Saturday, September 29, 2012

London cab maker Manganese stalls in race with rival Eco City Vehicles

Follow the money!
Was the Mayors 15 year age limit on Taxis really about air quality in London.
Why did Tim Yeo suddenly have to resign his £3k a month job at ECV?

London cab maker Manganese Bronze saw rival Eco City Vehicles poised to overtake in its wing mirrors as its losses widened.
Manganese (down 0.25p to 11p) said pre-tax losses hit £3.6million compared to £2.4million last year as UK sales tumbled 23 per cent and it lost £4.25million due to accounting errors revealed last month.
It warned that without improved sales, it might not break even next year. But ECV narrowed its losses from £1.2million last year to £582,000 as revenues surged by 40 per cent to hit £16.4million.

The relative newcomer has been boosted by a diktat from London Mayor Boris Johnson that all black cabs must be less than 15 years old, to reduce carbon emissions.

Its greener Mercedes Vito Euro V models fall well within the age limit, helping the company increase its share of new licensed taxis to 38 per cent from 21 per cent last year.

ECV has now sold nearly as many licensed cabs at the halfway stage as it did during 2011.
ECV (up 0.02p to 2.05p) is seeking a chief executive, with boss Peter DaCosta due to take a non-executive role for the next phase in the company’s expansion.
Growth will be partly funded by a £1.75million share placing announced earlier this month, which will also contribute to paying down debt.

Harrows Paralympic Legacy: Cuts Disabled Travel

Cuts to Harrow's Taxicard scheme will leave the disabled 'trapped in their homes'

Disabled elderly people say they will “be left to lie down and die” after cuts to a scheme which provides subsidised taxi journeys for those with severe mobility problems.

The Taxicard service, which has 90,000 members across London, gives disabled people who have complex problems and struggle to use public transport a lifeline by paying for door-to-door taxi trips.

But under pressure for cuts from the Mayor of London, funding for the scheme was cut drastically by London Councils last year, and from April, Harrow Council decided to limit the amount of journeys that could be claimed by users to 104 per financial year, and set a passenger contribution of £2.50 per journey.

And for those who also hold a Freedom Pass for public transport, or a disabled blue badge, councillors decided to limit the number of journeys to 52 – and some pensioners say they have already run out.

Every council in the capital had to choose how it dealt with the loss of funding, with some, such as Hillingdon and Tower Hamlets, choosing to protect the scheme.

Richmond upon Thames Council took a similar approach to Harrow last year, but after an uproar from campaigners and research that showed that disabled people were leaving home less as a result of the changes, they reversed the limit of 54 journeys on those with a Freedom Pass or blue badge and reinstated it to 104.

Councillor Husain Akhtar, who represents the two women’s ward, is calling for the council to rethink its policy, using the example of Richmond.

He said: “I know the council is looking for cuts but perhaps it can learn from Richmond upon Thames in this case.

“I have unsuccessfully tried to reason with the collections and housing benefits team to consider individual circumstances but was told there can’t be any exceptions – I’m disappointed by a straight jacket approach.”

“This change has caused serious problems for many elderly residents in my ward who now go out less often with obvious implications, including isolation.”

The cuts are also a double whammy to the local yellow badge drivers, many of whom rely on the Taxi Card Scheme to supplement their income.

Roy, a local Yellow Badge Driver for over 25 years said " I work the Station mainly, but a great percentage of my jobs are Taxicard work. Harrow, over the last few years have taken away many Taxi spaces in the area that were busy ranks with shoppers. The rank opposite Debenhams has gone so have the ones in Kimberley Road and Havelock Place.

If we don't get the Taxicard work from Northwick Park Hospital then the rank will not be serviced and eventually it will be over run by touting minicab drivers

Source: Harrow Times

Friday, September 28, 2012

Victoria Station Taxi Arrangements

From Sunday 30 September 2012 until May 2017 there will be significant changes to the taxi rank arrangements at Victoria Station.

The planned changes are partly as a result of the ongoing Victoria Station Upgrade (VSU) works and we have worked closely with colleagues in other parts of Transport for London (TfL) plus Network Rail and Westminster City Council to ensure that taxis can continue to serve Victoria Station.

The new arrangements are as follows:
• The entire station forecourt, including the taxi rank and set down area, will be closed
• The taxi ranks in Wilton Road and Neathouse Place will be removed
• The new head of the taxi rank will be in Hudson’s Place on the east side
of Victoria Station
• A new taxi feeder rank will be appointed in Bridge Place
• Taxis will be able to set down passengers on the east side of Wilton
• There will be a designated space in front of the rank in Hudson’s Place
for taxis to drop off disabled passengers
• The taxi rank in Gillingham Street will be converted into a rest rank
• The taxi rank in Vauxhall Bridge Road will be extended to the Queen
Mother Sports Centre

The ‘Air Deck’ taxi rank at the station will continue to operate as normal.

Taxi marshals will be working at the new taxi rank during the first two weeks of operation to assist passengers and drivers.

The signage inside Victoria Station will be changed with additional signage installed to advise passengers where the new taxi rank is.

Extending the taxi rank in Vauxhall Bridge Road helps ensure that taxis can continue to serve the station but retaining this space is dependant upon the following conditions:
• Taxis do not over-rank
• Taxis do not stop on the zigzag lines behind the rank
• Traffic flows along Vauxhall Bridge Road are not disrupted
• The safety of pedestrians and other road users in the area is not
• Parking and loading bays in the area are not used as illegal taxi ranks.

It is essential therefore that taxis do not over-rank or obstruct the highway or put other road users and pedestrians at risk.

Source: TfL Website 14/12

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sex offender could be working as minicab driver in Wembley

On the 31 of August we posted a story about Mohammed Hirsi who had breached his licensing conditions and that police were searching for him in the Wembly area were it is believed he is working as a minicab driver.

It has now emerged that Hirsi has breached his bail conditions by not turning up for trial where he is accused of raping a female passenger.

According to a report in the Harrow Times, Hirsi is already a convicted sex offender.

How is it then that this animal is working as a minicab driver in Wembly.
While TfL compliance officers are out checking Licensed Taxi drivers for badge and bills, animals like Hirsi are out there raping passengers.

I have complained many times about the unreasonable number of B&Bs checks while real problems like this are overlooked.

Compliance teams should be out every night at known tout hot spots in Wembly actively looking for Hirsi

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

RIP Kevin Fitzpatrick

On Wednesday friends and colleagues of London Taxi driver Kevin Fitzpatrick black out their Twitter avatars after hearing of his death

Our deepest condolences go out to all Kevin's family and friends

Déjà vu 2, Louis Armstrong Goes On Strike.

New Orleans, Tuesday:
1,600 taxi drivers parked up their Taxis and staged an informal strike to protest new city regulations that will cost them thousands of dollars each.

The strike involved mainly the independently owned cabs and small companies who pick up passengers mainly at Louis Armstrong International Airport and the city's major hotels.

Drivers for United Cabs Inc., the city's largest taxi company, remained at work, and picked up most of the extra work. (Ring any bells?)

Because the striking cabbies chose a relatively slow Tuesday for their work stoppage, the overall effects appeared to be small, even though hundreds of cabs apparently took part. The strike was not announced in advance, and it was not clear when or whether the drivers intend to repeat the action.

At the request of the Landrieu administration and the city's tourism industry, the City Council recently passed a host of new regulations for the taxi industry.

A federal judge issued an injunction blocking the city from enforcing ordinances declaring cab owners' permits, known as certificates of public necessity and convenience, or CPNCs, to be privileges and not rights, and making their transfer discretionary.
Much the same as if the Law Commission declared the fact that London Taxi drivers exemption from the congestion charge as a privilege and not a right!

However, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon allowed the city to implement new regulations setting maximum ages for vehicles used as cabs and requiring installation of

  • Credit card machines
  • GPS devices
  • Security cameras.

The city will be enforcing these rules as cabs come in for their regular semiannual inspections. Many owners say they cannot afford the extra costs, especially the $20-30,000 they say they must spend to get a vehicle young enough to meet the city's new rules.

More than half the cabs in the city are already too old to meet the new age guidelines, which states that vehicles used as cabs, mustn't be older than 11 years. But starting in 2014, the maximum age will be reduced to seven years. In addition, starting in January, cabs can be no more than five years old when first put into service.

Notice the way an age limit once implemented is then reduced. Many fear that Boris's 15 year age limit is set to be reduced in the near future to 10 years, as three major London council leaders, have written to the mayor demanding a reduction.

Striking Taxis at Louis Armstrong International airport

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is this déjà vu

Another company that imports Taxis from China has reported a huge loss over the Olympic and Paralympic period.

In a parody of the real life Taxi manufactures, the makers of Olympic toy Taxis Hornby have issued a profit warning following disappointing sales of London 2012 merchandise.

The Olympic legacy for Hornby amounts to a £1m loss as opposed to profits that were forecast to be around £2m.

The group had been hoping that merchandise sales would allow it to bounce back into profit, however, demand for models was significantly lower than expected.

The Hornby 2012 range includes models of London buses, taxis, 2012 branded train sets and a Scalextric velodrome cycling set.

The company has been hit hard by the recession and weak consumer spending. It has seen profits fall from £4.5m to £3.4m in the year to March 31.

The company has also faced major disruption to one of its suppliers in China and is now expected to break even in the financial year. A Chinese company that supplied more than a third of Hornby's purchases has announced it is rationalising its facilities.

Shares in the company fell by over a third following today's warning.
In June the company had said that sales of Olympic merchandise were 'gaining momentum'.

However, deep discounting by retailers along with poor sales overall has led to a reduction in the profit forecast. The company also said that substantial quantities of other London 2012 goods meant sales had failed to deliver.
“Retailers lost confidence in many categories of London 2012 merchandise and repeat orders for our products were cancelled,” it added.
The group said it would be “constrained significantly” in the current financial year, but would keep a tight lid on costs and had “redoubled efforts” in product development and innovation in order to turn sales around.

The company, which is based in Margate, Kent, is now offering up to 85% off its Olympic and Paralympic ranges.

Lets hope the parody continues with M&Os offering huge discounts to get back in the game.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Minicab drugs courier caught at M4 services is jailed

Police intercepted a haul of more than £100,000 worth of drugs at the Leigh Delamere service station.

Officers concerned about the insurance of a London licensed private hire driver at the westbound motorway stop spotted what they believed were drugs paraphernalia in the car.

When they took a closer look they found ten large packages of former legal high mephedrone hidden under the seats.

Hannah Squire, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how police spotted 43-year-old Vazrik Nazarian’s car on Thursday May 10.

She said they found two packages, each weighing one kilogram, and eight half kilo bags making a total weight just short of six kilos.

They also found a tin containing not only a small amount of a white crystalline substance but Nazarian’s library card as well.

Miss Squire said mephedrone, also known by the street name miaow miaow, retailed at £20 a gram making the haul worth £119,000.

She said the wholesale price would be between £12,000 and £30,000 meaning the profit margin for it was higher than heroin, cocaine or crack.

When the driver was questioned he said he had been given £400 by a man in London called Louis to take the drugs to a town on the edge of Cardiff.

He told officers he had made the trip on four or five previous occasions getting details from a second mobile phone seized from him.

Nazarian, of Shepherd’s Bush, west London, pleaded guilty to possessing a class B drug with intent to supply.

Ashley Hendron, defending, said his client was simply acting as a courier trying to earn a bit more money and as a "taxi driver" was used to ferrying packages about.

Someone definitely needs to point out to Ashley Hendron, the difference between a minicab drug courier and a Taxi driver.

Nazarian only admitted doing it before after it was pointed out that the cameras on the Severn Bridge would have previously spotted his car.
He also said he was a family man who had been a minicab driver for 22.

Jailing him for two years Judge Douglas Field said: “You were carrying the drug to Wales: you were doing so for a fee.You knew the amount that had been stowed underneath the seat, you knew it was drugs, you knew it was wrong, you had done it before: on each occasion you had been paid £400.”

Latest News from New York

New York Will Get Its Fancy Future Taxis
The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission today approved the Nissan NV200-based "Taxi of Tomorrow" as the Big Apple's next cab.

So long, Crown Vics, and thanks for all the rides to the airport. New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to approve the rules that will make Nissan's "Taxi of Tomorrow" the next-gen cab of the Big Apple.