Thursday, September 04, 2014

TfL, No Longer Open And Transparent. FOI Requests Going Jim Thomas

It seems TfL have closed ranks against the Taxi trade. FOI requests are going unanswered and ignored. TfL officers are not replying to emails even though they have a duty to be open and transparent.

On the 26th of February 2014 Taxi Leaks made a request appertaining to the amount of complaints made, by members of the public, against drivers using the Taxi rank outside a certain underground station. At first we were told to do this, staff would have to go through the files of every Taxi driver to find out this information and that this would exceed the cost of the request. 

We pointed out that a similar request for the same information at Finsbury Park Station was in fact given to one of our researchers in January. We were asked to provide the request reference number which we did. That was on 5th of June. 

Since then we have heard nothing even though we requested a reply on 30th of June. We have now applied for an internal review on the 2nd August but still have had no reply.

Another request we made about the validity of certain aspects of the Private Hire Act 1998 on the 1st of May 2014, has also been completely ignored and we have also asked for internal review on 2nd of August, but have heard nothing since.

It would appear that TfL are now also ignoring emails.
Taxi Leaks wrote to a list of department heads, asking for clarification and links to legislation in respect to suburban drivers, accepting pre-bookings while outside their licensed area. Our first email having been ignored, was followed up a month later with another copy, but that has also been ignored.

So we have decided to make this an open letter, plus we will be taking this up with our MPs and Assembly Members. 

Email was addressed to:
Driver and Operator Policy Manager, Simon Buggey

Copies were also sent by CC to:
TfL Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy
Managing Director of Surface Transport Leon Daniels
Head of Transport Policing TfL, Siwan Hayward
Senior Operator Licensing and Compliance Manager at Transport for London, Cliff Llewellyn 
Director of Community. Safety, Enforcement &. Policing, Steve Burton
Plus New Man, Peter Blake.
We also BC'd to a selection of MPs and assembly members.

Dear Mr Buggey

As you are no doubt aware TaxiLeaks is the world s leading taxi blog with thousands of 'hits' daily and therefore probably the foremost communicator in real time with the London taxi trade.

We have received corroborated reports that representative of the TfL Licensed PH operator Über are approaching drivers on ranks in suburban sectors with a view to drivers using their application on a smartphone, the drivers are also being advised that it is 'perfectly lawful' for suburban drivers to accept pre booked journeys through this smartphone app, while outside their licensing sector.

Our legal advice to date has informed us that the various statues that govern Taxi and PH in the Metropolis are 'silent' on this matter.

In order that we may advise our significant readership correctly, can you kindly inform us of TfL's position on this matter and if it considers such activity by the drivers and Über to be unlawful?

We are in possession of a previous statement from TfL to the effect that TfL consider the illumination of the For Hire sign evidence of plying for hire. You may be aware that case law suggests this not to be the case or that the pre booking and electronic despatch of such hirings be challenging to include in any such definition.

It would also be instructive if you could also state what offences under which statute would occur?

We look forward to your response as a matter of urgency.

Many Thanks

Jim Thomas
Editor Taxi Leaks.

All we have asked for is a definitive answer with links to the relevant legislation to advise our readers.
It seems TfL are keeping tight lipped on this issue.

As always we will give space on this blog to any reply.


Mfctaxi6 said...

About a month ago uber came to the suburban rank I was on offering their services,I asked the question, will you be giving suburban drivers work outside there area on a pre booked basis?
The reply was that they will only give work to drivers inside their sectors because tfl have instructed them not to give suburban drivers work outside of their areas.
When I asked if tfl had instructed them also to restrict green badges to their area and not give them work outside the MET they didn't know what I was talking about.

Anonymous said...

I would check to see if Simon is still employed at Palestra.

Anonymous said...

as per usual more yellow badge bashing from taxi leaks uber are not giving yellow badge drivers work in town.and i suppose the complaints at finsbury park station are because its a yellow badge rank.
ps thank you for your support us yellow badge driver s appreciate all the good work you do for us

Anonymous said...

Secrecy, evasion, impoliteness.

What are they hiding?

Anonymous said...

yet again more anti yellow stuff it not in the law about telephone booking it,s a rule at the PCO bully green,s should look at themself first

Editorial said...

This post has nothing to do with bashing yellow badge drivers. At the time it was authored, we had recieved reports from a number of suburban drivers that Uber had tried to recruit new drivers in the suburbs by saying they would be offere work out of sector.

As there is much myth and rumour about the legislation we simply asked TfL to define, so that when any quirues popped up, we would have clear information to clarify.

Taxi Leaks have no clandestine intentions in seeking definition of the legislation. As the leading trade publication, we feel it's our duty to acquire the best advice in legal matters. And who better to ask than our own licensing authority.

Since the email was sent, TfL have contacted Uber and we are reliably informed that they are no longer offering drivers work while out of sector.

We published the email, just to prove the point that TfL are ignoring the Taxi trade.


Editorial said...

Anon 10:25
We find your comment disingenuous
There are no posts on Taxi Leaks that can be considered asyellow bashing, in fact we have been bombarded with complaints that we go to easy on certain suburban issues.

The FOI request about complaints made at Finsbury Park was in support of the drivers using the rank be they yellow or green.

Our request showed the TfLTPH continual announcements that drivers using the rank were continually contravening rank restrictions were unfounded. All but one of the complaints were made by the bus controler at the station who obviously had a problem with Taxis in general.


Roy Harrow. said...

Jim take no notice of the few bashes.
As a yellow dabble driver I know you have been impartial and fair.
Because of the lack of work in the suburbs, local drivers have become paranoid about the constant attacks from green badges in other trade media.
Plus no one is mentioning the way a certain community is bending and breaking the law on a certain island rank, for fear of being branded a racist.
I hear some of these drivers have been renting out their cabs, complete with badge and bills to unlicensed friends and relations.
TfL compliance have made a small effort but the chances if being caught are almost zero.

Keep up the excellent work you've been doing, and keep giving TfL plenty of stick.