Thursday, July 18, 2013


Yes we had a great Chelsea flower show week. 
Yes we had a great Wimbledon fortnight. 
Yes Hard Rock Calling and Wired were busy.
But don't take your eye off the ball just yet because, apathy IS killing the cab trade.

The writing was on the wall for the taxi trade, when the major taxi representative orgs (UTG) and the majority of drivers, refused to back the demonstrations against TfL's decision to ban us from the special lanes and sidelined the "Best Taxi Service In The World" from Olympic venues during the summer games. 

TfL/LTPH must have laughed their socks off at the "pathetic response" and the negative media PR, after the call for support, from the UCG and the RMT. It should also be remembered that when the bugle was blown, the United Trade Group suddenly went deaf.

Most taxi drivers still haven't got a clue and don't give a damn about what's about to happen to their trade. All they care about is today, the next fare, the next pound note.

They have no idea about the effect the Law Commission proposals will bring to the capital.
The dangers of dropping restrictions on cross boarder hirings 
Not defining Plying For a hire in law and in our favour
No management of growth for both Taxis and Private Hire 
The licensing of Rickshaws  

The LTDA, the trades biggest representative group, see no danger in the Law Commission proposals.

The Age Limit fiasco.
Major embarrassments from the Mayor, TfL and LTPH are constantly left out of UTG publications.
Nearly 6,000 older vehicles have been removed from service by the Mayor's Taxi Age Limit. Angry drivers complained in shelters and on ranks how they had been plunged into financial hardship. Then the DEFRA report came out and showed the older vehicles removed were in fact less polluting than the new cabs replacing them.

So far, since the DEFRA report was published, there hasn't been a single word of reference in any UTG publication. 

Again apathy
The RMT held a campaign and asked affected drivers (both members and non members) to contact them and register their details with the intention of taking legal action for compensation. 
Again, because of the "pathetic response" from a potential bank of 6,000 drivers, the RMT have now decided not to go forward with the action.

Every week, Taxi ranks disappear, once gone never to be recommissioned 
Every week, the lines of PHVs illegally plying for hire outside night venues grow longer. But Taxi drivers don't even bat an eyelid and are happy to drive round in circles, hoping to pick up the dregs the touts don't want.

The Tag hit Squad, who had so much success taking back the work from the touts in the early part of the year, now seem to be a distant memory. To much like hard work to rank up for a few minutes and the touts scoop up the work by the bucket load night after night.

The trade has allowed itself to be harassed and threatened by compliance officers who take no notice of the licensed touts.

Over ranking at Paddington and Waterloo is strictly enforced while licensed PHVs are allowed to block the bus lane in Regent Street and openly tout in Swallow Street. Charterhouse Street is a toutfest car park most nights, with the authorities, both council and police, taking a blind eye approach. The Met even commended for the fine work they are doing at Fabric, which we must assume includes their parking on the pavement blocking fire exits.

Taxi drivers etiquette has gone out the window as they overtake each other and take jobs they are not entitled to. Many drivers picking up beside ranks where their colleagues are sitting waiting with their lights on. It seems some drivers out there have no shame.

Most of the trade have their heads firmly stuck in the sand, believing others will fight hard on their behalf for the survival of the trade while they go to work.
In reality very few are actually prepared to fight for anything.

Apathy is killing the trade
When the Law Commission recommendations are set into law, it will be many years before they are looked at again, possibly not even in our life time.

It's amazing though, when you mention;
  * unlawfully issued satellite office licenses 
  * forged badge, bills and IDs 
  * the Mayor's Anti-Semitic contract 
  * illegally plying for hire
  * corruption at LTPH 
  * illegal Age limit on Taxis 
  * the Law commission proposals 
You get very little interest shown by the trade in general.

Yet say the magic words "Yellow badges" and everyone's up in arms. You'll get vigilantly groups, letters to MPs and drivers spitting blood. 

But don't take my word about the future of the trade, lets just look at what they did to the professional service that was "The Dublin licensed Taxi trade".

There used to be  2,700 plates in Dublin, the majority of guys knew one another, they helped one another no matter what the situation. If there was a bit of bother on the rank, if drivers broke down, there was always someone to help. There was respect and camaraderie. 

AT 8pm on November 21, 2000, Minister of State at the Department of the Environment Bobby Molloy, signed into law orders making taxi licences available to anyone who could drive, had €5,000 and a roadworthy vehicle, stating: “I do hope that what we have done will now once and for all solve the chronic taxi service problems in Dublin.

Dublin has now become a free for all, saturated with Taxis. On any day, you have over 13,500 licensed Taxis working with approximately 4,000 Taxis from outside the capital also working. It hasn't solved the illegal unlicensed Tout problem, as large numbers can be found working from unauthorised ranks at bars and clubs (sound familiar?).

Many drivers have found the situation unbearable, working 14-16 hour shifts just to get a days money. Since deregulation 34 licensed Dublin Taxi drivers have committed suicided. 

Dublin’s taxi ranks can only hold around 5,000 Taxis. Due to the large number of Taxis attempting to use ranks, drivers are being forced to park in illegal areas and are regularly being fined (sound familiar?). 
One driver received two fines the day before he took his own life. Source Irish Examiner. 

The lack of ranks has resulted in many Taxis being reduced to circulating around the city with the associated environmental problems (again, sound familiar). Air quality in the fair city is pretty poor.
This is the sort of disarray the industry has been left in, after just over 12 years of deregulation.

As I said before apathy is killing the London Taxi trade and the trade has its head firmly buried in the sand.

There were dozens of good honest Taxi drivers who gave up their time freely, to organise and fight back. Dozens out of 24,000. And they fought their hearts out, for a trade that let them down wholesale.



Anonymous said...

Powerful piece Jimbo
Will piss off a few drivers no doubt

cabrider44 said...

i remember when we all walked through the tunnel at heathrow many years ago,the disruption it `caused,panic every where,that was brotherhood,but retired now,you jimbo can see were its going,and me , an out sider can too,whats the matter with you lot,its no good shouting after the bull got out,you will soon shout when the pounds not there,dont let others do your shouting,it wont go away,

Grant Photo said...

Dear UTG committee men, are you with us or TfL and your stand own cheque?

Anonymous said...

Excellent article which sums up the apathy of drivers.
To all the drivers who refused to support the Cabbies Against Boris protests; have a long hard think about what you haven't done and about what you will no longer have.
I hate to say I told you so but I told you so.

Wayne Casey said...

excellent article

Anonymous said...

Great article Jim
Like the Anderson Shelter of old, passion from the heart.

No Winners - Just Losers....... said...

I agree with everything you say:

It's amazing though, when you mention;

* unlawfully issued satellite office licenses
* forged badge, bills and IDs
* the mayors Anti-Semitic Contract
* illegally plying for hire
* corruption at LTPH
* illegal Age limit on Taxis
* the Law commission proposals

You get very little interest shown by the trade in general.

Now go and read 'The Badge' and see how the clubs three time loser of a chairman is putting all his faith in Boris Johnson AGAIN.

Boris Johnson sanctioned all of the above agenda's and more!

The paper includes a double page advertisement plugging the Mercedes Vito, a vehicle that was introduced by illegal and corrupt activities of Tim Yeo and Peter DaCosta. This vehicle should never have been passed for service. Yet not one sentence has appeared in The Badge about the DEFRA report and the plight of the drivers Johnson's policies has effected. It makes you wonder who the committee at the Lcdc are really working for and why the trade is at the undertakers door!

Gerald Coba said...

Just to prove how powerful the PH lobby is
The taxi trade complained week after week about Masons poor performance as director of LTPH.
But it wasn't until he threatened to stop the supply of cheap, unchecked slave labour from abroad the Griffin and Steve Wright (TfL board member) had him removed back to congestion charging.

Anonymous said...

The reason direct action at LAP was successful was down to the collective audience being right there in front of you. It only took one passionate ex-union exec to address the drivers in the canteen and direct action was on!
In order to achieve the same result you are going to need a publication of 8-10,000 copies every month.
For every cab driver that reads this blog or goes on the LTDF forum there are 1000's that don't and never will. Plus, the trade has to shun permanently those that are known to be TfL sympathisers. Today at LAP there are drivers that don't talk to the scabs that worked whilst the others withheld service. If you are going to learn the lesson, learn it well!!

Vidkund Wuisling said...

We are in a dark place, the UTG leaders have cut their deal, the rest of us can go hang!

The Sun's Cabbie is a tragic comic character, is he out today supporting the fire brigade?

Does he want to succeed ODDY on the TfL Board, you betcha!

Anonymous said...

How quickly people have forgotten, or chosen to forget the Olympics fiasco and how Boris Johnson went to the National Security Council to sanction the use of anti-terrorism laws against demonstrating cab drivers at Hyde Park Corner. It is patently obvious that certain peoples focus is firmly on self promotion issues and not those of the trade.

Max Hastings had this to say about Boris Johnson:

"He is not a man to believe in, to trust or respect save as a superlative exhibitionist. He is bereft of judgment, loyalty and discretion."

Now lets get one thing clear. Anyone naive enough to genuinely trust Boris Johnson is either a fool or seriously retarded!

Anonymous said...

A very truthful summary of the real danger imminently facing whole taxi trade. Beats any star letter in the Comic.
10s of 1000s cab drivers don't seem to grasp that the game is 'nearly' over.
I applaude you Jim

Gary Baldy said...

Well done Editor.

A hard hitting exposé of the state of the trade.

Lets exposé the rascals!

Anonymous said...

2 little 2 late within five years london will be a licensed free 4 all the model at the moment doesn't work unless drivers start working nights and the 60% of the trade who drive for beer money don't give there badges back and let in young drivers who are hungry to work full time it will be over stop blaming ph tfl and whoever they would excist if we hadn't left the door open