Friday, January 17, 2014

More Woe For Yeo As Shares Crash In Company That Paid Him £460/Hour.

It’s not a great time for MP Tim Yeo. Faced with a revolt by his constituency party on one hand, the Tory grandee is also seeing his extensive portfolio
 hit hard.

Yeo, who was at one time being paid £460 an hour to chair meetings, has found his shares in Eco City Vehicles tumbling to a near historic low, shedding 26% of their value since the beginning of December. That’s 84% lower than his interest was worth a year after he started his second job there in 2007.

The firm distributes and services the Mercedes Vito taxi, which was offered to cabbies, at over £40,000, after the introduction of a London taxi age limit, the idea of which was initiated in a speech made to the Tory conference by, errr.....Tim Yeo. 

But now things aren’t turning out so well and Tim Yeo has run into trouble, not from Parliament and the Law, but by the markets and his own local Party.

A Defra report in May 2013 (following testing of 10,000 London Taxis by the Environmental Research Group at Kings) showed deselected MP Tim Yeo’s taxis were creating MORE Nitrogen Dioxide than the older cabs they were replacing

Over the last month, he has seen his shares in Eco City Vehicles crash by 25%. Mind you, not without reason: some major technical issues (like the failure of the rear wheel steering) have given investors the heebie-jeebies, while a good dollop of healthy free-market competition has emerged in the shape of Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow, whose petrol version of The iconic London Taxi (already approved by Transport for London) is around £30k, much cheaper than the Tim's taxi. It also has cleaner emissions, but then that’s not hard.

Another blow to Tim, is his buddy the Mayor's statement that by 2018 no Taxis will be licensed unless they can produce Zero Emissions. 

The launch of the Frazier Nash Metrocab, an extended range electric taxi, will provide yet another option to drivers who bought Yeo’s taxi following the London Taxi Age Limit which he himself initiated.

So there you are, the market has decided, and has told Timothy Yeo MP to take a hike.


Source: Political Scrap Book and Lucus2013infos.

Is It Too Late To Buy A TX4 Or Vito...Is The 15 Year Age Limit A OneWay Street, Or Will TfL Have To Honour.

The following post was left as an anonymous comment on previous post. 

CleanAirLondon says, 2020 ULEZ will not be zero emissions, rather euro6 diesel or euro4 petrol only.

Euro5 diesel will definitely be banned post 2020 as such bans are already scheduled in parts of Germany for 2016 I think... So the 31st December 2017 trick won't work... In fact as of today it is surely too late to buy a TX4 or Vito!

Euro5 diesel is no better than Euro 3 or 4 in low speed conditions since the manufacturers gamed the Euro emissions tests that did not have a low speed city component. You've written about this before in relation to the 15 year age limit. Euro6 certification has low speed test so this should result in real benefits...

...Only to the level of petrol Euro 4. However, could have avoided the whole problem with petrol taxis.

TX4 dead as of today? 
Euro5 Vito as well. If drivers want to keep vehicles for 15 years then this will not be possible with those two surely...? 

I do not see how there will be any option other than petrol NV200 and then eNV200 once they release it. It is the only option that exists and is sold currently with a serious manufacturer behind it. 

Karsan proposal is unlikely, note they failed to get the NYC taxi deal. Metrocab issues I've highlighted before, but credit to them for at least having working prototypes while Geely and Karsan brought hot air!

Mercedes will have to wait until next gen Vito models are released that will be euro 6 anyway or E-cell models (they have industrial agreement with Tesla for batteries) so they will more than likely have a real alternative also. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Report on the electric Taxi event in the City Hall Marquee: From our Roving Reporter.

True to form the event was scheduled to commence at 2.30 but well before that, Boris Johnson came on to announce to the world that from 2018 the range of uncosted, unknown range, unknown  warranty vehicles on show.....are the future.

No doubt this early start was to enable his press release to make it to his uncritical cronies at the Evening Standard and to avoid questions from the 'oiks' of the cab trade!

Anyhow as predicted, obtaining hard information on all the critical issues that drivers and fleet owners need, such as the above and others such as battery pack life and renewal costs, were like catching a slippery fish.

Also on show, along side the MetroCab and the modified LTI TX4 was the Turish Karsan and whilst they were all certainly pleasant to talk to, no one knew anything for definite.

           LTI showed off their TX Hydrogen fuel cell.
For all the TX fans there is great news on fuel comsumption. LTI will be fitting a lighter chassis/Monocoque.

The most helpful marketing team were the Turkish outfit KARSAN that originally developed this concept for the big apple, but lost out to the Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow.


Back to the mayors pronouncement that no new vehicle will be licensed from 2018 unless it's zero emissions. 

We are all making the assumption that you can buy a current model on the 31st of December 2017 and run it for 15 years.

BUT....and there's a couple of a great big BUTs that none of the TfL staff could answer:
 * Will a 2017 Euro 5 cab still be exempt the congestion charge?
 * Can they continue to Rank Up or Ply for Hire in the proposed zero emissions zone?

As ever more questions than answers, the only definite outcome from today is that the resale value of current cabs just went south big time.

Be Lucky!

Taxi Leaks Roving Reporter

                 PHOTO GALLERY:

All photos ©2014 FitzTaxi.

The Telegraph gets it wrong about the new MetroCab and Steve McNamara say's no one asked his opinion.

The Telegraph's Scott Campbell stated: 
This new electric London black cab, could save drivers up to £200 per week in fuel costs. ( Amazing claim!)

Metrocab’s six-seater vehicle is the first taxi to be powered entirely by electricity, but it has a small petrol engine that generates power to recharge the vehicle’s batteries, meaning that "it never has to be plugged in".
(Further into the article, we find conversation about the lack of appropriate charging points??? nice bit of consistency Scott.)

Sir Charles Masefield, the company’s chairman, who seems to know more about Taxi driver's finances than Taxi drivers know themselves, said: 
"Drivers can make vast savings by using the vehicle, which will cost the same as LTI’s traditional diesel black cab. A typical London driver does about 200 miles a day and they’re spending about £50 on fuel. 
(Would be nice to know who they consulted on these figures)

On average you’ll spend about £10 a day on fuel so you’re saving £40 a day, which is about £14,000 a year,” he said.
(That's only if you work 200 miles every day, 365 days a year!)

“It’s different in a huge number of ways from anything that is on offer or even anything that is currently under development so it is actually the next generation ahead.”

The Vice General Secretary of the LTDA, Steve McNamara said: 
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said that industry workers, including drivers and mechanics, were ignored by Metrocab during the development of their flagship electric taxi, which is due to launch later this year.

“We’ve got just over 10,000 members now. I speak to hundreds of cab drivers every week, I speak to all the other organisations, 
(tut tut Steve, not true...UCG and RMT to name but two!) the proprietors, the mechanics, I get dozens of phone calls from them, all the different charity groups and no one I’ve spoken to has had any dealings with them at all,” Mr McNamara told The Telegraph.

The Source London website, shows just four rapid charge points for electric vehicles in London with one centrally, on Eagle Wharf Road in Hackney, but commercial vehicles are banned from using it. 

However, a TfL spokesman said that this is a technical glitch and there are in fact 129 rapid charge points across the capital.

McNamara said that regular and fast-charge points are not good enough for cab drivers as they would have to wait for up to four hours to recharge their vehicles.

A spokesman for Dial-A-Cab, said the company had not been consulted about Metrocab’s new vehicle, but its drivers were asked to complete a survey to gather information about potential locations for new charging points.

McNamara went on to say:
“The Mayor has driven it, TfL commissioner Peter Hendy, has driven it, but none of them buys cabs. 

They could not have got it more wrong if they tried. These people don’t know the industry and they’ve got it so wrong.

“They’ve put themselves on the back foot before they’ve launched it and you think, 'how much more can they get it wrong?’ This is not a car they’re going to be selling to the public."

Its amazing how TfL have managed to get t it so wrong, as the other vice general secretary of the LTDA, Bob Oddy, is the Mayor's advisor on transport, on the board of TfL. Would be interesting to find out just what advice he's been giving the Mayor on this issue.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Darren Johnson AM: End to Waterloo Bridge parking a "sensible step"?

The leader of Lambeth council has responded to concerns raised by Darren Johnson AM by pledging to end parking on Waterloo Bridge by the end of this financial year.

The Green Assembly Member highlighted constituents’ concerns about congestion and the obstruction of cycle paths by parked vehicles in a letter to Councillor Lib Peck in Autumn 2013.

Responsibility for Waterloo Bridge is shared by two councils - Lambeth controls the southern half and the City of Westminster the northern half. In the section under Lambeth control, double yellow lines are already installed on one side of the road but obtaining a traffic order could allow them to be introduced on the other side.

On the City of Westminster side, the current traffic orders have waiting restrictions in place on Monday to Saturday from 7am-7pm which permits parking outside of these hours and all day on Sunday on both sides of the bridge.

Councillor Peck stated in her letter of response “Our officers have been in contact with TfL and through them discussions are now ongoing with the City Of Westminster, who will have to introduce double yellow lines on their section to maintain continuity. I can confidently say that changes can be made by end of the financial year (or sooner - subject to resources).”  

In October 2013 the Mayor of London responded to a formal question tabled by Darren Johnson AM by urging LB Lambeth to ‘respond positively to TfL’s advances and ensure a consistent approach by installing double yellow lines’.

Darren Johnson commented:

“It is great news for cyclists and motorists alike that TfL and the two boroughs are taking the sensible step towards ending parking on this busy stretch of road.

“Congestion in the area will be eased as road capacity will be released to moving traffic rather than used for parking spaces. Cyclists will no longer find their routes blocked by stationary vehicles and won’t be forced to swerve into busy streams of traffic to avoid these obstructions.

“A safe central London cycle network can only be achieved if we tackle anomalies like this and provide consistency across the network. I shall continue to hold TfL and the boroughs to account and ensure they deliver on this issue.”

Source: London.Gov.UK

Editorial Comment:

Question to Darren Johnson.

Darren, is there one rule for ordinary motorists and a completely different rule for certain TfL favoured Private Hire Companies?

If it is imperative not to block cycle lanes, why are RD2.coms drivers, allowed by TfL to park up, form an unauthorised rank, illegally plying for hire, waiting on a TfL red rout (double red lines) and completely blocking the cycle lane outside old billings gate on lower Thames Street when there is a function on?

The actions of these PHV drivers are forcing cyclists to driver in the car lanes, putting themselves and other motorists in danger.

Yet not one word, tweet, email or website statement from TfL.

We look forward to your reply Darren.


Hundreds of Taxis Are About to Lose Their Credit Card Readers

The DC Taxicab Commission canceled a contract with one of the companies that provides credit-card readers, forcing more than 700 taxis to find a backup.

More than 700 taxis in Washington, are about to stop taking credit cards, but they won’t be breaking the law, the DC Taxicab Commission said today, and it’s only temporary. Gleike, a French company that was one of eight firms approved to supply DC’s cabs with credit card devices, will cease its operations due to ongoing financial troubles that has prevented it from distributing payments to its enrolled drivers.

The 700 taxis that used Gleike devices represent more than 10 percent of the city’s overall cab fleet. Some cab companies canceled their contracts with the company last fall after it started missing payments. The issue only snowballed.

“Gleike has been under scrutiny since reports came to DCTC’s attention that the company was not making timely payments to owners, was not providing required technical support to system users and was not maintaining up-to-date record keeping,” the commission said in a press release. Gleike has also been failing to collect the 25-cent surcharge on each taxi fare that is supposed to be sent back to the commission. 

Cabbies who used Gleike are getting a reprieve to switch to new credit-card systems, but not a very long one. Affected drivers have until Friday to schedule an appointment for getting a new system installed, and must carry documentation of the appointment to avoid being ticketed for not complying with credit card regulations. One of Gleike’s competitors, Transco, has said it will waive installation fees for affected cabbies.

A recent inspection found that months after a very bumpy rollout, 94 percent of the District’s 6,500 cabs were taking plastic. But with 700 about to stop taking cards, at least for a little while, people might need to carry some extra cash before hailing a taxi.

Birmingham's Bogus Taxis...Why Can't Hendy, Daniels, Burton and Chapman Do This:

Inside Out joins the police and Birmingham City Council's taxi enforcement team looking for unlicensed drivers, known as ''plyers'' in a clampdown on bogus cabs.

Only hackney drivers can legally pick up customers without a booking so private hire cabs who take fares straight from the street are breaking the law.
Most private cabs who pick up passengers from the street do this to make some quick money. But some have a darker motive to lure vulnerable, often drunk, lone women into their cars.
Seventy five women have been sexually assaulted while trying to get home from a night out in Birmingham in the past two years.
Inside Out speaks to one woman, 19-year-old Sarah, who was subjected to a serious sexual attack by a bogus taxi driver. Her attacker was jailed for five years in December 2013.
Most of the city's 1,300 legitimate black cabs and 4,500 private hire drivers work hard to make an honest living and want the rogues off the road as much as anyone else.
About 100 drivers lose their licenses for 'plying' offences in Birmingham every year and these are the drivers being targeted by the police.
Inside Out West Midlands was broadcast on BBC One-at 19:30 on Monday, 13 January on BBC One and nationwide on the iPlayer for seven days thereafter.

Source: BBC West Midlands.
Editorial Comment:
Why haven't TfL and the Met Police taken a leaf out of the Birmingham Taxi Police Book. They have made it clear on Twitter, that their team is willing to meet with and explain their operations in detail.
I have been informed, an officer from Birmingham's Taxi Police, visited on request the City of London Police, who now recognise the behaviour from the private hire trade in the City of London late at night, is completely out of control.
London streets are plagued with licensed private hire, illegally plying for hire, blaging work from late night venues. The majority of PH late night rides in the capital are unbooked, unrecorded and uninsured.
After years of complaints from the licensed Taxi trade, TfL have unbelievably made the statement, that as far as their legal department is concerned, minicabs waiting to become hire are not breaking the law.
Which is strang as they have just prosecuted their first illegal plying for hire case...and actually won. It would appear the PH driver, who had his licence revoked would have a case for reinstatement and compensation?
Definitely looks like a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing at TfL.
With serious sexusl assaults including rape running at (Met Police estimate) 25 attacks per week, every week, surely it's time TfL gave more thought to their duty of care to protect the public. I believe Birmingham's Taxi Police would be only too please to give a talk to TfL's enforcement officers....should anyone ever find where they actually are these days. 

Information given out to Private Hire Drivers by Birmingham Taxi Police.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Paris Taxi Trade Show London How It's Done: More than 8000 taxis ready to block Paris today.

Big mess for Monday. More than 8,000 taxis unite and get ready to block the streets of Paris. 

This is what was promised by  five unions (CFDT, CGT, FO, and SDCTP CST), according to France Info. They are all very angry against the cars with drivers, which they consider to be unfair competition. Another reason for anger: the increase in the VAT rate, which rose for transport, 7% to 10%.

For them, the recent government decision to regulate the activity of VTC (The Paris equivalent of private hire) is clearly not sufficient. On December 27th, a decree was issued which requires VTC to wait a minimum of15 minutes between when they are called and when they collect the customer. The VTC plan to take this before the Council of State. They will, moreover, be joined in their fight by a new heavyweight player. Transdev, a subsidiary of public transport in the Caisse des Dépôts. This new company, revealed its plans to fight the legislation in  Les Echos, when they enter the market.

            Paris bought to a standstill today

“We believe this decree strengthens anticompetitive position and hinders the development of our current business and our future activities,” said AFP boss at Transdev transport, Paul Rosen. Transdev and other CTI companies may also seek the advice from the Competition Authority, which considered mid-December that the introduction of the minimum period of 15 minutes “would be a distortion in competition between VTC and radio taxis, which is not justified by considerations of general interest shown”.

The market has attracted several startups as Lecab, Snapcar or Private Driver and the American heavyweight of this business, Uber, already present in several major capitals around the world.

But the Paris Taxi trade are not a force to take lightly. When they unite, they block Paris completely and will do so on regular occasions.  

Take note TfL, Coming to streets near you, SOON.