It seems TfL have closed ranks against the Taxi trade. FOI requests are going unanswered and ignored. TfL officers are not replying to emails even though they have a duty to be open and transparent.
On the 26th of February 2014 Taxi Leaks made a request appertaining to the amount of complaints made, by members of the public, against drivers using the Taxi rank outside a certain underground station. At first we were told to do this, staff would have to go through the files of every Taxi driver to find out this information and that this would exceed the cost of the request.
We pointed out that a similar request for the same information at Finsbury Park Station was in fact given to one of our researchers in January. We were asked to provide the request reference number which we did. That was on 5th of June.
Since then we have heard nothing even though we requested a reply on 30th of June. We have now applied for an internal review on the 2nd August but still have had no reply.
Another request we made about the validity of certain aspects of the Private Hire Act 1998 on the 1st of May 2014, has also been completely ignored and we have also asked for internal review on 2nd of August, but have heard nothing since.
It would appear that TfL are now also ignoring emails.
Taxi Leaks wrote to a list of department heads, asking for clarification and links to legislation in respect to suburban drivers, accepting pre-bookings while outside their licensed area. Our first email having been ignored, was followed up a month later with another copy, but that has also been ignored.
So we have decided to make this an open letter, plus we will be taking this up with our MPs and Assembly Members.
Email was addressed to:
Driver and Operator Policy Manager, Simon Buggey
Copies were also sent by CC to:
TfL Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy
Managing Director of Surface Transport Leon Daniels
Head of Transport Policing TfL, Siwan Hayward
Senior Operator Licensing and Compliance Manager at Transport for London, Cliff Llewellyn
Director of Community. Safety, Enforcement &. Policing, Steve Burton
Plus New Man, Peter Blake.
We also BC'd to a selection of MPs and assembly members.
Dear Mr Buggey
As you are no doubt aware TaxiLeaks is the world s leading taxi blog with thousands of 'hits' daily and therefore probably the foremost communicator in real time with the London taxi trade.
We have received corroborated reports that representative of the TfL Licensed PH operator Über are approaching drivers on ranks in suburban sectors with a view to drivers using their application on a smartphone, the drivers are also being advised that it is 'perfectly lawful' for suburban drivers to accept pre booked journeys through this smartphone app, while outside their licensing sector.
Our legal advice to date has informed us that the various statues that govern Taxi and PH in the Metropolis are 'silent' on this matter.
In order that we may advise our significant readership correctly, can you kindly inform us of TfL's position on this matter and if it considers such activity by the drivers and Über to be unlawful?
We are in possession of a previous statement from TfL to the effect that TfL consider the illumination of the For Hire sign evidence of plying for hire. You may be aware that case law suggests this not to be the case or that the pre booking and electronic despatch of such hirings be challenging to include in any such definition.
It would also be instructive if you could also state what offences under which statute would occur?
We look forward to your response as a matter of urgency.
Editor Taxi Leaks.
All we have asked for is a definitive answer with links to the relevant legislation to advise our readers.
It seems TfL are keeping tight lipped on this issue.
As always we will give space on this blog to any reply.