Saturday, February 02, 2013

RMT London Taxi 0930 Branch Press Release

Geely Buyout of Manganese bronze

We join others in welcoming the good news that production of the TX4 London taxi is to resume in Coventry and that it is hoped that it’s for the long term and safeguards a small part of what was once Britain’s great manufacturing base.

It is to be regretted that the ‘patriotic’ spivs and speculators that dominate the British economy and government could not bring themselves to invest and again British workers have to rely on foreign investment. We now call on Geely to take the following steps to restore the taxi trades faith in the company:

  • In addition to reinstating the existing owners warranty, compensate them for any work carried out previously that would in normal circumstances be covered and consider an ‘Ex Gratia’ payment and extending the warranty for another 12 months 
  • Give long term assurances that Taxi manufacturing is to remain in Britain and that sufficient research and development funding is provided for better, cleaner, more reliable products at accessible prices.
  • Settle once and for all the TX4 Fires issue and compensate those concerned in ample measure.
  • These meaningful gestures would we believe help to restore the shattered reputation of the company and be a wise investment for the long term.

RMT salutes the solidarity and commitment shown by the workers in Coventry and all those who gave support including the TU action that compliments the joint campaign RMT/UNITE/GMB against the Law Commission Proposals that threaten us all.

‘No Submission to the Law Commission’

We are the World’s No. 1 Taxi Service.
RMT intend to keep it that way.

Contact or call 07899 786433

Taxi Leaks welcomes press releases from all trade orgs and representative associations.

Friday, February 01, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Geely will honour all existing warranties on cabs.

Great news for current late model TX4 owners, who have been worried about spending £36,000 on a new Euro 5 TX4 only to find that they have no valid warranty in place, due to the fact that Manganese Bronze went into administration at the end of 2012.

We have now been reliably informed that:
" Geely will honour all existing warranties on cabs and will introduce an equivalent warranty scheme for all cabs sold from now".

There is still much uncertainty as to what form the warranty on existing models will take.
Will Geely retain the same service agents such as Ascots and North West Taxis?
Will the existing agents have to bid for new franchises?
Will Geely retain Brewery Road premises for sales and warranty work?
Will drivers who have had to pay for work not covered by PwC goodwill policy, be able to make a claim to new company?
Where do drivers stand who have had work undertaken by non approved garages, is their warranty now void?

Still no word about Geely honouring compensation claims to owners, who lost out financially in 2008 when their Taxis went up in flames. I'm sure we will get a more comprehensive statement from Geely soon.

Manganese Bronze Bought By Zhejiang Geely Holdings:

Coventry taxi maker LTI sold to Chinese firm Geely for £11.4m

The black taxi manufacturer LTI has been sold for £11.4m to the Chinese car manufacturer Geely.

The company has acquired the "business and the principal assets" of Manganese Bronze Holdings (MBH), the manufacturer of the London cabs.

LTI in Coventry went into administration in October with 99 out of its 176 workers losing their jobs.

The deal, which it said will safeguard production in the UK, was agreed with administrators Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Manganese Bronze will continue to build its vehicles in Coventry, England, where it has assembled cars since 1948, Geely said today.

'Healthy future'
Geely said that its priority will be to re-establish the manufacture, sale and servicing of new and current vehicles "on broadly the same basis" as before the administration, including the continued assembly of the TX4 at the Coventry plant and retaining its 107 staff.

Li Shufu, chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, said: "We are delighted to have completed the acquisition of Manganese Bronze Holdings' business and we are determined to restore the fortunes of this totemic brand which is known, recognised and admired all around the world.

"We are a long-term and committed investor and we believe the illustrious past of the London black cab can be matched by a successful and healthy future.

"We have ambitious plans for the business and, despite it being clear that there are a number of challenges to overcome, we are committed to working with all stakeholders to build a solid future for the black cab business that will enable it to return to profitability in the short term and grow substantially in the longer term."

David Bailey, a professor of international business strategy and economics at Coventry University Business School, said Geely "is a big player" that is "growing quickly" and that there is a chance there for them to put resources into developing new models.

He said: "I think in the short term, Manganese Bronze could always be saved, longer term the big issue is about developing new taxis that can compete in the market. Geely potentially offers them a lifeline to do that."

Roger Maddison, Unite national officer said:
"They have plans for the future, let's hope its another Jaguar Land Rover with plenty of investment, we can have a real success story here in Coventry”

Source BBC News

Taxi Leaks Comment:
London's Taxi trade has been used and sold out once to many times.
Drivers watched their vehicles go up in flames and the hope of compensation vanish as MBH went into administration.

Thousands of drivers with new vehicles were subjected to a warranty good will policy, which saw major repairs classed as cosmetic. Drivers again have had to dig deep into their own pockets to keep new vehicles fit for purpose.

When asked if Geely would be honouring existing warranties we were informed:
All previous creditors are being dealt with by the administrators, PwC. Please levy any enquiries directly to them.
Personally I see that as a no then!

Will the Taxi Trade welcome the return of the TX Taxi or will they now turn their back on this manufacturer who turned their back on us.

Has this whole episode engineered to enable Geely at a knocked down price, to buy up the iconic London Taxi without taking on responsibility of its depts and outstanding compensation claims?

Well we will have to make sure that anyone buying a new vehicle understands the way this company who originally owned 20% have treated existing customers

Never never again
To have any faith or commitment in this company we need them to publicly state they will honour previously warrantees and claims for compensation

Looks like the future is still bright for Nissan

Thursday, January 31, 2013

UBICABS Offers Minicab And Taxi App, Hospital and Network Rail Taxi Services: How Can This Be Allowed? By Jim Thomas

How can this company keep getting away with breaking the law.
It is illegal to operated a minicab service without being licensed by TfL.
Private hire companies can not use protected terms such as Cab, Cabs, Taxi or Taxis. The law is quite clear and straight forward on this.

Some time ago I complained about a company (Ubicabs) providing freephones, advertising in major hospital as a "Hospital Taxi service". This same company advertises online as "Paddington Station Taxis", "Victoria Station Taxis", "Liverpool Street Taxis" and so on. It has many online adverts offering a Professional Taxi service.

The reply I got back from the director of LTPH was that nothing could be done because this was a third party who passes on bookings to local minicab firms and wasn't itself licensed as a PH company.

This unlicensed company UBICABS now has an app that takes bookings for minicabs and misleads the customers that they are getting a Taxi service, as this image from the app clearly shows...

By offering a Taxi booking service wether online or in an alleyway off a high street, this company is acting as a minicab operator, wether it farms out the work or not.

The action of this company is tantamount to touting by an unlicensed minicab.

So why has nothing been done?
Why is nothing being done about this firm?
Why is it still operating with impunity?


Paul Bond, Vice Chair of the RMT, took up my complaint with LTPH:

Can we assume that if its a London PH operator who misuses the word taxi and fails to have such advertising withdrawn after contact from LTPH then their operators licence will be suspended?

Even if they use a 'third party' to display or place them on the web, they are no doubt paying for them to so do.

I can't call myself a medical doctor with impunity, even if I did use an advertising agency.

Director of LTPH, John Mason Answered Paul's Email:
You can assume that if a licensed Private Hire operator is in contravention of the Act and refuses to take remedial action when we raise the failure with them we will seek to prosecute them and any such failure to comply will be taken into consideration with regards to on-going fitness to be licensed.

I appreciate what you are saying but our powers do not extend to third parties, only those that we license. The use of a 3rd party isn’t excuse if, for example, that third party has designed the operators website or publicity but it does get tricky where a search engine returns a PH operator when someone types in “taxi”.

Paul then Replied:
Can you confirm if TfL have ever taken any such action against a London PH Operator passing themselves off as Taxi services or using 'protected' term?

TfL need to be asking the Met. to prosecute Google/Microsoft etc. for touting as they are the enforcing authority for the non licensed? No one is above the law and the intentions of Parliament by statute.

Maybe even a letter from yourselves would make Google et al do something, as per my example you dont see bogus UK doctors or barristers etc. on there so they must have some control about who can state what..

Paul Bond

The examples I sent to Mr Mason are not the result of a search engine such as Google or Microsoft, they are the direct result of a company who is purposely confusing the public into thinking, they are booking a Licensed Taxi service. If This company is not licensed to offer a PH or HC Taxi service then it is breaking the law and one would expect Mr Mason, in his role as director of Licensed Taxis and Private Hire, to contact the Proper authorities on our behalf.

If LTPH can't stop Firms advertising a Taxi service in Hospitals/Supermarkets Clubs and bars,
If LTPH can't enforce against lines of minicabs illegally plying for hire outside venues,
If LTPH can't protect against contraventions of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire acts,

What are we paying for in our license fees?

NYPD Lift Two Ton Taxi Off Man.

Taxi Rescue: Man Stuck Under New York Cab
Footage shows the frantic efforts to rescue a critically injured man who had been hit by - and got stuck under - a two-ton taxi.9:40am UK, Tuesday 15 January 2013

Video: Officers from the 40th precinct lift the two ton taxi off Luis Velasquez

A man stuck under a taxi after he was hit by the vehicle has been rescued by police who used their bare hands to lift up the car.

At least a dozen officers took part in the operation to free 19-year-old Luis Velasquez from beneath the cab, which weighed two tons.

Police said the victim had run into traffic after officers responded to a dispute outside a restaurant in New York.

The rescue was filmed by resident Rico Elias who saw it happen from the window of his flat on East 138th Street.

He told CBS: "The sarge said 'let's get it up' and they got it up, and they broke their butts doing it."

He added: "They lifted it up. There was no jack. They used their hands and backs and lifted the car up and over and got him out."

The man is in a critical condition at Lincoln Hospital.

The taxi driver will not face any charges over the collision in Mott Haven, The Bronx.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Limit taxi numbers in Cambridge or risk 'blood on the streets' by Chris Havergal

Competition between cabbies could boil over into violence if the number of taxis in Cambridge is not limited, it is claimed.

Councillors agreed to consider capping the number of hackney carriages allowed on the city’s ranks after drivers said having more taxis made it ever harder to earn a living.
Numbers are at an all-time high, with 293 hackney carriages, which can be flagged down on the street or hired at a taxi rank, licensed for the city.

They are vying for trade with 217 private hire vehicles – which cannot be regulated by the council – and another 701 registered in South Cambridgeshire.

This contributes to cabs sitting in long queues which snake out of ranks and drivers being forced to work ever longer hours.

A study commissioned by the city council estimated hackney carriage drivers now spend 51 per cent of their working time waiting, rather than on a job, and found the city had an “extremely healthy” provision of taxis compared with other areas.

Cllr Jeremy Benstead, vice-chairman of the licensing committee, said this should be an impetus for action to limit the number of taxis.

He said: “We know there has been blood on the streets within the taxi trade in other towns and cities, do we want to sit back and do nothing?”

Source: Cambridge News

Sound familiar?

Licensing authority, with private hire numbers out of control, caps a license Taxi trade which is a sitting duck.

It seems Cambridge Council's answer to the problem caused by an unregulated Private hire trade, is to cap the issue of Hackney carriage licenses. 293 Licensed Taxis vying for work against an army of 918 minicabs the Council have no control over.

In London we also face a problem of over issue of PHV licenses. Daily 22,000 Taxi drivers have to compete against an un-enforced 80,000 minicab drivers who regularly illegally plying for hire and tout at clubs, bars, supermarkets, shops and in extreme cases alleyways and doorways.

As private hire numbers in London increase rapidly, this issue will soon have to be addressed by TfL/LTPH or we risk "Blood on our Streets". But will TfL, like Cambridge Council attack the license Taxi trade to seek a solution?

If they can cap Yellow Badge numbers in certain sectors, why can't they cap PHVs?

Where is the new young blood in the License Taxi Trade?

Has London really changed that much in the last 25 years that it required going from 18 to 44 months to complete the knowledge?

Currently, there are more drivers over the age of 70 driving London Taxis than there are under 30. Currently, Licensed Taxi drivers are outnumbered by minicab drivers by nearly 4-1.

No cap on PH drivers, no cap on PH Operators, no cap on Satellite Office numbers.
While license Taxi rank spaces disappear on a daily basis, Satellite Offices expand at an alarming rate.

We have shown previously that Satellite Office licenses are being issued with no proper checks and balances in place. One company managed to acquire 39 new licenses within 12 days of registering as a PH operator, contra to TfL's own guild lines that a PH operator has to be registered for at least 12 months before license variation can be granted. A clear case of malfeasance.

It seems its not what you know but who you know.

Conspiracy Theory:
Are TfL using the STaN Agenda to drive us, with the help on the Law Commission Report, into a one tier system controlled by a private company run by ex bus drivers?

Conspiracy, or bang on the money?

Remember Follow The Money!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

LTPH, Age Limit On Drivers, Surely Not John?

Taxi Leaks has recently come into procession of two emails, the first, sent to the Director of LTPH on behalf of a driver who has been unable to work owing to the fact that his FX4 had been refused a license under the Mayors Age Limit policy. The letter points out that the revocation of the vehicles operating license has made the owner prematurely redundant.

Excerpt from Appeal Email:
Mr xxxx will be retiring next year anyway, but because of the shambles of the TX4 steering box issue, and the lack of "rentable" taxis, buying a vehicle is out of the question, xxxx is struggling to make ends meet.

The appeal also points out, the vehicle has been kept in immaculate condition, has a current MOT and would pass all inspections to meet CoF and safety issues.
The appealed also made reference to three other instances where extensions to the age limit had been granted.

But John Masons reply seems to have crossed the line on what is or should be acceptable from the director of Taxis and Private Hire.

In his reply Mason states that any extension granted to the working life of this vehicle would only be considered if he received confirmation in writing from the driver that he would indeed surrender his badge and bill when the license (if granted) expires.

Excerpt from Email: (including typos)
Can you please ask Mr Xxxxx to submit to me, in writing (either paper or email), copied to Luke Giles (copied to this email):

· Full details of his taxi

· Full details of his reasons for requesting an extension / stay on the age limit requirements

· Confirmation that he would be retiring at the end on expiry of the licence (should it be granted is would be a condition that he surrenders his licence)

· Any other details he feels is relevant (financial, health etc)

This would then be considered by the licensing team and should it be refused he would have a right to appeal.

It now appears that John Mason has taken it upon himself to extend the Mayor Age Limit policy to include Taxi drivers, as well as vehicles.
Surely this request would have no legal standing?

The driver involved may wish to change his mind through circumstances beyond his control at a later date.

Good Luck to all FX4s, may they live forever:
Good luck to any driver who secures an extension to the age limit. Some of these vehicles being taken off the road have produced better emission readings than new TX4s, but it all seems to depend on who you are and who you know.

The idea of an age limit was bought about by the Mayors Air Quality Strategy, with pressure from three London Council leaders (Camden, Westminster and City of London)

But BORIS now talks of a change of thinking on CARBON EMISSIONS.
Just this weekend, Boris made an amazing statement in a newspaper column based on advice from a scientist, Piers Corbyn, Director of Weather Action. The Mayor said he now has an open mind, as to wether Climate Change was in fact caused by Carbon emissions. He was taken with the views of some that see solar influences as most important, or in other words, it's the Sun what does it really (his words not mine).
If this truly is Boris belief, it makes the Vehicle age limit hypocritical and he should repeal the amendment to the Cab Act immediately.

If a change on emphasis is on the cards at City Hall, then I believe many Taxi drivers are due a nice fat rebate for the massive increase in road fund license fees we have had to pay, due to the amount of Carbon in our emissions.

Plus drivers who have had to retire, prematurely should receive relevant compensation.
Surely the UTG will be working hard to sort this mess out?

Nissan LEAF electric cars become taxis in Zurich

Ten Nissan LEAF electric cars have secured themselves employment as taxis in the Swiss capital of Zurich.

The city follows in the footsteps of Amsterdam, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City and Sao Paulo in turning to Nissan for supply of zero-emission vehicles for taxi services.

Wrapped in a vivid green colour, the new LEAF taxis will be truly zero emission thanks to supply of 100 per cent renewable energy to fast chargers placed around the city.

Initially, ten Nissan LEAFs will be used as taxis in the city with a further ten joining the scheme by mid-2013. By 2015, it is envisaged that 15 per cent of the Zurich taxi fleet will be electric and that the city will boast an extensive network of fast chargers, which can replenish a depleted battery from 30 to 80 per cent capacity in just 15 minutes.

The fleet will not just help the city cut its transport emissions, but will serve to prove that electric cars are a viable alternative to gas-guzzlers.

World Economic Forum
The Zurich Green Taxi Initiative has been pioneered by a group of young Swiss leaders ,who are all part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. Shapers are aged between 20 and 30 and all have a desire to serve society and improve local communities.

The Zurich scheme was launched last Friday by Nissan Europe and Global Shapers at the Zurich hub during the annual World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

"We are delighted that the undoubted benefits of a green taxi fleet have been recognized by an organization as significant as the World Economic Forum," said Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

"With the backing of the Global Shapers Community, many thousands of citizens and visitors to Zurich will be able to discover first-hand how zero emission electric vehicles cars like Nissan LEAF are ready to change the world in which we live," he added.

ANNIVERSARY: BBC report This Day 29th January 1976

Explosions rock London's West End
A series of bombs have exploded in the West End of London during the night - one person, believed to be a taxi driver, has been hurt.
Twelve devices went off - four of them were outside employment agencies and another was found in Selfridge's department store in Oxford Street.

A 13th device was discovered later in an HMV record store.

Police say the bombs were small, between about 3-5bl (1.2-2kg). Several of them started small fires.

They say it is too soon to say who planted the bombs, but anti-terrorist officers are investigating.
Officers say the bombs were probably planted during the day and timed to go off at night.
There was a loud bang and a lot of smoke in the street

John Jenkins, witness

The taxi driver was injured in an explosion at the junction of Foubert's Place and Kingly Street. A boilerman is also reported to have been trapped in the basement of a shop in Duke Street after a bomb exploded. He was rescued by police.

The reception manager of the Miranda Club heard a bomb go off in Kingly Street.

John Jenkins, said: "There was a loud bang and a lot of smoke in the street. I was told a bomb had gone off in a letter box."

Another witness told the BBC: "We heard a very loud explosion and some old lady screamed her head off over the back there. That was all we heard, we tumbled out of bed and came down to see what it was all about."

Officers cleared the area as soon as the explosions began.

Much of Oxford Street has remained closed for most of the day while searches continue for more devices.

The bombings are a surprise - the first in central London for more than a year.

In November 1975 a bomb planted by the IRA exploded in a restaurant killing two people and injuring more than 20.

Did the security services learn anything from these attacks?

On the 29th June 2007, a car bomb was left in a line of illegally parked, illegally plying for hire minicabs outside Tiger Tiger, with another strategically parked at the bottom of the Haymarket.

London's Taxi drivers finally expected something would be done about this type of serious laps in homeland security.

The very next day the touts were back in the same spot, illegally plying for hire unabated by the police, local council wardens or the security service.

To this day, even in the wake of 9/11, 7/7... anyone can park a vehicle outside any busy night venue and not raise suspicion. At night CCTV cameras are turned off or turned away. It's a miracle that up to now, a major attack hasn't happened.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Warning: Muggers Using Eggs To Stop Taxis.

If you are driving at night and eggs are thrown at your windscreen, do not stop to check the cab. Do not operate the wipers and do not spray water from the washers, because eggs mixed with water become milky and block your vision up to 92.5%.

If you stop at the point of attack, you could become victim to gangs of muggers who are using this technique to stop and rob motorists.

China: Clean fuel trial could extend to all buses and taxis: Where is London's Cleaner Fuel?

MORE than 50 taxis in Minhang District are using a cleaner fuel that can be expanded to all the city's buses and taxis to help control PM2.5 pollution, legislators said yesterday.

Exhaust emissions from motor vehicles are the biggest single source of PM2.5, accounting for 25 percent of fine particles in the city's air, according to the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.

The Minhang taxis are burning dimethyl ether - a non-toxic, cleaner-burning hydrocarbon gas that generates neither sulfur nor nitrogen particles, said Ding Kuiling, director of the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry and a lawmaker.

"It is time for the city to expand new energy among buses and cabs, which would help better control PM2.5 pollution," Ding said.

Engines only need slight modifications for the fuel, while it will power vehicles for long distances without a refill, so few refuelling stations are needed, Ding said.

Dimethyl ether, somewhat similar to LPG gas, costs just 3,000 yuan (US$482.10) a ton, cheaper than gasoline, he said.

A dozen of the city's No. 147 buses launched a test operation using dimethyl ether in 2007 that showed it to be cleaner than conventional fossil fuel and safe.

The city has more than 300 buses using cleaner power sources, mainly electricity, hybrid technologies or dimethyl ether. Many were used during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

"There is no technical barrier to the expansion of new energy to the city's buses," said Yin Bangqi, an official with the city's Science and Technology Commission and also a legislator.

There are many companies in Shanghai that have been developing new energy for buses, Yin said. Refuelling and recharging stations are needed only at the terminus for buses, and they can be charged or refilled at night, he added.

Some simple refuelling locations should be built across the city for new-energy taxis, said Zhang Hailiang, managing director of Shanghai Volkswagen and another legislator.

Zhang said "fast charge" stations should be installed at public parking lots and commercial areas for urgent use and "slow charge" centers at residential areas and office buildings.

So why at we dragging our feet in this country with cleaner fuel production?
It's easy Follow the money!

Dimethyl Ether ton for ton is cheaper than diesel or petrol, delivers more miles per gallon, which multiplied by just 24,000 London Taxis means substantial less fuel tax and VaT.

It seems when it comes to better Air Quality, better health for the population... Tax collection wins every time.