Saturday, February 08, 2014

Nissan NV200 Purpose-Built Taxi launched in Chicago, Half The Cost Of London Version.

After the successful launch of the NV200 taxi of tomorrow in New York early last year, Nissan had unveiled a customised taxi with an eye on the 7,000 Chicago Taxi market, at the Chicago Auto Show. 

Features differ from city to city: 
While the New York version boasts a glass panoramic roof, seats three passengers and is wheelchair accessible from the rear, after sliding the seats forward. 

The Chicago Taxi has an active carbon roof liner to soak up unpleasant odours, a low annoyance horn that flashes the lights as an almost apologetic gesture, seats 4 (3+1) with plenty of luggage room and 40/60 split rear doors.

The London version facilitates side loading wheelchair, seats 6 and has a 25 foot turning circle. 

One feature immediately sticks out in the Chicago version, the massive 2.0L 4-cylinder power-train. Supposedly engineered to enhance emission performance and fuel efficiency.

Nissan have plans to launch the NV200 in a number of Cities across America and Europe, but it's not just the vehicle's features that differ from city to city, the is also a huge difference in the price.

The advertised retail cost of the Chicago NV200 Taxi.... Just $29,700 Canadian dollars, which converts to just over £18,000, which is half the predicted price of the London Taxi version.

Other advertised features for the Chicago NV200 Taxi include:
  • Ample room for four passengers and their luggage, offering substantial improvements over current and recently unveiled taxi models
  • Sliding doors with entry step and grab handles, providing easy entry and exit
  • Opening side windows
  • Independently controlled, rear air conditioning
  • Active carbon-lined headliner to help neutralize interior odors
  • Overhead reading lights for passengers and floor lighting to help locate belongings
  • Mobile charging ports for passengers, including a 12-volt electrical outlet and two USB ports
  • Breathable, germ-fighting, durable and easy-to-clean seat fabric, simulating the look and feel of leather
  • Flat “no hump” passenger floor area for more comfortable ride
  • Roof-mounted curtain supplemental air bags for side-impact and rollover protection for all outboard occupants – the NV200 taxi is the first taxi to be crash-tested with taxi equipment installed, including the partition

Other notable NV200 taxi features focus on driver comfort, customer satisfaction and the environment:

  • A low-annoyance horn with exterior lights that indicate when the vehicle is honking, so the horn is used less frequently
  • Hearing Loop System for the hearing impaired
  • Driver and passenger intercom system
  • Proven 2.0L 4-cylinder powertrain, engineered to enhance the emission performance and fuel efficiency of the taxi fleet
  • 150,000-mile powertrain limited warranty
  • A 6-way adjustable driver’s seat featuring both recline and lumbar adjustments, even with a partition installed
  • Unique driver’s seat material and stitching to promote improved airflow
  • USB auxiliary audio input and charge port for driver
  • Standard navigation system with integrated “RearView Monitor”
  • Taxi wiring and installation provisions

The NV200 taxi is now on sale. Total manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of the vehicle starts at approximately $29,700.

Friday, February 07, 2014

And Now For Some Really Good Jim Thomas.

Minicab tout is banned from driving for 12 months, has car impounded and is given £100 fine with £105 costs, for operating outside Gants Hill nightclub

A 44-year-old man has been fined for touting outside a Gants Hill nightclub.

Abiodun Dada, of Yellowpine Way, Chigwell, was spotted on CCTV operating outside Faces nightclub, Cranbrook Road, at 2.20am on January 26.

Two young females and a male were seen getting into his Renault Scenic, unaware that using an unbooked minicab driver, is illegal. 

Picking up passengers in this way also means any insurance would be void.

The Renault was then stopped by police at Redbridge roundabout.

After interviewing the passengers, Dada was charged with touting and also with driving without insurance. Ordered to appear at Barkingside Magistrates Court, he was slapped with a £100 fine, a £20 victim surcharge and £85 in costs.

He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months and his car was seized.

Det Supt Ellie O’Connor said revellers should make sure they only travel in licensed taxis, preferably by phoning a company directly.

If you get in an unbooked minicab, it's just a stranger with a car.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Is Get Taxi Competing Against Taxi Ranks, For Work That Already UsesBlack Cabs.

A new taxi-booking "Kiosk" in the form of a tablet computer is being rolled out in hotel lobbies, airports, rail stations, restaurants and business centres throughout London.

The Get Taxi technology may also be placed on trains so that passengers can arrange for a taxi to be waiting for them when they arrive.

For those without access to the Get Taxi mobile app, the "Kiosk" enables members of the public to book a car through a tablet, with just their mobile number required to be input beforehand.

Payments can be made either with cash or soon, as with the app, automatically via credit or debit card.

As part of an ongoing trial, Get Taxi already has its "Kiosks" in place in the W Leicester Square, the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury, Blakes hotel in Chelsea, the Apex City of London, Google and Facebook offices, and Gordon Ramsay eateries.

Shahar Waiser, founder and CEO of Get Taxi, said: "Our vision is to have Get Taxi kiosks at key locations all around cities creating virtual taxi ranks, as a reliable, safe and fast alternative to the minicab service."

The kiosks are being made available across Israel and Russia, as well as New York later in the year.

Speaking at the Business Travel Show in Earl's Court yesterday, a spokesman for Get Taxi told Business Traveller that the London Underground strike had resulted in its "busiest day ever", with more than 12,000 customers requesting pick-ups in the hours leading up to lunchtime.

Editorial Comment:
Not sure how the trade will react to these new booking kiosks. 

Will we be competing for work that already uses Taxis at stations and airports?

Hailo was slaughtered on line when they approached customers at a Taxi rank and gave out fliers. 

Will Get Taxi suffer the same backlash from irate drivers. 

Get Taxi has already upset many Taxi drivers earlier this month by announcing on their twitter page that in New York, their service is provided by Cars and not Taxis. 

Think this new kiosk service needs to be rethought before unleashed on the trade. 

Council 'facing legal action' in six-year taxi row.

THE threat of legal action is hanging over the city council in a dispute over disabled people using taxis.

Six years-worth of council reviews have failed to solve the issue and now a firm is threatening court action to change what some cabbies have dubbed a protected market.

The council's current policy means only taxis with an extremely tight turning circles - such as those made by city-based London Taxi Company - can be used.

But they can struggle to deal with some wheelchair users who do not have enough room to be securely fitted in the vehicle.

A £34,000 study claimed the council needed a re-think but bosses have instead pushed ahead with another six-month review aiming to take a 'holistic' approach to travel across the city.

The issue was set to be discussed by councillors last month - but the item was pulled from the agenda at the 11th hour.

And Allied Vehicles, which is aiming to bring specialist cabs to the city, is close to launching legal action.

General manager Donald Pow told us: "The council seem a bit confused at times. I think they understand but they don't seem to want to grapple with the issue and seem to come up with any excuse to delay it further.

"The existing policy is broadly the same as the one which Liverpool City Council tried to defend in court. Numerous other authorities have since looked at theirs but Coventry has seemed particular hard to come to terms with."

The firm already has a depot in the city and Mr Pow said it was contributing to the local economy.

And he added changing policy would not impact on existing vehicles as well as potentially benefitting hundreds of disabled people.

"It would be a no-cost move the council would make that would benefit hundreds of disabled people and if taxi drivers wanted to buy a new vehicle they still could.

"We still hope the council sees sense. It's quite a simple issue and the council has the gift to solve it."

A council spokesman confirmed a further consultation with disabled users would make up part of a wider review into travel.

"It is true that other councils have changed their policy. But equally some have not.

"We have been seeking legal advice which we will use alongside the consultation results. Our intention remains the same - to make the best decision we can for everyone."

Read more: Council 'facing legal action' in six-year taxi row | Coventry Observer 

LCDC Chairman Supports RMT And TSSA Tube Strikers, Then Slams TfL's Taxi Engagement Policy.

If ever anyone ever needed proof, that the engagement policy is now dead in the water, just have a listen to Grant Davis on the Eddie Nester show yesterday evening on BBC Radio London Drive Time.

Nestor asked: "Why dont you believe them?"

Grant Replied: "Because I've dealt with TfL and what they say and what they do is two different things. They come on your show and tell everyone, the public on the radio, that everything is going to be fine and dandy. But you read the small print, it never ends up like that Eddie. But then it's far too late down the road. We're just finding that out in the Cab Trade now."

By "We're" we assume Grant means the UCG. 
Well, better late than never I suppose.

This is something the RMT, UCG, The Anderson Shelter and Taxi Leaks have been shouting about for over four years. Unfortunately it fell on the death ears of the UTG.

No surprises really.
It stands to reason that after getting exactly what they wanted from the United Trade Group leading up to the Olympics (because let's face it, that's what it was all about) and now the honours and bonuses have been dished out, LTPH has now been dismantled and replaced by the Surface Integration Program (SIP). 

The door to constructive engagement has been firmly slammed shut to the trade and there is no one left to engage with.

The elletist group formally known as the UTG are now out in the cold with all other trade orgs.

But has someone still got a crafty foot in the door?
Not one word about SIP from the LTDA.

Surely this was discussed at TfL board level?

What is it they say: He who lays down with dogs, gets up with fleas!

Below, the letter sent to Peter Hendy by The LCDC, almost begging to be let back around the folding table. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

French Court Suspends Rule Delaying Pick Up of Passengers

PARIS—France's top administrative court Wednesday suspended a regulation that slowed how quickly car-service companies can pick up passengers, in a ruling that could rekindle a fight with traditional taxi drivers.

A rule passed Jan. 1 by the government in an attempt to protect a monopoly granted to licensed taxis forced Uber Technologies Inc. and other online and offline car service companies to wait at least 15 minutes before picking up a passenger. California-based Uber and local rivals such as and Snapcar say their normal wait time is about half that.

In an emergency hearing earlier this week, four plaintiffs argued that the decree breached their right to free enterprise.

A judge at the Conseil d'État said their "argument was sufficient to create serious doubt over the legality of the decree." He decided that the government's justification for the new rule wasn't convincing and issued a suspension order.

"The delay in picking up a customer is a decisive factor in the commercial appeal of car services and by introducing a minimum delay of 15 minutes, the decree created an important risk of losing large amounts of customers," the judge said.

The regulation created a "serious and immediate" threat to the commercial activities of the plaintiffs, he said.

A panel of judges at the Conseil d'État is due to meet in the coming weeks to make a definitive decision on the case.

The conflict in France is part of a global turf war between companies in regulated markets and new competitors operating largely online. Dallas and other cities have tried to regulate and restrict the operation of companies such as Uber. Apartment-rental company Airbnb has faced challenges in New York and elsewhere over hotel regulations.

Paris has been a fertile ground for the new app-based car-service companies, with more than 12,000 vehicles now available—compared with nearly zero in 2010. The city is one of Uber's two biggest markets outside the U.S., alongside London.

Highlighting the appeal of the French capital, Uber introduced a new car-sharing service on Wednesday in Paris.

Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, the head of Uber's French unit, said the whole conflict is caused by the wide difference between demand for urban transportation in Paris and supply.

The car companies had already found an ally in France's competition watchdog. In a nonbinding decision issued in December, the Autorité de la Concurrence said the new services weren't competing for street hails, and that adding a 15-minute delay could distort competition with "very negative consequences" for the new companies and customers.

Yanis Kiansky,'s chairman and founder, said his company's revenue from reservations in the first 10 days of January fell by half compared with the same period in December.

Licensed taxi-drivers expressed outrage with the Conseil d'État's decision. Mohamed Khademi, a taxi-driver union representative at CGT union and a cabdriver himself, said a taxi license now trades at €225,000 ($304,000) on the secondary market and taxi drivers are required to take expensive special courses. "You cannot let people do the same with none of those costs," he said.

The union has called for a general demonstration Feb. 10. "We can block all of France," he said.

A protest on Jan. 10 blocked access to the two main airports in Paris for several hours and led to clashes between cabdrivers and car-service drivers.

Source:  Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Underground Workers Strike To Save Their Jobs: And 6 Top TfL Bosses Get Paid More Than President Obama.

Why are the staff cuts on the underground so necessary to TfL?

Is the answer "so top TfL bosses can keep paying themselves huge salaries"?

Salaries for 2013
                                    Top 3 earners 
Peter Hendy, £650,352. Mike Brown, £473,551. Howard Carter, £368,375.

In the last financial year, 6 top TfL bosses, got paid more than president Obama of the USA, who was paid $400,000 (£245,438). 

In the same year, a further 300 TfL staff were paid more than £100,000. Bonuses were agreed by a Remuneration Committee chaired by TfL board member, Paralympian Baroness Tani Grey Thompson. She said: "The excellent management team and staff of TfL have really delivered." 

But London Assembly (Green Party member) Jenny Jones said: "We can’t afford not to reduce the pay gap in this divided city".

TfL is bracing itself for painful cuts to its budget when the Chancellor announces his Spending Review. The organisation claims it needs to spend £1.8bn a year on a programme of vital transport improvements.

Projects thought to be at risk include the upgrade of the Bakerloo and Piccadilly Lines and the Mayor's £900M  "cycling vision".

General Secretary of the RMT Bob Crow said: 
TfLs wages are 'outrageous'. With transport taking a massive hit in the spending review and news of 1000 underground jobs to be cut, it is outrageous that the top brass across TfL have raked in such huge bonuses.

Crossrail is paying out huge amounts in benevolent gifts for a project that hasn't even been completed yet, while trade unionists have been blacklisted off the site for fighting for health and safety and decent working conditions.

London Assembly Labour Group: TfL's bonuses 'shocking'
Responding to the publication of Transport for London’s Annual Accounts, London Assembly Labour Group Transport Spokesperson, Val Shawcross AM, said:

TfL’s bonus pot of £2.5million last year, came as a surprise to Londoners who have been forced to pay through the nose just to get to work. We’ve had five years of inflation busting fare rises under Boris Johnson only to be told that TfL paid out huge bonuses. 

They may have been agreed by a committee but it is still shocking.

The Biggest Threat To Your Livelihood...Uber, Killing The Taxi Trade On Two Continents.

Uber is expected to pull in about $125 million in revenue this year, higher than expected, AllThingsD reports.

San Francisco-based Uber was founded in 2009 with a black car service and it has spread to 35 cities and added services that include SUVs, minicabs and private cars driven by people who are not licensed professional drivers.

Uber are starting to have a destabilising effect on Taxi trades all over America as well as Europe. Milan, Paris and Rome have all recently seen Taxi drivers striking over unfair competition from unlicensed drivers.

London is a huge target which some would say, is the jewel in the crown. But, instead of looking to what's happening on two continents as a wake up call, the capitals drivers seem to be uninterested and are sleepwalking into oblivion.

In early 2012, Taxi leaks warned about the start up of mobile apps in London, third party set ups such as Ubi cars and Minicabit were advertising all over he media and on-line as "Taxi suppliers". 
As third parties, they were/are unlicensed, LTPH said they couldn't do anything to shut them down.

Taxi Leaks has always felt LTPH didn't do enough, but without any back up from the United Trade Group, they probably felt no need to pursue the case. The predicted onslaught came from UberX in April last year and has now escalated to a dangerous level.

Read the article below from SFGate, to see the devastation Uber and UberX have bought, to a once great trade in San Fransico.
Nearly everyone who's tried to catch a cab on a Saturday night in San Francisco or summon a ride downtown from the Sunset knows that the city's taxi system has been badly stressed for years. And now, with the influx of unregulated competition from Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and other transportation network companies, the cab business is beginning to crumble.

Taxi companies are having trouble filling shifts, veteran drivers are bailing out and going to work for the app-based ride services, and people interested in hauling folks around the city for a living are heading to the upstart startups instead of the cab companies.

"Every cab company I know of is having a huge problem filling shifts - including mine," said Hansu Kim, owner of DeSoto Cab Co.

Kim estimates that a quarter to a third of all taxi-driving shifts are going unfilled. "I couldn't possibly begin to quantify it," said Christiane Hayashi, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's director of taxis and accessible services. "The taxi companies don't even know. But what I can see is a serious problem related to driver shortage."

But business is apparently booming for the new ride services, which have thousands of cars on the streets and are on a hiring spree, with billboards and online ads enticing drivers with promises of making up to $40 an hour and setting their own schedules.

How many new cars are for hire is impossible to determine because the companies aren't required to report the numbers or names of the drivers or vehicles they put on the streets - and they aren't talking about the details.

Taxi drivers, who have been taking photos of license plates of ride service cars, estimate the number at 3,000. Some industry observers think that number may be closer to 5,000 - and growing as the new ride services engage in lively recruiting campaigns.

"They've flooded the streets with too much supply," said Trevor Johnson, a taxi driver and a director of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association. "It's already the Wild West out there. Go down Polk Street on Saturday at 10 p.m. and every car out there is for hire. It's gridlock."

San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees all things transportation-related, including taxis, would like to regulate the ride services - and the cab industry has repeatedly called on it and the Police Department to do so. But the state Public Utilities Commission, which regulates passenger carriers such as limousines and buses, has asserted jurisdiction, and cleared the road for the services to continue. 

After a series of hearings, the commission last fall issued regulations requiring each company to obtain a license from the PUC, conduct criminal background checks and establish driver training programs, have zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies, and conduct 19-point vehicle inspections. They also must have a minimum $1 million worth of insurance for each driver and vehicle, on top of a driver's personal insurance. That minimum is more than what's required of taxi and limo companies. But there's also been confusion and concern over when drivers are covered and whether their personal policies cover them.

Before new drivers can get behind the wheel of a taxi, they have to go through a four-day private taxi school plus a single day of MTA training.

Taxi drivers and cab company owners have a long history of not getting along, but they're united in their opposition to the newcomers. They say the PUC regulations are minimal, essentially allowing anyone to haul passengers for money in their personal cars with a minimum of rules and red tape. That makes it easier for ride services to hire drivers, they say.

"Who wants to go through the process of getting a license and going through training when you can just get a couple of apps and start picking up people in your 1999 Mazda?" Kim says.

While the new ride services are battering the taxi industry, they're a boon for folks just wanting to get a ride around town - even to longtime taxi aficionados like Lee Houskeeper, a publicist who doesn't own a car and considers himself friends with Luxor Cab Co. owner John Lazar.

Houskeeper, who takes cab rides daily, said he became a convert to UberX, one of the new mobile phone services, after Lazar installed an app on his phone and asked him to check out the competition. Houskeeper said it's usually easier, cheaper and speedier to summon a ride with Uber.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Cabvision are not a bidding party for Lee DaCosta.

I can confirm that I personally have visited DaC and raised the 'possibility' of making an offer for the Company. Cabvision's interest did not extend beyond this point and it did not lead to a formal offer or a signing of a Confidentiality Agreement. I had a lengthy discussion with Brian Rice, who explained to me the process of how any 'takeover' might work. 

We have been surprised by the strong rumours that we are one of the two bidders announced in the letter to DaC members; again I stress that Cabvision has made no financial offer for DaC and did not advance to a stage where we would even receive any financial or management information. The rumours are totally unfounded and curious. 

Cabvision are not bound by any confidentiality with DaC.

We have no idea where the rumour has come from, or who leaked them, but we do remain an interested party and may revisit our position some time in the future.

Thanks again for your assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Lee DaCosta


Statement from DAC Chairman Brian Rice:

I am mailing you direct so you know this e-mail actually came from me and not someone purporting to be me.


Regarding the statement made by Lee DaCosta, I agree with his statement, he did in fact visit this office with his father Peter as they were interested in Dial-a-Cab, it went no further than that, that was probably the best part of two years ago, perhaps even a little more.


According to Lee there are rumours regarding Cabvision and Dial-a-Cab, I would like to make it quite clear that I have never mentioned that Cabvision were interested in purchasing Dial-a-Cab.


Consequently, I am at a loss to understand why an individual (obviously not Lee DaCosta) is stating that I am not telling the truth regarding Cabvision and Dial-a-Cab – that can’t be right, as I have never said anything to anyone regarding the two companies.


Incidentally, in my letter to Members where I mentioned two organisations that were interested in Dial-a-Cab, neither of them were Cabvision.  


Kind regards


Brian Rice

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Councils failing to change misleading bus lane signs

Some councils are refusing to change misleading signs on roads warning people not to drive into bus lanes - despite motorists successfully appealing against fines.

Authorities issue penalties of up to £130 in London and £60 elsewhere. The councils have failed to act over signs on some roads ruled confusing by independent adjudicators.

The AA said it was "ludicrous" to carry on collecting fines "without remedying the problem".

Councils are under no obligation to amend signs as a result of the rulings on individual appeals. The Local Government Association - which represents councils - said bus lane enforcement was "essential to keep traffic moving".

More bus lanes are being introduced to ensure public transport runs to time - and councils say the penalties stop motorists abusing the system.

But drivers claim some schemes are difficult to understand and they innocently end up going into a bus lane and subsequently receive a fine.

Last year 984,000 people in England and Scotland were issued with a ticket.

The total value of penalty notices issued for bus lane infringements in England and Scotland last year was £76m.

Most drivers take advantage of the discount that comes with paying early, but a small number appeal to independent adjudicators - solicitors and barristers who take evidence from the motorist and the council before making a ruling.

An average driver would be confused so for an authority to continue issuing tickets is quite astounding”
Paul Watters: AA spokesman

There has been five cases where adjudicators upheld appeals and criticised signage at a bus lane on Shepherd's Bush Road in Hammersmith in west London.

Eddie Williams successfully appealed to the adjudicator, claiming the signs weren't clear, after he received a penalty notice for driving into the bus lane in Shepherd's Bush Road in 2012.

"They've known for years that this thing is unfair but they just keep collecting the money," he said.

"When the bus lane on the left ends, almost immediately a bus lane on the right hand of the road begins so it's a bit like an ambush."

At this site the warning sign for the lane is often blocked by parked buses and an adjudicator has criticised the lack of a directional arrow on the road, guiding the flow of traffic away from the bus lane.

"The adjudicator said, 'I don't think the signs are fair and I'm going to allow the appeal,'" Mr Williams added.

Hammersmith and Fulham council, which issues tickets amounting to £1m a year at the site, insists the bus lane is "clearly marked and fully compliant". It has been in operation since 2006.

Camden and Harrow councils have also refused to make changes after adjudicators found their signage around bus lanes to be confusing, while Transport for London continues to issue tickets bringing in £13,000 a week on a bus lane where two adjudicators have said the signs are unclear.

The adjudicators' rulings are only binding for the individual case being heard and councils do not have to act as a result of them.

The AA says it is unfair on motorists when councils don't act on the broader points that come from the adjudicators' rulings.

"It's quite shocking that local authorities are not accepting adjudicators' findings," AA spokesman Paul Watters said.

"They've reviewed the location and concluded that an average driver would be confused so for an authority to continue issuing tickets is quite astounding."

On the rare occasion it can be conclusively proven that a council has inadequate signage then they should act to correct the error”

Source: BBC 5live

There's no truth in the rumour that TfL are to enforce a zero tolerance policy with people parked on the Red Routs.