Friday, October 19, 2012

Victoria Taxi Rank, Point Made! Now Move Point!

Why have TfL/LTPH not seen sense and moved the point of the Victoria Station Taxi rank, to where the majority of passenger exit the station in Wilton Road?

Drivers are reporting long waits as passengers vacating Victoria leave by side exits flagging down passing cabs, completely unaware of where the rank is situated. Taxi marshals are proving to be ineffective.

Since the rank was first advertised as moving to Hudson Place, I have pointed out, on many occasions, that passengers leaving by the exit in Wilton Road would just hail passing cabs.

As with the Olympic venues, the rank is hidden away and not in line-of-sight of people leaving the station. At busy times, this assumption has proved correct, as passing Taxis are flagged down everywhere around the station, while drivers on the rank lose out.

I have suggested that the point of the rank should be moved to the side exit but have been castigated on twitter for my suggestion by members of the joint ranks committee. TfL are to spent £500m on the new station forecourt, but seem unwilling to invest in the welfare of the best Taxi service in the world.

My hopes were raised last night, as I passed and saw Taxis lining up on the old feed rank in Wilton Road. Passengers leaving the station could see the Taxis and it seemed to be working well. I honestly thought that TfLTPH had seen sense. But alas, this morning the point if the rank is back hidden away in Hudson Place.

It's like the Olympic scandal all over again. Cabs are now dwelling by the exit and getting off, while ranking cabs are spending more time than necessary hidden away from sight.

TfLTPH can't used the wheelchair card as the Taxi rank at London bridge operates from the off side and TfLTPH have seen nothing wrong there!!! Or if that worried they could move the Bus stops to Hudson Place.

Again this just goes to prove that the inexperience of LTPH's ranks and highways officers are proving detrimental to our trade.

Rank ready for use.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Notice 19/12: Steering Box Fault in TX4 Taxis: New Update

This notice is issued further to TPH Notice 17/12 regarding the manufacturer/VOSA recall and subsequent suspension by Transport for London (TfL) of the licences of 303 licensed London taxis. London Taxi Company (LTC) has now advised TfL of a further 13 licensed London taxis that are affected by this recall bringing the total to 316. This is due to a steering box fault in late model London Taxi Company TX4 taxis and has also halted the supply of new vehicles

Since the recall announcement, TfL has been in constant dialogue with LTC to
understand the technical nature of the recall and the steps that LTC is taking to identify and implement a solution.

The Mayor and TfL are aware that there are drivers who, as a direct result of this manufacturer’s recall, may be unable to work. We are pressing LTC to do all they can to provide all available assistance to affected drivers, making sure that they communicate effectively with their customers and make clear their intentions. This includes the supply and fitting of replacement steering boxes, suitable compensation for drivers unable to work (where appropriate) and the provision of a clear timetable for resolution of the problem.

TfL continues to encourage the taxi trade, through their associations, to work together in partnership to identify possible taxi sharing arrangements to assist those drivers impacted by this problem.

To further assist affected drivers, following a formal request from LTC and representations from driver associations, TfL is, with immediate effect, implementing temporary measures in London for the licensing of taxis. These temporary measures will allow LTC to license Euro III and Euro IV taxis that
have not previously been licensed in London and provide them directly to drivers impacted by the TX4 recall.

TfL is hopeful that this temporary measure will enable LTC to provide replacement taxis to those affected. Only taxis that are licensed and supplied by LTC qualify for this concession and are for those drivers directly affected by this recall. TfL will work with LTC to ensure licensing of these vehicles can
occur as quickly as possible.

TfL has indicated to LTC that individual owner/drivers who cannot work must have priority over fleet vehicle proprietors who have a greater ability to move vehicles around to keep drivers working.

For further information and guidance please see the LTC website: london- taxis.co.uk, contact the LTC Customer Support line on 02476 572000, TfL via TPHEnquiries@tfl.gov.uk or contact your driver association.

John Mason
Director Taxi and Private Hire

We've Done It Again, London Taxis, Best In The World.

London's Black Cab drivers are the best in the world... and it's not just us saying it!

Perhaps it is our unrivalled ability to talk about everything and anything. Or perhaps it's our complete professionalism and outstanding knowledge.

The London Taxi trade is appreciated by the many visitors to the Capital, from countries all over the world.

London's black cab drivers have again come comfortably top in a poll of world travellers by Hotels.com.

Second were New York cabs, followed by taxis in Tokyo, Shanghai and Bangkok.

The results are based on responses from 1,600 travellers in 28 countries, the survey showed that UK cab passengers were more than twice as likely to "become amorous" in a taxi than travellers worldwide, with 26% of global travellers having kissed in the back seat.

More than half (56%) of travellers have nodded off in a cab, while 19% use a journey to touch up their hair or apply make-up.

The poll also revealed that 15% never tip a cabbie and 39% are fairly stingy with their gratuities.

London was top in five of the seven categories used to determine the city with the best cabs, only failing to be the pick of the taxis for availability (with New York chosen) and for value (Bangkok).

The world's biggest spenders on taxis are Australians, while Italians splash out the least.

Hotels.com senior communications director Alison Couper said: "It is great news again for London to be the home of the best taxis.

"London's iconic black cabs are recognised around the world as being the highest quality and it's due to the impressive expertise of London taxi drivers that they're seen to have the best local knowledge compared to any other city in the world."

What a shame that our own Mayor and licensing authority don't feel the same way...Boris wants us to jump off Tower Bridge and Transport Commissioner Peter Hedy says we should stop complaining and get out more often.

But lets wait and see if they try to capitalise on our great achievement.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

LTPH Compliance Bias? Surely not.

On Friday night/Saturday Morning I had a job to Charing Cross Station. I followed a Toyota into the station who dropped his fare just in front of me.

As I was being paid off I saw the drivers hand beckon people on the queue at the Taxi rank to approach him.

He was approached by a group of people who spoke to him briefly then got in his vehicle.

At the same time an Addison Lee driver who had dropped two young ladies in front of the Toyota, was directly approached by another couple from the rank queue.

They got in his vehicle but then the man got back out and ran off towards the shops, probably to draw cash out of an ATM (as the driver was blagging, he couldn't take a card). The woman stood talking to the driver.

Just as I made my way towards the point of the rank, I noticed more people from the back if the rank, heading towards another minicab dropping behind me.

Where are the compliance teams when this blatant touting is going on?

Why do they only appear when the rank is full of Taxis?


Taxi driver David said:
"They put all their resources into policing the best Taxi service in the world, trying to catch drivers who may have left their documentation, or badge at home and yet right beside us are touts, operating completely illegal, who are raping and pillaging the public, many involved in drug trafficking, prostitution and terrorism and they turn a blind eye. It's so wrong. Why are they doing it this way, what are they trying to achieve ?"




Video Courtesy of Thomas the Taxi

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

LTPH Notice 18/12: Necessity For In Cab Printer Scrapped

Review of Fare Receipt Policy Provides Taxi Drivers with Freedom of Choice and Reduced Overheads

With effect from 1 January 2013 taxis will no longer be required to have electronic taxi meter receipt printers installed as a condition of the cab licence.

In 2003, as part of a review of the Conditions of Fitness, Transport for London (TfL) took the decision to require all London taxis to install taximeters which have the facility to issue printed receipts.

TfL is committed to evaluating the impact and relevance of licensing policies and to support changes that reflect the demand of the taxi industry, with a view to achieving efficiency whilst also reducing any likely costs impact.

TfL Taxi and Private Hire received a number of representations from individual drivers and driver trade associations questioning the continued effectives and relevance of the mandatory electronic meter receipt policy.

Having reviewed this policy and the cost it imposes on drivers TfL considers that requiring all drivers to have receipt printers installed as a mandatory requirement is no longer appropriate.

Although TfL is removing the mandatory requirement for this type of equipment, the requirement that drivers must provide a fare receipt on demand by a passenger remains. However, drivers will now have a choice of how they meet this requirement which could be through issuing paper receipts or, if they prefer, still using an operational taximeter printer installed in their taxi.

For credit and debit card transactions it is still a legislative requirement that a printed receipt is provided to the passenger and this obligation remains operating.

If you have any questions on the change of this policy please do not hesitate to contact us via email to TPH.Enquiries@tfl.gov.uk.
***************************************


So, as the notice points out:
"For credit and debit card transactions it is still a legislative requirement that a printed receipt is provided to the passenger and this obligation remains operating"

Does this mean that transactions using the popular Adelanti's Taxi Pay system, Dash payments, Hailo, Get Taxi and other iPhone apps which email receipts to customers, are not allowed unless you have a receipt printer?

What about Pay pal?
Does this necessitate a need for a printer?

What about manual Credit Card machines, what's the legislation on them?

How will this be enforced?

Will it be by the same joke team that enforce illegal plying for hire?
Or will drivers be asked to "Grass" each other up?

The question on everyone's lips:
When will LTPH start using common sense and joined up thinking?

Mason Replies, After Calls For Moratorium on Age Limit.

In reply to letters sent to director of LTPH, asking a moratorium on the scrapping of older vehicles while the current issue with TX4 steering boxes is sorted out, John Mason says it would be inappropriate to make any changes to the taxi air quality strategy requirements.

Really John, is that what it's all about, Air Quality?

So after taking over 2000 of the oldest vehicles off the road since the scheme was introduced in January 2012, you would think there would be a marked improvement in air quality across London as we were told these vehicles were responsible for up to 30% of the pollution.

Well think again!
The leaders of three London councils have called for the age limit to be reduced to ten years as air quality has become increasingly worse this year, with Hammersmith and Fulham reporting the biggest increase in pollution levels in their borough.

There also seems to be some confusion as to whose older vehicle gets scrapped!!! SGS have just re-plated a 22 year old Metro, which has caused an outcry in trade media and amongst proprietors who have had their vehicles scrapped. So far Mason has been tight lipped on the Metro case.

Apparently the conditions surrounding the 22 year old Metro case are personal and confidential.

One of the letters sent to John Mason:

Dear Mr Mason

The under bonnet fires and subsequent result that 600 taxis were taken off the road created economic hardship and a shortage of taxis for the whole trade, not least the drivers who were directly affected. The latest announcement by Manganese Bronze that TX4 sales have ceased, along with the suspension of its shares, proves that the TX4 is a liability to the economic well being of the London taxi trade. PCO Notice 17/12 effectively takes more than 300 taxis off the road with immediate effect and, yet again, the London taxi trade is faced with a crisis because of this company's poor quality control.

I urge TfL/TPH to suspend the 15 year age limit on taxis for at least 2 years so that the London taxi trade can recover from this situation without suffering too much unnecessary hardship.

I look forward to your speedy response.

And John Mason's standard reply sent to all drivers with similar enquiries:

Dear xxxxxx

Thank you for your email regarding the announcement in Friday that 303 licensed London taxis are being recalled by the London Taxi Company.

We are in constant discussions with the London Taxi Company regarding this matter and how and when they are likely to resolve the problem. At this early stage it would not be appropriate to make any changes to the taxi air quality strategy requirements.

Kind regards

John Mason

After this letter appeared on Taxi forums, drivers are now calling for a mass demo!

It was interesting to read the statement on the LTC website which said drivers not involved should go about their business and consider sharing their vehicle to affected parties.

It is also reported that ECO City Vehicles (ECV) who provide the Vito Taxi, have seen their share value saw as sales increase. Poor old Tim Yeo who had to resign because of conflict of interest must be kicking himself.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Breaking News: Geely Geely executive says unaware of talks with UK taxi firm on cash injection



BEIJING (Reuters) - A senior executive at China's Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd said he was unaware of talks on a possible cash infusion into struggling taxi manufacturer Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC.

Manganese Bronze was expected to discuss a cash injection with Geely, which owns around 20 percent of the taxi maker, the Sunday Times newspaper reported, as the British firm said it had no income stream for the foreseeable future after discovering a safety flaw in its new model.

Lawrence Ang, an executive director of Geely, China's 10th-biggest carmaker by sales, said on Monday he was not aware of recent communication between the firms about that matter.

In 2006, Geely paid 53 million pounds ($85.26 million) for a 23 percent stake in Manganese Bronze and 52 percent of a Shanghai-based joint venture with the firm, but in 2008 took a charge of 100 million yuan ($15.96 million) to write down that investment.

Manganese Bronze, which makes London black cabs, suspended trading in its shares on Friday and said its financial position was unclear after it discovered a safety defect in its new TX4 model that led to a recall and halt in sales.

"Geely is only a minority shareholder in the company and we have made provisions for the investment in our books years ago," Ang said.

"Our CEO and myself used to sit on Manganese Bronze's board but we've cut down to only one non-executive member now," he said.

Manganese Bronze, which has built more than 100,000 black cabs at its Coventry plant in Britain since 1948, turned to Geely in 2006 in response to high manufacturing costs which limited its growth.

Manganese Bronze has reported losses since 2008, and sales of London-style taxis in China have failed to take off.

In the first nine months of this year, Geely sold only 710 Chinese-made black cabs, around 0.2 percent of its overall sales during the period, Ang said.

Geely, whose parent company also owns Swedish car maker Volvo, now holds roughly 20 percent Of Manganese Bronze, worth 610,000 pounds, according to Reuters calculations based on the British company's closing price of 10 pence per share on October 11, its last trading day.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Black cab firm hails Chinese for emergency bailout



EXECUTIVES from Geely, the Chinese car maker, will fly in to Britain tomorrow for emergency talks that may trigger a bailout of the maker of London’s distinctive black taxis. Geely owns a 20% stake in the Coventry-based Manganese Bronze, which was forced to suspend its shares on Friday after recalling 400 cabs because of a fault with their steering system.

The loss-making vehicle manufacturer has halted sales until the problem is fixed. With no income stream for the foreseeable future, it is expected to discuss a cash injection with Geely. John Russell, chief executive of Manganese Bronze, said: “We have a supportive partner in Geely. We have to work through the options. I remain optimistic that they will continue to give us additional support while we navigate through this situation.”

Source: The Sunday Times

RMT Press Release: LTC TX4 Recall.

RMT London Taxi 0930 Branch Press Release

TX4 Steering Issue

As the London Cab Trade attempts to recover from the economic disaster of the Olympics caused by the scaremongering publicity from TfL (since admitted and regretted by the Mayor of London) and the decision by TfL to exclude us from the Games lanes.

We were again dismayed when TfL suspended the licences of over 300 new Taxi’s following a steering fault that could have endangered the lives of Driver and Passenger alike.

The RMT therefore demand the following:

 The IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION OF THE 15 YEAR RULE to ensure that those owners can continue to work so that the effect of the TX4 ‘interruption to the supply chain’ is mitigated and that the Cab fleet can cope with demand coming up to the Peak period.

 The London Taxi Company (Manufacturer) release its stock of pre-owned Taxis to the Drivers affected on a complimentary hire basis until such time as the issue is resolved and settle direct any hire charges with other Taxi Fleet Owners if demand exceeds supply.

 TfL instruct SGS (The Cab Testing Company) to act as necessary to assist in this matter by offering no cost to Driver licensing appointments if necessary on a 24/7 basis and that trivial matters ‘Livery, Missing Ashtrays etc.’ are set aside to ensure the maximum amount of cabs are on the road.

 TfL and/or LTC appoint a liaison officer to talk to Banks and Finance houses etc. so that any demands for Hire Purchase payments to Drivers affected are held over or settled direct by LTC.

 Once the issue is promptly resolved and the Cabs are back on the road an enquiry ( held in public) is conducted to examine matters including:

1. When the fault became apparent?

2. When the authorities were alerted and their subsequent actions?

3. The robustness of the approval system of TfL for such safety critical items?

4. To enquire if ‘cost saving’ was a factor in any decision making?

This enquiry must be independent of both TfL and LTC and in the open. An ‘internal review’ is not acceptable.

 This issue is obviously causing very real hardship to the Drivers and families concerned, RMT Driver members are assured they have the full support and resources of London largest Taxi and Britain’s Specialist Transport Union behind them as this critical time.

Contact londontaxi@rmt.org.uk or call 07899 786433