Over the last ten years, fundamental flaws have appeared in the licensing process governing Taxis and private hire in London. TfL's bias against the Taxi trade, has never been so pronounced as it is at present.
PH company's have been licensed on a nod and a wink, disregarding all TFL policy. Rules and regulations appertaining to private hire are now treated as flexible guidelines. License variations (Satellite Office) have been and still are issued without requirements or conditions of fitness being met.
In The Past:
Addison Lee's vehicles were reported for contravening the conditions of fitness.
Were Griffins minicabs put on stop?
No they were given 9 months to get it sorted.
RD2 were issued multiple variations without first being registered as a PH operator for the required 12 month term.
When this was reported, did TfL revoke their license?
No, the Director of TPH, John Mason and his deputy Helen Chapman both lied about the issue (covered comprehensively in previous posts).
When the lies were exposed, TfL issued a statement that they can do what ever they like as TfL policy is flexible and not completely covered by legislation.
Diamond carriages (Diamond cars) clipboard men have been allowed by TfL to operate outside the perimeters of venues.
And now Über!
Über first registered in 2012. The operating centre address on their original license was an accountant's office in the More London building, conveniently situated next to City Hall. No one in their right mind, even with the wildest imagination, could envisage an accountant's office, in the midst of large office complex as a minicab operating centre. Taxi leaks pointed out to TfL that in the last few months, Über were operating from premises in Islington without a licence variation. This was formally reported to TfL.
Did they immediately revoke Über's licence as you would expect?
No they gave them time to sort it out by not investigating or answering the complaint until a licence variation had been issued.
Another issue that needs addressing ASAP is the appointment of new ranks.
How is it that a PH operator can set up a satellite office in just a few days and yet to get a licensed Taxi rank outside a new Hotel, Bar/Restaurant or other venue, takes many months and in some cases, years?
We know it can be done!
After direct action at Nobu, within weeks, a major new rank was appointed. Same with the Shard.
Is this what it's going to take, conflict and direct action from flash mob type demos?
Should the people of London have to put up with major disruption every time we need a new rank?
It has recently come to our attention that the management of many venues would welcome a licensed Taxi rank outside their premises. But antiquated bureaucracy stops this happening.
1. We need a system in place to fast track rank appointment, much in the way PH get licence variations approved.
2. All ranks need to be enforced efficiently by both the police and local parking services.
Why should drivers have to put themselves on offer to protect work being stolen by bent door staff and organised gangs of touts.
Where is the protection that TfL and the police have a duty of care to provide?
Boris Johnson, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Sir Peter Hendy, if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem!
Constantly turning a blind eye to what's happening outside these venues, has resulted in serious sexual assaults (including rape) statistics going through the roof.
The people charged with the responsibility of providing safe transport in London are complicit in the shattering of many young lives and also the lives of their families and it's time these people were held responsible.