The United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) group has announced they just received the following note from TfL's Helen Chapman asking private hire drivers in London to call off their protest of TfL, planned for tomorrow.
The ph say the response is totally inadequate and is much too little, much too late, from an organisation that has treated licensed private hire drivers as 3rd class citizens for far too long???
The drivers are demanding a cap on numbers which will reach 94,000 this week. TfL says it is lobbying for primary legislation to introduce a cap but when challenged (as always) fail to answer just what these efforts are and what response they are getting.
Another issue is drivers safety concerns with UberPool. Ms Chapman deftly side steps the questions asked. Garrett Emmerson was quoted in The Telegraph saying that assurances were sought and received on passenger safety and other issues.
The group have asked for a copy of these assurances and rather than provide immediate access they have forced UPHD into a lengthy Freedom of Information process before any disclose can be made (sound familiar ?).
In other words, TfL will not be willingly tell them! they will only do so if compelled to under the obligations of FOI laws.
If Uber's assurances were so watertight why can't TfL pass those assurances on to drivers and the travelling public right now?
In the first consultation round it was made clear with almost universal agreement that the trade was profoundly worried about the safety of UberPool. TfL acknowledged these concerns yet has pre-empted the consultation process by allowing ride sharing services to commence.
Ms Chapman well knows that Uber's terms of service both with drivers and passengers makes clear that Uber is not the transportation provider and bears no operational risk - The drivers do.
Yet, TfL has not seen fit to consult with the drivers as operators of this service.
TfL's instinct is only to deal with big money interests at Uber corporation and ignore the primary interests of it's licensees.
Whatever, legal and PR trickery TfL try to deploy the fact remains: drivers are being exploited and are having to work many more hours than is safe due to low pay which is in part due to overlicensing.
TfL cannot abdicate responsibility for the inevitable public safety consequences of that.
Comments made & actions taken by TfL board members Wright, Liebreich and Dedring in any other properly functioning government body would result in calls for their immediate resignation.
It seems the UPHD's are not assured by TfL's claim that they will carry out an impact assessment.
Why have they not done this already?
When will the results be known?
Which outside bodies will be consulted?
UPHD announce the demo is going ahead.
Thursday at Windsor House, Victoria, SW1H 0TL. 12:15 - 14:00.
Below is Helen Chapman's email reply.
Dear Mr Farrar
Thank you for your email regarding the protest you are planning to undertake outside Windsor House, Victoria, on 17 December. Garrett Emmerson has asked me to reply on his behalf.
I note that you intend to highlight three key issues at the protest: the capping of licences, concerns regarding UberPool and the requirement for TfL to carry out an equalities impact assessment.
Firstly, I would like to assure you that the Mayor and TfL share your concerns regarding the continuing rise of private hire vehicles (PHVs) and drivers in London, and believe this unprecedented rise to be unsustainable in the capital. However, as it stands, TfL is under a statutory obligation to grant a London PHV driver’s licence if the licensing criteria are met. The Mayor has called on the Government to provide TfL such powers and we would greatly appreciate support from all members of the trade on this matter.
Secondly, I want to make it clear that we have not licenced UberPool separately from Uber’s main operating licence; undertaking ride sharing services using licensed private hire vehicles does not require a separate operator’s licence under current legislation. This being said, TfL is currently considering to what extent, if any, private hire regulations should be modified in its application to the advance booking of private hire vehicles at separate fares. As you have referenced on your website, we have included proposals around this in our consultation for the review of Private Hire regulations. If you haven’t already responded, I would encourage to you to do so, at https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/tph/private-hire-proposals.
We have made clear to Uber that we expect them to ensure all necessary steps are taken to ensure the safety of passengers, drivers and other road users at all times. Uber have given assurances including in relation to the provision of information and training for passengers and drivers, vehicle tracking, controls on the sharing of data and insurance. Passengers can also continue to provide their comments via the existing feedback function, which we understand will be used to analyse and assess the service.
I understand you are concerned that Uber did not consult with drivers before making changes to their terms and conditions; however, drivers choose which operator (or operators) they work for, and the working terms and conditions they are prepared to accept.
On your final point, we are undertaking an equalities impact assessment on our private hire regulation review proposals.
I hope that, in light of these reassurances, your group will reconsider your plans for a protest on 17 December.
London Taxi & Private Hire | Transport for London