Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Open Letter To Val Shawcross.... From Cabby Alex White.


Dear Val Shawcross

Firstly happy new year to you, whilst I am a licensed black cab driver (London Green Badge) I am not writing to you in that capacity mainly, I am writing to you in the capacity of someone who witnessed the devastation of a family losing a loved one in a car accident. Just over 10 years ago two very good friends of mine were killed in a car accident, there was a third person who died in the car but he was not known to me.

It was myself that put the initial call into girl who died parent's, warning them that the police were on their way and were going to deliver the worst possible news, I was too far away to get there quickly to be with them and suggested they get a neighbour to come round and sit with them whilst the police deliver the bad news. On that day I lost two of my best friends, I had lived with both of them previously, the girl was the person that introduced me to my wife of 15 years, these were very good friends to me.

My wife and me helped the families dismantle their dead children's lives, we helped clear their house of belongings etc, but the lasting memory for me was on of watching a mother who had lost her only child, sprinkle her ashes into the sea, this is something that will live with me for the rest of my life, this is sorrow on a level I have never experienced before.

So here we are we are on the 2nd of January 2017 with the first fatality due to a minicab not paying enough attention to the road, u-turning on Great Eastern Street taking out a motorcyclist in the process, so a family now is 'getting the knock on the door' from the police, sitting them down and giving them the heart breaking news that someone has died. 

My heart goes out to the family and friends of this person it really does. But tempered with this sorrow is anger, anger that this was avoidable, TFL and city hall are preceding over a city where there are so many people being seriously hurt or killed unnecessary. TFL are culpable, condoning to some degree and I believe it is only a matter of time before someone brings a corporate manslaughter charge against the directors of TFL.

I have no problem with normal private hire, the guys that see this as a profession, see this as a job to slowly enhance their skills, to get better and better at their job, but anyone who relies on sat-nav to the degree an Uber driver does will never improve, they will always struggle to drive around our great city, the business model is deeply flawed and cannot improve whilst there is such as reliance on technology.

Now in my capacity as a taxi driver I invite you and 3-4 of your fellow members of the GLA to take a ride in my cab in the evening around the west end to see what taxi drivers have to put up with, we now need eyes in the backs of our heads to work out what stupid manoeuvre is coming next from cars around us that seem fixated on a device stuck to the windscreen. Unfortunately the police clamping down on phone users is not going to stem the tide of accidents whilst one operator has in their business model an app that the driver has to keep on referring to whilst driving.

Val I would like to bring up another point with you, this I believe is a very significant issue, this is about bus drivers that are 'moonlighting' as Uber drivers, whilst TFL say they cannot link the two professions, I believe this is incorrect, TFL issue bus passes to all bus drivers so they have a database of bus drivers somewhere, now in my capacity as a computer programmer and currently holding the Microsoft Certified Database Administrators (MCDBA) qualification (as well as a number of other IT qualifications) I know that to join two lots of data say on postcode is a pretty easy piece of work, to then produce a report that matches postcode of a private hire driver and then bus driver on postcode with the names and house number of both sides listed so perfect matches can be found would be around two hours work for a proficient programmer so I don't believe TFL are doing enough. It should not be possible for a bus driver to also be a private hire driver, this is putting the public at significant unnecessary risk.

So here is my second offer, I offer my services free of charge to TFL to align this data for easy reporting, I would think this is no more than 2 hours work, I am happy to sign confidentially agreements/non disclosure agreements or work on a structurally correct dataset without any data in it.

I await your reply

Kind Regards

Alex White (76695)