Friday, November 28, 2014

TfL...Fair, Open, Transparent ? Jim Thomas

In February this year, after hearing that there had been an increase in complaints against licensed Taxi drivers using the rank at Putney Station, I placed an FOI request asking TfL to give me just the monthly totals of complaints for the 12 months Jan-Dec 2013.

As TfL had freely supplied this information regarding complaints made against Taxi Drivers at Finsbury Park and Paddington Station, I didn't see any problem making a simple request for the information required. 

Dear Transport for London,

Could you please give me the total number of complaints made between the dates 1st January 2013 to 31st December 2013 by members of the public, against licensed Taxi drivers using the licensed
taxi rank in Putney High Street, outside of Putney station.

If records are not yet available to December 2013 could you please
give details up to and including the the most recent month to December2013.

Simple I thought, but I was wrong!

After much to-ing and thro-ing I have just received the out come if an internal inquiry as TfL have continued to deny my request.

I have been accused of phishing for information, making a vexatious request, deliberately trying to engage staff in time wasting, with no purpose to my request. 

All I asked for was the monthly total of complaints, made in 2013 against taxi drivers at a Putney Station. 

To top the disingenuous allegations made against me, I was further told that when complaints are made against drivers the location is not recorded. How can this be if a complaint is location based?

They said:
"To reiterate, when we record a complaint we do not record the location where the incident took place and therefore we could not simply extract and provide the information requested in your request "

Preferring to the information received re: Finsbury Park, I was informed:
The panel noted that you referred to a previous response send to a different applicant on 1 November 2014 and queried why this was answerable but your request was not. 

Having looked into this we can confirm that the information provided did not actually relate to passenger complaints. They related to Taxi parking and other issues around the taxi rank at Finsbury Park which were held as a result of some monitoring work.

The email concluded with the passage: 
The request was interpreted to be in respect of customer complaints about the service
provided from these ranks since your request specifically asked for; 
“complaints made ... by members of the public, against licensed Taxi drivers using the licensed taxi rank in Putney High Street, outside of Putney station”.

We are unable to confirm, at present, what information an amended search might identify (if any) but you are welcome to submit an amended request for this information if it is of interest.
If you are dissatisfied with the internal review actions to date you can refer the matter to the independent authority responsible for enforcing the Freedom of Information Act.

To be honest, I wasn't trying to blacken anyone or any groups name, I was trying to clear up a statement made on the forum, that there had been more complaints last year (2013) against drivers on the Putney rank, than against drivers at Heathrow.

I couldn't just see this to be true and thought this to be an exaggeration. 

I decided the only way to find the truth was through an FOI request. TfL themselves have in the past told me to check my facts properly before posting articles, rather than relying on statements made by third parties. So that's exactly what I was doing, checking the facts.

No underhandedness,  no  vexatiousness, no phishing intended, just trying to clear up a statement made which I thought to be an exaggeration. 

For them to say that when a complaint is made by a customer against a driver, no location is recorded, is a lie.
Other drivers have told my that when complaints have been made against them, they have been sent a form with clear headings on: 
Incident details
Colour of taxi
Description (including gender)
Location/Start of journey
First name 
Last name

TfL are a public body and as such have a duty to be open and transparent. The present administration is being run more like a private company, leading people to believe they have something to hide. 

In their instance, have we seen the actions of an open and transparent licensing authority?....I think not.

Misleading, you bet!

It now makes you wonder, just what TfL are trying to hide about complaints at Putney High Street?

                            TO BE CONTINUED.



Anonymous said...

Driving past finsbury park station day or night , there always seems to be cabs with no Identifiers, and as for the putney drivers they need a sat nav to find sloane square ,the public think they are getting a driver with KOL, it's a shame . As for the green badges at paddington They are over ranking as island ranks are full of yellow badges , it a Joke .

George Orwell said...

Ask any organisation tht deals with TfL, Myorwatch, GLA members! lobby and passenger groups etc. Etc.

The CIA have a more open policy that TfL!

It's an absolute disgrace and an affront to democracy.

These peopl are paid by US and are accountable to US.

Anonymous said...

Its odviouse...No complaints have been made..

Ex Clubber said...

Anon. 6.56

So your saying that the queue at Paddington is caused by the island ranks miles away being full?

Are you a TfL employee or a member of the joint ranks committee as that's an example of their thinking.

No one condones PFH out of sector and it needs stamping on, but it's rampant abuse by PH that needs it too!

Anonymous said...

Tfl an open body,my arse???

mr timothy claypole said...

Anonymous 6:56 AM

so why do all most ever g.b up town have a sat nav

more yellow badge bashing
pity about the 1k minicabs you past on the way in. but pick on a y.b they are the only ones left you can have a go at.
just keep paying your money to the unions
there doing a good job

Anonymous said...

That rank was never used before it became an Island rank

Lemon Cabby said...

The reason the island ranks and extension areas were introduced was a proven lack of availability of taxis in these areas. This has now been remedied by a supply of taxis and it's the drivers who have worked to fill the gaps left by drivers unprepared to service the zones who are now being accused of bringing the trade down.

Also, before you get on your high horses about sat navs I would like to point out that the six mile radius only covers 113 sq miles of the 406 sq miles which make up an All London licence area. Sat Nav is essential for drivers who are taken beyond the six mile radius into areas that they have little or no knowledge of beyond a few stations or high streets.

This is of course completely different to yellow badges using sat navs because Green Bagdes are licenced to ply for hire in this 80% of their licence area which they have no knowledge of; so it is essential not to bring the trades reputation into disrepute and therefore they need sat navs to be fully competent to deliver a satisfactory service throughout their licence area.

Yellow badges have to complete a full and comprehensive knowledge for 100% of their licence area and then satisfy examiners of a very basic knowledge of all areas that surround their licence areas despite not actually being licenced to ply for hire in these areas; therefore they have as comprehensive a knowledge as green badges have for their entire licence area, not just a small proportion of it, as well as having a reasonable knowledge of a vast amount of surrounding areas. As opposed to All London Drivers who are required to know nothing about anything outside their licence area, and very little within 80% of it.

Who needs a sat nav now?

Anonymous said...

I agree the yellow badges are like consultants , and green badges are like GP s. With a little bit of everything but not detailed , where the yellow badge knows the Berbs like no one else , and have a good london knowledge ,

Battersea bob said...

My problem with the putney rank is the amount of YB drivers that continue to leave their light on on the way back to the rank...plying for hire in the zone I froze my nuts off getting a green badge for....when challenged all I get is abuse.....