and might result in a safer city!

Hailo: Fixed Prices To Airports

UPDATE: As mentioned in January, Hailo have been testing a new Fixed Prices To London Airports feature with passengers. The results have been very positive and so they will be offering the feature to most Hailo passengers starting from Friday, February 22nd.

Over the coming weeks, as more and more passengers get the latest version of the app, they will be able to access this great new feature. Hailo will also be actively promoting Fixed Prices to passengers from late February.

Please Note: to comply with regulations, you still need to turn on your meter for these trips but the Fixed Price amount (and any pre-set tip) will appear automatically in the app at your airport destination.

Hailo Fixed Prices

The new Airport Fixed Fares will give Hailo drivers a real competitive edge on these high-value jobs and help win back even more work for the Trade.

As you might expect, they have not used blunt, inaccurate 'zones' or post codes to determine their flat rates but applied precise GPS pinpoints that are much more fair (if you'll pardon the pun) and reflect the actual meter/distance travelled.

Please note that the amount paid to drivers is the fixed fare plus tip less the Hailo commission.

Fixed Prices: Top Questions

We hope that Hailo Fixed Prices are a welcome development for our drivers, but no doubt you also have a lot of questions as well.

Please consult the Driver Help Centre on our website where you can find answers to frequently asked questions concerning London airports and airport jobs.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Las Vegas Strip Shooting, Death Crash: Taxi Driver and Passenger Burned To Death.

LAS VEGAS - Police believe a deadly car-to-car shooting in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip Thursday morning was prompted by an earlier altercation at a hotel.

The shooting occurred at Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road, the site of several major hotel-casinos, when someone in a black Range Rover opened fire on a Maserati at a stoplight, sending it into a taxi that burst into flames, leaving three people dead and at least six injured.
"This doesn't happen where we come from, not on this scale," said Mark Thompson, who was visiting from Manchester, England, with his wife. "We get stabbings, and gang violence, but this is like something out of a movie. Like `Die Hard' or something."


Police said they were contacting authorities in three neighboring states about the Range Rover Sport with tinted windows and paper dealer ads in place of license plates that fled the scene about 4:30 a.m.

In Southern California, the California Highway Patrol alerted officers in at least three counties to be on the lookout for the Range Rover with custom wheels, authorities said.

Police said the Maserati hit the taxi cab, which went up in flames, and the driver and passenger were killed.
The male driver of the Maserati also died, and his passenger was shot.

Las Vegas Police Sgt. John Sheahan said the attack was not a rolling gun battle as previously described. The cars were stopped at a light when at least one person in the Range Rover opened fire. Several people were inside the vehicle.

Six other vehicles were involved in the crash that followed, including the taxi and Maserati. The taxi was affiliated with Desert Cab company, according to general manager Sandy Shaver. He declined to comment further.

The taxi might have been propane-powered.

Sheahan said police have video from traffic cameras at the intersection where the shooting occurred on Thursday.

"We have a lot of pieces to put together to establish a timeline as to why this confrontation occurred," Sheahan said.

Could have been even worse had the Cab been a hydrogen cell unit.

Terrorist Bomb Plot: Three Men Convicted.

Three men have been found guilty of leading a terrorist bomb plot that could have been bigger than the July 7 atrocities.


Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, all unemployed, and from Birmingham, wanted up to eight suicide bombers to detonate rucksacks packed with explosives in crowded places.

"They were deadly serious and they were hell bent because of the training they'd had and the things they said", said Detective Inspector Adam Gough, from West Midlands Police.

"On committing these acts there's no doubt whatsoever they were going to build bombs and martyr themselves and kill as many people as they could."

Naseer, known as 'Chubbs' or 'Big Irfan', and Khalid, nicknamed 'Little Irfan' both spent a total of 15 months, during two trips, in terror training camps in Pakistan, and made martyrdom videos.

As police in London turn a blind eye to illegally parked minicabs outside night venues, how long before these people realise just how easy it would be to leave a minicab filled with explosive outside a crowded night club or bar. It's been done before and it's only a matter of time before it happens again.

At Last, The Trade Fights Back.

Over the passed decade, the London Taxi Trade has been under attack from an advancing army of private hire operators. As their numbers heavily increase, they have resulted to unfair, unlawful tactics to supply their drivers with enough work.

Secret deals have been struck with the bigger PH companies as they inched their way into working alongside Licensed Taxi radio circuits. Not content with just feeding them the jobs they couldn't cover, greedy boards resorted to selling prime pre-booked work. Early morning pre-booked airports have been sold off wholesale to PH for as little the price of a Mars Bar.

The largest radio Taxi fleet has been taken over lock stock and barrel, by one of Europe's biggest PH and transport providers. The massive investment of over 30 years from licensed Taxi drivers, lost forever.


Not content with syphoning off radio bookings, the ever increasing hoards of PH drivers then decided they also wanted to cream off large amounts of work which has come as a result of an ever expanding night-life scene in London's West End and City areas. Their plan, (as they can't openly drive round plying for hire) is quite simple, they would intercept the work before it gets to the gutter. And so, impromptu ranks have sprang up outside clubs, bars, restaurants and hotels. Back handers are paid to sweeten up door security staff, with Taxis virtually shut out of the equation.

The trade has fought back on many occasions, but without support from our licensing authority, local councils and the police, it's been impossible to make a dent in the touts modus operandi.

UNTILL NOW.

The invention of the smartphone app has revolutionised the way the public can now hail a Taxi. No more standing on street corners in the dark, in the cold, in the rain. Just click on the phone and within minutes a Taxi is knocking on the door. With a reputed 12-13,000 drivers signed up to these apps the Taxi trade is competing with and beating private hire hands down. Make no mistake, these apps have hit the PH trade for six, as now it is just as easy to order a Hailo or Get Taxi cab, as it is a local minicab and in the majority of cases we beat them on price. Large accounts thought lost to PH for good, are being won back on a daily basis.

Rumour has it, that a certain very large minicab operator has cancelled its fleets upgrade until further notice, solely because of the amount of work the company has lost to the apps.

This is an ongoing battle and we are winning big time.

NOW FOR THE NON BELIEVERS.
Some drivers don't want to get involved with online booking apps under any circumstances. That's their prerogative and we must respect that.
But if this trade is to survive the assault from PH, even they have to a change the way they work.

WORK CLEVER.
Because of the incredible amount of work PH operators have lost to online apps and in order to keep their earnings potential up, their drivers are fortifying the lines of illegally parked minicabs, unlawfully plying for hire outside venues all over the capital.

LTPH seem only too please to collect the extra revenue from the massive increase in PH drivers and satellite offices, but seem to drag their feet when it comes to enforcement of the conditions of licensing.

THE TAG HIT SQUAD LEAD THE FIGHT BACK.
Just before Christmas, the drivers of the Tag Hit Squad reformed and once again, are showing the way forward. Volunteers are taking huge chunks of work back, right under the noses of touts at Swallow Street, Novikov's, Abacus and Mincing Lane. Even at Dover Street, we are pushing the touts off the wine bar rank. Soon this group will have enough drivers to expand to other clubs and bars and provide regular, reliable service.

The Hit Squads actions have shown, if you put yourselves in full view at the exits, the public will (nine times out of ten) take a real taxi in preference to an overpriced scab.

Rather than drive round in circles, wasting fuel, moaning that there's no work, come and join in the fun and put on a rolling rank for a few minutes. You'll be surprised at the quality of work that comes out of these bars and restaurants.

Over the years, we have been given a false impression of the type of work available at many of the most heavily touted venues, because all the drunk, drugged up zombies are broomed by the touts and put into passing Taxis. This had the added affect of putting Taxi drivers off working certain areas, leaving the scabs to clear up. But the zombies are very tiny proportion of the jobs available at these venues. Quality work is there, it's just a matter of adjusting the way you work slightly and taking it back. Let them fight over our scraps, not the other way round.

We are beating these touts at their own game and pushing them back, away from the exits. This is where the work is, this is where we will have our victories. All you have to do, is go out there and take it back.

Using these ranks again can only add to the success's we've already seen at Nobu's, Coventry Street and Charing Cross Road.

Drivers using online apps have seen their takings dramatically improve.
Now with the help of the Tag hit Squad, so could you.

If you have a smartphone go on Twitter and follow @The_Hit_Squad

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Your Chance To Talk Directly With The Commissioner Of The Met,

The Commissioner of the Met Police will be taking questions from the public during his next live webchat, which for the first time has a counter terrorism theme #AskMetBoss

To support the: 'It's probably nothing, but...' counter terrorism publicity campaign, the Commissioner will be joined by Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick on Thursday 21 February at 11am to take questions from Londoners.

The campaign message is: "It's probably nothing, but … if you see or hear anything that could be terrorist related, trust your instincts and call the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline. Our specially trained officers will take it from there. 0800 789 321 Your call could save lives."

The campaign, launching next week, encourages the public to come forward with any information which could help police counter the terrorist threat which we continue to face.

Surely the fact that anyone can leave a vehicle with private hire roundels, outside any night club/bar or restaurant, has to be seen as a compromise of public safety. One only has to think about the two car bombs left in the Haymarket a few years ago. The police, TfLTPH and local councils, currently take absolutely no notice of vehicles even when illegally parked in bus lanes, this we witness every night of the week.
Surely the Commissioner should at least be made aware of this situation.

The Commissioner and AC Cressida Dick will be on hand to answer any questions the public may have and discuss how they can best support police.

The webchats are part of the Commissioner's commitment to speak directly with members of the public to answer their questions on policing and find out their views. Apart from taking questions about the counter terrorism campaign the Commissioner will still be answering questions on other subjects from members of the public.

If you can, please join the webchat on Thursday 21 February at 11am http://www.met.police.uk/askmetboss/
The more of us that bring up this subject the better.

For those unable to make the webchat you can pre-submit questions in advance via the comment box on the web page at
http://www.met.police.uk/askmetboss/

or on Twitter using the hashtag #AskMetBoss. Follow us on Twitter @MetpoliceUK for more information.

Sex Predator Who Raped Young Woman After Telling Her He Was A Minicab, Is Jailed.

An illegal immigrant who was twice refused asylum in Britain raped a woman before he could be deported, a court heard yesterday.

Atiq Rehman, 20, spotted his 22-year-old victim leaving a club and tricked her into thinking he was a minicab driver.

He then lured her into the back room of a corner shop and attacked her on a mattress for 45 minutes.

Yesterday the Pakistani national was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty to two counts of rape.
Sentencing him, Judge Usha Karu said: ‘The fear she must have experienced simply can’t be imagined.’

Rehman had applied for asylum in the UK twice last year.
His initial asylum application and subsequent appeal were rejected by the Home Office.
After his rejection, he dropped under the radar of the authorities and may have used a fake name to avoid detection.

In the hours before the attack, his victim had spent the evening with friends at Infernos nightclub in Clapham, south London.

Within minutes of luring her into the shop, Rehman raped her.
He threatened to tie her up with duct tape if she did not stop crying.
He then raped her again before callously asking her how many children she wanted to have.
After the attack on April 29 he threw her out of the shop. The young woman stumbled to a friend’s house in nearby Balham and called the police.

Describing the attack, prosecutor Jeffrey Israel told Inner London Crown Court the victim met Rehman after becoming separated from her friends outside the club.
‘He approached her and she mistakenly thought he was offering a minicab service,’ Mr Israel said.
‘Mr Rehman had keys to open the metal shutters to the shop, and led her through to the back room.

There were two mattresses on the floor, and the woman began to cry. She was scared because she didn’t want to be in that room alone with the defendant.’
During the attack the woman was ‘shouting and crying’ and ‘physically trying to push him away from her’, he said.

‘Throughout, she was shouting at him to stop and trying to escape from him,’ Mr Israel said. ‘She told him she didn’t want to do this, and was begging him to stop.
Rather than stopping, he pushed her on to her back and pulled her arms. She was struggling to get away.’

The owner of the shop, Bilal Akbar, was initially arrested on suspicion of rape, but told detectives he had lent his keys to Rehman, who had fled to Manchester.
Rehman handed himself into police on May 26, but initially claimed a friend was responsible and he had been wrongly accused.

Later he changed his story and claimed he had consensual sex with the victim. Eventually he pleaded guilty to two counts of rape. However, even in court yesterday he continued to maintain the sex had been consensual.

Judge Karu said his crimes had been compounded by an ‘element of abduction’, the length of the ordeal, and the fact he took advantage of a woman who had been drinking.

The judge ordered Rehman, of Thornton Heath, South London, to be deported on his release from prison. Outside court, investigating officer Detective Constable Lisa Greedy, said: ‘This was an horrific attack by a man who had no qualms in exploiting a woman who he believed to be intoxicated.

‘The fact that he then threatened his victim with violence only added to her trauma.
‘I would like to pay tribute to the victim who showed strength and determination throughout the investigation.’


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bisexual Asylum Seeker Taxi Driver, Jailed For Raping Men

A bisexual asylum seeker from Algeria has been jailed for seven years and ten months after pleading guilty to charges of rape.

Elhadi Sakhri, 42, targeted men in the heart of Manchester’s Gay Village on Canal Street.
Manchester Crown Court heard Sakhri, a taxi driver, won indefinite leave to remain in Britain nine years ago after complaining that he faced persecution in Algeria because of his sexuality.

Now, after admitting two charges of rape, Sakhri, of Thorn Court, Pendleton, Salford, has been jailed for seven years and ten months.

He is expected to be deported on release because of the seriousness of his crimes.
Manchester Evening News reports that the first victim, an 18-year-old man, entered into Sakhri’s cab in the early hours of 27 June.

After driving past the man’s destination, Sakhri stopped in a car park opposite a student halls of residence, ordered the victim out of the vehicle and then attacked him.

In a separate incident on 12 July, Sakhri drove a 22-year-old man, who had been clubbing in Manchester’s Gay Village, away from his stated destination of Stretford, and raped him on Hulme Street.

Sakhri had claimed the encounters were consensual before pleading guilty on the day of trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Nicola Gatto, defending, said of Sakhri: “He tells me he came to this country because of intolerance to his sexuality. For many years he worked in the security industry along Canal Street – on a daily basis he was dealing with young gay men in a vulnerable condition because of alcohol and yet it seems he was highly regarded.”

Judge Martin Steiger QC said Sakhri had “taken advantage” of his position to commit the crimes.
Sakhri will now be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/

Monday, February 18, 2013

Manchester City Council taxi review continues.

The public have been invited to assess new vehicles, which may be used as taxis in Manchester.

The vehicles will be available for taxi users during an event on Albert Square in the city on Wednesday February 20.

Previously, only PCO approved vehicles could be licensed as hackney carriages, but Manchester City Council started a review of the policy at the end of last year.

A 12 week consultation is currently being held as part of the review, seeking the views of people including cab drivers and owners as well as members of the public.
Taxi users, including disabled people, are invited to try out several different vehicles, during the event.

The City Council’s Licensing and Appeals Committee is expected to make a decision about any new vehicles later in the year.

Interim measures are in place while the review is carried out, any applications to license new vehicles will be considered on their own merits.

Cllr Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, said: “Hackney carriages are an important means of getting around Manchester, transporting thousands of residents and visitors around the city, and it’s important we get this right and make sure our high standards, particularly regarding disabled access to these vehicles, are maintained.

“We’re holding this event to enable members of the public to see different vehicles for themselves and give us their views about whether they are of a good enough quality to be used as hackney carriages in Manchester.”

For more information about the consultation visit:
http://www.manchester.gov.uk/HCVpolicyreview

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Epsom's black cab drivers yearn for return to pole position

Black cab drivers are demanding to be allowed back outside Epsom Station – claiming the location of their current taxi rank is costing them a fortune.

Sheila Siggers and up to 50 other black cab drivers, used to be based right outside the Epsom station entrance before development work started on the site two years ago.
Last week they launched a petition opposing Surrey County Council’s (SCC) decision to keep them there even after the development work is finished.


Mrs Siggers, from Epsom, said the current rank, which is further up Station Approach, a few metres to the west of the pedestrian crossing, means people leaving the station cannot easily see the black cabs and are choosing to walk home or find a mini cab in the high street instead.
The 58-year-old said: “Just before Christmas I earned £33 in one day, and £20 of that was spent on petrol.

“People are thinking ‘we’re not going to walk up there’ and walk home instead.
“Why can’t Epsom be like all other stations and have a black cab rank right outside? People want to come out of the station and walk straight into their cab.
“I’ve lost my house in the last two years. I just couldn’t afford it anymore so I moved in with my mum.

“Drivers are having to work longer hours now because they have less jobs. I know the economic situation isn’t great and we expected trade to drop a bit, but we’re not really making anything.”
A SCC spokeswoman promised the public will be consulted on the decision.

She said: “This was raised as a concern at a meeting of our committee for Epsom and Ewell, and a working group was formed of a number of interested parties including affected taxi drivers.
“The group suggested a solution that would include 16 or 17 taxi spaces in Station Approach – a rank on the north side and a feeder on the south side. The proposal also includes space for buses, loading and kiss ‘n’ ride.

“Realising that many people, including local residents and commuters, will have an interest in this, the committee has decided to undertake public consultation.”

Mrs Siggers said each black cab driver has a petition in their cab which can be signed, and that 60 customers have signed her petition so far.

source: http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Vigilantes fighting revenue-driven traffic enforcement.



Imagine the scene. Masked bikers riding through the streets of London in determined pursuit of their quarry. They have names such as Bald Eagle, Parking Warrior and Coco and cover their faces with V For Vigilante masks and communicate via on walkie-talkies. But don't be afraid, they're on your side – and if you drive a car, they may have already saved you a £130 fine.
Meet the NoTo Mob, a group dedicated to fighting what they see as unfair parking tickets and charges. During the week they're normal blokes (and the odd woman). Steve Baker, aka Bald Eagle, is a legal adviser from north London. Graeme Jones, aka Parking Warrior, is an auditor from south London.
But on Saturdays they come together for a common cause. They follow council CCTV cars, or "spy cars", then stand nearby holding signs to warn drivers about the presence of a CCTV vehicle and potential fine if they break the rules.
Motorists pull over, wave or give the thumbs up in gratitude. Complete strangers have been known to hug them in support.
"There are 22 mobile enforcement vehicles within four miles of Charing Cross," says Graeme. "We know where they go, they're creatures of habit."

So what about Regent Street? Why is this so different to other parts of the Capital?

Why is it that most nights Westminster City council deploy a camera car to Zuma, a restaurant in a small side street in knightsbridge, where Taxis wait for customers?
Why do Wardens walk past PHV touts parked on the Taxi ranks at Berkeley Street, Charing Cross Road, Conduit Street, Argyle Street and the Strand?
How come hoards of wardens patrol the West End, ticketing Taxis and Private cars, yet seem to be oblivious of Private Hire vehicles illegally parked in Regent Street's bus lanes?
Why do Westminster surveillance CCTV cameras pick out and ticket Taxis, being paid off at the Cumberland hotel and yet are turn away at the junction of Virgo and Regent?
Why are wardens refusing to move on or ticket the touts at Swallow Street?

The solution is simple
A camera car at Regent and Swallow would ensure smooth passage for both buses and other traffic. No congestion, no pinch point, no problem.

So what is your problem Westminster?

Legal Action concerning HALT & HALTS

Documents have been served on the existing directors of Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxi Society (HALTS), a private company that manages the Taxi Desk system at Heathrow and enjoys a percentage of the feeder park fee that drivers are compelled to pay to rank at the airport.

Formerly these functions (Taxi Desks etc.) was discharged by a Friendly Society known as Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis (HALT) owned by Taxi Drivers for the benefit of all.

RMT members sought assistance from the National Union as they had concerns about the application of funds, lack of transparency, accountability and how friendly societies assets had managed to be transferred to a private company without proper reference to that friendly societies membership.

The RMT engaged specialist leading Counsel (QC) to advise on, what is a complex matter, this has led to the action outlined above where the High Court will examine the issues.

The RMT will not hesitate to use its full resources both financially and legally to uphold the rights of its members.

UNITY is STRENGTH Join us!


Owing to the ongoing legal action concerning these matters. no comments will be allowed

Friday, February 15, 2013

Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Any Worse TfL introduce Licensed Minicab Bikes


TfL to work to introduce formal licensing of motorcycles as Private Hire Vehicles

Three London private hire operators have provided motorcycle private hire services in London since the 1990s with up to 17 motorcycles used for passenger transport.
Although the scope of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 includes motorcycles, the vehicle regulations made in 2004 restricted licensing to vehicles with 4 road wheels.
As a result, during the transitional arrangements put in place when licensing was introduced, temporary permits authorised by the Department for Transport (DfT) were issued for the existing motorcycles to allow them to continue to provide these services until such time as a decision of formal licensing was made.

These permits have been replaced subsequently on a like-for-like basis and the operators and riders are licensed as for other private hire services.

These operators have high standards for riders and vehicles and very good safety records.
TfL conducted a consultation in 2009 in order to inform a decision whether to formally license motorcycles or revoke the existing temporary permits.

The proposals for licensing gained support from many respondents but also drew some opposition. At the time TfL felt that it was appropriate for the Government to make a decision on this issue as it was a national rather than regional one.

In July 2012, the DfT published guidance on whether and how to license motorcycle PHVs. The Department urges licensing authorities such as TfL to license as wide a range of vehicles as possible consistent with safety, and does not consider that there is a compelling case for ruling out motorcycle PHVs on safety grounds.

TfL has now reviewed the DfT guidance, the responses to the previous consultation and the experience of the existing operations and has decided to bring these operations fully within the licensing regime.

The relevant regulations will now be changed to allow the licensing of two-wheel motorcycle PHVs and there will be specific requirements on licences for operators using motorcycle PHVs services and for motorcycle PHV riders to ensure that safety standards are maintained.

Key elements of the regulations will be:
• Only two-wheeled motorcycles will be licensed, with a minimum engine size (to ensure a large, stable vehicle), anti-lock brakes and capability to carry passengers with luggage. Three-wheeled or four-wheeled motorcycles will not be licensed;
• Motorcycle PHVs must be no more than two years old at first licensing and will not be re-licensed when they are over five years old, to ensure that the vehicles are modern and in good condition;
• Riders must have an advanced rider qualification and experience in riding motorcycles;
• Operators will be required to provide suitable safety equipment for the passenger including a properly-fitting helmet with intercom between driver and passenger, and hygienic liners if necessary;
• Operators and riders must ensure there is no reason why the passenger cannot be safety carried (because of impairments, age, weight, luggage, use of alcohol or drugs, or any other reason), and offer alternative transport if needed;
• Motorcycle PHVs, like other PHVs, must be booked before the journey commences and cannot ply for hire.

Other licensing requirements and processes will be similar to those for PHV cars and the fees applied will reflect the cost of establishing and delivering licensing.

Existing licensed drivers or operators that want to use motorcycle PHVs will have to meet the additional criteria for motorcycle operators or riders and apply for variations to their licences.
It is intended to have the licensing regime and associated processes in place by early 2014. TfL will now engage with relevant stakeholders and work to introduce the new licensing regime.

Current transitional provisions will remain in force for a short period after licensing is introduced to allow existing operators and riders to make the necessary changes to comply with the new regulations.

John Mason
15 February 2013 Director Taxi and Private Hire

ANOTHER ELECTRIC TAXI PLAN WHICH DIDN’T TAKE OFF.

Upon first hearing that the San Francisco initiative to add a line of clean-energy electric taxis has hit the breaks–or rammed into a brick wall, depending on how you look at it–your first reaction might be disappointed.

That is until you learn the company that was supposed to receive the 61 electric cabs was never gung-ho on the project to begin with.

In addition to reporting that the $7 million initiative has crumbled, Yellow Cab, the company chosen to launch the electric taxi line, was never really on board with the plan to begin with. Jim Gillespie, a manager at Yellow Cab, told the Examiner:

“We were never really over-hyped about this. We just wanted to show our public support for the plan.”



Dang. Ye of little faith.

Start-up company Better Place was supposed to pair with SFMTA to install charging stations and finding manufacturers to make the 61 electric taxis. However, after years of struggling to find funding for the initiative, Better Place decided to abandon the project, scale down their work in California and focus more on Israel and Denmark.

None of the $7 million federal grant has been spent thus far.
As for now, Metropolitan Transportation Commission will get to keep $1 million “to pursue other clean-energy initiatives.” However, they will have to submit a new proposal within the next few months if they want to keep the remaining $6 million.

But even with a several-month block to come up with a new proposal, Gillespie still doesn’t sound very optimistic. He told the Examiner:

“The technology just isn’t there yet for this to be practical.”

He added that an electric taxi would need to be able to travel at least 200 miles before recharging for the venture to be successful. As of late, these cars can only go 75 miles before needing to be recharged.


Source: SFBay (http://s.tt/1zNPq)

Comment
Boris, it's simple, just insist that every new Taxi Cab has a hybrid engine. Now there's a technology that's tried and tested and best of all, it works (unlike DPF filters and FEVs).
There's no such word in engineering terms as can't. Just tell Mercedes and Geely what you will or won't allow as an engine in a Taxi and let them go away and do it.
Or is there no money in doing this way?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Electric Taxi Clocks Up 55,000kms in Dublin's Fair City

A Dublin taxi driver has clocked up 55,000kms in his Nissan LEAF electric car and made a saving of approximately €6,500 over the last 18 months.

The 100 per cent electric Nissan LEAF which has been part of a trial between ESB ecars and National Radio Cabs (NRC) has clocked up more than 55,000kms on Dublin roads. The trial, to evaluate electric vehicles as part of the taxi industry, has been deemed so successful that it will be extended for another year.

(How would it cope with 5 passengers on cold wet nights with heaters, wipers, headlights and radio?)

Analysis shows that savings of up to 12.9 cent per km can be achieved by driving an electric vehicle, powered by night rate electricity, in comparison with a conventional car. For 55,000kms, this would equate to fuel savings of some €6,500 and a net reduction in more than four tonnes of CO2 emissions.

(Our Mayor now doesn't believe Carbon emissions to be such a problem as he once thought they were. Minister for climate change Chris Huhne, an honourable man who's words should be reliable, had 3 points to bring up on this subject, but unfortunately gave them to his wife. According to QI, having a medium sized family dog is responsible for more Carbon emissions than running Mitsubishi shogun)

In addition to the fuel and emission savings, electric vehicles also benefit by availing of a government grant of up to €5,000 on the purchase price, qualifying for the lowest band of road tax (€120), and from significantly lower maintenance and service costs. Over the 18 months, services costs experienced by the e-Taxi were minimal.

(Ah, EEC subsidies and government grants, FOLLOW THE MONEY.)

The ecar can be recharged at night at the taxi driver’s home through a dedicated home charge-point, allowing him/her to avail of low night rate electricity tariffs. He/she can also easily charge during the day at any of the on-street charge-points around Dublin city which have been installed by ESB.

(What if the driver lives in a tower block, or serviced apartments. Would you, as a neighbour, want cables outside your door?)

Manager of ESB ecars, Dermot McArdle, said: “Ireland’s first e-Taxi trial has been a huge success and we are delighted, in conjunction with our partners, NRC Taxis, to extend it by another year. The long term trial in a real life environment endorses the suitability of electric vehicles as both taxis and for the general public. To support electric vehicles, ESB is continuing to roll out a growing network of public charging infrastructure. In Dublin alone, there are over 120 public charge-points including 10 fast chargers.”

(Wonder if they would still paint such a rosy picture, if NRC Taxis had to pay the £28,000 for the vehicle. The NV200 will allegedly retail for around £30k. If this vehicle is developed as a fully electric Taxi, we can expect the price to rise another £10-12k)

“The e-Taxi has proved really popular with passengers,” said Padraig Daly of NRC Taxis. He added,“Most are pleasantly surprised at how well it performs in comparison to petrol-or diesel-fuelled cars, and how quiet it is.”

Liam Brady, managing director of NRC Taxis, said: “NRC Taxis are honoured to be associated with the ESB and the e-Taxi over the past two years. It has been enlightening for us as a company, to engage with such an initiative; which not only is good for the environment but also beneficial as a cost saving measure in running a taxi. We would expect more drivers to take up the electric option in the coming years and NRC look forward to being a part of that e-Taxi future.”

(Personally, in the present financial climate of the Dublin's deregulated Taxi industry, which we are constantly told is in dire straights, at £28k a pop, I wouldn't hold my breath for drivers queuing up to buy one)

Source: Galway Advertiser.

Comment:

The original article resisted to tell us is the retail price of this vehicle, if the driver worked daylight hours or if he lives in a house with a car port.

This small vehicle costs £10,000 more than its petrol counterpart, coming in at a wrapping £28,000. If Nissan are aiming to produce the NV200 as a fully electric vehicle, it will enter the market around the same price as the 6 sweater Mercedes Vito, dearer that the TX4-5.

It's closest revival the electric petrol hybrid Prius comes in at a more reasonable £19-22,000.
I would love to know the range of this vehicle, working nights in a freezing London with the heater full on, wipers blades swishing away, plus dipped headlights and radio constantly on.

Also what if the driver lives in a tower block, how would the vehicle be charged. It's bad enough if the vehicle is parked in a street full of terraced houses, with a cable running across the pavement, an accident waiting to happen. I can just imagine the TV commercial "Tripped over a cable? Try our no fault no win no pay service".

This technology is nowhere near ready for fully electric vehicles and is not the answer to better air quality in London. There are already tried and tested off the shelf measures that can help bring down the nitrogen and carcinogenic particle emissions, but our Mayor stubbornly refuses to help finance there introduction. He seriously expects the Taxi trade to become part of a massive electrified commercial experiment, at our own cost.

Everyone will have their finger in the pie just like always, FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We Definitely Got The Knowledge And They Don't Like It.

Recently we have seen a plethora of items appearing in the press, trying desperately to put down the London License Taxi trade and its drivers.
Alex Jones, the skinny Welsh bird from the One Show, wants to put us in room 101, for apparently "not knowing where we are going and constantly talking dribble". So unlike her preferred BBC minicab drivers who rarely speak as they concentrate on their Sat Navs, oblivious to the surrounding traffic conditions and dangers.

Our driving is constantly criticised on Talk Radio, mainly by minicab drivers who are jealous of our ability to turn on a sixpence. Our casual dress code is also come under fire from Private Hire drivers in their £20 Primark suits and nylon shirts. The ones which cause passengers to open the windows, even in the middle of winter. God knows what some of these Ford Galaxies smell like in the height of summer. It's definitely not the Lynx affect.

Even our own licensing authority choses to criticises the Licensed Taxi trade. Top of the knockers being TfL's Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy who once stated at a Transport committee meeting:
"Most Taxi drivers take their money by 9pm and go home before it gets busy".
He also added, "when you leave the Grosvenor House after midnight, you can never find a Taxi" and "they should stop moaning-work longer hours and get out more often". Thank you for the vote of confidence Mr Hendy.

Following closely is MD of TfL surface transport Mr Leon Daniels, who was reported in the Badge Taxi paper as saying, the Taxi trade need to get its act together.

This is the man who hid Taxi ranks away from spectators at the Olympic venues, so as not to upset the Games sponsors, mainly because of advertising liveries on some cabs seen as not part of the Olympic family. For the same reason he wouldn't allow Taxis (the only fully wheelchair accessible vehicles in London's transport) anywhere near the Paralympics venue exits.

Even our Mayor, Boris Johnson, the man the Taxi trade helped get elected, has never once congratulated the trade for continuing to work through hazardous conditions, after snow bought London Transport's network of trains and buses to a halt. While minicabs took advantage and charged 3 times the meter fare, London's Taxis carried on at the same daily rates regardless.
Also, not one word from the Mayor or TfL, for a trade that volunteers to get veterans to and from the services on Remembrance Day. A day when TfL choose to close neighbouring underground stations for maintenance.

But it's not all gloom and abuse!
Elsewhere, London's Licensed Taxi Trade is seen as the best in the world.
Below is an article taken from a Yahoo News online, written by Laurie Jo Miller Farr. It explains how other counties see the London Taxi trade.

Best of Great Britain.

Londoners are spoiled. Taxis are spacious, drivers are courteous, English is spoken, baby strollers and wheelchairs are welcome, and London taxi drivers know where they're going. Boy, do they ever!

This makes them some of London’s best tour guides as well as drivers. In fact, some taxis, such as London Black Taxi Tours, London Taxi Tours, London Cab Tours and London Tours by Taxi, focus on giving guided tours of city sights. If you know the rigorous steps to becoming a London taxi drive, you’ll see why their knowledge of the city is unparalleled.

Got a question?

What's the best way to Alexandra Palace when traffic on the North Circular is at a dead halt? Where is the unmarked stage door for the Royal Court Theatre? Taxi drivers know which airlines fly from which terminals and the days and times for changing the guard at Buckingham Palace. They know where to find the Courts of Justice, where Sir Paul and Sir Elton live, and that the Adam & Eve pub is not in Adam & Eve Mews.

A London cabbie may need to get a confused passenger to Victoria Embankment, Victoria Mews, Victoria Crescent, Victoria Square, Victoria Terrace, Victoria Lane, Victoria Gardens, or Victoria...There are 77 variations on Victoria in the London Streetfinder, and they're spread all over the map.

In the know

Licensed taxi drivers’ All-London Knowledge test is encyclopedic and dates back to the days before GPS and Google searches. In order to pass the test, a driver must know 320 different routes covering almost every square inch in the 113 square miles within a 6-mile radius of Charing Cross Station.

Those routes can take you to 20,000 places including shops, restaurants, offices, schools, churches and 25,000 streets. Applicants can’t pass the license test unless they know the absolute shortest routes to destinations, and that means smack to the front door. A typical exam question at an oral appearance: “Describe the way from Highbury Vale Police Station to the British Medical Association” — without any street addresses.

Big investment

Given that London is a sprawling city of 241 square miles, studying for the exam typically takes two to four years. Compare that city size to Manhattan at 23 square miles or San Francisco at 47 square miles. Most of the 25,000 taxi drivers who have passed the All-London Knowledge have studied by investing in a course at a knowledge school — a scooter for months of buzzing around London cramming as they go.

Drivers must pass the practical driving and written exams. In addition, a London taxi driver must acquire the skills for mounting and dismounting wheelchairs, ensuring passenger comfort, maintaining their cars and keeping passengers safe. They also learn the Highway Code, the rules of the road for drivers on British roads.

Drivers must renew the All-London, also called the Green Badge, license every three years. Those who want the Yellow Badge to drive in the suburbs must learn at least one of the nine surrounding sectors and then drive only within its borders. The good news is that drivers get to be their own bosses and set their own hours.

Noteworthy knowledge

About 700 to 1,000 drivers pass the exam every year, although 7,000 register as students during that period, according to Transport for London. The London licensing requirements, which have been around since 1851, are so entirely different from other major world cities that one of the knowledge schools indicates it’s been covered by "The Apprentice," The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the BBC, The London Times and other television and print media. No wonder, could "The Knowledge" be a new alternative to college?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Heathrow cab war: Tout 'threatened to kill licensed taxi driver'

Police are investigating attacks on black cabs amid tensions between licensed taxi drivers and minicab touts over lucrative routes from Heathrow.
Three men were arrested after taxi drivers were allegedly followed home from the terminal and had their vehicles damaged. About 6,000 licensed London taxis work from Heathrow each day.

They are the only vehicles that airport operator BAA permits to pick up fares.

A BAA “tout squad” works with plain clothes detectives to catch those plying for trade illegally. But confrontations have been reported between legitimate cabbies and unlicensed drivers “trying their luck” at the arrivals gate.

One licensed driver, who asked not to be named, said: “I’ve been targeted several times. It started last year when I caught this guy nicking our work. I challenged him and escorted the passenger back to the rank.


“The next day his brother was waiting for me. He followed me from Terminal 1 to Enfield.

“I called 999 but before the police arrived he boxed me in and was threatening to kill me. He was arrested and given a restraining order and community service.” Cabs have been daubed with graffiti and one driver alleged that his brakes were cut.

A journey from Terminal 1 to Oxford Circus costs between £60 and £80, depending on whether or not the journey is pre-booked with the official airport agent.

Grant Davis, chairman of the London Cab Drivers Club, said an equivalent trip with an unlicensed driver would start at £100, with reports of passengers paying more. He said: “We’ve had marshals assaulted, followed home and run off the road.

“[Touts] are putting not only drivers but passengers at risk.” Police are investigating reports of criminal damage to a cab in Northolt on New Year’s Eve. The Met have linked the attack to another incident on the same day in Walworth. Three men have been arrested and bailed until next month.

BAA said: “We work hard to clamp down on illegal taxi touts. A ‘tout squad’ including taxi marshals patrols the airport looking for known offenders and we work closely with CID. We encourage passengers to use the Heathrow Express, Piccadilly line or black cabs from our ranks.”

New Design Licences and Identifiers To Be Issued By March 31st

As predicted by Taxi Leaks last year, TfL will now commence issuing replacement licences and area identifiers to all licensed London taxi drivers. The new licences and area identifiers will be of a similar design to existing ones
but will contain a number of new security features.

Following feedback from the trade, the new suburban area identifiers will have a larger space to show the areas for which a driver is licensed to ply for hire. One of the key reasons for replacing all taxi driver licences (Bill) and area identifiers is to combat fraudulent licences.

Drivers Bills should have been replaced two years ago when LTPH first discovered that a large number of documents had fallen into the wrong hands and were being sold openly in some London garages and pubs. Instead, LTPH decided to concentrated huge resources in the inspection of Badge and Bills by compliance teams, all over London. Sometimes its the simple common sense solutions that are the best.

Between March and December 2012 some 27 arrests have been made by the police for the use of fraudulent documentation. Of these, a number were completely unlicensed drivers that had received no character and medical checks or undertaken the Knowledge of London. These drivers are putting the public at risk and also damaging the earnings and reputation of legitimate taxi drivers. Still not one word about the fraudulent roundels sold by employees of SGS to PHV drivers for cash. Also no word about re-presentation of vehicles, dealt with by the staff arrested by the police, for re-inspected. At present it is not known how many unsafe, dangerous PHVs are affected.

Accompanying the new documents will be instructions advising how to return existing documents to TfL. You will not be trusted to keep or destroy the old licenses/identifiers.

Any driver who has not received his or her replacement licence and area identifiers by 31 March 2013 should contact us via support@tph.tfl.gov.uk or 0845 602 7000.

Please check the new documents carefully as it has been reported that a number of new license have already been sent to drivers containing the wrong photo. Source LTDF.

In order to facilitate this change, a number of drivers were recently asked to submit passport size photographs, which will allow a digital version to be reproduced on their licence. Any driver who has not yet responded to this request is urged to do so without further delay.

Until a new photograph is provided we will be unable to issue the replacement licence and identifiers. Any driver not displaying new style identifiers will be liable to compliance action, therefore it is imperative that drivers provide a photograph as requested.

Photographs can be emailed to TPHphotos@tfl.gov.uk or posted to:
Taxi Driver Photographs 4th Floor, Green Zone Palestra
197 Blackfriars Road London SE1 8NJ
After 31 March 2013

Through the issue of the new licences and area identifiers which contain additional security features, along with continuing to undertake regular compliance checks, we will be able to safeguard the public from rogue drivers and protect the reputation and the earnings of the taxi trade.

It was hoped that now a solution has been found to the fraudulent use of Taxi driver documentation, LTPH would be able to concentrate on the bigger problem of PH touting and illegally plying for hire and protect the public from violence, robbery and sexual predators, but that still looks very unlikely.

Monday, February 11, 2013

£23m of Parking Fines 'May Have Been Unlawful'

Almost 350,000 parking fines - totalling an estimated £23m - may have been unlawfully issued to motorists in London, a BBC investigation has found.

In 2010 a ticket issued in a suspended parking bay was ruled unlawful because Camden Council did not have authorisation for its signage.

Now the BBC has learned 16 councils still have no authorisation for these signs, while others went years without.


Some boroughs insist a later judgement made tickets enforceable.

A typical inner London council suspends more than 1,500 parking bays a month, often so building works can take place.

The Department for Transport (DfT) designs road signs for most situations, which authorities must follow closely.

But it has never produced a template for a suspended parking bay sign.

If no sign is set out by the DfT, the law says councils must ask the transport secretary to authorise their own creations.*

Otherwise they would be effectively licensed to invent road signs at will.

In January 2010, motorist Suzanne Campbell defeated Camden Council at a Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (Patas) hearing after being ticketed in a suspended parking bay.

Adjudicator Edward Houghton ruled: "In the absence of a compliant sign the vehicle was not in contravention and the appeal must be allowed.

"No doubt the council will give consideration to obtaining the secretary of state's authorisation."

Shortly afterwards there was a rush of applications for authorisation from London councils. Some 14 received it by 2012.

But all these councils had been issuing tickets in suspended parking bays for years previously.

According to the DfT, another 16 councils still have no authorisation.

Neil Davies, a motoring solicitor at Caddick Davies, said: "From a legal perspective councils are on very shaky ground, because the signage they used is effectively made up.

'Ignore the laws'
"It's difficult to explain the actions of councils who haven't sought authorisation - they may be relying on the fact many people don't challenge parking notices."

Richard Bentley, an ex-police officer and signing consultant, said: "Each council is fully aware they have to apply to the secretary of state if they want to use signing that isn't set out within the regulations.

"It is astounding authorities ignore the very laws there to help them."

The BBC sent Freedom of Information requests to all 28 councils which had no authorisation prior to 2012 to find out how many potentially-unlawful tickets were issued.

Some councils provided a decade's statistics, others just two years.

Neil Davies contradicts London Councils' claim that the fines were lawful
But the BBC has traced a minimum of 343,956 tickets issued under unauthorised signs. The real number is probably far higher.

According to a Westminster City Council report, London boroughs make £67 per parking ticket - a total revenue more than £23m.

Mr Davies warned motorists fined years ago might find it hard to claw money back - as there is a time limit of 28 days to make an appeal.

But he said both councils and Patas could use their discretion to hear historic appeals.

He added: "There's certainly a strong moral argument for councils to refund those monies."

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "The department provides clear guidelines to councils to help them produce signs that comply with regulations.

A technical failure to comply with regulations does not invalidate signage so long as the signs are clear and motorists are not misled”

London Councils spokeswoman
"These are there to protect motorists.

"It's not for government to police signs - this role falls to local politicians who are accountable to their residents."

The BBC's Inside Out programme contacted all 28 councils. None was able to provide an authorisation predating 2010.

However several authorities claimed a subsequent test case, a 2011 Court of Appeal judgement, meant their signage was nonetheless lawful.

That case established the legal principle that trivial failures to adhere to signage laws are not grounds to cancel a ticket if the sign is clear.

A London Councils spokeswoman said: "The Campbell case pre-dates an important decision in the Court of Appeal last year, where the court ruled a technical failure to comply with Traffic Signs Regulations does not invalidate signage so long as signs are clear and motorists are not misled.

A typical London borough suspends 1,500 bays a month or more
"This ruling has effectively prevented further successful appeals on the grounds of a technical failure to comply with the regulations where no harm can be shown."

But Mr Davies said inventing a sign without authorisation amounts to more than a "trivial" or "technical" failure to follow the law.

He pointed out that 12 councils sought authorisation even after the 2011 judgement, suggesting they knew it was still required.

Mr Davies added: "Parliament makes rules for a reason - to protect the public.

"For local authorities to ignore such rules is to deny the public protection."

Find out more on BBC Inside Out, on BBC One in the London region on Monday, 11 February at 19:30 GMT and nationwide on the iPlayer for seven days following transmission.

Source BBC News.

*SUSPENDED PARKING BAY AUTHORISATION
The following councils still have no DfT authorisation for their signs: Greenwich, Southwark, Westminster, Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Hillingdon, Kingston-upon-Thames, Merton, Redbridge, Sutton and Waltham Forest.

The following councils received authorisation in 2010 or after: Camden, Hackney, Lambeth, Harrow, Wandsworth, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Brent, Newham, Hounslow, Lewisham and Haringey.

At the time of research Richmond-upon-Thames was applying for authorisation but did not yet have it. Source: DfT

Doubting if Tomorrow Will Ever Come, for Tomorrows Taxi.

New York City’s attempt to reimagine its taxicab experience, perhaps the least divisive of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s legacy-making transportation efforts, now appears to be the most at risk.

One measure, creating a vibrant street hail network of livery cabs outside Manhattan, has been mired in court since last June, delaying its implementation indefinitely.

Another, allowing New Yorkers to hail yellow taxis using smartphone apps, was watered down amid heavy lobbying from the livery and black car industries — and will most likely face a legal challenge

Then there was the crown jewel, cast in yellow: the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow, a nearly complete redesign of the modern taxi, the first since the age of the Checker cab. Now, that, too, is imperiled.

A recent suit filed by the Greater New York Taxi Association challenges that the Taxi of Tomorrow plan violates a little-known section of the city’s administrative code because the vehicle, a Nissan NV200, is not a hybrid.


According to the provision, the city “shall approve one or more hybrid electric vehicle models for use as a taxicab” and any approved model “shall be eligible for immediate use by all current and future medallion owners.”

And it is not as though there will be other models to choose from: Nissan’s 10-year contract with the city, worth an estimated $1 billion, stipulated that it would be the sole manufacturer for virtually all of the city’s 13,000 cabs. (A small number of existing hybrid medallion owners are exempt from the mandate to purchase a Nissan.)

Amid the assorted blows to the mayor’s taxi policy, other major items on his transportation agenda — the creation of bicycle lanes and pedestrian plazas — have prospered despite legal challenges and some opposition.

More than three years of work have gone into the Taxi of Tomorrow, for which the city issued a request for proposals in December 2009. The result was a vehicle with distinctive features: transparent roof panels and “lower-annoyance” horns, a special exterior light that flashes when a driver honks and seats “as strong and cleanable as vinyl with the comfort of leather,” according to the commission.

But the choice of the NV200 inspired the ire of advocates for the environment and proponents of accessibility. The vehicle is not wheelchair-accessible, but it can be retrofitted to become so. In December, John C. Liu, the city comptroller, rejected the Nissan contract, though it was unclear what practical effect the action would have.

With the latest suit, though, industry officials said Mr. Liu’s objective might be accomplished for him.

Nora C. Marino, a member of the taxi commission’s board who has opposed the Taxi of Tomorrow, predicted that the vehicle, in its current form, would never reach the road.

“Frankly, I agree with a lot of the allegations,” Ms. Marino said, referring to the suit filed by the Greater New York Taxi Association, which represents medallion owners of many hybrid and wheelchair-accessible taxis. “As an attorney, I think it’s a good complaint.”

The suit also argues that the city does not have the authority to mandate the purchase of a given vehicle.

The city’s Law Department and its Taxi and Limousine Commission would not address how they planned to proceed with the case, or whether the relevant section of the administrative code had been considered before the Taxi of Tomorrow plan was approved.

David S. Yassky, the city’s taxi commissioner, is familiar with the city’s administrative code requiring hybrids; as a city councilman, he supported the measure when it was adopted in 2005. He said in an interview that he believed the Taxi of Tomorrow would go forward as scheduled. But his predecessor, Matthew W. Daus, who was the city’s taxi commissioner when the Taxi of Tomorrow plan began but was not involved in the selection process, registered doubts.

“It’s a problem for the city,” said Mr. Daus, now a partner at the law firm Windels Marx Lane and Mittendorf, where his focus is transportation law. “This is a real, credible threat.”

He said that the administrative code had been written narrowly, explicitly calling for a “hybrid electric vehicle” option, not simply a fuel-efficient car. The city has argued that the yellow taxi fleet’s gas mileage will increase once the Taxi of Tomorrow is widely used.

An administration official, who requested anonymity because the city’s legal strategy had not been determined, suggested a possible counterargument: the code requires the commission to approve a hybrid vehicle “within 90 days after the enactment of this law,” which the administration did. Taken literally, the official said, the provision could be interpreted to apply only to the moment of the bill’s passage in 2005, even if hybrid alternatives would not be available once the Taxi of Tomorrow was fully implemented.

If such logic fails, it is unclear how the city might expect to circumvent the provision while keeping its exclusive commitment to Nissan. (The company would not comment on the lawsuit or its contract with the city.)

The City Council has the authority to amend the code, but seems unlikely to provide a solution. Last September, Councilman James Vacca and Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker and a presumptive Democratic front-runner for mayor, wrote a letter to Mr. Yassky expressing concerns about “reducing the number of green taxis on our streets.”

The city has attracted myriad lawsuits over its taxi policy in recent years, facing attacks from well-financed corners of the yellow and the for-hire taxi industries. Last June, a State Supreme Court justice in Manhattan blocked the city’s all-borough taxi plan, passed by the State Legislature in 2011 after the administration had been rebuffed by the City Council. The judge rejected the city’s justification for the maneuver — that taxi policy is of state concern.

With taxi-hailing apps set to begin for yellow taxis as soon as this month, for-hire owners have retained the counsel of Randy M. Mastro, a former deputy mayor for operations under Rudolph W. Giuliani, in preparation for a possible suit. Livery and black-car operators, concerned about their business model, have protested that the apps violate the city’s longstanding ban on prearranged rides in yellow taxis.

“The taxi industry has now replaced social policy as the area where there’s the most court activity,” Mitchell Moss, the director of New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, said. “That litigation is now a part of taxi policy tells you how central this is to New York.”

Mr. Yassky said the city expected to overcome any suit against its app program, and to weather the all-borough taxi challenge in time to roll out the new “apple green” livery cabs before the administration’s time was up.

But he was careful to add a caveat.

“That’s not a certainty,” he said. “Nothing’s a certainty.”

Source: The New York Times