Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Midweek Update On Tottenham Court Road Demos.....Statement From The ITA.


The only criticisms levelled at us so far have been from a few cyclist trolls, who were complaining about us blocking emergency services access along Tottenham Court Road. 

Keeping the outside lane clear...
The 3rd lane was always kept open by drivers and marshals most of the time, but unfortunately the police decided to let cars and a huge lorry down the clear lane which got stuck at the junction of Store Street and couldn't go any further. 

It took a few minutes to adjust the demonstrators vehicles but within a short time, the way was cleared. We spoke to the police on point duty and they agreed to go back to diverting the traffic and keeping the clear lane access free. It’s our belief that this was a deliberate tactic to make us look bad. 

Even so, we really do need to keep the third lane clear, so if you find yourself directed into the outside lane and it comes to a stand still, please stay with your cab to facilitate marshals who will be trying to keep the lane moving.

So far, the demos have been very well behaved and peaceful, fully supported by residents, businesses and the police. If attitudes change we do have other plans, which the marshals will relay to drivers.

Demo Times...
It is felt necessary to stick with the times and venue as many drivers are not on social media and it would be hard to get the message across in a short period of time.

A few people heard on LBC radio last night, someone who was introduced as a spokesman or leader of the ITA.  No leader or spokesperson appeared on LBC yesterday, it was just one of the demonstrators, who appeares to have put out his own views about the demos on Tottenham Court Road. He most certainly was not an official spokesperson.

The only spokespersons for the Proactive ITA are Sean Paul Day and James Thomas.

It's no big deal...but we've been asked to verify the statements this person made. 

Please follow on Twitter @ProactiveITA for more updates. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Day Two On Tottenham Court Road Demo....Where Buses Go, We Go


Another huge success today. The whistle blew for kick off at 4pm, and Tottenham Court Road came to a compete standstill  in just a few minutes. 

The outside lane was again kept clear for emergency service vehicles.... And again the police mess it up by letting a huge lorry along the lane which got stuck half way down by Percy Street. 

The was also a couple of cabs who were stuck behind the lorry who decided to go on walk about, which became a problem when finally the Lorry got going again. At one point, the police were going to call for a removal truck to remove an LEVC -until it was pointed out that unless they had one that could fly over the top of the traffic, there was no way it could get through. 

But the drivers were found in just a few minutes and the lane was reopened and clear again. 


Same time tomorrow but please remember to keep the outside lane open and clear, because we don’t want or need the negative publicity. 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
What's become apparent over the last two days,
Is the blatant disregard for public safety shown by the cycling community who were using the clear lane as a race track....ignoring the traffic lights at pedestrian crossings at speeds well over a acceptable level. 


There were number of instances where pedestrians were run into by cyclists and not a word from the police officers in attendance. 
 
Well done to all the drivers who again turned up and generously gave their time to fight for our right to ply. As part of London’s public transport system, Where Buses Go, We Go.

Good News At Goodsway. 
We have been reliably informed that the no left turn except for cycles signage at Goodsway onto Pancras Road, is in fact a mistake. Camden Council say the sign is wrong and will be replaced. 
At present Taxis can ignore the no left turn to access the Kings Cross Rank. 

    

Buses, Cycles, And Uber App Based Hail & Ride Mini Buses Only???


Thought From Yesterday's Demo, By Tom Scullion. 

As I sat at the Tottenham Court Road (TCR) demo today my mind starting searching why!
I really mean why!  would anyone want to to propose a scheme which will hurt everyone?

Then like a light it came to me...

II suspect that as Uber’s new business model -discussed just before Christmas by Ubers Dara Khosrowshahi and Mike 'onside' Brown- is a smaller, less polluting local 'Hail and Ride' bus service, servicing all areas, app based 'on demand’ not predictions for local communities and busy City hubs alike.

Further, I would not be surprised if the new data sharing relationship with Tfl and the underground can accurately predict a surface transportation demand based on real-time Oyster traffic.

Where would the best place to trial this new Green Transport Concept ?

I could name the recent exclusion from Bank junction for example, as a test case to exclude Taxis from any other commercial options and develop a cost effective green alternative solutions for onward travel based on the “Oyster crystal ball” maybe a small friendly Green hopper bus provided from a fellow stakeholder in the exclusive data club with revenue share opportunities.

How could we funnel the traffic into restricted arteries to slow down certain routes for road users then give advantages to other suppliers... it ain’t rocket science 

Taxis bad New friends Good

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :

Let's not forget, although the UPHD were protesting yesterday at Palestra and Parliament Square, their leader Dara Khosrowshahi has done a deal with the transport secretary and TfL. He says Uber will promote paying the congestion charge in exchange for Uber Buses being allowed to use all Bus Lanes - that's every bus lane, even the ones Taxis can't use!

Business owners and residents in the area voted for Tacis to be included in the TCR scheme and yet both TfL and Camden have pulled the plug on us.

Join your colleagues today, 4pm till 7pm and show Camden Council and TfL that we are not standing for these exclusions any more.
We are going to fight till the end. 

Uber admit they paid for excuses to not release rape and sexual assault data. CNN report.


The internal investigators tasked with keeping Uber safe were overworked, underpaid and at times emotionally traumatized as they struggled under the burden of nearly 1,200 cases every week, a confidential internal memo obtained by CNN says.

The 26-page memo, prepared by an outside risk management consultant, says that as recently as May last year, Uber's Special Investigations Unit was handling hundreds of cases every week. The team -- which was made up of 60 investigators and 15 team leaders at the time -- was tasked with handling the most severe incidents reported to the company in North America, including verbal threats, physical and sexual assault, rape, theft and serious traffic accidents.

Uber commissioned the memo as part of its "broader efforts to stand up a best-in-class, specialized investigations team," a company spokesperson told CNN.

Although the memo notes that the team members loved "being associated with a 'hot' brand" and its younger employee base, it also said conditions were so bad within the unit that the memo warned of mental health risks to the investigators -- even the potential of suicide.

"A single suicide by an Uber investigator who posts that they could not 'take' the job demands any longer will be fodder for the national if not international news media," the memo said.

Uber sent lengthy responses to CNN detailing the action they say the company has taken since the memo was completed. "We have been putting safety at the heart of everything we do," Uber's head of safety communications Brooke Anderson said in a statement. "Uber will continue to focus on safety in 2019, including through the release of an accurate transparency report."

Investigators experienced 'profound stress'

Uber has repeatedly over the past year said that safety is its number one priority. But the company is still reckoning with the problems that have come along with its aggressive push to scale globally.

The memo notes that, as of May, most of the SIU's investigators were in their 20s and 30s. According to a CNN analysis of former and current employees, one Uber investigator went from being a Starbucks barista to handling calls from victims. Another was a manager at Chipotle before he became an investigator. The memo also says many of the SIU's investigators had "law enforcement, investigations and military backgrounds."

The memo cites a "serious level of stress and anxiety of team members," and notes that six members of the unit were "experiencing profound stress requiring clinical care."

"The issue of untreated depression ... because of a massive caseload and the concern that an investigator must acknowledge that they are not coping well is not only real but increasing," the memo said.

In addition to obtaining the internal memo, CNN spoke with seven former Uber employees familiar with the unit, including investigators and managers. All spoke on the condition of anonymity citing fear of retribution and professional repercussions for speaking out; one cited a non-disclosure agreement.

In an email to CNN, an Uber spokesperson said these types of issues are not uncommon for "fast-paced, crisis-related jobs involving tough issues," such as 911 operators, adding "[w]e are (and have been) very focused on ways to support our safety response agents, including helping them cope with the stress and challenges of this important job and ensuring we have the right people with the necessary skill sets to manage these sensitive, serious issues."

Uber also took issue with the memo's description of the SIU's caseload, noting that some cases might be duplicates or proven fraudulent after further investigation. The memo said the "SIU team manages nearly 1,200 cases per week" and noted "Although some reports shared with the SIU are frivolous and later found to have no merit or constitute fraud, we were told that most of cases reported have some basis of substantiation."

The memo cites the financial and reputational damage that severe incidents can have on the company, which is slated to go public in 2019, noting that trust in Uber "is eroded by periodic, but serious allegations of inappropriate or illegal conduct, notably by drivers and occasionally by hostile passengers."

It was shared with select people at Uber, one former manager told CNN. A separate CNN investigation in April 2018, found evidence of 103 drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse by passengers since 2014, based on publicly available data including police reports.

After CNN began asking questions about sexual assaults, Uber announced increased safety measures including a partnership with RapidSOS, a company that sends a rider's location and relevant information to a local police agency when the rider uses the emergency button in the Uber app. Uber also revamped its background check policy, now conducting annual checks on drivers. Following the airing and publication of CNN's investigation, Uber announced it would do away with a policy that previously forced individuals with sexual assault complaints into arbitration and made them sign non-disclosure agreements.

How Uber tracks complaints

For more than a year, CNN has been pushing Uber to reveal its data on allegations of sexual abuse and assault on its platform, but Uber has said the numbers will not be ready until sometime in 2019.

The former manager said Uber has always had numbers and keeps track of complaints in real time, adding that the consultant's memo was initially "shelved" at Uber.

Another former manager told CNN: "It's a technology company built on data. The numbers are known."

Uber disputed that allegation, saying that its numbers are in the process of being audited. In November, the company announced a new taxonomy for how it categorizes complaints like sexual misconduct, assault and rape. Its next step is to publish the data.

The company classifies complaints based on severity levels. The SIU handles the highest levels: Level 3's, or L3's as they are referred to internally, include physical assaults and crashes. Level 4's, known as L4's internally, include rape, sexual assaults, and any deaths on the platform, according to sources.

The memo also outlines the risks to Uber's bottom line should the SIU's caseload become public.

"We know from the underreporting of incidents by CNN and others as just one example, the cost to the brand and reputation of Uber by a single case can cost the company millions of dollars in lost revenue from riders who hold a lasting impression that we are unsafe and not worthy of their trust," the memo stated.

The memo states that compensation is how employees measure self-worth -- and recommends that Uber raise its hourly rates to "attract and retain superb investigative talent."

Uber, which has raised more than $22 billion in venture capital funding, paid its investigators around $18.50 an hour, according to the memo.

That's low compared to investigators working for airlines and bus companies, for example. The memo cites those investigators earning around $26 an hour and $21.80 an hour, respectively. Both, like Uber, are non-union jobs too, according to the memo.

At Uber, investigators receive some specialized training upon hiring. All agents on the SIU team undergo eight weeks of training, including sensitive investigations, bias and empathy training, an Uber spokesperson said.

Investigators get assigned new cases by a designated staff member, the former manager said. While that staff member tries to assign cases involving sexual assault to seasoned investigators, sometimes there is little information in the original complaint sent to Uber, or the investigators best suited to the case are busy with other work or not staffed during the shift, the former manager said.

Investigators assess the validity of claims from riders or drivers by talking to the person who reported the incident and the alleged perpetrator. They decide the outcome of each case, which can include banning a driver from using the service in the future.

Inside Uber's Phoenix office

The memo says investigators "love working for Uber," but it also points out that members of the team were "experiencing fatigue, sleep deprivation and numerous issues."

The memo noted that "the investigators working for Uber deal, at least dozens of times every workday, with volatile, argumentative persons. They directly interact, sometimes several times a day, with perpetrators and victims- some of whom use vile language, make direct and indirect threats, discuss deeply disturbing sexual and other assaults."

One former employee who spoke with CNN said they felt they were treated fairly at the company, while noting that there was little opportunity for pay increases or promotions. The memo similarly warned, "Uber is not meeting best practice standards with regards to articulating what a career roadmap looks like for an investigator."

In conversations with CNN, several former employees discussed the mental toll of the job, something that ate away at the initial thrill of being hired by the most valuable startup in the US.

The office itself was also a cause of frustration for some SIU investigators.

The company declined suggestions to soundproof the open-floor workspaces used by the SIU team, two individuals told CNN, making it difficult to conduct sensitive conversations on the phone without office chatter seeping into the calls. Both said that people on the other line sometimes questioned the seriousness of investigations due to the background noise.

In one instance, an investigator was on the phone with an alleged sexual assault victim when people on another team began singing "Happy Birthday" to a colleague. The victim hung up on the investigator, a former manager said.

An Uber spokesperson said that following the memo, doors were added to the SIU team's area to provide more privacy and quiet for their work.

The memo suggests a number of other changes, such as career mapping for SIU members as well as trainings including how team leaders can spot and escalate warnings for at-risk investigators. It also includes more simplistic changes, such as adding soft La-Z-Boy chairs and stationary bikes. This is a "modest budget item" that can "make a difference when a person needs a few minutes to decompress after interviewing a victim/perpetrator and considering how they will process next steps," the memo said.

Uber said that it is in the process of implementing "all key recommendations" from the May memo, including counseling, better work schedules and conditions, and additional training. The company is also hiring more experienced investigators.

The company has repeatedly declined to specify when it plans to release its data on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on its platform, other than to say it will be sometime in 2019.

"When it comes to safety, we believe getting the data right is critically important and the foundation of future improvement," Anderson said in a statement. "That's why we are working with experts to audit our safety incident data, so that it can be responsibly released, as we have committed publicly to doing this year."


Source CNN 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Where Buses Go, We Go : Tottenham Court Road Day One.


Taxis started to arrive just before 4pm. Most of the side streets leading into Tottenham Court Road (TCR) already had drivers waiting to join in. 

The road soon began to fill, but marshals from the ITA kept the right hand lane clear for emergency vehicles. 

Marshals were also advising the public not to enter TCR as they could be held up in the demo till 7pm. Almost all took evasive action. 

The Met Traffic police, on the whole, were very cooperative and helpful at first, but after a while (probably acting on orders from above) started to let a few buses and private vehicles into the free lane. 

It was explained to them that this was not the idea and if they persisted letting Buses and cars in, then all lanes would be blocked. Traffic was then diverted into Chenise Street and the outside lane was again reopened for emergency only vehicles. 

One good point, a representative from UCH came out and was taking photographs which showed access was being kept open for emergency vehicles and she wished us all the best of luck

A solitary police motorcyclist officer was seen fuming cabs but never issued any form of warning or directive to move. Probably just a scare tactic. Police officers must not make any form of surveillance without an order called a RIPA. 

Also, we believe a TfL representative was filming registrations and ID cards, but he ran off when challenged. 

The demo went well and was well attended the whole area was at a virtual stand still for 3 hours. 

Plans have been made for alternative venues should the police get difficult but it’s unlikely as the demo was extremely peaceful. 

Best of all, the public appeared to be in support as was the two bus drivers caught up in the jam. 

Back again tomorrow, same time same place. (Until further notice)

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT: 

While directing traffic trying to enter TCR from New Oxford Street, I was amazed at drivers with jobs in that we’re expecting me to help them get out of the congestion. Not an option I’m afraid. 

Whilst there are going to be a few drivers who really don’t know what’s going on, every effort has been made to advise the trade of the demos (including times/venue etc), including posters in most trade eateries, leaflets, social media announcements and articles in trade papers.... Even the wait and see brigade have mention the demos in their emails to members. 

TfL traffic cams, before they switched them off ???

 

 


Press Statement from The ITA ... Re: Camden Council & Taxis


On the 27th Dec 2018, the ITA decided to uphold the motion to call direct action over the decision made by the Camden Council to restrict access to licensed taxis using Tottenham Court Road between 07h – 19h. 
 
The static protest will commence at 16:00, week beginning 21St January 2019. The time and location of the protest is subject to change and will be ongoing
 
The decision is in response to concerns by officials that the security risk could rise if the area became ‘over populated’. The point must be emphasised that whilst the ITA considers statements that pertain to a compromise in safety, we will always question and research the legitimacy of that statement. 

The ITA has it’s own thorough checks and balances set in place before direct action is announced publicly. More-so, the propensity for local authorities to ‘scare monger’ is a tried and tested one, and we will not succumb to disingenuous rhetoric to justify unjust policies
 
There is at the moment, an agenda to scale up cab drivers contribution to pollution and congestion in London despite the fleet having fewer than 20’500 vehicles that work variable hours and shift patterns. The compulsory vehicle has to conform to stringent conditions of fitness in order to be licensed as a taxi and also has to pass two MOT’s per year which include an emissions test. No Taxi is licensed unless it meets European Standards. New licenses are no longer granted to diesel taxis. Zero Emission ZEC taxis with petrol engines need to meet the latest emissions standard (currently Euro 6)
 
Flawed congestion zone data is used that does not differentiate between unique “one off” entries and multiple entries which in the course of a single shift we do numerous times. There are 87’466 private hire vehicles licensed in London, and Camden Council plan to displace 22,500 public service vehicles into existing traffic. We should remind Camden that Taxi customers are pedestrians at all other times. 
 
London’s road transport also negatively impacts the capital’s economy through rising congestion. We assume that Camden has no policies in place to manage increased impact on other routes. This is the rational counter argument, but the truth is, only 8 seconds per sixty minutes would be added to bus journey times if taxis were to be allowed unrestricted access. 
 
Average car speeds (7 -19h) average 8 mph with speeds in central London significantly lower still. Slower speeds mean greater delays and unpredictability in journey times, leading to higher economic costs and an increase in carbon emissions from an estimated £5 billion in 2013 to over £10 billion in 2030 (CEBR 2014). Significantly, London’s hybrid buses operate for the majority of the time from the diesel tank. 

As a result, drivers are being forced to buy an electric £60,000 cab in order to “clear up London” blaming increased pollution on a cab fleet that has remained static over 2 decades is ridiculous. Where then is the incentive for the trade to shift over to being fully electric. Camden will argue once again that it is not their responsibility to ensure taxis convert to electric but reality is, the displacement of motor traffic is presenting itself as a real issue but rest assured, on paper, the Traffic An alarming increase in bus crashes in London over the past four years is revealed today.
 
There were 28,035 collisions in the capital last year, according to new figures — about 5,000 more than in 2013.
 
Nearly 14,000 collisions have been recorded in the first six months of this year. Twenty-seven people have been killed in what are described as “collision incidents” from January 2015 to June this year.Order for TCR will not concern itself with increased NOX readouts on peripheral routes. 
 
Camden knowing the dissonance that exists between Taxis and PH should have sought to draw or at least address the distinction between the two in these respects. It is a timely reminder that the restriction imposed on licensed taxis using TCR as a ‘through route’ is, in part, implemented under the banner of safety. The service provided by London’s Licensed taxi trade (black cabs) is -according to TfL and the CofL’s own verifiable data- the safest transport service option available. However, concerning collisions Camden conflated taxis and minicabs and considered it permissible to have regard for such data. Collated data combining taxi & PH  collision statistics was subsequently used to inform recommendations restricting taxi access
 
Further, Tottenham Court Road (TCR) and road traffic restrictions implemented at Tavistock Place. 
The TCR /Gower Street location is listed by Camden as one of the worst locations in the borough for collisions, with 259 casualties in the three year period from 1 August 2011 to 31 July 2014. Both the Met and Camden Council referenced data that did not identify Taxis separately from PH even though subsequent data shows that no licensed taxi was involved in a serious collision during that time. 

We refuse to wilfully accept that London's highly trained licensed taxi drivers should suffer the consequences brought about by 87,000 untrained PHV drivers? 
Camden might consider it permissible, and if so, their decision to restrict taxis has little, if anything at all, to do with safety. 
 
It is unjust that official record books do not distinguish London's licensed taxi trade from an industry with an unprecedented number of revocation orders, and TfL should make this information freely available as opposed to having to submit an FOI to gain information. The licensing process of a taxi driver is vastly different from a PHD. Someone who has invested time and money developing a skill via  a mandatory licensing process should not be burdened by the consequences of those who have chosen NOT to invest in any such training.
 
Further, having regard to the characteristics of Black Cabs, the competent authorities could reasonably conclude that taxi access of to bus lanes is liable to enhance the efficiency of the London road transport system.  If Camden think this is inconsequential, they should consider the report commissioned by The New Scientist in 2017  Researchers at Lancaster ran a three-day experiment taking 29 journeys from different locations around London. One researcher hailed a car via a well known app based service while another took a traditional black cab to the same destination, with the route left up to the driver.
 
At the end of their trial, black cabs worked out faster, taking on average 80 per cent of the time. When you multiply that time saving by hundreds of 1000’s of journeys every single day, that amounts to huge efficiency savings.
 
It’s ironic also, that at a time when the monopolisation of TfL’s franchise service is being rolled out there has been an alarming increase in bus crashes in London over the past four years. There were 28,035 collisions in the capital last year, according to new figures — about 5,000 more than in 2013.

Nearly 14,000 collisions have been recorded in the first six months of this year. Twenty-seven people have been killed in what’s described as “collision incidents” from January 2015 to June this year.
 
Assuming an observant position, we urge Camden to lead the way and resume negotiations with relevant trade groups. It is not the mark of a progressive or democratic process to dismiss trade representatives who’s advocacy to serve their members is far higher than that enjoyed by the policy makers.  
 
Neither TfL or Camden Council have provided satisfactory reasons why the public should be denied access – or ease of access- to the only door-to-door public service option available. The fleet also supplies the majority of the 2% of vehicles that are wheelchair accessible. Camden will argue -and have done – that few  visitors to the area who are wheelchair dependent use taxis, but that is not the point, the purpose built vehicle is such to account for safety and liberty, both attributes that were important not too long ago. Again, what provision has Camden provided for the infirm in society? 

We are not against the West End Project per-se, but considering all aspects, including Camden’s own consultation where the restriction on taxis wasn’t well supported, we call upon Camden to lift restriction on taxis forthwith.