Taxi leaks has received complaints from both licensed Taxi drivers and members of the public, concerning the efficiency of TfL's flag ship smart phone app. Apparently it doesn't work as one would expect, when it comes to booking a licensed Taxi.
So we decided to test, to see how difficult it could be to book a licensed Taxi. We used an iPad then an iPhone in our investigation.
The first platform we tried the Cabwise app on, was the iPad. It become clear within a few seconds that the iPad app had a serious programming flaw which made it impossible to get in contact with a licensed Taxi, using this app. Every time you select call a licensed Taxi, you are put through to a page and invited to book a minicab. Even after deleting and re-installing, it still failed to make contact with a licensed Taxi provider.
We then tried the Cabwise app on the iPhone.
This platform seem to run much smoother, except private hire and licensed Taxis are not treated on an equal footing. If you want to book a minicab, you are presented with a text box where you can enter details. This is a perfect solution if you are in a noisy club or bar. You get a text to let you know when your minicab has arrived. But if you wish to be picked up by a licensed Taxi, you are given no more than a phone number to call.
If you have ever been in one of London's night venues, the first thing you notice, is how noisy these places are. It's almost impossible to have a conversation with friends standing next to you, let alone hold a phone conversation. Most potential customers will choose the easier option of booking a minicab.
Some time ago moves were made by licensed Taxi App providers Hailo and Get Taxi, to seek approval from TfL's MD of communication, Mr Vernon Everitt, for inclusion on TfL's website. Strong resistance was mounted by Mr Everitt who seemed convinced this approval would be challenged by private hire and seen as a bias towards licensed taxis.
As head of Communications for TfL, Mr Everitt is totally responsible for the format of the Cabwise app. In our opinion this app is totally biased, in favour of private hire.
On the other hand, customers at late night clubs and bars will probably not use this app, as they will be approached by door staff as they exit and escorted straight into waiting minicabs illegally plying for hire in the street outside. TfL and LTPH has shown very little apatite to deal with touting and have shown no will (thats zero cases reported in ten years) in dealing with illegal plying for hire.
It seems to us that TfL and LTPH are terrified by what Mr Steve Wright has to say about anything and yet give no credence whatsoever to the LTDA's very own Bob Oddy.
Questions need to be asked of Mr Everitt as to why he has authorised such a biased app that pushes custom towards private hire.
Time is finally running out for this secretive, manipulative public body as GLA assembly members are waking up to what's going on and asking awkward questions. Lambs will now be thrown to the wolves as top officers try to safeguard their own position.