Saturday, March 22, 2014

Uber, TfL and a Child’s Death

Sofia Liu, 6, was was struck and killed by a car in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve. Christopher Dolan, a lawyer for the Liu family who provided the image, is expected to file suit against the driver of the vehicle and Uber.

Taxes and regulation are the two big issues. The question of how much Uber should be regulated and by whom is under discussion in all sorts of ways, as my article on Monday in The Times indicates. But the fate of its first wrongful-death lawsuit might be central.

The suit, set to be filed on Monday, seeks damages against Uber in the death of Sofia Liu, 6, on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco. Sofia was hit by an Uber driver who was waiting for a fare. Her mother and brother were injured.

Uber asserts that Uber drivers without fares are not Uber cars. The suit, filed by Chris Dolan, a San Francisco lawyer, directly challenges this effort by the company to detach itself from its own users. It says Uber needs the vehicles to be logged into the Uber app — that’s the only way potential riders know there is a car in the vicinity. So even when there is no fare in the car, the drivers are in essence on the clock, working for Uber.

When drivers accept a call, furthermore, they need to interface with the app. The suit goes on to note that under California law, it is illegal to use a “wireless telephone” while driving unless it is specifically configured to be hands-free — which the app is not. In essence, the suit argues that Uber was negligent in the “development, implementation and use of the app” so as to cause the driver to be distracted and inattentive.

Mr. Kalanick (Uber's founder), in an interview, refused to discuss the case or even to confirm that the driver, Syed Muzaffar, had been carrying passengers earlier that evening. Mr. Muzaffar, who cooperated with the police after the accident, had been driving for Uber about a month, his lawyer said. It was a full-time job, using his own car, to support four kids. In the new sharing economy, he takes the fall.

Mr. Dolan, according to his website, has a fistful of awards: Statewide Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of California, Trial Lawyer of the Year by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association and California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award.

“Uber’s claims that they are not responsible for injuries caused by Uber drivers who are logged on to the system but not carrying a fare flies in the face of hundreds of years of law,” he said:
“New technology does not eliminate well-established legal principles.”

Source: New York Times.

Taxi leaks would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Sophie Liu.

It's alleged that Uber are providing private hire vehicles passengers, without the final destination being known to the company at the time of booking.
It is also claimed, Uber is charging fares based on time and distance, in the same way a London black cab taximeter calculates journeys and tariffs.
It is further alleged that Uber do not have a London operational centre where records of drivers and all journeys made are kept. A fundamentals requirement in obtaining a PH operators licence.

If these allegations are true, Uber would be in direct contravention of the Private Hire Act 1998.

When a fixed price hasn't been agreed in advance, Uber calculate by time and distance. Their website gives the base rate charged as £3 UberX, £4 Uber EXEC and £5 UberLUX. 
Depending on the service you want, you are billed from one end of the scale from:
£0.32 per minute below 11mph and £1.75 per mile above 11mph on UberX 
Up to £0.72 per minute, below 11 mph to £4 per mile about 11mph at the other end of their scale on UberLUX.

In 2012, TfL licensed Uber to operate in London despite the fact they are banned in many cities around the world. TfL admit, they are currently investigating the legality of Uber operation, but even so, have granted them a licence in advance of the outcome of their investigation.

Meanwhile hard working Taxi drivers, with many years previous exemplary service and spotless clean criminal records, are being denied the right to work. Sir Peter who personally earned over £650,000 last year, is refusing to issue temporary licences while drivers wait for renewals which are at present being held up by poor administration. Some drivers have been unable to work for months. 

So, that's one law for us, "guilty" until proved innocent 
and a different law for PH operators. 

Hendy's personal decision, makes TfL, the only licensing authority in the country not issuing temporary licenses while drivers await renewals.

And yet, Hendy was only too pleased to issue Uber with an operators licence, when it launched in London in 2012, 

Is TfL too afraid to take on Uber?

Driver in Greenwich has cardiac arrest and then ploughs into taxi

A man was rushed to hospital after having a heart attack at the wheel of his car.

Police and ambulance crews were called to the scene at Greenwich High Road on Thursday night after a collision between the victim's BMW and a London taxi.

The road was closed at 8.50pm and remained shut for most of the evening while traffic police carried out their investigations.

A spokeswoman for Greenwich Police said it was believed the man had the heart attack before the collision.

"The driver of a BMW was taken ill at the wheel and his vehicle subsequently collided with a taxi," she said.

"The 55-year-old male driver of the BMW was taken to King's College Hospital suffering from what was believed to be a cardiac arrest. Temporary road closures were put in place in the area."

A spokeswoman for the ambulance service said: "We sent an ambulance crew, two single responders and a duty officer and the male patient, who was in cardiac arrest, was taken to King's College Hospital."

Source: The Wharf 

Friday, March 21, 2014

There are people on the pitch, they think it's all ├╝ber, It is now! Jim Thomas

Yesterday, Italian Taxi drivers marched against smart phone ride-app Uber, a company backed by the same people behind Google, giving them access to billions of dollars. Uber, a Silicon Valley prodigy, has drawn furious opposition as it seeks to become a global force.

The international minicab service provider has already faced severe opposition in many places like Paris and Chicago, and it has been blocked by law from operating in several US cities.

Demonstrators are demanding authorities crack down on ride service apps that taxi drivers say are illegal. Banners held by protesters and draped over cabs make it clear the main target was the increasingly prolific Uber.

With all this protest going on world wide, you would think that here in London TfL would have investigated the legality of the way this operation works, before issuing any form of operators license. 
But you would be wrong. 

Peter a Hendy, the man who refuses to issue temporary licences to Taxi drivers waiting for Licence renewals (therefore forcing many off the road and out of work for months on end), has OK'ed and issued Uber with an operators licence.

Under the private hire act, bookings must be made through an operating centre and then dispatched to the driver. With Uber the booking is made ASAP between the customer and the driver. This would mean that by using the app, the driver is virtually plying for hire.

Not only that, Uber uses the smart phones GPS technology to charge the passenger for both time and distance, which (in our opinion) is a virtual Taxi meter. Only licensed Taxis can use a Taxi meter.

As we've seen in the past TfL only invoke the rules and regs when they fit with their own personal agendas. Obviously it now suits them to license this illegal service.
As far as Taxi drivers are concerned, in the eyes of TfL, we are guilty first, until proven innocent. But Private hire are granted licences first and then investigated afterwards ...pure bias on the part of TfL.
But even more worrying, we have been told by the Chairman of Radio Taxis, in the form of a tweet, that he heard the Mayor said Government are leaning on TfL to give Uber an easy ride.

Now add to this:
* Garrett Emerson refusal to accept that Uber using smart phones to make charges to customers for distance and time, amounts to a virtual meter. (In the presence of the Mayor and members of the LCDC)

* The Law commissions refusal to define plying for hire in law

* No visible enforcement from our licensing authority, or the Police. TfLs reluctance to prosecute wholesale the illegal plying for hire.

* Peter Hendy's snub and refusal to engage with the whole trade. The scrapping of the Cabbies Cabinet, with no other mechanism for engagement in place. 

Nothing could be clearer. 
Unless the trade is willing to unite (and that includes the seemingly benign LTDA), stand together and fight back....our days as a viable transport industry are numbered.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mayor's Question Time: Pollution, Cleaner Taxis, Electric Taxis And The ULEZ.

Subject: Mayor's responses to questions on air quality tabled at Feb 2014 session of Mayor's Question Time
Air Pollution in Oxford Street
Question No: 2014/0364
Murad Qureshi
Given that the London Air Quality Network's air pollution sensor in Oxford Street reported a breach of the nitrogen dioxide hourly legal limit for the whole of 2014 in the first five days of this year, what action are you taking to ensure only the cleanest buses use Oxford Street?

Written response from the Mayor
Air pollution along Oxford Street is caused by a variety of sources including buses, taxis, freight movements and building emissions. I have been working closely with the London Borough of Westminster to address these.
For buses, I am retrofitting 159 older Euro 3 generation buses, which regularly serve Oxford Street, with selective catalytic reduction equipment by March 2014. This will cut their tailpipe NOx – which includes nitrogen dioxide – by up to 88 per cent. I am also increasing the number of hybrid buses from approximately a third of buses operating at the rush-hour peak to roughly half by June this year and 65 per cent by summer 2015.
The New Bus for London, which is the cleanest hybrid double decker in the fleet, will make a significant contribution. It is already deployed on route 390, and will also be rolled out to route 148, which passes Marble Arch, on February 15; route 10, which travels along Oxford Street, on April 26; and route 8, which passes through Oxford Circus, in June. The cumulative effect of these measures will be a significant cut in road-side nitrogen dioxide from buses.
For taxis, I have already retired more than 3,000 of the most polluting taxis. In January I set out a new requirement for all newly licenced taxis to be zero emission capable. The first of these will be on London’s streets from 2015.
Working with private sector partners, I have supported the Freight Electric Vehicles in Urban Europe (FREVUE) project to consolidate freight activity along Regent Street and using electric vehicles for zero emission “last mile” deliveries.
Through my Air Quality Fund, I have provided £330,000 to the Cross River Partnership to engage with businesses, Business Improvement Districts, such as the New West End Company, and the Crown Estates to raise awareness amongst staff, reduce unnecessary deliveries and tackle building emissions. I have provided a further £100,000 to Westminster for additional measures to reduce human exposure focused in and around Oxford Street.
By taking a comprehensive approach looking at all emission sources and working in partnership with the various businesses operating along Oxford Street, I am confident that air quality along Oxford Street will continue to improve. 
Electric Taxis
Question No: 2014/0153
Stephen Knight
Further to your pledge that from 2018 "all taxis presented for licensing should be zero-emission capable", when do you expect all taxis operating in central London to achieve this target?

Written response from the Mayor
Zero emission capable taxis will begin to be seen on London’s streets from 2015 onward and will be mandatory for all new taxis joining the fleet from 1 January 2018. I have also announced my intention to create an Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London from 2020 and will begin consultation on potential options later this year.
I am currently working with a number of partners, including the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, manufacturers and financial institutions, to identify ways to provide additional financial support to accelerate the uptake of new zero emission capable taxis.
Cleaner Taxi Fund
Question No: 2014/0154
Stephen Knight
Further to your announcement that all taxis presented for licensing should be zero-emission capable by 2018, will you now implement a financial incentive scheme to encourage drivers to purchase the cleanest available taxis, as promised since 2008?

Written response from the Mayor
I am currently working with a number of partners, including the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, manufacturers and financial institutions, to identify ways to provide additional financial support to accelerate the uptake of new zero emission capable taxis.

Source: Dave Davies.

Budget 2014: Surprise £200m fund to tackle pollution from taxis and buses

Apparently London has won hundreds of millions of pounds to transform some of the capital’s greatest assets and eyesores in yestoday’s Budget.

New housing, railway links and big ticket development schemes, from the landmark Brent Cross shopping centre to the Aylesbury Estate, were at the heart of Boris's mate George Osborne’s package.

There was also a surprise announcement of a £200million fund to help Boris deliver his proposed ultra-low emission zone by 2020, to tackle London’s poor air quality.

The cash will be used to encourage taxi drivers to upgrade their black cabs (also available in other colours)  to zero-emission vehicles using loans.

It will also help pay for new electric single-decker buses, such as those already used in Milton Keynes. 

The money available (£200m), when divided up between Bus and Taxi numbers, works out roughly to be around £5,700 per vehicle. That's assuming Buses and Taxis get an equal share. This new fund will be in the form of a loan that will have to be repayed. 

As we know, there are many who make their living off the backs of hard working Taxi drivers. When they find out about the money available, they will all be sticking their snouts in the trough. All that will be left for the ordinary driver, will be the slops.

I bet black horse finance will be over the moon with that one. 

Wonder what happened to the proposed scrapage scheme for older Taxis, much talked about in 2010?
Allegedly, not one driver has seen a penny.

Boris has already promised £2billion for cycle projects around London, so proper funding would be available if it was really needed.

The Mayor is asking us to make a massive investment into a futuristic, untried technology at our own expense, at no cost to him as any money to help will have to be repaid. But let's not forget, to help us invest in the future, he has just given us the lowest fare increase for ten years. You really couldn't make this stuff up.

Doesn't matter how this technology is dressed up, as it stands at the moment with the uncertainty of battery life, cost of renting battery packs, unsuitable charging points, announcement that it will no longer be free to charge, and overall cost of the the words of Steve a MacNamara and Grant Davis, I ain't getting one.

Other incentives to get drivers to upgrade to a new vehicle will include:

A ten year age limit, currently being promoted by the Mayor and leaders of Central London Boroughs, probably decreasing to a 7 year limit by 2020. 
Even the Green Party's Baroness Jones stated to Boris this will not in itself bring down emissions.
We know this, as we've see in two major reports, new Taxi models are more polluting when it comes to PM10s and NOx.

And at present, there is no exemption mechanism currently in place for euro5 models to enter ULEZ. 
So are drivers purchasing new vehicles today,mlooking at a working life for their new vehicle of 5 years 9 months? 

Roll on the Mayoral elections.

TfL Reply To Flawed Suburban Review On-Line Survey Jim Thomas

Were Your Efforts All For Nothing?
TfL say it doesn't matter that the online suburban review survey is seriously flawed, as it's not a ballot, only a survey.
Well there you have it, as if you really needed proof, it's all been a nonsense. 

Here is an insight into the contempt that TfL hold our trade in.

TfL published an online survey which we have shown to be flawed and easy to manipulate. We complained personally and also got our trade representatives to complain on our behalf.

The reply from TfL is an insult to our intelligent and common sense. 

They open with the fact they know the survey is flawed and (nod & wink), they have the technology to weed out perpetrators. 
They don't want to go into detail, as that wouldn't be appropriate.

This secure technology comes from an organisation who insists they can just tweak the traffic signals to keep London moving, allow late buses to change lights on rout to speed up and hold back buses that are in advance of their schedule. They allege their CCTV is (in their words) everywhere and no one can hide as they see everything. Except of course private hire vehicles in contravention of their license.
I bet you feel a lot safer knowing that.

We will be taking this up with the GLA as it is clear, TfL ain't listening. 

Our case to be considered:
How many multiple applications have been made by mobile devices, using multiple different free wifi connections set to privacy browsing, in shops, bars, restaurants, libraries etc, the list is endless. Cookies turned off, no email address, no badge no. Anyone with an agenda can seriously influence the survey. 

Below is the reply received earlier from TFL.

Dear Jim
Thank you for your email to Leon Daniels about the consultation on suburban taxi services, which I am responding to on his behalf. 
I would  like to start by assuring you that we can and do identify attempts to manipulate survey responses, but you will understand that it is not appropriate to go into detail on the techniques we employ. 
The consultation is intended to be inclusive and to attract as wide a range of views as possible.  The views of both suburban and All London taxi drivers are important, and you will be aware that we have made sure that all drivers are aware of the consultation and have a chance to respond.  We are happy to help drivers express their views: for example, we have sent paper copies of the consultation document to some drivers at their request.  
However, we have also invited responses from a wide range of other stakeholders, including bodies representing taxi users and centres of taxi activity.  It is vital that the consultation should encourage views from these voices outside the taxi trade, and it would not have been appropriate to request information like a driver’s Badge number as that would have suggested that the consultation was focussed on drivers and discouraged other respondents. 
I would point out that this is a consultation, not a ballot: the views people express, and the explanations and suggestions they make, are more important to us than the numbers of people supporting particular positions. We will report the numerical responses, qualified as appropriate, but this just one element in developing policies to ensure a sustainable high standard of taxi services throughout London.
Yours sincerely

Peter Bradley
Head of Consultation Delivery
Surface Transport
Transport for London

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Blanket 20MPH Speed Limits And Traffic Humps, Causing More Pollution.

A reduction in speed from 30mph to 20mph increases CO2 emissions

According to the Highways Agency’s figures, at 30mph average CO2 emissions for vehicles stands at 188g/km, whereas at 20mph this rises to 221g/km. This is usually due to motorists driving in a lower gear than they would at 30mph.  This is demonstrated by the chart below.

This graph represents emissions with free-flowing traffic. The emissions represented are an average for all vehicles. This is the latest study representing CO2 emissions for free-flowing roads.

The graph is only available for kilometres per hour.  To assist your use, see the conversions between kilometers per hour and miles per hour below.

The AA also advise that cutting the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph on the wrong roads can increase CO2 emissions by more than 10% with the result that well-intentioned safety schemes may backfire in environmental terms.

They state that transport and highways planners have little or no official guidance on the environmental impact of 20mph speed limits and it would be ironic if local authorities that have targeted owners of larger vehicles with environmental charges, are found guilty of increasing CO2 emissions through indiscriminate use of 20 mph restrictions. 

This is priceless from Jan Piechocki, Ex Met traffic officer & accident investigator:- 
“This idea of 20mph zones/limits is getting monotonous as opposed to boring. I don’t believe that reducing the limit to 20mph will actually save lives/reduce injury, because I can cite many real instances of actual deaths under that speed, reduced damage yes, but deaths/injuries no. 

Low speed impacts can cause a cyclist/pedestrian to go under the vehicle as opposed to being pushed aside as is if a higher speed. 

As I spent 17 years dealing with accident scenes as an accident investigator I think I am qualified to make this observation. I cannot agree with some interpretation of statistics that denies that the accident rate has gone up, such as in the experimental 20mph zone in Portsmouth.

The blanket 20mph speed limit/Zone encourages drivers minds to wander, it makes conscientious drivers worry about their speedometer at the expense of their surroundings, it gives pedestrians a false sense of security, it encourages drivers to ignore the limit in areas within the zone where a higher speed is safe to do so thus encouraging contempt for the limit overall. I am afraid that the motorized vehicle is here for the foreseeable future whether we like it or not.”


        AA Fuel consumption figures

30mph/20mph/speed humps petrol car consumption figures

  • Steady 30mph (4th gear):
    60.7 mpg (small petrol car), 55.6 mpg (medium petrol car) 
    = 58.15 mpg (average)
  • Steady 20mph (3rd gear):
    55.5 mpg (small petrol car), 49.1 mpg (medium petrol car) 
    = 52.3 mpg (average)
  • Speed humps (6 over 1/2 mile at 20-30 mph): 
    33.8 mpg (small petrol car), 27.9 mpg (medium petrol car) 
    = 30.85 mpg (average)

30mph/20mph/speed humps petrol car consumption differences

  • Change 30 mph zone to 20 mph:
    increases fuel consumption by 5.85 miles per gallon, or 10.1 per cent.
  • Add speed humps to a 30 mph zone:
    increases fuel consumption by 27.3 miles per gallon, or 46.9 per cent.

The AA's fuel consumption tests were carried out at Millbrook proving ground by an independent engineer and car tester, using a fuel flow meter.

In 2000, the then Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions argued against reducing the 30 mph limit for fear of increasing emissions.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

So Much For There Consultation: London Included In The Deregulation Bill.

Deregulation Bill. New clauses.

Today 18 March these new clauses were added to the Deregulation Bill. Hardly a consultation. !

Private hire vehicles: circumstances in which driver’s licence required
Tom Brake  
Oliver Heald
New Clause 9.
To move the following Clause:—   
Section 46 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976   
(vehicle, drivers’ and operators’ licences) is amended as follows.

In subsection (1)(b), for “driver of any private hire vehicle” substitute “driver of  any vehicle when it is in use as a private hire vehicle”.   

After subsection (1) insert—   

For the purposes of this Act, a reference to a vehicle being in use as a private hire vehicle is a reference to a private hire vehicle which   

is in use in connection with a hiring for the purpose of carrying   
passengers; or   
is immediately available to an operator to carry out a booking for  
a private hire vehicle.”

Public Bill Committee: 18 March 2014             
Deregulation Bill, continued    

After subsection (2) insert—   

If, in any proceedings for an offence under this section in which it is
alleged that the defendant contravened subsection (1)(b), the prosecution  prove that a private hire vehicle was at any time being used on a road to carry one or more passengers, it is to be presumed, unless the contrary is shown, that the vehicle was, at that time, in use in connection with a hiring as mentioned in subsection 

Member’s explanatory statement 
This amendment inserts a new clause which allows people who do not hold a private hire vehicle  driver’s licence to drive a licensed private hire vehicle when the vehicle is not being used as a 
  private hire vehicle (for example, a licensed private hire vehicle driver’s partner could use the vehicle for a family outing). 
Taxis and private hire vehicles: duration of licences  
Tom Brake  
Oliver Heald
New Clause 10
To move the following Clause:—   

The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 is amended as follows.
In section 53 (drivers’ licences for hackney carriages and private hire vehicles)—   
in subsection (1)(a), for “for such lesser period as the district council may  specify in such licence” substitute “for such lesser period, specified in the licence, as the district council think appropriate in the circumstances of  the case”;

in subsection (1)(b), for “for such lesser period as they may specify in such licence” substitute “for such lesser period, specified in the licence, as the district council think appropriate in the circumstances of the case”.
In section 55 (licensing of operators of private hire vehicles), for subsection (2)  substitute—
Every licence granted under this section shall remain in force for five years or for such lesser period, specified in the licence, as the district council think appropriate in the circumstances of the case.” ’.
Member’s explanatory statement 
This amendment inserts a new clause which sets a standard duration of three years for a taxi and private hire vehicle driver’s licence and a standard duration of five years for a private hirevehicle operator’s licence. A lesser period may be specified only if appropriate in a particular case. At present, licensing authorities could have a general policy of specifying a lesser period.

Public Bill Committee: 18 March 2014                  

Deregulation Bill, continued
Private hire vehicles: sub-contracting
Tom Brake
Oliver Heald
New Clause 11
To move the following Clause:—
‘In the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, after section 55   
Sub-contracting by operators   
A person licensed under section 55 who has in a controlled district   
accepted a booking for a private hire vehicle may arrange for another person to provide a vehicle to carry out the booking if—   
the other person is licensed under section 55 in respect of the   
same controlled district and the sub-contracted booking is 
accepted in that district;   
the other person is licensed under section 55 in respect of another   
controlled district and the sub-contracted booking is accepted in  
that district;   
the other person is a London PHV operator and the sub-   
contracted booking is accepted at an operating centre in London;   
the other person accepts the sub-contracted booking in Scotland.   
It is immaterial for the purposes of subsection (1) whether or not sub- contracting is permitted by the contract between the person licensed under section 55 who accepted the booking and the person who made the booking.   

Where a person licensed under section 55 in respect of a controlled 
district is also licensed under that section in respect of another controlled  district, subsection (1) (so far as relating to paragraph (b) of that subsection) and section 55B(1) and (2) apply as if each licence were held by a separate person.
Where a person licensed under section 55 in respect of a controlled 
district is also a London PHV operator, subsection (1) (so far as relating  to paragraph (c) of that subsection) and section 55B(1) and (2) apply as  if the person holding the licence under section 55 and the London PHV  operator were separate persons.   

Where a person licensed under section 55 in respect of a controlled 
district also makes provision in the course of a business for the invitation  or acceptance of bookings for a private hire car or taxi in Scotland, subsection (1) (so far as relating to paragraph (d) of that subsection) and  section 55B(1) and (2) apply as if the person holding the licence under  section 55 and the person making the provision in Scotland were separate persons.     

In this subsection, “private hire car” and “taxi” have the same meaning as in sections 10 to 22 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.
In this section, “London PHV operator” and “operating centre” have the same meaning as in the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.

Source Manchester Taxi News,

Credit where Credit is due, the real history of the Veritas

The identifiers have been proposed for many years since the Maxwell Stamp report in the 70's. 

It's certainly not a new idea or been suggested out of thin air as anyone who researches the cab trade will affirm.

TfL had a significant amount of complaints mainly from suburban drivers about out of sector drivers ranking up. 

There was also the issue the issue of the 'hooky bills'.

Then  and only then did TfL decided to roll them out to hopefully kill two birds with one stone and we think to let everyone assume that the only cause was the suburban issues and not the trade in forged licences.

That's the chronology folks.

Still you know that, that's why you visit this blog.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Cruise passengers will be hit as taxi drivers face port charge

TAXI drivers in Southampton will be forced to pay £1 to pick up passengers from the city’s cruise ships.

And the new levy, which will come into force next month, is set to cause fares to rise for thousands of cruise-goers.

Associated Brit-ish Ports (ABP), which has agreed the new charge, says it is needed to fund new marshals for the city’s four cruise terminals after a series of rows between cabbies at the ranks.

The Daily Echo understands a number of arguments have broken out between cabbies over fares at cruise terminal ranks in recent years.

But members of the taxi trade have hit back, criticising ABP for forcing them to foot the bill and warning it will be “unpopular” with passengers.

From April 1 taxi drivers will have to pay £1 to the marshal running the rank.

Today the city council’s Cabinet will debate amending the table of hackney fares to allow cabbies to recoup the charge from passengers.

ABP says the charge will go ahead regardless of the Cabinet’s decision to amend the table.

Speaking about the new charge, port director Nick Ridehalgh said: “A series of incidents between hackney carriage drivers at our terminals has underlined the need for the port to ensure a professional standard of service for our cruise passengers.

“To that end, we have introduced marshals to manage taxi ranks on the port estate.

“Following lengthy consultation with the city council and drivers serving the cruise terminals, a small charge will be introduced on April 1.

“This is needed to support the on-site management required to deliver a high standard of service for our customers.”

A spokesman for the firm added that the £1 charge would only cover part of the cost of introducing the marshals.

Perry McMillan, chairman of the Southampton cab section of Unite, said: “I find it astonishing that a multi-million company like ABP is not prepared to pay for the marshals.

“The fact they are passing the buck to the taxi drivers and customers is penny-pinching and tacky.”

Clive Johnson, chairman of the Southampton Trade Association, said: “In terms of the incidents between cabbies, they are making a mountain out of a molehill.

“Cruise passengers in Liverpool don’t have to pay £1 like this.”

Kevin Wright added: “I don’t understand it.

“Is this going to be monitored?

“And will we be given receipts when we pay the charge?

“With fuel costs, the £67 permit you have to buy to park at the docks and other costs, I won’t be able to afford to run a taxi there, so the customer is going to incur the cost.”

Not all taxi drivers are against it, with Ian Hall, chairman of the Southamp-ton Hackney Association saying: “We think it’s a brilliant idea.”

There is also confusion over whether ABP spoke to Carnival UK and P&O Cruises before deciding to bring in the charge.

ABP declined to comment while a spokesman for Carnival and P&O would only confirm that the firms are currently “discussing the issue with ABP”.

Source: Southampton Eco

Police call for witnesses, after 90 year old pensioner is knocked down and killed in Maida Vale

A pensioner has died after a collision with a tipper truck in Maida Vale this afternoon (Monday)
The accident took place at the corner of Elgin Avenue and Chippenham Road just after midday and the road remains closed while police investigate.

The woman believed to be in her 90s, was pronounced dead at the scene

Scotland Yard said they believe the woman was crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing when the truck collided with her.

The driver stopped at the scene and has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving.

Any witnesses are being urged to call (020) 8941 9011
Or, to remain anonymous, call crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.