Saturday, December 21, 2013

News flash: POSSIBLE 5 YEAR EXTENSION TO 15 YEAR AGE LIMIT.


It is heavily rumoured that during January, TFL are to announce that they are to allow a new exhaust system ( VORTEX ) to be fitted to cabs about to be removed from service which are subject to the fifteen year age limit.

By all accounts it will be a complete exhaust system and is said to cost around £2000.
It is believed that this new system will give an additional five years life.

The new Vortex exhaust has been tested for the last year by Mag Diesels of Brixton, they have had the system fitted to three different cabs and it has passed Euro 5 emission standards, Mags Diesel have recently been told by TFL that the new exhaust system is to be allowed.

Source: London Taxi Drivers Forum.


http://www.vortex-performance-exhausts.co.uk

Editorial Comment:
According to reports a taxi company in Tilbury who had 36 cabs fitted with Vortex Eco-Flo System at a cost of £32,490 found that through Vortex they could get a possible European Regional Funded grant towards the cost and was referred to Low Carbon Business, who assisted them with the ERDF grant application.

The grant was approved and they were reimbursed 40% of the cost. 

Even without the grant the quote is still a lot less than £2000. 
Anybody with a 15 year old cab would be a fool not to make enquiries particularly as Tilbury Taxis has set a precedent, endorsed by their town’s Mayor".

Also while on this subject, the Mayor has made it clear that he wants a Zero Emmission Zone in the Congestion Charge area by 2020.
As of yet he has made no mention of an exception for Taxis.
So, where does that leave a driver who buys a new Euro 5 TX4 in the new year.
Will this new vehicle only have a working life span of 6 years?

One for our trade orgs to sort out....don't hold your breath!

Friday, December 20, 2013

More than 30 injured' after bus crash in south London

Bus swerved to avoid vehicle and crashed into a tree
Last updated Fri 20 Dec 2013


A double decker route 59 bus swerved to avoid another vehicle and hit a tree, Transport for London said.

Mike Weston, TfL's Director for Buses, said an investigation will be carried out as a matter of urgency.

At around 10:50 today a route 59 double deck bus, operated by Arriva, swerved to avoid another vehicle and struck a tree.

The incident took place on Kennington Road near the Imperial War Museum SE1.

Our first concern is, of course, for the driver, passengers and others involved in this incident and we can confirm the emergency services are in attendance.

There will be a thorough investigation into this incident as a matter of urgency.



METROPOLITAN POLICE STATEMENT
Police were called at 10:52hrs on Friday, 20 December, to reports of a bus in collision with a tree in Kennington Road, SE11.

Police and London Ambulance Service attended the scene along with London's Air Ambulance (HEMS).

A number of people have been injured; we await a full assessment.

At present, 23 people are described as walking wounded.

Seven people are still being assessed, of who two remain trapped on the bus.

At this stage, there has been no fatality.

There was no police vehicle involved in the collision. Two uniformed police officers were travelling on the bus, both were injured, we await further details.

Traffic officers are at the scene.

There has been no arrest.


Wonder If The Mayor And TfL Will Subsidise This Folly, Like The Buses?...Is Boris Off His Trolly?



Boris Johnson has been given an exclusive preview - and impromptu ‘roadtest’ - of a ‘clean’ new electric-powered black cab planned to revolutionise travel in the capital next year.
Designed and built in Britain, the all-new zero-emission Range-Extended Electric Metrocab (REE) runs on a powerful, near-silent electric motor.

Drivers will be able to slash their running costs by charging the taxi’s lithium-ion polymer batteries at home on a standard three-pin plug, or by topping up at designated charging posts around London.

Even on long runs the new-generation Metrocab will never run out of electricity: its bank of batteries will also be re-charged by a small ‘range-extender’ petrol engine shoehorned under the bonnet. The engine kicks in to generate fresh electricity when the batteries become depleted.

The Metrocab’s makers - Ecotive, and Frazer-Nash Research based at Mytchett, in Surrey - claim their new taxi will drive down costs for drivers while delivering enhanced comfort and performance.

They say it is ‘street ready’ and that it will undergo trials in London early next year. If it proves successful it will go on sale in 2014 for the same price as the rival diesel-powered TX-4 cab that is produced in Coventry, with parts from China, by the Geely Group. The Metrocab would become the first electric cab on sale in London.
It was unveiled to Mr Johnson at a car park near City Hall last night.

Apparently, Boris couldn’t resist jumping in and driving it around the carpark to see what it was like. He was accompanied in the cab by Frazer-Nash chairman Kamal Siddiqi.

Metrocab chairman, Sir Charles Masefield: “ The Metrocab is designed as the next-generation taxi and represents a revolution in the market as the first electric-powered cab to meet the duty cycle of a London taxi, where cabbies typically drive many miles outside the city, making pure electric cars impractical with current technology and infrastructure.

“Ready now, our ... technology offers the solution London and other world-class cities are looking for.”

Power will be delivered to the vehicle’s rear wheels from two electric motors. Its makers claim that the passenger compartment, with seating for six, has generous ‘panoramic’ glazing for good views out. They says it has increased luggage space compared with the previous, discontinued Metrocab, and full disabled access. Metrocab will reveal further details next year when London trials begin, but say the vehicle fully complies with Public Carriage Office rules, including the tight turning circle required for the capital.

Frazer-Nash has developed electric and hybrid-electric drivetrains for quarter of a century. It was an Official Vehicle Partner with its fleets of electric vehicles to the Olympic Games in Sydney and the Commonwealth Games.
 
Editorial Comment:
Begs lots of Questions such as:

Just what is the maximum distance this vehicle can achieve?

How will having the heater, windscreen wipers, Radio, phone charger and headlights on together affect the vehicles overall radius?

What if you live in a tower block in Stepney, how do you charge it overnight?

How often during a shift will you have to stop to top up batteries?

How long does the battery lack last?

How much are the battles packs to replace?

Will we have to lease/rent battery packs?

How fast do the batteries degrade with frequent charging?

Will TfL subsidise the cost of the vehicle, as they do with bus companies?

Is this just another foolish folly, in the same vein as Boris bikes and Cable cars, that Boris expects us to pick up the tab for?

Source: Standard on line.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Years Resolution: Lets Get Together And Hold TfL To Account.....by P Bond

I see the chairman of the LCDC has written to Hendy complaining that the trade has no one to 'engage with' on Taxi matters.

The LCDC served their purpose and kept the trade from playing its golden ticket over the Olympics and now surprise surprise, TfL treat the LCDC as the irrelevance that organisation has become!

Pity he did not write to Hendy demanding TfL to issue temporary licences so cab drivers of good standing can get back to work.

Yes there can be delays about CRB but that was always dealt with by the issue of a cover note from the PCO, it's entirely lawful for TfL to issue them today.

They issue PH licences to those who have lived outside the UK where no such CRB. System exists.

Asking for another carefully selected talking shop is ducking the real issues that confront us and that why the LCDC are irrelevant as any such talks would continue to divide the trade BUT they don't have to be.

The cabbies cabinet, taxi engagement policy etc. only served TfL's ends not the trades, the failure for the cab drivers club to see that is to be criticised.

It's like campaigning for ranks, often you will have two or three trade groups and individuals pursuing the same council and TfL about the same rank issue!

All because people refuse to sit down together and pool resources.

It's a waste of effort on ALL sides and of course shows us as divided and incoherent.

There can be 100 trade bodies of all sizes but they could all meet TUC or CBI style and issue a joint statement on major issues, now that would have authority.

The alternative is we carry on as we are, more worried about claiming credit, photo calls and publishing letters about how XYZ's legal team saved a driver from the firing squad!

There are many good and dedicated people in ALL these organisations including the LTDA, UNITE, RMT, HATDU, LCDC and whoever else and none of them always get it right.


They all have in common more than the matters that divide them and that's the health of the cab trade.

So as a New Years resolution get together and hold TfL to account.

Forget who said what to who, man up!
. ...P Bond, former vice chairman RMT.

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

Below is an open letter to TfL commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy.

Please copy and paste into your email client and send to:
peterhendy@tfl.gov.uk

copy in and your MP/MEP/Assembly member

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



Dear Commissioner 

As you are well aware, many licensed Taxi drivers are being refused the right to carry on working, while waiting for their licence renewal to arrive on their doormat.

As yet, you have made no public statement as to why you are personally refusing to issue temporary licenses.

The process of issuing temporary licences was first implemented under Metropolitan Police administration. A process that worked extremely well for many years. In those years, London's licensed taxi drivers served the capital well. 

If you have any evidence of abuse of this system, please publish the details.

In spite of the private hire related serious sexual assault figures that according to the Mets estimates, are higher then ever recorded before, you seem content to license foreign nationals, who arrive in this country devoid of references, with no chance of checking their past. And yet drivers from the best Taxi service in the world, who have been of exemplary character are forced out of work. In some cases for up to 15 weeks. This truly is unacceptable.

The only sensible solution would be to reinstate the issuing of temporary licences as was standard before the start of this new, incompetent system. 


Will you do the honourable and sensible thing and help these unfortunate drivers and their families, who through no fault of there own have been plunged into financial difficulty in the run up to Christmas.

SIGNED ......




Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Man in his 70s dies after being hit by London taxi in Belgravia


An elderly man has died after being hit by a licensed taxi in central London.

The man, believed to be in his late 70s, suffered serious injuries after the incident at the junction of Eaton Square and Eccleston Street in Belgravia, Scotland Yard said.

Police were called to the scene at 6.45pm yesterday and the man was taken to hospital by ambulance, but later died. His next of kin is yet to be informed.

The driver of the taxi stopped at the scene but was not arrested.

Officers from the road death investigation unit are carrying out inquiries into the incident and anyone who witnessed the collision or has information is asked to call police on 0208 285 1574 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


We noticed today that the Evening Standard carried this story and yet they published not one word about a similar accident which occurred in Southwark Street SE1 last night. The incident in South London was between an Addison Lee Van and a pedestrian. 

It would seem that the Standard is very apprehensive about stories which contain Private Hire vehicles. Very often, they refer to PH wrongly as Taxis, especially when it comes to sexual attacks on passengers. 

Jack Wilshere: Arsenal player charged by FA for gesture:

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has been charged by the Football Association over an alleged abusive hand gesture.


Television pictures appeared to show the Gunners midfielder, raising a finger towards the crowd during the 6-3 defeat by Manchester City.
The incident went unnoticed by match officials but was caught on video and assessed by the FA retrospectively.
The 21-year-old has until 18:00 GMT on Wednesday to respond to the charge.

Wilshere has previous form for abusive behaviour. Back in 2011,  a taxi driver told how the Arsenal star spat at him and hurled abuse – because the cabbie had a Spurs hat on.

63 year old Brian Spence, said the £50,000-a-week England midfielder launched into a foul-mouthed rant after seeing the driver was a fan of his team’s North London rivals.


Wilshere, was on a boozy night out with three pals in London’s West End when he saw Brian standing by his cab outside Sophisticats lapdancing bar shortly after midnight.

Grandfather Brian said: “I had no idea who he was. He pointed to my cab and said, ‘You’re f***ing taking us’. When I told him he was too drunk he got even more aggressive.”

Brian of Gants Hill, North East London, got into his cab but Wilshere lurched towards the open window and spat, hitting the window.

As Brian got out again Wilshere put his fists up ready for a fight. Brian said: “He was looking at my Spurs hat and there was real hate in his eyes. Fortunately his friends pulled him away before it got really violent.”

After the bust-up, the doorman at Sophisticats told him Wilshere’s identity. The player from Hitchin, Herts, accepted a police caution after Brian reported him.

The taxi driver said: “Wilshere’s behaviour is the worst I’ve ever seen in my 38 years as a cabbie. No one deserves to be spat at because of the team they support.”

A family spokesman said: “Jack is only 19 (in 2011) and adjusting to life in the spotlight. He realises his behaviour was wrong and he is full of remorse”.

A spokesman from Arsenal later added: “Jack apologises for his actions and understands his behaviour was unacceptable. We take this matter seriously and it has been dealt with internally.”


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Car/Cab insurance too high, says Competition Commission


Press Association

Car insurance premiums are too high, with the way no-fault claims are settled and contracts between insurers and price comparison sites among the issues driving up costs for consumers, the competition watchdog has said.

The Competition Commission's investigation of the £11bn motor insurance market found it was not working well for motorists . It said too many drivers were footing the bill for unnecessary costs incurred during the claims process following an accident, and that this is adding between £150m and £200m a year to motorists' premiums.

These costs are initially borne by the insurers of at-fault drivers, but they feed through into increased insurance costs for all drivers.

The watchdog is also concerned about the relationship between price comparison websites and insurers, saying that when comparison sites demand exclusive deals this can reduce competition and push up premiums.

Alasdair Smith, who is leading the investigation, said: "We are now considering a range of possible measures – some of them far-reaching reforms – to ensure that the market better serves the interests of customers."

Smith said that in most cases the party managing the accident claim – typically the non-fault insurer or intermediary – was not the party liable to pay the costs of the claim.
"There is insufficient incentive for insurers to keep costs down, even though they are themselves on the receiving end of the problem," he said.

The commission is considering whether to make a driver's own insurer responsible for providing a replacement vehicle or to give at-fault insurers greater opportunity to take control over managing claims.

There may also be caps on the cost of providing a replacement vehicle and on repair costs, as well as compulsory audits of repair quality after the watchdog found that following an accident too many repairs were not completed to the required standard.
Other provisional findings identify problems with the sale of add-on products, as it is hard for consumers to find the best-value products.

It said motorists have limited information about such insurance products, while insurers have point-of-sale advantage.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said it hoped the commission's work would lead to lower premiums for customers.
Its head of motor insurance, James Dalton, said: "As an industry we remain absolutely committed to improving the car insurance market for hard-pressed motorists.

"We asked for the commission's inquiry into the market to help insurers continue the work we are already undertaking to remove costs that unnecessarily drive up car insurance premiums. So today's possible remedies are a further step along the road to getting a market that enables insurers to deliver fully for consumers."

He added: "We look forward to continuing to engage with the Competition Commission as it carries forward its work and we hope this will lead to further improvements in the market and lower premiums for customers."

With thanks: Gareth Thomas MP.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Exclusive: And The Winner Is....CAPITA.

At the beginning of October this year, we were informed:

Transport for London is assessing bids from IBM and Capita to run the capital’s congestion charging scheme. The current contract, which is help by IBM, expires on 31 October 2015. 

This February the TfL board agreed to re-let the contract and the notice processing service contract in a combined open procurement process. NSL currently holds the notice processing service.

Paul Cowperthwaite, TfL's general manager for congestion charging, said: "IBM is contracted to run the congestion charging and low emission zone schemes until October 2015. We are currently undertaking a procurement process to appoint a company to operate the schemes from this date.”

A spokesperson claimed that TfL would not be able to comment on the bidders for the duration of the procurement process and said that "customer satisfaction, was at an all-time high under IBM". 

He also said the pair will continue their ‘excellent’ working relationship until the end of the contract.

But now we can reveal this not to be the case.

last week, TfL made a decision at a secret meeting behind closed doors, on who should run the congestion charge processing operation. They will not be officially announcing until January, but we have been informed by a TfL insider it's going to be... CAPITA! 

  The congestion charge contract is poised to return to Capita 

Now, you might think it took them ages and they only reached this decision after carefully weighing up all the companies that bid for the lucrative contract, but you'd be wrong. 

IBM pulled out of the bidding - the Evening Standard reported this (in a tiny piece) in mid-October. Plus, several other companies pulled out, which just left NSL and Capita.

We have been Informed, Capita have been GIFTED the offender tagging contract as well , because of alleged malfeasance and incompetence from SERCO and G4S. 

It is alleged by our informant, the government gave a 'golden handshake to Capita of £20M to run the offender tagging op in the interim, which should see them as obvious favourites for the contract when it comes up for tender next year. 

Why did other companies pulled out the bidding?
Possibly because they can't compete with Capita's low pricing!

In 2011 Capita were given a 5 year deal with the DVLA after an extremely low bid, but had to be 'released' two years later, despite having 3 years left on the contract.

TfL haven't had much luck awarding contracts over the last few years. Corruption at SGS was followed by disastrous delays in printed materials, such as the all new digital Bills and IDs, delayed from March 2013 and only now just starting to appear.

And now we have the scandal of the Licence renewals.
Many drivers will be facing the busy Christmas period, unable to work after unexpected, unexplained delays suddenly appeared in the new CRB check system. The situation became so bad, administrators at Palestra turned off help lines, when they were swamped by angry calls from affected drivers.
 
This work has recently been outsource by TfL in a bid to cut the budget (at all costs) and it has proved to be disastrous. Again, TfL see affected drivers as no more than collateral damage.

Together with Sir Peter Hendy's personal insistence not to issue temporary licenses anymore, as was the procedure in the past, this alone has lead to Taxi drivers and their families struggling financially with no foreseeable solution in the neat future.

Most cabbies now feel that TfL are unfit for purpose and that a Parliamentary select committee investigation into their bias and belligerent treatment towards the trade, is long overdue. 


JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT COULDNT GET ANY SILLIER WITH TRAFFIC SCHEMES, CAMDEN THROW THIS INTO THE POT.

As part of our commitment to improving road safety in the borough, from Monday 16 December Camden will  have a borough-wide 20mph speed limit.

Why are we doing this?

Slower speeds play a big part in reducing road collisions and casualties for all road users.  A slower speed means that drivers have more time to react, and the outcome of a collision is not as severe.  

Slower speeds also help create a calmer, more pleasant environment for everyone who uses the street, and will encourage more people to walk and cycle.

When does it start?

From 16 December 2013, road users will be re-minded of the limit with 20mph signage and road markings only.

However, following the introduction of the new limit, we will continue to monitor traffic speeds and casualties. Where speed continues to be excessive we will consider additional measures to improve the effectiveness of the new limit, for example by changing the street design, and introducing traffic calming measures and additional signage where appropriate. 

This is the trouble when your transport CEO is a campaigning cyclist, who doesn't give a fig for any other type of road transport. You only have to look at recent traffic systems in Camden to see how damaging this has been. 

Transport for London (TfL) who manage the ‘red routes’, will not be included in the new borough-wide limit.  However, we are having continuing discussions with TfL about the future inclusion of some red routes.

AT LEAST TfL HAVE SEEN HOW SENSLESS THIS EXERCISE IS. 

Amazed though that TfL feel fit to engage with Camden on a regular basis to discuss this and yet will not engage with the a Taxi trade over the spiraling minicab related sexusl assault figures, or the fact that over 150 Taxi drivers will be out of work over Christmas, solely because the commissioner Sir Peter Hendy refuses to issue temporary licenses while TfL licenses sort out their incompetent new system.  

TfL Board Meeting November 2013.

TfL Board Meeting - 06 November 2013 - Discussion re: bus collisions/serious injuries

'The truth is had the brake pedal been pressed at any time during this 'accident' the bus would've stopped'

Leon Daniels TfL



NO arrests

NO recall

THREE buses smashed up

TWO cars smashed up

SEVERAL serious injuries

TWELVE people treated in hospital


Next up: TfL November Board Meeting - Helping G4S Make Money


While minicabs block bus lanes, park outside clubs, Bars, Restaurants and Hotels...

While predators park (now with TfL blessing) outside satellite offices and the serious sexualt assault figures (including full rape) go through the roof this Christmas...

While TfL, The Met a Police and local councils turn a blind eye to this "collateral damage"...


Sir Peter Hendy is making it a personal challenge to see that he gets some decent Olympic legacy out of getting small restaurants to buy another fridge, so deliveries can be made at night.


..


"If we can get small restaurants to buy another fridge, they can have their stuff delivered at night."

"I regard it as a personal challenge almost to see that we get some decent Olympic legacy out of that." 

Sir Peter Hendy TfL. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Another Licensing Authority To Switch To A One Tier System.

Plans to overhaul Jersey's taxi service "could throw the industry into chaos" according to the head of the Taxi Drivers Association.


The island could have a single type of taxi service under plans by the transport minister Deputy Kevin Lewis.

Currently rank taxis and private hire cabs have different operating conditions and fare structures.

Mick Tostevin, president of the Taxi Drivers Association, says the plans are poorly thought out.

"This raises far more questions than it actually answers," he said.

"This report has no action plan whatsoever, it is just throwing the industry up in the air and saying 'you sort it out'."



Recommendations

* Replace two-tier taxi licensing system with a single-tier system, with harmonised conditions and fares
* A mixed employed and self-employed drivers
* Owner-drivers must be the main drivers of their vehicles
* Numbers of taxi licences should be allowed to rise
* Enhanced quality standards for taxis and their operation
* Additional requirements for taxi drivers should be introduced, covering fitness, customer care and related training, dress code and a commitment to ensuring


In a white paper, Deputy Lewis outlines plans to restructure the taxi service, improve standards and increase the number of drivers.

"We have problems at the airport where cab drivers can't pick up unless there are no taxis there," he said.

"There have been instances in the past where people have come out to get a cab and you have two drivers, a cab and taxi driver, remonstrating with each other and demanding the other leaves."

He said he wanted a "better system" to benefit about 380 people who work in the industry.

In 2012 a survey by the Transport and Technical Services department found few people understood the current two-tier system.

It also found a lack of transparency in pricing and gaps in accessibility for disabled users.

Mr Tostevin said the current system worked well but could do with some "tweaking".

"The taxi service in Jersey is very reasonable and I think the minister is taking the easy route out here," he said.

"What the minister should be doing is looking at the parts of the industry that need tweaking and easing."

In his white paper, the minister outlines a number of other recommendations including requirements for taxi drivers around fitness and customer care.

People have until February to share their thoughts on the plans ahead of the minister taking it to the States.

Source: BBC news