Saturday, April 06, 2013

LVTA CABALCADE 2013 4/4/13...1.30-5.30pm

The London Vintage Taxi Association (LVTA) will be flying their flag in London's Marble Arch this Sunday 7th April.

From 1.30pm until 5.30pm there will be a line up of iconic FX and Fairway taxis as a celebration the years of service provided to London by these taxis.

Since the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Strategy has imposed a 15 year age limit on taxis in the capital, the iconic Fairways are coming to the end of their working lives as licensed taxis. The LVTA membership does have some taxi drivers who will be taking part in Cabalcade but many of the members are people who just love the vintage taxi and have restored their vehicles to their original state.

This is a chance for the public to see the vehicles from five decades close up and of course lots of great photo opportunities. The taxi has been photographed alongside the old Routemaster buses countless times and holds a place as an iconic symbol of all that is good about London.

Prior to lining up at Marble Arch, the Cabalcade will set off from Chelsea Harbour and wend its way through London stopping off at points that are important in the cabs history.

These include the old Public Carriage Office where licensing was done through to the modern Palestra where the Licensing is now carried out by TfL.

At each point there will be speakers talking about the vehicles – these guest speakers include Lord Jamie Borwick, former owner of the company who then made the vehicles through to the current Taxi and Private Hire Director for Transport for London, John Mason.

The last FX taxi to come from the production line has been preserved in its original state and will be on Marble Arch - registration RIP FX


The latest way to commute to work from Putney

Local Assembly Member Takes First River Taxi

The first river taxi opening the new service from Putney to Blackfriars departed from Putney at 6-30am today Tuesday 2nd April. And one of the earliest travellers on the Thames Clipper was Richard Tracey, the Mayor's Ambassador for River Transport and London Assembly Member for Wandsworth and Merton (pictured heading downstream)

All the boats ran to time arriving at Blackfriars for the City in just over 30 minutes, or at Embankment Pier for transfer to another Clipper heading for Tower Pier, London Bridge,Canary Wharf, or Greenwich and Woolwich. Over 100 passengers took the morning trips from Putney, Wandsworth Riverside, Chelsea Harbour, and Cadogan Pier.

Richard Tracey talked to some of the passengers and he said: "They all seemed to enjoy the warm comfort of the catamaran boats and a number were sipping a coffee or hot chocolate they had bought on board. Various children were aboard and they liked the sleek boats cutting through the water as they passed Battersea Park and the rapidly rising developments at Nine Elms"

Richard has been one of the most energetic campaigners for 5 years for this fast service and the link with the Central and East London Clipper services. He said:
" We now look forward to the promised building of Battersea Plantation Wharf Pier by the end of 2013 and then Battersea Power Station Pier later in coming years. I pay tribute to the Wandsworth councillors and to my MP colleagues Justine Greening and Jane Ellison who have been up with me on the campaign to reach this stage."

Friday, April 05, 2013

Processing of Taxi and Private Hire Fares by Credit and Debit Cards - The Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012

This notice provides the taxi and private hire trades with very important information on the processing of credit and debit cards.

On Saturday 6 April 2013 ‘The Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012’ come into effect. The regulations ban traders from “charging consumers more than the cost borne by them for accepting a given means of payment” which includes processing card payments.
The regulations cover taxi and private hire passengers who pay by card and are being introduced following a consultation by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. A copy of the consultation outcome, the regulations and guidance on the regulations are available on the Inside Government website here.

New businesses and micro-businesses will be exempt from the regulations until 12 June 2014 but from this date the regulations will also apply to them. Broadly speaking a micro-business is one with fewer than 10 employees, this includes all self employed London taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. A new business is one which began trading between 6 April 2013 and 12 June 2014.
If you accept card payments it is vital that you are aware of these changes and ensure that you comply with them. From the appropriate date you must not charge passengers more than it costs to accept and process a card payment.

Taxi services
We currently set the maximum extra charge for card payments for taxi journeys at £1.00 or 12.5% of the metered fare and we have no intention to immediately change this prior to any formal consultation. This “extra” sets a maximum amount that can be charged when a passenger pays by card. However, taxi drivers and taxi booking companies can charge less than £1.00 or 12.5% of the metered fare and many already do so.

Taxi drivers and taxi booking companies that accept card payments should be aware of how much it costs them to accept and process a card payment and from the appropriate date must not charge a passenger more than this amount.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and trading standards officers have the powers to enforce these regulations. Complaints about being overcharged when paying by card, including for taxi and private hire services, will be considered by the OFT or local council trading standards officers. Where we are made aware that drivers or operators are charging more than the cost for processing the payment we may review their fitness to be licensed.

John Mason
London Taxi and Private Hire

05 April 2013

Thursday, April 04, 2013

TfL plans for major expansion of speed camera enforcement

Transport for London is preparing for a major expansion of speed and red light camera coverage on the capital’s roads, including the possible installation of average speed cameras on four busy radial roads.

The proposals would see camera coverage increase from 250 miles of road to about 470.

London currently has about 900 digital and wet film cameras (speed and red light) but the vast majority – 711 – are wet film, which TfL says will be obsolete by 2015.

It is planning a “three-pronged” investment programme:

a two-year replacement of wet film cameras with digital

the installation of additional cameras on the Transport for London road network (TLRN)

the installation of additional cameras on borough roads

Explaining the investment, Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said: “TfL analysis of casualties over a three-year period before and after the installation of speed cameras shows that KSIs fell by an average of more than 50% at the locations where safety cameras were introduced.” These are raw data that do not take into account the influence of factors such as regression to the mean or trend.

Discussing the plans for the existing 711 wet film cameras, Daniels said officials had looked at the effectiveness of each camera using “similar KSI criteria” to those recommended by the DfT’s original 2002 guidelines on camera installation. For speed cameras, these stated that there had to have been four or more KSIs in a three-year period, of which two were the result of speeding.

“The analysis undertaken showed that 629 camera locations had demonstrated a reduction in KSI collisions… It is proposed that at all these sites the existing wet film cameras should be replaced with digital cameras,” he said. The remaining 82 wet film cameras had been installed where there was no record of KSIs before installation. These will not be replaced.

The new digital red light cameras will also be capable of enforcing speed limits during the green phase of traffic lights.

Daniels said average speed cameras were warranted on four roads on which 35 wet film speed cameras currently operate. These are the A40 in west London; the A2 through south-east London; the north-west section of the A406 north circular road; and the A316 that connects the M3 into Hammersmith through south-west London.

He said experience showed that average speed cameras delivered greater safety benefits than fixed spot cameras. TfL installed average speed cameras on the A13 in East London in 2010, replacing wet film cameras. Daniels said an 18-month before and after study found that total KSIs reduced by ten, or 58%, from 17 to seven.

A TfL spokesman this week emphasised that no final decision had been made to definitely install average speed cameras.

Daniels also outlined the plans for the other two parts of TfL’s safety camera programme.

He said there were 73 roads on the TLRN where casualty history would warrant the installation of cameras. “The casualty reduction performance of existing safety cameras suggests that installing cameras at these new locations could potentially prevent 72 KSIs from occurring each year.” Meanwhile, red light cameras were justified at 48 TLRN junctions.

On borough roads, Daniels said analysis suggested that 88 roads and 82 junctions would warrant cameras and that these could prevent 98 KSIs a year.

TfL is to issue guidance to boroughs on applying for camera funding in the Local Implementation Plan spending guidance to be published in May.

Three ten-year contracts will be awarded for the installation and maintenance of the cameras, with the possibility of extending the contracts to 20 years. The contracts will cover: spot speed; red light; and average speed cameras.

Source: TransportXtra

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Vito London Taxi, Changes at The Top.

Eco City Vehicles has appointed a new chief executive as the distributor for the Mercedes-made rivals to traditional London black cabs prepares for a third manufacturer to enter the market.
Trevor Parker, a veteran of Dixon Motors and Lookers and a former chief executive of a caravan retailer, on Tuesday took over from Peter DaCosta, the company’s founder

Mr DaCosta, who will become one of two non-executive directors and a consultant to Eco City, helped develop the Mercedes “Vito” model as the first rival to the traditional black cabs made in Coventry by Manganese Bronze.

The Vito won over a large swath of London cabbies relatively quickly as Eco City capitalised on recalls and poor customer service at Manganese Bronze. It now commands 40 per cent of new sales.

As Manganese stumbled last year, in part because of IT problems, Eco City moved from an operating loss to a profit on revenues that rose 40 per cent.

Manganese entered administration six months ago and was bought out of it in February by its biggest shareholder, Geely, the Chinese carmaker that also owns Volvo. But a revived Manganese is not Eco City’s biggest challenge over the coming year. Both companies will face new competition when Nissan begins selling its NV200 London taxi later this year or early next.

Nissan is expected to attract new customers through vehicles with lower fuel burn – which will bring down cabbies’ operating costs – and the strong reputation in London of its engines, one of which powered one of Manganese’s most popular marques.

“We’ll be fighting tooth and nail for market share,” said Mr Parker on Tuesday, citing competitive financing packages as one tool in his arsenal. “It’s about the cost of ownership of the vehicle in the round.”

He said that he would target the non-London UK market for growth, and would consider international markets as well – a project the board had mulled even before his arrival.

Mr Parker’s predecessor, Mr DaCosta, used to drive a cab and experimented with liquefied gas-powered and hybrid vehicles before striking gold with a plan to adapt Mercedes minivans to meet the demanding requirements of London’s Public Carriage Office, which licenses cabs in the capital.

Shares in Eco City, trading at about 1¾p this week, have risen 8 per cent in the past year but are sharply off January highs of 2½p.


Two London buses a day are involved in crashes with cyclists and pedestrians

London buses are involved in two collisions with cyclists or pedestrians every day, according to Transport for London.
Politicians described the figure as “shockingly high” but were attacked by transport chiefs who insisted cycle and pedestrian safety had improved.

London Assembly Tories quoted TfL statistics which showed there were 145,533 bus accidents in the past six years. Pedestrians were hit in 3,591 cases and cyclists in 1,219.

An average 1.6 bus-pedestrian collisions happened every day, with a bus-cyclist collision every other day, at a combined average of more than 15 a week. Tory Assembly member Roger Evans said: “We need reassurances on how police can work with TfL to ensure their drivers are operating safely.”

However, Mike Weston, operations director of London buses, insisted there was a downward trend in such collisions. “These figures need to be taken in the context of the huge scale of London’s bus network — 8,500 buses and six million journeys a day,” he said.

“The proportion of bus collisions is actually very small and falling... buses were involved with just five per cent of the most serious collisions on London’s roads over the last few years.” TfL said collisions with pedestrians and cyclist dropped 40 and 50 per cent respectively between 2007/08 and 2011/12, although how they calculate the figures partly explained the fall.

Mr Weston added: “There is no room for complacency, and the Mayor and Transport for London are working with pedestrian, cycling and safety stake holders to develop both a pedestrian safety action plan and a huge range of initiatives to further improve cycle safety.”

TfL said London’s bus drivers have the highest standards of training anywhere in Britain.

'Nothing has been learned since my daughter lost her leg'
The mother of a girl who lost her leg when she was hit by a bus said today she was “appalled” by the accident figures.

Pollyanna Hope was two when a single-decker bus mounted the pavement at Mortlake bus station in 2007 and ploughed into her, killing her grand-mother and badly injuring her mother.

The driver, Ismail Ahmed, 43, of Southall, was jailed for four years for causing death by dangerous driving. Pollyanna, now eight, ran with the Paralympic torch last summer. “The figures are appalling,” her mother, Sarah Hope, said.

“It means that after what happened to us, nothing has been learnt. The accident has had a massive impact on all our lives. When a tragedy occurs it changes a lot of things immeasurably and you have to stay positive.

“I think it is very important to change things, and if there is anything I can do to help, then I would like to know.

Mrs Hope has set up a charity to fund prosthetic limbs for child amputees in Africa.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

EE launches 4GEE taxis to let the public use network for free

EE has today launched a fleet of 4G-enabled Hackney Carriages across Birmingham and London, offering passengers the chance to log on to EE’s 4G network using their smartphones and tablets for free.

The 4GEE Taxis form part of EE’s nationwide rollout of its 4G network and will see 40 decked out cabs in London and 10 in Birmingham.

The campaign was delivered in conjunction with Verifone Media, and was created by Saatchi & Saatchi. It was planned by media agency MEC and specialist OOH agency, Kinetic.

Passengers will be given a free trial of the 4G service after they text from their phone and receive a personalised code to connect to EE mobile 4G. They will then be able to browse, download and email for free for the duration of their journey.

Spencer McHugh, director of brand at EE, said: “The first motorised black cabs hit the streets in 1901, nearly 70 years before the first smartphone was available to consumers, now we are bringing this icon of British transport into the 21st century with a 4G make-over. We hope this trial will demonstrate the benefits of a superior online experience as users can browse, download, catch up on emails, Tweet and check Facebook literally at the speed of light. We can’t make taxi journeys any faster but we can certainly speed up people’s smartphones”.

Source: The Drum. Engadget.

TfL poor performance: Bullet Points Part 3...By Jim Thomas

On the 28th of February in a post entitled "Bill-Gate"... How Much Longer Can these people survive? We had a bullet point:

* Taxi drivers, exercising their democratic right of protest, harassed by senior officers from TfLTPH.
In John Mason's email to his legal department (CC'ed to Jim Thomas) he stated:
"Serious allegation and untrue!"

He also challenged us to put up or shut up.

Our statement was made, giving an opinion which many Taxi drivers in the trade hold, after details of a TfL notice to the trade as a whole and also, a letter to individuals drivers who were exercising their right to demonstrate.

On the 13 July 2012 John Mason made an announcement in the LTPH Notice 08/12: IMPORTANT NOTICE Possible Taxi Driver Demonstrations.

He warned "Any taxi driver participating in such demonstrations who fails to comply with the instructions issued by the Police could face arrest.

Moreover drivers who are observed acting improperly could suffer possible suspension or revocation of their licence."

It is the second part of this statement that many feel is a step to far. LTPH are not a police force and can only act against drivers when complaints are made by a third party. It is not their job to go out and observe. Many Taxi drivers felt this was an attempt to intimidate and harass drivers into not demonstrating. As far as we know TfL have not issued such a statement when faced by demonstrations or strikes by tube or bus staff.

In answer to a freedom of information request by the UCG, LTPH said:
"No, details of vehicles participating in the demonstration were not

Below is a photo of a young lady caught taking close ups of plate numbers and drivers faces at the Trafalgar Square Demo. She was accompanied by two security guards wearing hi-vis jackets issued by TfL.


When a group of unsuspecting drivers got this letter, they all felt they had been harassed and unfairly victimised. One driver became so ill with the stress caused by the letter, he couldn't work.

In an email from John Mason to his Legal Dept, we again see him denying our claims, saying they are untrue.

But we believe the facts Speak for themselves.

Our opinion, is also backed up by this video produced by and on behalf of the RMT.


First They Came For The Trade Unionists... from On the Barricade on Vimeo.


Monday, April 01, 2013

It's A Funny Old Game, Jim Thomas

London Cabby Jim Walker has recently launched his new board game based on London's most iconic land mark, Tower Bridge. But Jim is not the only Taxi driver to have success in the board game field.

Other games invented by Taxi drivers appeared in the 60's and 70's. These were based on driving a Taxicab round the streets of London. The first used the Monopoly style format and the second had a proper map of central London.

I remember being bought the second version in the mid 70's, which depended mainly on luck rather than knowledge skills. Friends and family loved the thought of beating me at my own game.

60's style Taxi Board Game.

70's Style Taxi Game

A new Taxi board game which was rejected by Dragon's Den made Wales its next destination

In 2003, Portsmouth Taxi driver Rachel Lowe told the judges on Dragon's Den that her new board game based on driving a Taxi could outsell Monopoly, they laughed her off the show.

Then in 2004 she proved them wrong as "Destination" trounced the traditional property game when it was launched at Hamleys, becoming their number one best-selling game that Christmas.

In 2006 the 29-year-old entrepreneur launched a Cardiff version of the game which casts players as taxi drivers who must collect fares from landmarks like the Millennium Stadium, the New Theatre and the Hilton.

When asked what she thought of her treatment on the Dragons Den she said, "It taught me not to give up and not to take no for an answer.

Latest Taxi Game to hit the market is the Tuk Tuk Taxi game.
Taxis from around the world do battle on the streets of different cities. London Taxi's, Checker Cabs and Tuk Tuks.

I suppose it's just a matter of time before someone comes up with RICKSHAW RUSH HOUR.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


London Mayor Boris Johnson has previously suggested some ‘out of the box ‘ ideas for various projects.

In 2008 the Mayors research confirmed that there were 4267 deaths in London each year caused by pollution.

Since then various strategies including the Low Emission Zone, Dust Suppressants and a Taxi Age Limit, have been tried but have failed to reduce the pollution in the capital.

The latest ‘pollution solution’ is to implement the use of pollution masks, widely seen on the streets of other heavily polluted capital cities like Beijing.

A spokesman said ‘’ Recent strategies have not been successful and the health costs caused by pollution in London are significant. If we can’t stop the pollution then the next best thing is to stop people breathing it.’’

The masks may be distributed free on buses and at tube and train stations for commuters to wear.
It may also be compulsory for transport workers, including bus and taxi drivers to wear the masks.

A spokesman for the London Campaign for Clean Air said ‘’ It is positive that all options are being considered, but we need to make sure that plenty of masks are available and also that masks are provided to the most vulnerable, like the elderly or kids going to school.’’

Cabbies Against Boris have said ‘’ London Taxi Drivers are furious at the prospect of a rule which forces them to wear these masks. Why are taxi drivers being targeted and not delivery drivers or traffic wardens?’’

Any measures which stop people breathing the toxic pollution must be a step in the right direction.

Source: with thanks to Dave Davies.

Cabbie inventor of bridge game to raise Tower Bridge

A taxi driver who lived next to Tower Bridge for 37 years and invented a board game about the London landmark is to be given the chance to raise the bridge.

Jim Walker, 54, from Bexley, south-east London, was inspired to design the game Bridge Up as he drove over the famous crossing one day.

He has been driving over it for 17 years, 20 to 30 times a week he said.

He called it "an honour" to have permission to raise the bridge.

'So chuffed'

His daughter Connie, 10, who played the prototype game with him, will help him press the button to lift the bascules at 15:30 BST.

They will make way for Sailing Barge Will, used for private charters.

Mr Walker, who has three children, grew up on the nearby Dickens Estate and said being allowed by the Corporation of London to raise the bridge was an honour.

He said: "I'm so chuffed. It's something I've always said I'd love to do."

He was told few members of the public get the chance to operate the bridge.

He came up with the idea for the game about two years ago and it is sold in the Tower Bridge gift shop.

Players answer questions about the bridge to collect lettered tokens and the winner is the first to race back to their dock and complete the words 'Bridge Up'.

Mr Walker said he has many fond memories of Tower Bridge and even remembers being able to smell the scent of cinnamon and pepper which came from the buildings once used in the spice trade.

As well as driving over the bridge countless times, he marched over it in a demonstration with printers as part of the Wapping dispute in the 1980s.

The landmark itself was opened in 1894, stands 61 meters high and is crossed by almost 40,000 people everyday.

Source: BBC news, ITV news