Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Letter To Taxi Leaks : TfLTPH Using Private Hire Vehicles Act As A Cash Cow.

I would like to publish the following letter through Taxi Leaks bearing, in mind we have the ears of MP's now:

In the late 90's, we were informed; "When minicabs become licensed, touting will become their problem, not ours"

A Potted history of the Private Hire Vehicles Act act.

Before the Private Hire Vehicles Act1998, London was lawless. Everyone and anyone who wanted to earn an extra few bob become a mini cab driver in their own cars without any insurance or criminal checks it really was the "Wild West". The Police had zero interest in addressing any issues as they needed to clean up the streets in the West end at the weekends, as the demand for Taxis well outstripped supply.

When the PHV act was drawn up it had three separate but connected stages.

1. Operators license: 
In brief, an office or building with the appropriate planning permission the ability to record the details of every booking and the ability to report data on all bookings.

2. Drivers  PHV Licence:
CRB checked and linked to ONE  PHV operator.

3. Vehicle Licence:
A TfL inspection which ensured the driver was connected to an operator and had the correct Hire and Reward insurance over and above private social domestic and pleasure or full comp insurance. 

Under the Public carriage office (PCO) everybody either complied or died.

Since Transport for London (tfl) took over the reigns:
They saw this as a cash cow business opportunity and as from 2012, with the advent of Uber, they have relaxed the law to the point of " do what you want, we don't care" attitude as long as long as we make money.

Tfl have always clamped down on any indiscretion  for the Taxi trade, which I totally agree with, but have turned a blind eye to the PHV market.

I cannot believe there is no mechanism to make a complaint against a PHV driver with tfl 100,000 plus PHV drivers are above the law and complaint to tfl is just forwarded to the Operator and forgotten. This is completely against " The Natural rules of justice".

PHV drivers were granted a license for a particular area of London and directly connected with a registered operator for e.g Toms cars based in the Angel, punters could walk into they're high street office and order a mini cab and the operator would take the booking, allocate a driver to do the job -to Hackney- for example, the driver would then carry out the booking at a fixed rate agreed upfront, then return to the office and sit in the queue waiting for his next job.

The same system applies to Yellow badge suburban Taxi divers, they can only work the parish or local area take a job in your area complete to and return to base.

Stay with me please..

The radio circuits such as Dial a Cab, RTG, and CompCab have had an automated despatch system light years ahead of mini cabs  since 1960's and has always led from the from in terms of technology the first to introduce GPS and auto despatch to remote terminals in cab but and this is very important, always complied with PCO and tfl's rules and regulations.  

I was delighted to hear today a bill will be amended in the House of Commons around the tightening of the rules around the 1998 PHV act.

My view is simple, every operator should provide Hire and reward fleet  insurance to comply with the 1998 PHV act and the driver must work for one single registered PHV licensed Operator. Because at this moment PHV drivers are affiliated to several different mini cab companies at the same time which goes completely against the act. They are virtually plying for hire with several platforms which is illegal.

The new revisions to the act must include one driver attached to one operator.

Think about this, if the onus of responsibility around insurance is with the operator, then any other bookings outside the said operators remit the car is not insured.

For the avoidance of doubt, if I work for Addie Lee who provide a car and relevant insurance and I sign up to Uber and moonlight accepted a job from Uber and have an accident would Addie Lee's insurance cover this journey???  

Tom Scullion.