Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Biggest Threat To The Taxi Trade...EVER...by Jim Thomas.

There have been unsubstantiated reports on a PH website that minicab drivers have been trialling a system designed to get around the touting laws. 

If this is allowed to succeed, the offence of Taxi touting will finally be consigned to the history books in London. But at the biggest cost to the livelihood of every Taxi driver this trade has ever seen. People will look for a logo which will be as recognisable as a for hire sign, believing it to be a safe alternative to a London taxi.

Touts say they prowl the streets of London because of unmet demand. That demand will disappear when all licensed private hire vehicles are..."able to flout existing laws & ply for hire". The system is called CabWave and try's to legitimise itself by constant use of the word cab and compares itself to licensed Taxis trade.

It's so far unknown if CabWave is registered or in fact it needs registering, as it can be argued it is not an operator but a third party booking agent (much like MiniCabit) which only puts passengers in touch with operators.

The system is depended on a touch pad, attached to the back of a roundel, underneath the TfL licence roundel on the minicab windscreen. Potential customers use this to connect to an operator via details on their credit or debit cards. The website states this will constitute a pre booking. 

The website then goes on to explain: 
Under the terms of the agreement private hire drivers have to remain within their vehicle at all times and are allowed to park legally in full site of the public but are not allowed to promote the service to passers by as under existing legislation this may be classed as illegally plying for hire.

If the trial is successful registration will rolled out a cross the capital and be made available to all private hire drivers and operators.

The CabWave system lets the public book a minicab manually, without the need of a phone or app. It is an instant hail. They simply wave their credit or debit card in front of a roundel located below the TfL licence and they’re on their way. Card details are acquired by the reader and an account is automatically created with a private hire operator registered with CabWave. The booking is despatched same second, to the driver by the PH operator. The driver can then allow the passenger to enter the minicab.

The account registration procedure is completed by the driver entering a contact number and name for the passenger before departure. If the passenger books another journey with the same operator, then this step will not need to be completed again.

Taxi Leaks has written to TfL to find out exactly where they stand on this. We will post any reply we receive, as soon as we get it.

Our legal advisors have said that this is a blatant disregard of the law and would constitute a street hail. 
Not only a street hail but also a potential honey trap for sexual predators looking for potential victims. 

Picture the scene, man/group of men/ mixed couple, "sorry something wrong with reader".
 Young single lady, who may have had a few drinks, sees a roundel, puts card near roundel and 
"that's gone through love, jump in".

Case law shows it's illegal for a PHV to be on view to the public for the sole purpose of taking work that should be going in a licensed taxi. 

This CabWave practise needs to be stopped immediately. Even the name has been designed to give the impression that this is a bona-fide Taxi service.  If it's left to fester, the same way nothing was ever done about the rolling out of satellite offices, this could be the greatest danger ever, to the survival of the licensed taxi industry as we know it.

It is imperative now, more than ever before, that the trade stands together and demands that plying for hire is defined in law. 

We don't have to like each other, or forgive and forget to fight side by side. But now is the time to bury the hatchet and call for total unity.

The law commission has said it has no intention of defining plying for hire, but are proposing a completely new approach to pre bookings instead. 

The LTDA's general secretary Steve McNamara has stated previously that the LTDA doesn't see the same dangers in the Law Commission proposals that other representative orgs see. 
Perhaps now the membership of the LTDA might like to ask their Executive Committee to reconsider it's views on the Law Commission. 
    With thanks to Glen Alutto.

Breaking news:
It seems that the proposed relocation to Faith Lawson House by LTPH has been postponed as the new premises are not ready for the big move...now there's a surprise.


Anonymous said...

Personally I think its a wind up.

If not, tfl are gonna replace all roundells fitted with a card reader chip?
Who is behind this trial? John mason with his consultancy?
Why have we just heard from a ph blog?
Why have tfl kept quiet on such a trial? They must have issued roundels for the trial. Have not seen any such actions taking place.

Doubt it very much.


Anonymous said...

My god Jimmy, don't you ever get any sleep or get to go to work?
The amount of research and news you bring to the trade is phenomenal.
Keep up the good work mate.
God knows what we'd do if you ever packed it all in?

Anonymous said...

Is this a wind up or a very clever piece of pre marketing to test the reaction of the regulator (pause for laughter!),.

These people have no doubt seen TfL's inadequate response to Über, they have probably concluded as we have that TfL is unfit for its role as regulator.

We await TfL's reply mad remember TfL is instructed by the mayor with Hendy as the front man.

Therefore it's the mayor who needs to be held to account, are you listening UTG?

Andy said...

Jim, hes done it to wind you up mate, Ive looked everywhere cant find any thing on this system, except on this clowns website.

Anonymous said...

Even if this scary scenario does indeed turn out to be just that, technology is progressing so fast, that the reality of a scheme like this must surely be around the corner.

I have said for many years, that as Taxi Drivers, there is only so much we can do for ourselves. Demos, hit squads and writing letters all have their place, of course.

These days though, with corrupt politicians, a bent establishment and with no real allies outside our profession, cab drivers speaking for cab drivers just isn't enough.

We need very top, experienced and unrivalled LEGAL REPRESENTATION.
The kind that put on their wig and gowns, know Hackney Carriage law backwards, and defend us to the highest level in the highest of judicial places.

Sure enough, they are out there just waiting for us, but they don't come cheap! Paying for them is our problem!

Although I am unsure of how we could raise the money, one thing I am sure about is this, it will be the cheapest and most effective method of saving our trade in the long term. Of that I am sure.

Be lucky.

8829 Semtex.

Mfctaxi6 said...

Mick 1.19

Think you may have wrong end of stick, the way I read it is the Company will supply the card reader not tfl.
Tfl will keep there heads in the sand untill it's to late, just like with uber.

Anonymous said...

It's a wind up from cab4now and his website directed at taxi drivers unfortunately you fell for it

Anonymous said...

I remember when the rumour was going about that mini cabs were going to be licensed.
We fell for that as well! Right up to our necks!

Anonymous said...

And what about the rumour that PH would be allowed to form illegal ranks outside night clubs with operators using clip board MFN to ferry passengers to the cars

We fell of that hooter too.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy, disregard the knockers mate, you did the right thing posting this story.
Had you not, and it turns out to be true, they would be queuing up to knock pieces off your block.

Anonymous said...

Thomas I would say this isn't a wind up as it was mentioned a while ago at an Rmt branch meeting.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter if it's a spoof, the reality is closer than you think.

Please engage brains folks!

Anonymous said...

Re the idea above, I'm afraid the technology is out there and that the idea as outlined is actively being trialled .

It's uses NFC which, as most of you will know, is the tech used in credit and debit cards for con tactless payment and is being built into most smart phones so the scenario depicted above is going to happen unless we do something about it.

From the way certain individuals within TFL have handled recent events it would appear they are not acting in our best interests, and my have a somewhat at odds agenda to us within the taxi trade.

I agree that the only way to ensure our livelihoods, and to make sure TFL perform their dutys as they should, is to engage some of the very best legal brains to be on our side, it's the only way, fight fire with fire so to speak.

The recent fiasco regarding tempory licences should tell us all we need to know, the answer to the question on expired licences was already there in black and white but this was ignored or not even looked into before an answer was given, TFL's default position always seems to be hell bent on being difficult and unhelpful whereas you would have thought it might want to be the opposite, now why would that be I wonder?

The tricky question is how to engage the right people and how to raise this money.