Saturday, March 30, 2013

Big Setback For the Nissan Taxi in New York.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Taxi and Limousine Commission has reversed itself, again, on hybrid cabs.

According to new, proposed rules issued today, cabbies will still be able to drive hybrid taxis on New York City streets, even after the Taxi of Tomorrow, which runs on an old-fashioned combustion engine, hits the road this Halloween.

"We’ve heard from some taxi operators that they’d like a hybrid option until the Taxi of Tomorrow is available as a hybrid, and these proposed rules enable that, while ensuring that any hybrid taxi is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate passengers and luggage," said TLC commissioner David Yassky, in a statement.

In 2005, comptroller John Liu and Yassky, then councilmembers, introduced legislation requiring that the city approve hybrid vehicles for use as taxicabs.

They succeeded.

Two years later, Yassky joined Bloomberg on the "Today" show, where the mayor announced that, "We’re gonna have all of our cabs be hybrid."

The target date for the transformation of the taxi fleet to all-hybrid vehicles was 2012.

Then an industry group representing wealthy taxi medallion owners put the kibosh on that initiative, when it argued successfully in court that only the federal government could institute fuel efficiency standards.

But even if the city could not mandate an all-hybrid taxi fleet, many medallion owners, recognizing the cost-saving benefits of fuel efficiency, moved in that direction on their own.

By September of last year, 6,500 cabs, or 49 percent of the city's fleet, were hybrid.

The Bloomberg administration, however, was at the same time charting a course away from the hybrid taxis it had once championed.

Last year, the city's taxi commission approved the Taxi of Tomorrow program, which starting on Halloween, will require that medallions owners buy only specially deisgned, Nissan NV200s for use as taxis.

Those NV200s have a lot going for them, as far as passenger and driver amenities are concerned, but they run on combustion engines, not hybrid ones.

Following a lawsuit by the Greater New York Taxi Association challenging the Taxi of Tomorrow program for, among other things, its omission of hybrid vehicles, the city is again changing course.

According to the proposed rules released today, medallion owners will now be able to choose between either an NV200 or a TLC-approved hybrid vehicle.

But only until Nissan comes up with a hybrid NV200 version of its own.

A hearing on the proposed rules will be held on May 16.

The rules, it should be noted, will also reduce the number of hybrid vehicle models for use as taxis, which Greater New York Taxi Association executive director Ethan Gerber said means that "virtually no hybrid models qualify."

"This is just a cynical and last ditch effort to bypass our law suit," Gerber emailed me. "It is not a serious proposal."

A Court Case Has Collapsed in Aylesbury Between AVDC and a Minicab Company.

A court case in which AVDC were trying to prosecute a minicab company has collapsed.

AVDC claimed that Call-a-Cab Limited were running minicabs even though they didn't have a licence to.

The company said they weren't a cab company, they were just an intermediary who spoke to customers and then tried to get them minicabs - depite the company's number being on the side of private hire vehicles.

Aylesbury Magistrates' Court was told that council officers had pre-booked journeys via a telephone number advertised by Call a Cab Ltd on its website, its cards and the doors of private hire vehicles. There was no contact between an officer and anyone, other than from Call a Cab Ltd, from the time a call was made until the vehicle arrived to collect them.

The magistrate has dismissed the case though because he wasn't convinced that AVDC had sent out the right paperwork when they took over licensing duty in 1989.

The case didn't actually rule on whether Call a Cab Ltd had been operating without a licence, and the council say they will appeal.

Councillor Judy Brandis, Chairman of the AVDC Licensing Committee, said:

"The council is very disappointed with this result and will be lodging an appeal. We firmly believe that the private hire controls were properly adopted in 1989. I must stress that the court's decision does not affect the council's ability to continue to enforce private hire controls in the interests of public safety and the public interest generally."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mini cab driver jailed for fatal collision In Bloomsbury in 2011

A mini cab driver who hit and killed a motorcyclist after he drove through a red light in Bloomsbury in 2011 has been jailed.

Mr Muhibur Rahman, aged 51, (DOB 19/09/1959) of Malcolmson House, Aylesford Street, SW1 appeared on bail at Blackfriars Crown Court On Monday 11th March 2013 where he was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for causing the death of 52-year-old Mr Anthony McKeith by careless driving on 15th July 2011.

Rahman, who had pleaded guilty to the offence at the beginning of a scheduled trial at the court on 15 January, was also disqualified from driving for three years and will also be required to take an extended re-test.

The sentencing follows an investigation by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Road Death Investigation Unit (RDIU) for north-west London.

On 15 July 2011 police were called at approx. 21:15hrs to reports of a collision between a Yamaha motorcycle and a Toyota Previa in Tavistock Square, at the junction with Bedford Way WC1.

The motorcyclist - Mr Anthony McKeith, aged 52, of Huddlestone Road, London, E7 - received serious head injuries and was taken to the Royal London Hospital, but died in the early hours of the next day.

A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death was multiple injuries.

Rahman stopped at the scene but was not arrested at that time. After the initial investigation Rahman was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving on 22 September 2011 at Holborn Police Station. After interview Rahman was bailed pending further enquires.

Following over 12 months of investigation officers evidenced that Rahman had contravened a red traffic light at Tavistock Square WC1 causing the collision with Mr McKeith on his motorcycle that lead to his death, and charged him on 23 July 2012 with causing death by dangerous driving. Rahman was bailed to appear at Magistrates' Court the following month, 10 August 2012.

Rahman pleaded not guilty to this offence and a trial was set for 15 July 2013 but at the beginning of the trial he pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and the case was adjourned until 11 March when he was sentenced as above.

Detective Sergeant Chris Osborne, the senior investigation officer from the RDIU said:

"This is a tragic case for all involved. Vehicles jumping red lights have the potential to cause catastrophic collisions with other road users and devastate lives, as has happened to the McKeith family. The length of custodial sentence imposed to Mr Rahman should be a warning to all road users the seriousness and consequences of failing to stop at a red traffic signal."

Mr McKeith's sister Frances and wife Lynda released the following statement:

"Almost all of us who drive in London have benefited from the changes in traffic controls over the recent years, which have allowed traffic to run more smoothly and swiftly through our capital city. We must not forget however that these changes come at a cost, which some of us have had to pay because the changes in controls have not changed the behaviours of the majority of drivers. For us, the family and friends of Anthony (Tony) McKeith, we have paid the ultimate price - the loss of our husband, father, brother and friend. Tony was knocked down by a car which raced the lights and knocked him off his motorbike. He died the next day of his injuries. The driver was not a young man but an experienced road user who failed to take into account the changes in the timing of traffic light signals and it is this which killed Tony. There is now very little in the way of time-lag between the changing of the traffic lights at junctions. More now than ever Amber means stop, not stamp on the accelerator to get through before the lights change. Had the driver of the car in Tony's accident stopped, in recognition of the tiny margin for error now present, instead of trying to beat the lights, Tony would still be with us today. Instead, he is gone, killed needlessly, his wife left devastated and his little girl, just three months old when he died, growing up never knowing the wonderful man who was her father. She was two this weekend - and so like her dad.

"We, Tony's family and friends, want you to read this and remember it. Every time you come up to a set of changing lights, your decision at that point has the ability to take away a life. Do not let anyone else have to suffer what we have gone through. We will never recover from the consequences of that split second decision and it will remain with us throughout our lives. The man who knocked him off his motorbike is now serving a custodial sentence, his life and the life of his family will also never be the same again. Make sure that you never have to deal with any of this. Just stop."

Source Met Police

Thursday, March 28, 2013

2nd Taxi Trade Open Forum Announced:

Transport for London London Taxi and Private Hire
TPH Taxi Trade Open Forum Wednesday 24 April 2013


I am pleased to announce that the second forum for taxi drivers, proprietors and trade organisations will take place on Wednesday 24 April 2013 between 17:30 and 19:30 and the venue will be the Ground Floor Conference Room, Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NJ.

A panel consisting of key staff from TPH will be at the session and any taxi licensee or trade representative can attend to raise issues, questions and concerns they may have.
There will be space for approximately 50 attendees and attendance will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

To register your interest please email TPHTaxiForum@tfl.gov.uk quoting your name and badge number. If applicable, please let us know the name of the organisation you are representing. Attendance on behalf of an organisation is limited to 1 person only.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday 24 April 2013.

John Mason


For previous Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph

New Centre Reservations At Swallow Street and Heddon Street:

Westminster council again have missed the perfect opportunity to deal with the serious problem of touting and illegally plying for hire in Regent Street.

The seriousness of this problem has recently been exposed by the recent court case, where a young lady was shown to a waiting minicab by a clipboard Johnny. The minicab contained a driver and his friend who took the young lady to the Paddington area, where she was the victim of a double rape. No action has been taken by the Police, Local Council or LTPH to remove this threat to public safety. The touts are there every night. Wardens refuse to move on or issue tickets saying the touts and their passengers get too violent.

Westminster have just had the perfect opportunity to put a part time licensed taxi rank outside the archway for three taxis, fed from a reader rank in the middle of Regent Street.
They could not argue that this would interfere with traffic as this space is occupied every night by touts illegally plying for hire.

The same arrangement could have been implemented at Heddon Street which is also a touting hot spot from where young people have been seriously assaulted after being touted.


Two Mercedes Touting outside Swallow Street at 10:30pm, one actually parked in the bus lane.



Heddon Street: Westminster have even left a break in the centre reservation to facilitate the touts who wish to U-turn to access the illegal minicab rank.



This traffic enforcement camera is turned away as the touts appear. It's as if an arrangement has been made not to issue the touts with tickets. How many Taxis have received tickets for stopping in the box junction while touts get a free pass?

TfL poor performance: Bullet Points Part 2...By Jim Thomas

Top story on Taxi Leaks so far this year has been;
Exclusive: Fraud Scandal At LTPH.


I recently attended a trade meeting where I heard the full story of a member of staff employed by LTPH, working at Palestra, who was dismissed for accepting cash for licence renewals.

A respected member of the RMT, was told by the LTPH employee at Palestra:
"There's a problem with your form. You can either fill it out again, but you won't be able to work until your cheque clears, or you can come to Palestra, meet me down stairs, pay cash and I'll give you your renewal and you can have your cheque back."
The driver not wanting to lose down time on his Taxi, paid cash but smelt a rat. He asked LTPH's employee for a receipt, but the gentleman told him they didn't give receipts and that his bill was proof he had paid the fee. Not satisfied, he went immediately to TfL's fraud department at Windsor House and reported the sequence of events.

The police were called in and the member of LTPH staff was dismissed and subsequently arrested.

We've also heard unconfirmed reports from other drivers who claim to have fallen victim to this employee's scam. It is alleged as many as 50 drivers may be involved in this issue.

Taxi leaks posted an article containing this story, but Director of LTPH John Mason in an email to his legal team complained the post was misleading and instructed his legal team to take action against the blog to get the article removed. He also threatened to contact Google UK to have the blog taken down.

The articled claimed: Allegations of breaches in security at LTPH have been followed by an arrest at Palestra.

John Mason, in an email to his legal team claimed:
"No arrest has been made of any individual at Palestra, there has been no breach of security, there is an allegation of fraud and an individual has been dismissed from TfL and is subject to Police action.

In our opinion, for this employee to find victims, he had to breach security by accessing data kept by LTPH in order to commit the alleged fraud. Plus emails have been sent to trade orgs confirming the arrested.

The article went on to say "Just another story in a long line of allegations of corruption, fraud and malfeasance."

Mason went on to say:
None of this is true and they should put up or shut up when making such allegations in print. Surely this is slander?"
(Slander John?)

Well John we think the statement made is very true, so again we're putting up.
There have been allegations of corruption as PH test roundels were issued to cars that had not been inspected as required. We also understand that two officials from SGS have been arrested in connection with this matter. We have asked for all vehicles, that were dealt with by the two officials, to be re-inspected to protect public safety. LTPH hasn't commented on this request.

Allegations of fraud committed by the employee stealing renewal fees has been confirmed by LTPH by the RMT.

The allegation of malfeasance concerns the issuing of 18 new 5 year licenses variations to a PH company who had only been registered as a PH company for 2 days.

Taxi Leaks' editorial team are now in possession of a copy of the email sent to trade Orgs which categorically states that a member of staff was arrested by police and has also been dismissed from his position at Palestra.



SO WHY THE ATTEMPT TO COVER THIS UP?


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Finding A Taxi To Rent Has Just Become Easier.

Over the last 15 months, the implementation of the Mayor's 15 year age limit, has seen over 4,500 older vehicles removed from the streets. This has put a tremendous strain on drivers wishing to hire a vehicle, especially part timers who only want to do a few shifts a week.

To ease the strain, a handy new website has been put together that puts drivers in touch with owner drivers and fleet owners with Taxis for rental.

Hire a cab right at your doorstep
www.RentMycab.co.uk introduces a new and unique way to rent a cab: The Cab Club

If you are looking to rent a cab, you could be renting your neighbour's cab, rather than one from a cab garage miles away. If you own a cab and work regular shifts , become a member of our Cab Club and make money from your cab being rented to other members of our Licensed Taxi community!

Feedback can be left to promote and further the trust between Cabbies

RentMyCab.co.uk is a new and innovative service for all London Cabbies. They harness the power of the Internet and use it to match owner drivers and renters.

Designed by a Cabbie for Cabbies, RentMyCab understand the needs of the Licensed Taxi trade.

As Licensed Taxi Drivers we are all individual small businesses, but share a mutual respect and affiliation that comes with completing the 'knowledge'. Drivers have many different work patterns, days, nights and weekends, part-time and full time. Some drivers even 'commute' from abroad every couple of weeks.

The more drivers that register, the bigger the list becomes, the easier it will be to find a vehicle that suits you.

Fleet cabs will also available on our site

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Star Letter

Last year I was the victim of robbery. After dropping 5 passengers to New Malden high st, 4 of them decided to run away whilst one simply walked away with an untouchable grin. Angered by this attitude, I took the liberty of following the latter guy whilst on the phone to the police. Being new to taxi driving, I'd received lots of advice regarding this situation from fellow drivers:

"Take it on the chin and forget about it"

"Just get back to the rank and make sure you don't lose any more money"

"It's part of the job, nothing can be done about it"

Not one driver, however, had ever advised me to ring the people of whom 3.5 billion pounds a year of taxpayers money is spent; the police service (RIP the police force, may you never be forgotten.) It is only today that I realised why this is the case.

After a one hour wait, the police eventually turn up and apprehend the gentleman (yes, i'm being ironic, he was anything but). At this point I inform the police that I had overheard them boasting of a mugging they had performed back in Epsom, and the police suddenly decide to take the case a little more serious. He is then arrested for evading paying the taxi fare and assault with intent to rob.

"Brilliant," I think to myself, "justice has been served and all Conservative promises about fighting back against crime have come true." I should have realised my mistake at the time, using the name of a political party and the word promise in the same sentence rarely has anything but negative connotations.

13 months later, having heard nothing about the case again, I request a call back. 4 hours later I receive a voicemail from CID, informing me that several months ago the defendant pleaded guilty to evading a £25 fare in court, and had been ordered to pay me a total of 24 pence compensation. Having decided that the original taxi fare, the 4 hours spent giving a statement plus an upcoming witness appearance regarding the assault in Epsom was only worth 24 pence, they hadn't even had the decency to tell me about it.

So there you have it, the British criminal justice system in all it's glory:

The police have an easily solved crime to add to their statistics

The offender gets a £25 taxi ride for 24 pence

The taxi driver gets 24 pence for losing a Saturday night's work

And that just about sums up British government for the last two decades. If you abide by the law, work hard, pay your taxes and do the decent thing, you always lose...


Thanks for reading

Mark.

Below: Epsom taxi driver Mark Salter was awarded just 24p compensation for helping to catch the man who walked off without paying his cab fare

Monday, March 25, 2013

TfL poor performance: Bullet Points Part 1...By Jim Thomas

CASE 1.


In 2012 the old Rides 2 Private Hire company went into liquidation under the directorship of 45 year old Vijay Khakhria. The Company traded from a registered company address in Wood Green.

Director Summary

Vijay Khakhria has 8 current or previous company director or secretary appointments.

Short name - Vijay Khakhria
Director ID : 915247021
Year of Birth: 1968

Address

Xxxx xxxxxxxx
St Aubin's High St
St Brelade
Jersey
Channel Islands
JE3 8BZ



Company Summary

Company Name Company Status
ENIGMA INDUSTRIAL SECURITY LIMITED Active (Director Resigned 05/03/2010)
RIDE 2 LTD In Liquidation
RIDE 2 LTD In Liquidation
FABRIC 591 LTD In Liquidation (Director Resigned 05/03/2010)
MATTER LONDON LIMITED Dissolved (Director Resigned 05/03/2010)
BERONFLEET LIMITED Dissolved (Director Resigned 05/03/2010)
FABRIC 592 LIMITED Dissolved (Director Resigned 27/01/2006)
AWELL LTD Dissolved (Director Resigned 22/02/2005)


So basically, the Ride 2 Ltd company is in liquidation:

*****************************************************************


CASE 2.



In 2012 a new company RD2.com was registered under the directorship of 76 year old Vrajlal Karsandas Khakhria. The company trades from an address in St John Street EC1

Director Summary

Vrajlal Karsandas Khakhria has 6 current or previous company director or secretary appointments.

Short name - Vrajlal Khakhria
Director ID : 903232524
Year of Birth: 1937

Address

xxxxx
St John Street
London
England
EC1V 4PW



Company Summary

Company Name Company Status
RD2.COM LTD Active
RSSB SOUTHALL LIMITED Active (Company Secretary Resigned 23/10/1998)
RSSB SOUTHALL LIMITED Active (Director Resigned 23/10/1998)
BETTAPRINT LIMITED Dissolved
TIMETELL LIMITED Dissolved
TIMETELL LIMITED Dissolved

So, basically, this is a new company. As a new company, it is subject to the rules as laid down by TfLTPH.
*****************************************************************


09/07/2012, the first company Rides 2 were issued 19 new satellite office licenses even though they are in liquidation.

09/07/2012, the second company RD2.com were issued with 18 new satellite office licenses even though the company only first register as a company, 2 days previous to the issue of the new licenses.


After making queries to TfLTPH, deputy director Helen Chapman confirmed by email on 05/10/2012:
"You are correct that it is now our policy that operators must have been licensed as a standard operator for at least one year before we will consider a variation to operate from a late night venue."

She then went on to justify the issue of new licenses to the new company by stating:
In this specific case the company name had changed but the director had been associated with the same business for a considerable period longer than a year.

This second statement from Ms Chapman is wrong. While we can see the surname name of the directors of both companies are the same, they have different first names(s), home addresses, different dates of birth, different director IDs and appear on close inspection to be two different people. This matter hasn't been investigated fully!

Director of LTPH John Mason in an email to his legal dept dated 01/03/2013 stated:
"This is misleading and was a transfer of licenses from one company to a new one"

Surely if the licenses were just a transfer they would have already existed and would have been dated prior to the formation of the new company. The Licenses, all new, run for a full term of 5 years and were issued just 2 days after the registration of the company. Also, in his email, Director Mason admits this is a "new company".
If I sold my car with nine months left on the road fund license, the RFL Tax disc automatically transfers to the new owner (unless I return for a refund). The DVLA do not issue a new license for a full term of a year.

I have made a number of complaints regarding this issue to TfLTPH and only ever received one reply, that from Helen Chapman, which was received personally by myself. John Mason's email was sent to his legal team and I was sarcastically copied in. After sending the email, Mason had a change of mind and twice tried to reclaim the mail, which failed.

*****************************************************************


In summation:
A new company has been issued with 18 new licenses just 2 days after first registering as a new company contra to TfLTPH rules. Also a company that is in liquidation has been issued with 19 new licenses. Director of LTPH (at the time of issue) John Mason says, This is misleading and was a transfer of licenses from one company to a new one!
As the licenses were issued as new, we would contend that this is not just a transfer of licenses but the issuing of new licenses, to a brand new company.

Question: Why have LTPH issued 19 new licenses to a company that went into Liquidation in 2012, running a full term of 5 years, from July 2012 to July 2017?
Question: If this company is no longer trading, why are these licenses still showing on the LTPH Private Hire check site?
Question: Why did LTPH issue 18 new licenses to a brand new company with a new name, new registered address, new company director, just 2 days after the formation of this new company, in contravention to TfLTPH's own rules which state: A PH company must be trading for a minimum of one year before new satellite office variations can be issued?

THIS MATTER IS MISLEADING IN MANY WAY AND NEEDS TO BE FULLY AUDITED BY THE GLA.
We should then be given a full explanation of exactly what has occurred in this case.
We are entitled to the truth. The sums do not add up on this one.


Source:
http://company-director-check.co.uk/director/903232524

http://company-director-check.co.uk/director/917046143

http://company-director-check.co.uk/director/915247021

http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/vijay-khakhria/4b/69/a07

https://www.duedil.com/director/915247021/vijay-khakhria


http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/businessandpartners/taxisandprivatehire/ph/licensing/default.asp?formname=ops&mode=operators&borough=any&company=RD2.com&licenceID=&search=Search





Kids Used By Council To Spy On Minicabs and Taxis In Sex-Scandal Crackdown


The teenagers are looking for ‘inappropriate behaviour,’ as part of a crackdown by Rochdale council after the conviction of nine men last year for offences such as rape and sexual activity with a child

Teenagers are being asked to spy on PH minicab and Taxi drivers in Rochdale in a bid to avoid a repeat of the child sex ring scandal.
Rochdale sex gang Clockwise from top left: Abdul Rauf, Abdul Aziz, Girl E, Mohammed Amin, Abdul Qayyum, Adil Khan, Mohammed Sajid, Hamid Safi, Kabeer Hassan

The young ‘mystery shoppers’ are being asked by council officials to take minicab and Taxi rides – in a bid to root out ‘inappropriate behaviour’ by potential sex abuser private hire drivers. It is part of a crackdown by Rochdale council on PH minicab, Taxi drivers and takeaway workers in the town following the conviction of nine men last year for offences including rape and sexual activity with a child.
Two of the nine men convicted of exploiting girls as young as 13 – often plying them with drink and drugs before passing them round for sex – were Private Hire drivers, while another two worked in a takeaway.

It is understood that licensing officials have been recruiting the teenagers from outside Rochdale – in a bid to ensure there are no recriminations for their participation in the scheme.
The council stresses that the checks are not aimed at ‘entrapping’ cabbies but are to ensure they are complying with their licences – for example by displaying their badges clearly.
Similar checks using teenagers are carried out at off-licences and newsagents that sell cigarettes to combat sales to under-age children.

But the youngsters are also being asked to listen out for any ‘inappropriate behaviour or language’ used by Cabbies and take-away workers – who could have their licences taken away and be reported to the police if they show predatory behaviour.
The intelligence-gathering youngsters will pass on any concerns to the licensing authority who will work with the police on any further action.

A report into failings at Rochdale council’s children’s department – whose chief executive has already resigned – is expected shortly after Easter.

The town hall says that many improvements have already been put in place – and that they are even giving advice to other councils about keeping kids safe.
Town halls including Oxford – where a child sex ring was exposed last year – are believed to be among those to have sought guidance.

Rochdale council leader Colin Lambert said: “All aspects of the safety of adults and children will be explored within the borough and that includes ensuring the safety of those who use private hire or licensed taxis, food outlets or other premises.

“Where we have evidence of inappropriate behaviour we will act on it. And it is essential that badges are displayed at all times – there is no excuse.

“Rochdale has been at the forefront of rooting out abuse and exploitation of children and of course we have shared that good practice with other bodies. Everyone from the deputy children’s commissioner down has said this is not just a Rochdale issue, but a national issue.”

source: Manchester Evening News