Saturday, June 08, 2013

Green Tomato Cars....Taxi Fleet...My Arse.

Again the good name of London's licensed Taxi trade, voted the best Taxi service in the world for many years running, has come under attack from a substandard news paper and a minicab firm with stick on fruit used as an unauthorised livery.


Is this VHS and Betamax all over against?

The news item, also carried online by the Transport Research Laboratory stated
"The launch of an electric taxi fleet in the British capital has been delayed after it emerged that the existing charging network is not compatible with the vehicles."

We would also point out that the vehicles in question are not now or ever will be TAXIS, they are minicabs.

As the Substandard reports, "Green Tomato Cars had been planning to have its electric taxis on the roads by June 21st, but now they will not be operating until late summer at the earliest."

For Green Tomato Cars to have a fleet of electric Taxis, first they will have to buy a fleet of vehicles that conform to the conditions of fitness laid down under the Hackney carriage and London Cab Acts. These vehicles would of course have to be wheelchair compatible, have a turning circle less than 25 feet and could only then be used in service by licensed Taxi drivers. 
Good luck with that Hamish! Or did you really mean electric minicabs?

"While London currently has some 1,300 charging points, only one is compatible with the Chinese-built cars, and the minicab firm is now calling for the introduction of more rapid charge stations."

At this point we would ask, how much is this minicab firm's owners and backers going to invest in these new charging stations, or are they expecting us as rate payers to pick up the bill for their private,  commercial venture?

Hamish Phillips, a Green Tomato Spokesman, said: "The infrastructure is not in place to run an operation like ours.

"Our cars are in use 12 hours a day travelling between 120 and 150 miles. We can’t have them standing idle."

"Green Tomato already has a 300-strong fleet of hybrid vehicles on the roads, but has not set a definitive date by which it expects to have its 50 electric taxis in service."

So by the last statement we would assume the fleets drivers have signed up to do "The Knowledge". As this takes on average 44 months this will give them plenty of time to save up for proper LTPH approved Taxis. 

Lets not forget, in a previous article on Taxi Leaks, we were informed that in China and Japan, customers are avoiding electric Taxis like the plague. To save battery usage drivers refuse to put the radio on, disable the heater (giving passengers a blanket) and dangerously drive on side lights really using wipers. Many Taxi drivers in Tokyo refuse to drive electric cabs as their taking fall.

Just imaging the scenario: 
Car picks up from the Royal Albert Hall at 11pm. It's raining and freezing cold. Passenger wants to go to Heathrow hotel. 
Driver gives passenger a blanket  opens drivers window and using a squeegee on a stick, clears the screen. As the minicab approaches Heston services, the driver announces, "Just got to top up the power mate, be about an hour if you want to grab a cuppa."

Below, the Chinese electric BYD, not compatible with current charging stations. 


Friday, June 07, 2013

London Taxi Company Taking On New Staff At Coventry Site

Workers who lost their jobs at a Coventry-based taxi maker are being given the chance to apply for about 30 new vacancies.

The London Taxi Company, formerly LTI, was sold to Chinese firm Geely in February after owners Manganese Bronze Holdings went into administration.

About 99 out of 176 jobs were lost after the move into administration.

The jobs are at the Holyhead Road site and Unions say 77 former workers are being sent letters about them.


Thirty-two new vacancies will be offered to about 77 ex-production team members, with a view to "low-level production" starting in mid-August.

Peter Johansen, vice president of The London Taxi Company, said: "We've already recruited 38 employees this year and we've got 58 in total that we're going to be taking on in the coming months [across the UK].

"Thirty -two of those will be in production in the Coventry factory in the next couple of months, so it's good news."

He said full production would hopefully begin by the end of September.

"We've sold over 200 new cabs in the UK in the last couple of weeks and we've got a five-week waiting list for a new cab," he said.

"Internationally it's going to be a record year for us because we've already taken orders for over 800 vehicles and there's many more orders pending."

Peter Coulson from the Unite Union said he is "quite optimistic" that there will be more jobs in the future.

He said: "In terms of the new jobs, they're totally new engagements, but they will be actually taken on to previous rates of pay and also the hours of work… so its's very, very good news."

Source BBC News

Angry mob's outrage at Cambridge taxi driver after pensioner injured

An angry mob surrounded a taxi driver in Cambridge after an 88-year-old woman was badly injured attempting to avoid the vehicle as it rode a pavement.

The dangers of city taxis flooding ranks and parking on double-yellow lines came into sharp focus after the incident involving Vera Mowat.

She was visiting the city from her home near Kettering with her daughter and grandson and was about to cross St Andrew’s Street when a taxi mounted a pavement to park on double-yellow lines.

The pensioner said: “He wasn’t going to stop and almost knocked me over. I tried to get out of his way and fell over and came clattering down.

“The street was heaving with people who saw what happened and this angry crowd surrounded the taxi. They were absolutely furious and were shouting at him and my grandson was very angry. He was lucky he got away without someone taking serious action against him.”

The pensioner was helped across the road to John Lewis and the ambulance service was called.

She said: “The doctors said they had never seen bruising like it. My whole leg is purple and the lower side of me is extensively bruised. I can hardly walk and the pain is terrible.

“I am just so angry. I didn’t call the police, which is something I really regret now. I know Cambridge has a problem with taxis parking on double yellow lines. Something has to be done about it.”

The incident happened just after 1pm last Friday.

Police targeted taxis in St Andrew’s Street amid concerns cars queuing beyond the end of the rank pose a hazard to pedestrians and cyclists issuing 50 fines from February to April for causing an unnecessary obstruction.

David Wratten, a director and chairman of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, which represents the trade, was appalled by the incident.

He said: “We certainly would not condone mounting the pavement. That is a very busy area and although it is difficult to pick up and drop of passengers it is very dangerous to mount the pavement. We would discourage our members, or anyone, to do that.”

A police spokesman said: “We were not made aware of this incident however, we will continue to crackdown on any motorist who ignores parking restrictions, especially if their actions put pedestrians or other road users in danger.”

Source: Cambridge News on-line

The situation in Cambridge has come about by the Licensing Authorities deregulation of the Hackney carriage services. 

Councillors and environmental campaigners, continually complain about emissions from Taxi exhausts, but authorities do not provide adequate ranking facilities. And it's even worse in London.

In London we see too many Taxis having to queue just to access ranks. Just a few decades ago, there was one rank space for every Taxi licensed. Today there is only one rank space per 65 Taxis.

Ranks Update notice:
Complaints have continued to be received about taxis over-ranking and queuing on the corner of Hans Road/Basil Street/near Walton Place. This is obstructing other vehicles and causing problems for local residents and businesses. If the taxi ranks serving Harrods are full then drivers must not queue in the road and should move on.


Court Ruling Allows New Taxi and Car Services To Be Street Hailed In Outer Boroughs of New York.

New York yesterday:

A court  of appeal has thrown out the lawsuit, a last minuet injunction that stopped the use of hailing apps by limousine car services and Taxicabs opening the doors to Uber.

More importantly, Mayor Bloomberg has backed up his threat to "destroy" their "fucking industry" by winning a court ruling which will now allow people in outer boroughs to hail new Taxi and car services without pre booking, changing laws that have stood for many years.

This article from the Verge :

A New York City court ruled today that people can use smartphone apps to digitally hail taxicabs, clearing the way for a new pilot program set to launch soon. The ruling is a move forward for proponents of the technological advance, and for the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), which adopted the measure in December. Several car services and the Livery Roundtable (a union which represents nearly 20,000 livery drivers) sued the TLC in February, arguing that the program would violate city codes, and that discrimination based on location, age, and race, could ensue. The court threw out that lawsuit today, following a last-minute injunction against taxi-hailing apps in early May.

In New York City, taxicabs can only be hailed in person, while car services can be arranged in advance. This has caused contentious debates surrounding services such as Uber, which, in other cities, make possible the hailing of both black car services and the less costly taxicabs.

To further complicate matters, car service (i.e., non-medallion cars) hailing is only legal within the confines of Manhattan, with the outer boroughs (where cabs are fewer) served primarily by livery services available using smartphone applications and call-ahead services. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration, however, today won a ruling in Albany which would allow people in the outer boroughs to hail car service cars without pre-arrangement, changing the longstanding laws against the practice. Bloomberg's relationship with the TLC has been extremely strained, with the New York Post reporting that the mayor vowed to "destroy" their "fucking industry" in late May when asked about his plan to replace all taxicabs with the fuel efficient Nissan NV200, a measure which the TLC opposes.

Once instituted, the pilot program allowing smartphone hailing will be available to all New York City cab drivers, though participation will be optional. In a statement to Bloomberg, Mayor Bloomberg said, "In New York City in 2013, common sense and the free market say that you should be able to use your smartphone to get a cab, and that’s why we created a pilot program to allow users to do just that."

This from the Wall Street Journal:

The state Court of Appeals unanimously upheld Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to allow a new class of taxi service in boroughs outside Manhattan, reversing a lower court that said the mayor had skirted City Council opposition by going to the state legislature instead.

The ruling is a major victory for Mr. Bloomberg on one of his signature efforts to reform the way New York City’s taxis, liveries, black cars and limousines operate.

In this case, Mr. Bloomberg and Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky have said they want to allow up to 18,000 livery cars to begin offering street-hail service in areas that are under-served by the existing city fleet of 13,000 yellow cabs, which do virtually all of their business at the city airports and in Manhattan’s business and nightlife districts.

But a state court judge in Manhattan declared the so-called “boro taxi” plan unconstitutional in 2012, deciding that Mr. Bloomberg had violated the Home Rule provision of the state Constitution, among other provisions. The state law was an end-run around the City Council, which had traditionally set the city’s taxi rules, Justice Arthur Engoron ruled.

The court of appeals unanimously overruled that reading in the decision released Thursday, saying that the taxi law addressed “a matter of substantial State concern,” which justifies the legislature’s role in passing the plan.

all 64 news sources »

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Taxi of Tomorrow preview: Nissan NV200 hits New York City streets ahead of scheduled fall debut

Beauty is to be found on the inside of the Nissan NV200 “Taxicab of Tomorrow.” The box-like little van is officially tagged as New York City’s next taxicab, and the first examples are due to enter service in October of this year. We hopped aboard for a sneak peek at what New Yorkers, not to mention tourists visiting the Big Apple, can expect in future taxicab rides.

Soon to be as ubiquitous as the hot dog stand. The Taxi of Tomorrow is here...almost. The Daily News takes a first ride in the new yellow cab during a test run in New York City.

New Yorkers’ idea of a luxurious ride is a taxicab that doesn’t stink. That’s according to Peter Bedrosian, Nissan’s product planner for the upcoming NV200 New York taxicab, which goes on-duty this October. Nissan’s taxi-related research clinics found that, amongst other features, New Yorkers desperately want a clean cab, one that is free of funky odors.

In that regard, the Nissan NV200 “Taxi of Tomorrow” is off to a sweet-smelling start. The model we recently rode in, for a short loop on the streets of Manhattan, still had its new car/new cab smell. Credit goes to the antimicrobial and breathable rear seats, along with a carbon-lined headliner designed to absorb odors. Time will tell whether or not the NV200 remains this fresh once it enters regular service, of course.

That happens later this year, on October 31, to be exact. From that point onwards, and for the next 10 years, the NV200 is slated to be the official New York taxicab. As older cabs are retired – at a rate of roughly 2,500 per year – the NV200 will gradually take their place.

The rear seat of the Taxi of Tomorrow holds three passengers, much like most of the current fleet. What sets them apart? Anti-microbial fabric keeps odors away while loads of legroom keeps passengers comfortable — even in rush hour traffic.

Based on Nissan’s NV200 utility van, the New York taxi variant has undergone a grueling amount of testing and evaluation ahead of its launch. Nissan even recreated a ‘New York City style’ road at its proving grounds in Stanfield, Arizona.
The inspiration for this stretch of punishing asphalt came from an actual New York road, located near JFK airport. Nissan’s engineering team found this was a particularly rough patch, with plenty of bumps and large undulations that would unsettle a taxi – not to mention the increasingly queasy occupants.

Nissan’s engineers have confirmed this particularly ‘inspiring’ road has since been paved over. Could this be some sort of taxicab cover-up? Might Nissan be filling potholes in the middle of the night, purely to protect top-level taxicab engineering secrets?
Um, no. Our apologies to any cab conspiracy theorists out there.

Ride like the city is yours! A panoramic glass roof on the latest taxi will allow for breathtaking views of the city, making that old Crown Victoria seem even more like an ancient relic.

If Nissan had anything to hide, all would soon be revealed during our ride-along in the NV200. Dual sliding doors make getting in and out easy, as does a low and flat floor – which, incidentally, also makes the NV200 much easier to clean after each shift.

Lights at the back of the NV200 (on either side of the rear window) signal when the cab is vacant, and a ‘walking man’ icon alerts other drivers and bicyclists that someone is getting in or out of the cab. The doors glide easily and, once inside, there is a ton of legroom. The width of the rear bench seat can comfortably accommodate three adults, at least for a short cross-town ride. There is also room for one passenger up front. When that front seat isn’t in use, however, it can be folded down and the back functions as a work table for the driver.

Source: Daily News online 06/06/13

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

South Oxhey Radio Taxis Proposes 20p Fare Increase: Council Objects And Wants 3 Years Fare Freeze

A South Oxhey taxi company is seeking permission to increase its fares.

South Oxhey Radio Taxis (SORT) is proposing to change its start fare from £2.70 to £2.90 - an increase of 7.4 per cent - and to extend the night charging hours by a further hour in the morning to 6am.

SORT says the increased fare is necessary due to the increase in fuel costs, taxi insurance and the cost of purchasing new vehicles since fares were last set in 2011.

The company identifies a 5.3 per cent increase in fuel costs, a 33 per cent increase in insurance and a nine per cent increase in new vehicle cost.

A report by officers from Three Rivers District Council attacked the figures produced by SORT as "not a broad reflection of costs".

The report recommends it be refused on the grounds that "aspects of this proposal are out of line with the inflation of the Retail Price Index" and that a time limit of three years be set before any further review is carried out.

The taxi company’s application to the council’s Regulatory Services Committee, which is due to be considered this evening (Wednesday, June 5).

Latest news 6 June:

Councillors have approved a 10p increase in the basic fare for taxis operating in Three Rivers.

The increase relates to all 10 Hackney Carriages registered to work in the district but does not apply to private hire taxis.

An application by South Oxhey Radio Taxis (SORT) to increase the start fare from £2.70 to £2.90 was turned down by members of Three Rivers District Council's Regulatory Services Committee on Wednesday night (June 5).

However, the lesser increase was agreed between councillors as well as an extension of the night time charging hours from 5am to 6am.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

And so it begins...Public hire taxi drivers protest over fare changes

About 200 public hire taxi drivers have taken part in a protest in Belfast over major change to how services operate.

From September private-hire cars (known as private hire taxis in Belfast) will no longer have to be pre-booked and, like public-hire black cabs, will be allowed to pick passengers up off the street.

There was minor disruption around City Hall on Tuesday morning.

The change was due in April but was delayed to allow the taxi industry to prepare for the move.

In a statement the Belfast public hire drivers said they believed the new one-tier system and deregulation of taxi meters has "no benefit to Belfast public hire or the general public".

Public hire taxi driver William Black said they were protesting as they were left with no other choice.

"We have not been properly consulted and now our livelihoods are at stake.

"We are not against change but it cannot be at the demise of Belfast public hire taxis," he said.

"We are asking for an urgent meeting with the environment committee and the minister."

At present, only Belfast public-hire taxis are required by law to have meters installed.

Not all private-hire taxis in Northern Ireland have meters.

The department of environment said it will introduce a maximum fare structure for all taxis operating in Northern Ireland in 2014.

This will include the requirement that all taxis (private and public) must have an approved taxi meter and receipt machine installed.

Within Belfast only wheelchair accessible vehicles will be permitted to stand at taxi ranks.

Source: BBC NI news.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Chaos At Concert As Taxis Told To Stay Away From Twickenham... By Jim Thomas.

On the weekend of 25th/26th May London taxi drivers were banned from 'Plying for Hire' around the Twickenham Rugby Stadium area. Drivers were asked to move away from the East Stand area in Rugby Road. Twickenham RFU security staff have stated that London’s taxis are not wanted there on event days.
Source: LTDF

Local drivers warned Richmond Councils that their short sighted plans, not to let licensed Taxis rank or ply for hire in the vicinity of Twickenham Stadium would eventually cause chaos and put the publics safety at risk.

Well, we didn't have to wait long!

Saturday night, after an accident at Putney Station which resulted in the closure of the rail link, we saw 55,000 concert goers stranded. Some for over four hours. 

The free shuttle bus service, which adheres to a set rout, became completely grid locked and nothing could move. The only releaf to the stranded masses were Taxis who, using their local knowledge safely found ways in and out of the area. Unfortunaly, some members of the public were seen putting their personal safety at risk as large numbers of unbooked minicabs openly touted in the area. 

When it emerged just how bad the situation had turned, a call went out for Taxis to help out!!!
So much for TfLs Cabwise Safer Travel campaign.

The Putney jumper has handed Richmond drivers a brilliant scenario, to hit back at the authorities for being so blinkered in their approach to public safety and alternative modes of transport.

Local councillors and the Metropolitan Police Safer Transport Team, have stated they are in favour of event day ranks in London road, junction with Whitton Road and also in Argon Road facing the Cabbage Patch. These two ranks which could accommodate at least 30 Taxis, would have been workable on Saturday night and would also taken care of most of the touts. The unbooked cars that infested the area just added to the congestion.   

The proposed ranks would be highly beneficial to local suburban drivers who have seen their numbers reach almost unsustainable levels. SO, WHAT'S THE PROBLEM. 

Richmond Council surprisingly say NO to any ranks in the area. (Follow the Money?)

It is believed that pressure is being exerted by Twickenham stadium via a police inspector who has so far failed to show up for 2 major planning meetings to try and find a way that will help the travelling public on event days. WHY? (Follow the Money?)

Security staff at Twickenham Stadium have harassed and threatened drivers plying for hire. (Follow th money?)

Private hire cars are being allowed to wait in the area for unbooked jobs. (Follow the Money?)

Can you see the pattern here?

Local drvers have ask for a meeting with Vince Cable local MP, to see if he can help.

This situation is far to common regarding the siting of Taxi ranks. 
Another venue which has major problems with access to and from, is the O2 on the Greenwich Peninsular. A Taxi only lane leaving the venue, would mean that the public using cabs could be wisked away and would not have to endure the expense of being gridlocked with the meter running.

Unfortunately both TfL and Greenwich Council don't do common sense at planning meetings, they prefer to rely on computer modelling which, as we see night after night, results in utter chaos and gridlock.

Sunday, June 02, 2013


Taxi drivers who have campaigned for a rank near Twickenham stadium for several years, feel they have been shunned by the authorities that could provide one.

Drivers working around Richmond and Twickenham want a rank near the stadium to cater for match days, as well as those who attend concerts, who may be younger or have mobility problems.

Drivers have been working with Richmond Council, the RFU and police to see if a taxi rank could be installed in nearby Mogden Lane.

Bill Clarke from the Richmond Taxi Drivers’ Association raised concerns about the number of taxi drivers increasing in London suburbs.

He said: “What we are asking for is not something that is not granted in other areas. The biggest factor involved now is that, since the 1970s, the number of drivers has trebled.”
The drivers said they had not been able to make any headway with organisations that should be able to help them.

A Richmond Council spokesman said: “The area around the stadium is extremely busy on event days, with up to 82,000 people attending.
“Rugby Road is on the emergency route for the stadium and is required to be kept clear of parked vehicles.

“This is with the exception of the shuttle buses which are required to transport the high volumes of attendees to and from the area as quickly as possible.

“Richmond Council has been in discussion with the RFU, the police and taxi companies on the possibility of a taxi rank being installed at Mogden Lane near the stadium on event days.
“Unfortunately, due to a number of road safety concerns, it is not possible nor practical to consider a rank at this location.

“The council is happy to work with the taxi companies to identify a suitable alternative location for a rank in the area.

“Some discussions have taken place on this already though no suitable locations have been agreed as yet.”