Monday, February 08, 2016

TFL - The New Parliament...by Paul Simon


It would appear that regulating and deregulating as it suits is not enough for TFL that they now want more powers to abuse the taxi industry even further with…. TfL’s passive devise of London’s Taxi Service is a slow process that fires missiles at the trade in all directions while it accommodates the Private Hire App industry.
 
TFL will bend, ignore and re-interpret laws in ways that suit them; ways that hinder the Taxi industry.
 
The deep concern of a Taxi driver continuing to work while waiting for her or his renewal to came through left TFL distraught so they fired the missile abolishing temporary licenses; but this was not enough, they even reinterpreted the law that allowed a driver with a submitted application to continue working.  The 1987 Transport Act of allowing a driver to continue working was reinterpreted to include a response from a CRB application and a decision made by which time a licence should be issued anyway.  TFL said the licence application without the separate CRB application leaves the licence application incomplete.  But that is what a CRB application is - a separate application.  
 
TFL sent warning letters to those making renewals and first time applicants about working within the waiting period; however it was a standard letter addressed to both new applicants and current drivers renewing, that way TFL have the option of say the warning section is only meant for new applicants if it backfires on them with a driver suing for intimidation and loss of earnings – clever?  
 
So concerned about the safety of Londoners that TFL are satisfied with a letter of good conduct from fresh faced driversthat have just made it into the country and want to earn as they contribute towards the influx of Private Hire drivers that contribute highly to congestion and pollution that many Taxi drivers renewing their licences were shelved as Private Hire became the new public hire.  
 
A distressing concern for TFL as they lose sleep over the safety of Londoners!
 
TfL also interpreted the law on taximeters in a way that hindered the industry instead of protecting it by saying thatthe law was unclear when the intention of it was obvious.  Their argument is that a smart phone is not a meter.  It is not a deadly weapon either till you hit someone on the head with it!  Even Boriaty said it is a meter!
 
Previous Missiles - Can anyone see a pattern with the new proposal on credit cards?  Let’s look at what TFL have cost the Taxi industry in the past..
Wheelchair requirement £2000
Emissions for a replacement exhaust box £1500
Although these things could have been done more cheaply, TFL wanted to make a monopoly.  No worries, TFL gave the Taxi industry a tariff increase, yippee just what Londoners want, make Taxis more expensive and pass it on to the passengers.
 
While sitting near point on the Waterloo rank I could see in my rear view mirror the head of the cab driver behind me turn and gaze.  I nearly said to him “haven’t you ever seen anyonestepping over the rank with smartphone in hand to gain access to their minicab before?”  Some people like to que up at restaurants, some prefer queuing at cinemas.. perhaps the customers were disappointed of the non-existent que of passengers on the rank that backed up to Palestra.
 
Or just maybe it was because TfL has given the passenger the choice of not having to pay what TfL keep adding onto the meter to price Taxis out of the fair competition that they say taxis don’t like!
 
As someone from TfL said “the public has made their choice”
 
Keeping the expenses high to justify the costs on the meter.. Legislation also prevented the new greener Nissan from launching; TFL prevented the most economical and greenest vehicle from appearing on the market.  The Taxi Industry are required to continue using a £40,000 vehicle that drinks more than its predecessors and has an engine that lasts just 80,000 miles.  When the next expensive vehicle arrives drivers will be compelled to change because of costly legislation.
 
I never ever saw the TX4 as a step forward, like the TX2 it was a further step back where the engine was concerned.  An economical Japanese engine that runs on petrol made TFL to drastically bring out legislation that hampered it off the road; a vehicle that even went to the trouble of looking like a taxi unlike the Vito that blurs the distinction more – TfL didn’t mind that. Meanwhile minicabs are given the choice of driving practically anything and charging what they want.  
 
Why would anyone want to train for years to do the same job with tighter regulations and no Pre-book or Immediate pick-up definition!
 
TfL don’t want the Taxi trade to become too viable to everyone with reduced running costs as this would mean lowering fares to reach more of the public and that could impact its beloved controversial ride app service!
 
“We are just giving the public what they want” – more like depriving them!
 
At the end of the day those people stepping over the rank probably would have loved to have used a London Taxi.  This obviously doesn’t suit the powers that be….
 
TfL’s future plans could include technology that helps passengers without a smartphone get to their Private Hire e-hailed car by installing a device located next to a rank that can summon a minicab by the touch of a button in a train station. They will probably do this by public consultation to shield themselves and tell the Taxi industry that “this is what the public want.”  I believe TfL should be fixing the problemswith the Taxi industry instead of adapting a foreign tax avoiding unsafe app service to do the work of the Licensed London Taxi service.
 
The removal of Pre-book Only stickers from private hire vehicles, helped accommodate the unclearness of pre-booking, so a minicab could enter the new created third tier of  e-hailing.”  The push of a button and the removal of a “pre-book only” sticker was indeed new technology to luddites who can f*** off and die but not in that order…
 
London’s Taxis had been using app technology through smartphone apps such as Hailo and Gett, long before Uber came along.  However the powers that be wanted to make the taxi industry look jealous of the fair competition by using ignorance as a tool by saying that we don’t like new technology and are dinosaurs even journalists have got it wrong referring to Hailo and Gett as Uberfication of the taxi industry – whatever that means!
 
Another flag fall increase
 
Alongside Mickey Mouse, Private Hire Manager Helen Chapman who felt her presence was owed at the Card Payments in Taxis Consultation did not leglect to mention those putting a sock over the device should be taken off the road by way of a stop note.  Perhaps she should put a sock in it herself!  She could have mentioned something about the merchant account hacking of certain Private Hire apps but didn’t.
 
As a sweetner at the cost of looking ridiculous and dodgy; Tflhave allowed the Taxi trade to offer alternative card payment devices while passengers have the approved payment device faced in front of them.  I’m not going to even comment on that one…!!!
 
 
Well maybe a small comment…
 
Passenger: ​Driver why have the fares gone-up?
Driver: ​​To pass on the cost of having an approved card device
Passenger: ​O.k. fairs fare..
Driver: ​​How would you like to pay?
Passenger: ​By card please
Driver: ​O.k. can I offer you an alternative card payment method to the approved device in front of you?
Passenger: What’s the point of that as I am already being charged to use TFL’s approved device; it sounds dodgy as no other business offers its customers an alternative card device when already presented with one!!!
 
The Private Hire Consultation was another white wash; nothing constructive put to together that helps the public with pre-booking or direct communication with a ride app service. I wanted to see an outcome of mandatory pre-booking and prior price agreement with no surging later on.  The congestion charge for private hire was more of a government money spinner for the 100,000 licenses it has issued.  Tell me that none of this is planned!
 
TFL are just one big contradiction! Transport for Luddites, Trouble for London,  Totally Failing, Two-Faced!
 
All this bloody fuss over tariffs and card payments when there is no work!!!!
 
I for one don’t agree with a fare increase to install a card device in my taxi that will increase expenses or cause a stop note to be served should it become faulty.  I don’t want to anchor my bank details to a device that will be shared by other fleet drivers; when I can simply use a handheld device that fits in my bag which I can take with me and use in a spare cab if need be.  For a one off cost of the device I can accept all card types including contactless.  I am comfortable to conform to TFL’s card device criteria with the exception of having to have it installed and a tariff increase.  Like I said its TFL’s way….
 
The majority of Londoners want Uber gone.  With this said a proportion of those Londoners will use Uber on price.  Perhaps the Taxi Industry may want to give something back i.e. a promotional 2 month sale as a thank you and to remind Londoners of the service that we provide.  A step back can lead to making great strides forward.  It’s no good having a secret sale, banners on doors 30% off meter, would this be a problem for TFL, if we gave the public what they want; after all they said we don’t like the competition?  But it can be a secret sale like the secret credit card subsidiary for passengers made at the drivers expense to look like they are creaming off the top!
 
 
I strongly believe that TFL will not allow the Taxi trade to lower their prices - no matter how much the public want it; however if TFL did protest a price decrease against a full agreement of the trade the public would want to know why.
 
 
New balls please..
 
TfL continue to dictate to the Taxi industry which is at a premium and excludes Londoners from different backgrounds from using this valuable public service through bonkerslegislation that puts taxis at a premium and forces the publicinto less regulated minicabs.  Minicabs that are summoned by e-hailing are getting carte blanche as TFL hinder the Taxis and blur the requirements on Private Hire.
 
TFL now feel that there is not enough regulation in the taxi industry that it now approaches parliament to change a law on card acceptance when they could be demanding parliament to bring out legislation that makes a clearer definition between Pre-booking and Immediate Hire or making minicabs thataccept e-hails that circumvent the law to meet the same criteria as taxi drivers such as being disabled accessible having automatic door locks and a tight turning circle.
 
Why didn’t TFL approach parliament of on the law on taximeters stating that a loophole needs closing?
 
If the argument on private hire prevails that they are doing the same job as taxis except on the way its work is acquired why is it not necessary for their vehicles and drivers to meet the same standards and criteria of a taxiand it’s driver?
 
Safety it’s just an excuse to hinder taxi drivers
 
While taxis that operated on a radio circuit such as comcab or radio taxis were clamped down on the use of a non-hands free two-way radio.  TFL did not impose or run to parliament on the safety of its minicab drivers that have mobile phones in addition to a GPS stuck to their window screens which some watch like a TV as they lower their concentration on the road.  
Why is TFL so rigorous towards taxi drivers and so feet up about minicabs?
 
 
What the private hire consultation should have covered is:
 
1. Clarity on what is pre-booking – Is e-hailing pre-booking?
2. Minicab operators having a certain amount of drivers with disabled accessible vehicles in their fleet to avoid discrimination
3. Minicabs being consistent in their fares and not allowed to flucuate their fares accordingly to job frequency.
4. A mandatory pre-book service
5. Loitering in areas where work is expected to arise.
 
If TFL can clarify the difference between pre-booking and immediate hire and explain why the standards of private hire vehicles and drivers don’t meet the same standard as taxis and taxi drivers when the work of driving the public around is exactly the same (with the exception of how the work is acquired) then I will not attend the demo.
 
 
TFL shouldn’t be working hard tooth and nail to hinder taxis while it relaxes the rules on Private Hire.  They should be making Taxis more accessible to Londoners instead of making it more into a premium rate service that is unsuitable for the wider London audience.  Taxis cannot be a yuppie only service while passengers sooner take a more affordable service but at the same time we don’t want to be deregulated we should be working as a team to address concerns such as these, take a balanced approach, communicate and stop seeking ways that are destroying the world famous taxi service in the greatest city on the planet.
 
Thank you for reading..
 
Paul with strong points added from Aristos