Friday, June 14, 2013

Peter Hendy's TfL Propaganda, Insults The Taxi Trade, Yet Again...by Jim Thomas.

In just 81 seconds Peter Hendy made three statements on BBC local radio, that were not only misleading, but also insulted every licensed Taxi driver. 

Three statements from Peter Hendy on the Eddie Nestor Radio Show BBC 94.9 , 13/06/13.

There have been 1006 revocations of PH drivers licenses in the last five years.

2  Vulnerable young women less likely to get into unbooked minicabs

If you don't want your business taken by illegal touts, lets get some cabs out there with their lights on.


In the statement on revocations made by Peter Hendy, 1006 sounds like a lot, but when you consider this total over 260 weeks, it's under 4 a week. Plus the conviction rate has slowed dramatically, in the first quarter of 2013, there were only 6 revocations;

(1) 57296    Belal Ahmed                           10/01/13 
(2) 57905    Emrullah Cicen                        24/01/13 
(3)  51192    Matthew Ade-Tayo Kalejaiye  01/02/13
(4) 144301  Mohammad Khalil Chaudry    15/02/13
(5) 83905    Muhammad Rafiq                   10/03/13                  
(6) 24888   A K M Shohidul Hoque           15/03/13

Possibly, the reason why he chose to go back 5 years, the figures for the last year are abysmal.

 He also said that the police are much better these days at handling touting, really?
The word from Taxi drivers on the streets at clubs and bars would show completely the opposite.

If, as Peter says vulnerable people are now less likely to get into un booked minicabs, how does he explain the statement made in the Problem Orientated Policing report "Unlicensed mini cabs operating in Wandsworth", a report that won the prestigious Goldstein award, that the true figures for minicab related serious sexual assaults, including rapes in London are currently at an all time high of approx 25 attacks per week.

Lets not forget that Peter Hendy once said, on the Eddie Nestor show some years back, after a reported 52% rise in minicab related sexual assaults, that he didn't recognise the figures and they were probably the result of a militant Taxi drivers Blog. The fact was they came from TfL's own website and had been confirmed by the Met police as well as a prominent London assembly member.

Again Peter Hendy has a swipe at the licensed Taxi trade by insinuating that we do not work hard enough and the failings and incompetence of his LTPH directorate lay at our feet.

In 2008, Hendy stated to a London assembly surface transport committee, that Taxi driver take their money by 9pm and then go home. He also said " When you come out of the Grisvenor House at midnight you can't get a Taxi as they won't rank there. Not like the Hilton, now that's a much better rank."

When told by London assembly member Peter Holme Cross that Taxi drivers were unhappy, he said, "They are always unhappy, they need to get out more often."

Peter Hendy paid Hailo a huge compliment saying how great the service is and that he himself is a regular user. He also went on to say that the CabWise app was still available and working fine.
This is not true. It still doesn't work properly on the iPad, never has done, even though its been reported numerous times, it's impossible to book a licensed Taxi using the app on the iPad.

Finally Peter Hendy now in his sixties, stated that he has no intention of ever retiring. On his money neither would I.
 
      
 


                        CABWISE OR CAB NOT SO WISE?
 


 



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Australia: Angry taxi drivers gather at Parliament to protest proposed laws


Taxi drivers protesting about changes to short-fare queue system at Melbourne Airport
DOZENS of angry taxi drivers and licence owners have gathered at Parliament House, where about 15 police are standing guard.

Driver and licence owners told the Herald Sun they are angry over proposed laws about to be voted on in Parliament.

Some said they would go broke, while others pleaded with MPs to listen to their concerns.
One said that there would be repercussions from the industry if laws went through Parliament because, if you “back a dog into a corner”, there’s only so much they can take.

The new laws cabbies are protesting about have passed the Legislative Assembly and will now go to the Legislative Council, where the government holds a majority.

The angry drivers and licence owners said they had contacted their local MP but most had said the changes were fair.

About 50 people are braving the rain to protest.

Police are standing by and blocking the entrance to Parliament House to drivers who wanted to have their say inside the chamber.

Meanwhile, five taxi drivers furious over the axing of Melbourne Airport’s short-fare system went on hunger strike today.

Cabbie Nazar Yousif said he and four other cabbies started the radical protest about 10am today.
Drivers have been protesting since Tuesday about changes to the short-fare system last month.
They are angry the airport scrapped a queuing system that let them avoid the main queue on return to the airport after receiving a short-fare.

Mr Yousif said drivers felt there was no one representing them.
“We are on a hunger strike. We are trying to get our message (across),” Mr Yousif, a taxi driver of 11 years from Ascot Vale, said.

“It is going to go forever because we feel humiliated and no one wants to come to speak to us.”
Melbourne Airport called in five tow trucks to the protest at 12.45pm.

Airport spokesman Matt Francis said taxi drivers lifted their blocked and left about 2.05pm.
He said there had been no towing or police intervention and expected  normal taxi operations to resume shortly.

About 30 cabbies protested at the top of the taxi feeder line.

Mr Francis said earlier today that management had reminded drivers who had left cars unattended they were breaching the terms and conditions of operating and the airport and federal laws.

“We can’t tolerate any further disruption to the operations of the airport,” Mr Francis said.
“We don’t see any justification for this protest and we hope they conclude it quickly. I would like to think they will disperse quickly and we can get  the operations back to normal.”

Mr Francis reiterated the protest was being held by a minority of drivers and some of them had been in meetings with airport management and the Victorian Taxi Association after the short-fare system was changed.

Airport spokeswoman Anna Gillett said airport management were aware of the hunger strike.
“Our focus is on running our airport and making sure our passengers can get where they can go as quickly as possible,” Ms Gillett said.

“My understanding from media reports is the hunger strike will go until we reintroduce the short fare system.”

The airport said it scrapped the short-fare system because it was being rorted up to 200 times a day.

More than 300 cabbies responded by protesting near the arrivals terminal, forcing police officers from the Critical Incident Response Team and federal officers to be called on.
source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/

Baker Street Two Way, With Pedestrian Priority Zone, Buses and CyclesOnly Between George and Blandford.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any crazier out there on the streets, just when you though the planners had reached their peak.

Along comes another hair-brain scheme from the people who are about to narrow the Haymarket from four lanes to two.

Baker Street is all set to be the next target, in a report carried out by the Urban Realm and Transport Study Group it is claimed that Baker Street itself is an uncertain gateway with poor quality materials and interfaces between public and private sectors. It is also claimed that major congestion occurs not with the traffic but on the "Narrow Pavements causing pedestrian congestion" with poor quality crossing points.



Issues
Wide carriageway and disproportionate space given to vehicular traffic
› High traffic speeds and division caused by traffic density
› Narrow footways
› Noise and Pollution
› Inactive frontages along Orchard Street
› Tide marks between new public realm and areas in need of improvement
› Bus routings, space between bus stops and catchments

Perceptions
› Street dominated by vehicle traffic infrastructure
› Busy bus and coach route
› High volumes of taxis
› Poor pedestrian and cycle connectivity
› Mixed public realm quality and lack of continuity
› Lack of trees and green space
› No reason to pass through it
› A long walk to nearest attractions

Problems
› Congested footways
› Under-utilised carriageway space, yet protected as a
strategic through-route
› Barriers to movement and street clutter
› Lack of cycle facilities
› Parking demand on Sundays and pedestrian visibility

Suggested solution
Street tree planting to create a green boulevard, improved wayfinding at key junctions, shared footway parking and loading pads with raised pedestrian crossing and activate corners with possible market stalls. 

Sounds interesting! but how are they to achieve all this extra comfort and space on this busy major thoroughfare?

The report goes on to suggest the introduction of a partial two way traffic scheme, ONE SINGLE LINE IN EACH DIRECTION.




As part of the proposed two-way working proposal and the need to reduce traffic speed and vehicular traffic density along Baker Street, there is an opportunity to invest in the public realm character in the heart of the street with the creation of a pedestrian zone between George and Blandford Street junctions. 





This intervention would introduce traffic calming measures to allow buses and cyclists only to pass through. Potential level surfacing may also be introduced to define a new pedestrian priority zone. Private vehicles wouls be required to turn off Baker Street on approach to this zone, thus reducing traffic speed and density in the middle of hte street



Where do the planners expect the diverted traffic to go?
Also some north bound bus routs would be redirected northbound up Baker Street supposedly alleviating congestion on Gloucester Place.

Summary of Options
Three streetscape options have been explored for Baker Street which would significantly change its characteristics, increasing footway space and improving pedestrian connectivity and amenity.
The short to medium term options would optimise carriageway space to better meet demand and reduce through traffic. Shared space parking and loading areas would reduce potential conflicts with southbound traffic. These options would not require any signalling changes, significant traffic management or major changes in bus operation. Traffic speeds are also expected to fall due to side friction from the reduction in carriageway space and commensurate streetscape and public realm improvements.

Conversion to a two-way option has been considered, with initial assessments having been made concerning traffic management measures, traffic re-assignment calculations and junction capacity assessments.

At this stage, the partial two-way option is the recommended long term traffic management strategy subject to further consideration of the impact on traffic and bus operations. 
A number of key junctions would become over-saturated in a full two-way option and this is not recommended.

Careful consideration has been given to potential synergies and flexibility between the options to allow conversion from one option to another in the future. It would therefore be feasible to implement the one-way option, with its lane reduction, widened pavements particularly to the eastern side of the street and new tree planting, with a view to implementing conversion to two-way operation in the future which would require detailed traffic modelling. In this way Baker Street can achieve a successful rebalancing of use and movement into the future and enhance its distinctive character as one of Central London’s greenest, more pedestrian friendly and better connected landmark streets.


Other major revamps also at the planning stage and include Tottenham Court Road, The Mall, Kingway and Marylebone High Street.











Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TfL Approves Taxi Top Digital Advertising

   
 

Brightmove Media, has announced it received official authorisation from Transport For London to launch TaxiCast on the first fleet of 25 London black taxis with digital taxi-top advertising. This is the world’s first regulated and approved commercial roll out of digital roof top advertising on London black cabs. 

BrightMove Media has worked very closely with both TfL and Transport Research Laboratory to set the standard for roof mounted digital advertising.

The London licensed taxi cab market is a highly regulated sector. The company has had to pass a number of stringent, comprehensive tests to demonstrate complete safety and compliance for the vehicle, pedestrians and other road users.

The TaxiCast technology offers a first for drivers and operators of London Black Taxis. The taxi can be quickly fitted out with the roof-mounted panel which is then centrally controlled to offer advertisers geo and time targeted digital advertising on the streets of London.

Piers Mummery, Chief Executive of BrightMove Media, commented “Today marks an important day in the progress of digital outdoor advertising.” Digital advertising on taxi roofs not only changes the London skyline, but also offers advertisers and brands tailored advertising at street level.

Mummery continues, “Out fleet is signed up and ready to go, we have committed advertisers and the equipment is being fitted to the fleet right now.”

Over the course of 3 months their ‘First Fleet’ will be responsible for delivering over 2 million bright, vibrant and arresting ads to London’s unique cityscape, day and night.

The launch of TaxiCast is confirmed for Monday June 24 2013, reinforcing London’s profile as a leader in innovation and pioneering technology.

     
      

Thinking of upgrading your phone on O2...Well think again! O2 invests in national minicab app

minicabit launches nationwide Private Hire Taxi booking app with O2 investment
Service can make it easier and more affordable for visitors to venues to book minicabs

London 16th May 2013 – O2, the UK mobile operator, has invested in minicabit to launch the first nationwide minicab booking app for smartphones.


minicabit app
minicabit (www.minicabit.com) enables price comparison, booking and payment of cab journeys across the UK, for both local and long distance trips. By uniquely including quotes from licensed Private Hire Taxi operators beyond the user’s local area, minicabit’s comparison engine can save customers up to 30% off the cost of their trip.

As a result of opening up the market to more customers, minicabit’s network of over 100 fleets across the UK can service virtually any length of trip. Now, with O2’s investment, minicabit has launched the first smartphone app for booking such trips around the UK.

Geoff Symonds, Director of Transport Strategy at AEG Europe, said: “The O2 in London has been working with minicabit for well over a year. We have welcomed its ‘network approach’ which has allowed us to work with our favoured minicab operators all under the minicabit brand for our customers. It has been great to see customers even 100 miles away use the minicabit website to attend our events, a benefit of its wide network. Initiatives such as minicabit’s offer with O2 Priority Moments, as well as its new mobile app, now provides another viable transport option for our customers travelling to our venue.” 

The app will come pre installed on O2 iPhone, Android app coming soon.

      
     

EDITORIAL COMMENT
SOMETHING LTPH's LEGAL TEAM SEEM TO BE IGNORING!

LONDON CAB ACT 1968 sec4.

4 Prohibition of the display of certain signs or notices on, and the issue of certain advertisements in connection with, private hire-cars.

(1)There shall not, in the metropolitan police district or the City of London, be displayed on any private hire-car any sign or notice—

(a)which consists of or includes the word “taxi” or “cab”, whether in the singular or plural and whether alone or as part of another word; or

(b)which consists of the words “for hire”, or the form or wording of which is in any other way such as to suggest that the vehicle on which it is displayed is presently available to take up any passenger wishing to hire it, or would be so available if not already hired.
(2)No advertisement—

(a)indicating that motor vehicles can be hired on application to a specified address or telephone number, being the address or telephone number of premises in the metropolitan police district or the City of London; or

(b)on or near any such premises indicating that motor vehicles can be hired at those premises,shall include the word “taxi” or “cab”, whether in the singular or plural and whether alone or as part of another word, unless the vehicles offered for hire are licensed cabs or the advertisement makes it clear that they are not.




Tuesday, June 11, 2013

ZIG ZAG LINES: Is Picking Up A Passenger Defined In Law As Being Parked?.... By Jim Thomas

The next time you receive a penalty for picking up a passenger on Zig Zag lines of a Zebra Crossing, should you appeal?

I totally believe that their is no law that states a Taxi stopping to pick up a passenger is parked. This is why we are allowed to stop to pick up and set down in bus lanes, on double yellow, or double red lines even with chevrons on the kerb, because in Law, we are not parked.

I recently asked the DoT for the guild lines on Zig Zag Lines and was sent a link to a web page here is that page:

Part 5:Pedestrian crossings (191 to 199)

191

You MUST NOT PARK on a crossing or in the area covered by the zig-zag lines. 

You MUST NOT OVERTAKE the moving vehicle nearest the crossing or the vehicle nearest the crossing which has stopped to give way to pedestrians.
Laws ZPPPCRGD regs 18, 20 & 24, RTRA sect 25(5) & TSRGD regs 10, 27 & 28

192

In queuing traffic, you should keep the crossing clear.

Highway Code - Rule 192 Keep The Crossing Clear

193

You should take extra care where the view of either side of the crossing is blocked by queuing traffic or incorrectly parked vehicles. Pedestrians may be crossing between stationary vehicles.

194

Allow pedestrians plenty of time to cross and do not harass them by revving your engine or edging forward.

195

Zebra crossings. As you approach a zebra crossing

  • look out for pedestrians waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop to let them cross
  • you MUST give way when a pedestrian has moved onto a crossing
  • allow more time for stopping on wet or icy roads
  • do not wave or use your horn to invite pedestrians across; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching
  • be aware of pedestrians approaching from the side of the crossing.

A zebra crossing with a central island is two separate crossings (see pictures in Crossings (18 to 30)).
Law ZPPPCRGD reg 25


 I could be wrong, but i believe the DoT have failed to supply me with any proof of law or Highway Code rule/guideline that prohibits stoping to pick a passenger on Zig Zags and is unlawful or shows that picking up a passenger would render a vehicle as parked.

Rule 191 clearly states, you MUST NOT park on a crossing or in the area covered by the zig-zag lines. 

You MUST NOT overtake the moving vehicle nearest the crossing or the vehicle nearest the crossing which has stopped to give way to pedestrians.

But there doesn't seem to be any section applicable to Zig Zags that states you must not stop to pick up or set down passengers, whether a Taxi or private vehicle.

Only been done once in 40 years for picking up on a zig zag, but I will no longer be paying this penalty in future, and will challenge all the way to the adjudicators.




Minicabs, Toothbrushes And Actors, Shocking Bill.

PRISON chiefs were slammed last night for wasting millions of pounds pampering Britain’s lags.

Figures obtained yesterday revealed the Ministry of Justice signed off £4.3million of contracts to private firms.

 


These included nearly £1m on minicab firms to ferry inmates and staff between jails around the UK.

More than £700,000 was blown on a troupe of actors hired to try to rehabilitate prisoners through role play to help them to get jobs. Three prisons ran up an £84,000 bill between them making sure convicts got nice haircuts.

Around £60,000 was spent bringing in cleaners at East Midlands jails to mop up blood and dirt.

Invoices also showed the cost of everyday items, such as £100,000 on toothbrushes and even £23,000 on whistles for guards.

The figures were published by the ministry in contracts signed off last year. They emerged as Chancellor George Osborne warned Cabinet colleagues to slash spending ahead of another round of budget cuts.

He already reduced the department’s budget from £9billion at the start of the Coalition Government to £6.8bn.

Matthew Sinclair, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be taken aback by the amount of their money that is being spent on these prison contracts.

“It’s shocking that at a time when departments are reducing costs, this massive amount is being spent on things like minicab fares.

“The ministry must look closely at exactly where taxpayers’ cash is going.”

Tory MP Priti Patel said last night: “In an age of austerity this example of profligate waste shows the extent to which the Ministry of Justice needs to get a grip on the amount it is spending.

“These items need to be first on the list for the spending review to see where savings can be made.

“The public will be appalled at the waste.”

Tim Yeo to step aside amid probe into committee coaching claim

Conservative MP Tim Yeo is to stand aside as chairman of a committee while claims he used the role to help a private company influence Parliament are being investigated.

The MP rejects suggestions he coached a businessman employed by a firm with which he has financial links on what to say in evidence to the committee.

But Mr Yeo said he did not want the probe to "distract" its work.

Labour had said it was "difficult to see" how Mr Yeo could have continued.

Mr Yeo, chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, was secretly filmed by Sunday Times investigators posing as representatives of a fictional energy company seeking to hire his services.

        


In the recording, he appears to suggest that he told a businessman what to say to his committee before the businessman appeared before MPs last month.

'Smooth running'
At the meeting, Mr Yeo publicly excused himself from questioning GB Railfreight managing director John Smith because of his acknowledged conflict of interest as a non-executive director and shareholder in its parent firm Eurotunnel.

Mr Yeo's work for the company is declared in the MPs' register of financial interests and he mentioned it at the start of the committee hearing into the bio-energy industry.


Excerpts from The Sunday Times secret recording
But in the secret recording, the MP claims what he did for GB Railfreight "in private was another matter altogether" and he "was able to tell him (Mr Smith) in advance what he should say".

Mr Yeo, who has referred himself to the parliamentary standards commissioner, has said he had chatted briefly with Mr Smith five days before the hearing during a visit to one of the firm's freight trains.

But he has "absolutely and unreservedly" denied the suggestion that he had told him what to say.

The BBC's political correspondent Chris Mason said momentum had been building for Mr Yeo to step aside ahead of a meeting of the committee on Tuesday - with Labour making it clear they would no longer support him.

In a statement, Mr Yeo said he had taken the decision to temporarily relinquish his post "solely to ensure the smooth running of the committee during the next few weeks".

He added: "I firmly believe that I have not breached the MPs' code of conduct in any respect and therefore await the outcome of the commissioner's investigation with confidence.

"I do not wish the commissioner's investigation to be a distraction from the committee's important work. I believe that during the past three years the committee has been extremely effective and I want this to continue."

       


'Serious questions'
Before Mr Yeo made the announcement, Labour said he was facing "serious" questions about his conduct and allegations that he had "used his position to further the interests of his clients".

"Tim Yeo has the right to defend himself but it is difficult to see how he can continue as chair of the select committee pending investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner," shadow Cabinet Office minister Gareth Thomas had said.

Eurotunnel is the sole owner of GB Railfreight, having bought the firm in 2010.

Mr Yeo and other select committee chairmen are elected to their posts by other MPs for the duration of Parliament.

They receive a supplementary payment of £14,728 in addition to their MP's salary of £66,396.

The allegations come amid calls for a tightening of the rules around lobbying of ministers and MPs to ensure greater transparency, with the government promising to bring forward legislation in the coming weeks.

Source: BBC news.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Russian app-based Minicab startup Wheely takes aim at London's Addison Lee : Everyone's Got An App:

A Moscow-based luxury Minicab start-up is hoping to expand beyond Russia, targeting London as its next destination in a determined, technology-driven business plan.

Wheely already operates a fleet of Mercedes around Russia's capital, employing over 100 drivers, and running the entire business from a mobile app.

In Russia Taxis cannot be booked from a telephone service, and even customer feedback such as lost property must be reported by email. This keeps down the cost of employing call centre operatives.




"We initially thought we were going to operate SaaS to other car companies, but we then realised we could actually use it just for ourselves," Anton Chirkunov, founder of Wheely, said earlier this week.

With no driver's licence and so "using taxis quite a lot", 23-year-old Chirkunov is basing his business formula on low overheads and reasonable pricing - especially important when it comes to cracking London's Minicab trade.

"When you look at the London market, there is a lot of competition, and Addison Lee is just one of them," said Chirkunov.

"And I am going to compete on price and on service. So right now I am going to be charging around £41-43 to their £79 [for a trip into central London from Heathrow."

Having already carried out a ‘soft launch' around the Olympics, Chirkunov has already succeeded in integrating himself into the London Minicab community, making a particularly useful hire:
"My general manager in London is from Addison Lee," Chirkunov revealed, before announcing that he intends to double his current 20 London drivers to between 40 and 45 by the service's official launch on 19 June. 

Initially, the company will be hiring Toyota Prius drivers, but is hoping to begin operating a fleet of Mercedes E class and S class vehicles after launch. The cars are luxurious indeed, with free, fast Wi-Fi included as well as leather interiors and tinted windows.

When initially tested, their app, on an iPhone 5, did run into trouble on a few occasions, inaccurately gauging our location which meant pickup points got confused, but drivers were helpful and courteous - despite a language barrier - and problems could well have been down to 3G roaming connections.


CRB CHECK: Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse!

Try this one on for size.
    

From the 17th of June, licensing authorities will no long be informed what is on your CRB check
No I'm not making this up
Only the applicant gets a copy of the CRB check

The appropriate authority will be informed if this check is clear or there is something on it...but they won't have the right to know directly from the bureau what's on it.

Therefore, appertaining to the London Taxi trade, If/when LTPH are advised, that the information disclosed to the applicant is not judged to be clear, they will then have to write and ask the applicant to forward on the original certificate. 
Complicated...you bet!
Does this leave the door open for possible corruption...you bet!
Does this add another layer to the process where information could be lost...you bet!

LTPH will then make a copy of this certificate and return original to the driver.

So, LTPH will have a cheap photo copy rather than their own official copy of the disclosure document. This copy will then be destroyed when a decision has been made about the application.
The CRB check will be renamed a Document and Barring Check (D&B)

UPDATE SERVICE:
There is however (at a price) a new update service available, which allows LTPH to go on line at any time and check you criminal record status. 

This means that you will still have to apply and pay for your CRB check, but LTPH will be able to check on line (also at any time while the license is current) rather than write to you and ask for the original. 

For the pleasure of saving LTPH two lots of postage and allowing them to carry out online record checks free of charge, you will be required to pay £13 annually.  Any driver who subscribes to the new Update Service will need to provide LTPH with details on their licence application form and confirm that they consent to them carrying out the online check.

They will all, of course, argue that by you paying the added fee, it will ensure that your details are more secure! We would argue, FOLLOW THE MONEY!

TfL say the changes are being made by the DBS and not by TfL. It is one of the government’s priorities to overhaul the criminal records regime to give individuals greater control of their own information". That is until LTPH asks for it.