Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kiss Me Hardy....By I'm Spartacus.

Yes the famous last words of Admiral Horatio Nelson as he lay dying onboard HMS Victory at the battle of Trafalgar in October 1805.

Fast forward to our very own 2014 'Battle of Trafalgar' and it's aftermath.

Originally marketed as a demo against TfL it's continued failings including the recent debacle over Über but not just Über.

Those who turned out, members from every trade org or not members thought this was the start of a series of high profile events from a united trade to bring real pressure on the Mayor and politicians to ring the changes at TfL.

Now we find out a 'deal' has been done without seemingly any member consultation to suspend demos until the result of the Über meter matter has been decided in the courts, the very matter that can't be decided as the LTDA has summonsed some Über drivers, somehow turning action into inaction.
As someone once said "you could not make this up!".

Quite why UNITE, LTDA and LCDC decided not to continue to press TFL on the many, many other matters that concern the trade, is a complete mystery and requires some explanation. 
Many of these issues have nothing to do with Über at all.

Now we find that the LCDC has met with Private Hire yet cannot seem to be able to meet with fellow cab drivers, again another explanation is needed, they would have screamed blue murder if anyone else met with PH!

Returning to matters nautical and historical, where's the link?

Well it seems just like poor old Horatio, just when victory was near someone climbed the rigging and fired a lethal shot, who and why another mystery?

All I can say is 'Kiss me ......'

Rear Admiral Spartacus

Friday, July 11, 2014

Four Charged and Arrested in Taxi Credit Card Skimming Operation

Four men were charged and arrested for card fraud offenses conducted through card skimming devices placed in taxis in Sydney, Australia.

The detectives from Strike Force Hereford 2 were investigating the activities of several men who were believed to be part of a well-organized credit card skimming group, and on July 1 they arrested four of them at a motel in Chullora.

Upon executing the search warrants, they found about 800 blank cards, a card encoder, a laptop and the necessary connectivity cables for downloading the stolen information on the computer.

The police says that the skimming device looked like a legitimate payment system, which would not raise any suspicion to a taxicustomer.

The men were charged with dealing in identification information, possession of equipment for the manufacture of identification documents, directing a criminal group and participating in a criminal group. They are aged between 24 and 56.

“In court detectives will allege that all four men were members of a well-organized and sophisticated credit card skimming syndicate. Detectives will contend that the syndicate obtained credit card details from a variety of sources, including the use of skimming devices in taxis,” says a statement from the NSW Police Force.

It seems that their criminal activity could have brought them hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, products and services.

“People need to be alert every time they use their credit or debit card,” Detective Superintendent Watson said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re withdrawing money at an ATM, paying for a meal at a restaurant or settling a fare in a taxi, never let your card out of your sight,” he added.

However, if the skimming device looks like a legitimate point-of-sale terminal, there may be nothing to warn the customer of the fraud attempt.

In this case, checking the bank statements could reveal unauthorized transactions and immediately alerting the police may lead to tracing the perpetrators faster.

The detective urges any taxi driver who has information about the use of skimming devices against taxi customers to come forward and report the crime. All information can be revealed anonymously, as the police has no interest in learning the identity of the individual who reports the nefarious activity.

The four men arrested at the beginning of the month are from Sydney, Potts Point, Rockdale and Greenacre. One of them was released, but is expected to come to be interviewed as part of the ongoing inquiries.

The other three individuals were granted conditional bail and are set to appear in Burwood Local Court on July 14, 2014. 


Unlicensed Minicab Driver Sentenced To 11 Years For Horrendous Rape... By Jim Thomas.

Yesterday, Paul Causer was jailed for 11 years after a horrendous sexual attack on a woman who believed she was getting in a minicab.

She believed this simply because of the fact she saw him sitting outside a night venue in Shoreditch, along with hundreds of other illegal touts, 

Even though we've been told by the Met, minicab related sexual attacks are now at an all time high, both the Met and CoL police still turn a blind eye to this practise and see the attacks as no more than collateral damage, in a bid to keep the streets clear of night revellers.

The woman who was raped by unlicensed minicab driver Paul Causer, has spoked about the "horror" of her ordeal that she said will haunt her for the rest of her life.

The 31-year-old victim, who does not want to be named, was picked up by Paul Causer in Shoreditch, east London, during the early hours of August 3 last year.

After locking her in the vehicle, he then unsuccessfully tried to withdraw £600 using her bank card during the 22 mile journey to Godstone, Surrey.

He finally drove her to a secluded spot in Bone Mill Lane, stopped the car, pretending it had a problem and raped her.

Causer, 39, then dumped the woman by the roadside.

Causer was apprehended following extensive enquiries, which including using the ‘Find my iPhone’ application. Officers identified the phone as being at an address in Swanscombe, Kent where he is known to have spent time.

In a statement released by Surrey Police after he was jailed at the Old Bailey yesterday, the woman warned others against the dangers of getting into unbooked minicabs.

She said: "Despite being aware of the warnings, this was never something that I thought would happen to me. The horror of that night will affect me for the rest of my life.”

Causer, of Barfleur Lane, Deptford, denied rape but was convicted. He also admitted three counts of attempted theft, for which he received an eight month sentence to run concurrently with the 11 year rape sentence.

Detective Sergeant Adele Robertson, who led the investigation, said: "Paul Causer targeted and abused a vulnerable woman and will rightly face time in prison for this abhorrent crime. I hope today’s sentence will go some way to giving the victim closure and allow her to move on with her life."

Appealing to other victims of sexual offences to speak to police, she added: "Offences of this nature are not always reported to us, which is why we are keen to hear from anyone who has been attacked in similar circumstances to come forward. It takes a great deal of courage for victims to talk about what has happened, and they need to feel confident that if they report an offence we can help."

We have been told by the Met themselves that minicab sexual attacks are running at an all time high, with an estimate of 25 attacks every week. AND ITS GETTING WORSE.

The police, both Met and City of London must be held to account for their blind eye approach to illegally plying for hire. This, in their eyes is a low priority offence, even though this is who most of the 25 attacks are initiated by a series of sexual predators who hide themselves within the lines of cars waiting outside nightclubs and bars illegally touting custom.

TfL must also take responsibility for many of the minicab related sexual assaults and rapes because of the ease in which a predator can acquire a fully licensed, authentic minicab, with having to be a holder of a private hire licence. 

It's true... 
First, you do not have to be a licensed PH driver to get a vehicle licensed by TfL to be used as a minicab.
Second, a licensed PHV owner can sell on their vehicle to anyone complete with current TfL roundel in place.

It's time TfL put a stop to this practise once and for all.
PHV should only be able to pass NSL inspection if the owner is a TfL licensed PH driver. 
Also when a vehicle (and this should include Taxis) is sold on, the TfL licence plates/roundels should be required to be surrendered, as in pre TfL days under the met.

This PHV was spotted inLondon's West End yesterday.

The sign says

Car for Sale
Vauxhall Zafira
1.6 Petrol
Price £.......... 
PCO Licence, ends
05 2015 Clean
In & out Contact

That's how easy it is for a predator to acquire a vehicle to pick up victims. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Essential road improvement works to Hogarth Flyover and Putney Bridge this summer...News from TfL

Essential road improvement works to Hogarth Flyover this summer - drivers advised to plan ahead.

Work to take place during the summer when traffic levels are significantly lower, helping to reduce impact on road users
Work will take place 24hrs a day, seven days a week to minimise disruption.
As part of Transport for London (TfL)'s work to maintain its structures, essential works to Hogarth Flyover in west London will take place from 19 July as part of a continuing programme of roads modernisation across London.  

Hogarth Flyover is nearly 50 years old and now requires essential maintenance work to ensure it continues to serve the area for the next 20 to 30 years.

If the works are not done soon, then the structure may become unsafe, which would require TfL to close the flyover at very short notice.  

From 19 July until 31 August, the single lane eastbound only flyover, which carries traffic from the A316 onto the A4 Great West Road, will be closed to traffic to allow engineers to replace the deck, repair parapets steelwork, and improve lighting on the slip road. The essential refurbishment works have been phased and coordinated to take place during the summer when traffic levels are significantly lower, helping to reduce the impact on road users.  

Drivers are advised to allow extra time for their journeys as these works will have an impact on a wider area than the immediate vicinity of the works.

Where possible, drivers are advised to change their routes and plan ahead to avoid the disruption, particularly during the morning and evening peak during weekdays and if travelling at the weekend.  

To help local residents and businesses prepare, TfL has worked with key partners, including the local boroughs, and has written to local residents, businesses, local transport groups and other stakeholders.

Variable messaging signs will be placed on the roadside advising drivers of the closures and information is being shared with affected residents and other road users in a huge variety of ways - including emails, social media feeds, TfL's website and across a range of print and broadcast media. 

TfL will be providing real-time updates through the @tfltrafficnews twitter feed and website to help drivers plan their journey -  

Garrett Emmerson, Chief Operating Officer for Surface Transport at TfL, said: 

"London is living with the legacy of life expired 1960s roads infrastructure; now we need to prepare for the next 30 years. These important works to the Hogarth Flyover will ensure that this vital structure can remain open for years to come, reducing the need for further works in the future while ensuring traffic can continue to flow into and around London. Whilst there is obviously no perfect time to close such an essential piece of road infrastructure for major maintenance, doing it during the school summer holidays when traffic levels are up to 15 per cent lower and working 24hrs seven days a week to complete the works in just six weeks, will minimise disruption for Londoners on this important road corridor."  

Additionally in the area, Wandsworth Council are carrying out essential works to refurbish Putney Bridge from 14 July.  

The works will affect journeys over a wider area than the immediate vicinity of Putney Bridge. Traffic is expected to be congested in the surrounding area especially during morning and evening peaks, with alternative river crossings likely to be most congested. We advise drivers to allow extra time for journeys and, where possible, to change route to avoid the disruption.   

London Buses will operate service from both ends of the bridge, and bus passengers who would usually cross the bridge will need to make their way across to the other side to continue their journeys. Bus passengers from affected routes who cross the bridge on foot will be able to continue their journey on to appropriate services on the other side.   

Editorial Comment:
RMT London Taxi Branch ranks and Highways, recently asked TfL to provide temporary Taxi ranks either side of the closed bridge, to facilitate passengers wishing to continue their Taxi journey without the need of an expensive diversion and to keep down unnecessary exhaust emissions.
Unfortunately this has been rejected by TfL who only seem interested in bus passengers and cyclists.

Also from Westminster Council:
1 week to go! 
From 17th JULY, only #RingGo users can park by phone in Westminster. 
Registered yet? 020 7125 9090 or

So, if you think you will need to use parking facilities in the borough of Westminster, for rest or refreshment, make sure you register. It will be the only way you will be able to pay for your parking.

NEW SEGMENT: Letters To Taxi Leaks Editor.

Taxi Leaks has decided to run a regular letters page.
Letters can be sent to editor Jim Thomas, via the blog website email address 
(Names can be withheld on publication if required)

Disgruntled Hailo User:


Stopped using Hailo as a driver & punter a while ago.  
I have recently been sent a survey which was trying to find out why I had stopped using it (as a customer not a driver)

Anyway I completed the survey stating that I only use taxis, not minicabs. Check out the reply at the end of the survey, 

b lucky


Thank you for your time.

Your responses are very important in helping us improve.
Please accept a £10 credit code as a token of our appreciation. 

See you in a Hailo car soon. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at


*Star* Letter From Brian:

This morning at approximately 09.30hrs a colleague of mine was stopped by road side police on Vauxhall Bridge road for what appeared to be nothing more than a random roadside check whilst he was POB.

After complying with the Bill & Badge check, a police officer from Belgravia Police station informed my colleague that it was illegal under ltph rules to have laminated Green identifiers in his taxi. Consequently, the identifiers were taken from his taxi by the police.

  My friend remonstrated that he would no longer be able to work, only for Officer Dibble to inform him that it was okay to work on regardless of having no identifiers. Later that morning matey phoned ltph and was duly informed that he was not entitled to work and that the re-issue of his green identifiers would be 10 days.

 The story does however have a happy ending as my taxi driver friend went back to see The police officer later in the day and request that he would like the identifiers back so he could cut the laminate from them, the officer duly obliged.

 Can anyone point me to the specific legally binding ltph notice, that
states identifiers are NOT to be laminated.


Reply from editor:
Brian, thank you for bringing this to our attention. I have written in your behalf to TfL and they have replied. There are a number of issues this has bought up and I would like to explore this more in depth before posting. 

Will post an article soon explaining more about this issue.


Bishops Gate, No Uturns

Just found out that the City of London are putting a pavement along Bishopsgate meaning we'll no longer be able to turn right out of Liverpool Sreet accoring to @UCGup.

Thanks Glen.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Mandatory Credit And Debit Card Taxi Fare Payments: Know Your Legal Jim Thomas.

A credit card is not legal tender—
It is merely one of many convenient ways of paying a debt. Just because a merchant accepts credit cards for payment of debts does not mean that they are compelled by law to do so.

Although there might be other reasons, one reason for refusing credit cards, particularly as payment for services, is when the merchant has the impression that a customer may not be satisfied with their purchase and might later dispute the charge with the credit card company.

As a small independent business you as a merchant are legally entitled to demand any form of payment you wish. If you demand cash, this is your right. 

If you demand payment by way of chickens, or oranges, or gold bullion, this is also your right. 

If you as a merchant, do not wish to take a chance of accepting a credit card payment and instead require secured payment in the form of a cashier's check, you can. In addition, you can accept a credit card from one patron and refuse a credit card from another. 

Refusing to accept credit card payment-
No one can force you to give credit.
In recent years, more and more merchants have been implementing minimum purchase policies for credit cards; and they are well within their rights to do so.

The Law allow for business owners to deny credit cards as payment. Many merchants choose to set a minimum amount for credit cards and if a customer chooses to buy less than this amount, they will have to use cash. 

This normally is because credit card companies charge business owners anywhere from 1-3% of purchases; in other words, the merchant has to pay out to the credit card company each time a customer uses a credit card (these figures vary for each credit card company), so if a merchant decides that paying out for small purchases does not yield them enough profit due to having to pay the credit card company each time, they may can include a minimum credit card policy. 

In our case card charges range from 3%-10%. 

In their relentless dismantling of the best Taxi service in the world, TfL are to stop the customer surcharge on card payments, making it the drivers responsibility to reimburse the credit company for all transactions. If they do this, then more drivers will refuse to take card payments.

Merchants by law have the option, however, of merely increasing their prices in order to make up for lost revenue for paying credit card companies. This is something TfL dispute as they say it is illegal to charge more than the metered fare.

Currently, about half the Taxis in London have the ability to accept card payments. This ratio could change dramatically if TfL stop the customer surcharge. 

As for making the acceptance of Credit and Debit Cards mandatory....see you in court TfL. 

Editorial Comment:
This article was compiled using advice gained from legal advice given freely.
It is the opinion of the author that all drivers should have some form of accepting card payments but it is crucial that the passenger surcharge remain in place.
The driver must always have the option to refuse this form of payment.

    Source Free Advice, lawyers on line.

Tottenham Court Road Regeneration Glen Alutto

Last night Steve Jones (UCG ranks & highways officer) & myself attended the showcase for the Tottenham Court Road regeneration project. 

It was held in The Building Centre on Store Street with three or so desks occupied by Camden Council Officers, including Natasha Brown. 

To say it was noisy was an understatement, with 70% of the attendees local residents, all the ones I spoke to were vehemently opposed to the scheme. 

A very concerned & angry resident was grilling a youngish looking council official over the 100% increase in displaced NB traffic along Torrington Place, as with all three of them he gave polite amiable responses but not solutions to the madness proposed. 

I copied these predictions based on their flawed traffic modelling, conducted in the morning rush hour rather than the evening, which would've been relevant as traffic is leaving in the evening not the morning on a S-N route such as Tottenham Court Rd.

Strange to see Southampton Row ommitted as this will be one of the worse affected roads, a car park during the day most days at present. 

From this point on it was impossible not to wonder why Phil Jones @philjones79 &  Sarah Hayward @sarah_Hayward weren't present as they're the two main protagonists behind Camden's utopian cycling vision.

My first question to the council official chap was how does he propose I get from Charing X Station to Eustion Station during the restricted hours?

Right at Cambridge Circus, along Shaftesbury Avenue through Princes Circus. 

Hold on a second this is where the fun begins. 

Depending on whether you've studied the plans you may not be aware the three lanes outside the Shaftesbury Theatre are becoming a pavement ala the moon landing strip outside the UCH.

Bloomsbury Street is to became two way, so single file traffic is going to dog leg around the capital's newest & most pointless public square. 

This will cause chaos in the surrounding areas. 

If you cast your mind back to 2001 some bright spark at Camden decided to recreate Hampton Court maze in their quota of streets through Covent Garden with a series of direction reversals & no through routes rendering the section between Shaftesbury Ave & Bow Street useless. 

I stood outside the Crown & Anchor on Neal Street the Friday they implemented it & watched baffled motorists circumnavigate the area until one decided enough was enough & drove over the sump breaker to escape. 

Within a month the restrictions were lifted & any changes reversed, as the impact on High Holborn, Shaftesbury Avenue & Southampton Row meant gridlock all day. 

These proposals will no doubt have a worse effect. 

All bus routes are to be removed from Gower Street & two way traffic introduced along with wider pavements & segregated cycle lanes, we will either be turning right in Torrington Place or rejoining Tottenham Court Rd at Grafton Way. 

Here comes one of the biggest & most glaringly obvious flaws in the plans to date, as all NB general traffic is forced back on Tottenham Court Rd, it's going to be squeezed together with the NB buses that want to join the capital's busiest ring road or head towards Camden Town. The trouble is the top of Tottenham Court Road has recently been narrowed from six lanes to three & with the introduction of the SB bus & cycle lane that'll be reduced to one each way!

When I questioned the second of the three wise monkeys on this he was flumoxed & had no answer unsurprisingly. 

My second question was what was Camden's policy on Taxis?

The CO wasn't sure. 

Phil Jones is very vague when asked the very same question, in fact he seems to imply that Camden regard us as regular traffic, eg. a nuisance. 

I was eventually referred to Natasha Brown who was a pleasant & friendly soul, like the previous two, young & vibrant with exactly the right image to promote this nonsense. 

My first question was why are we excluded despite being allowed access to every bus lane in WC1 & NW1 other than the recently introduced contraflow outside the UCH?

Her answer was remarkable, they want to revitalise the area!

I replied there's no more prestigious way to travel than by Taxi, & reminded her of the terrible KSI rate between buses & cycles, 50% of recent cycling fatalities involve TfL buses, the fatality rate involving TfL buses & pedestrians is equally startling. 

The last point I raised was the lack of proposed rank space for Tottenham Court Rd station. 

The promotional blurb informs us the hub will be as busy as Heathrow airport, but we're not being allocated a rank!

Natasha Brown referred me to the rank outside the Dominion, but I had to explain people won't want to cross a busy junction & walk to a rank that they're forced into the opposite direction from where they're heading. 

Her response is indictive of their ignorance towards the Taxi trade in general & as a result it comes as no surprise that we're sidelined & Camden Cycling groups have been abreast of these plans since 2011. 

How many meetings have Camden Council had with the Taxi trade since 2011?

I stressed to all three of them that avoiding the roads affected during the prescribed hours is impossible, the streets affected by these changes are the heart of the capital. 

If you remember the seige situation on Tottenham Court Road then you'll know the impact shutting it has on the centre. 

I urge everyone to fill the online consultation in although this looks like a battle we may have already lost. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Dear TfL, Save Yourself The Cost Of Going To Court, Just Read The Chris Payne.

Taxi Driver Russell, tweeted yesterday that he phoned for a minicab to take him to Walthamstow on Saturday.
Although the minicab that turned up came from a local minicab operator, he noticed that stuck on to the windscreen and attached to the vehicle by a power cable, was a Smart Phone/PDA devise.

On the device were the words.
Meter Not Initiated.

As there is only one PH operator using a Taximeter, it's fair to assume the driver is obviously moonlighting for this company, in much the same way Licensed Taxi drivers on Dial A Cab or Com Cab also subscribe to Hailo.

Now it's quite evident from this photo that; 
* Uber call this device a Meter.
* The device refers to itself as a Meter.
* The driver of the minicab refers to the device as a Meter.

So for all intense and purpose, it's safe to say that this is a Meter.

The device measures both time and distance to give an overhaul cost of the journey.
So it's not just a Meter, it's a Taximeter. 

Everyone knows it's a Taxi meter except Leon Dainels, who has gone to the high court to get a definition from someone smarter than himself.

Considering that we as licensees and also tax payers, pay this man annually the enormous sum of £267,768 plus a performance related pay bonus of £72,690, it would be fair to assume the holder of such high position within TfL should be/would be smart enough to make an informed decision on this matter himself.

Managing Director of Surface Transport, Leon Daniels, at £340,458 took home more than double the salary of the Prime Minister in 2013.


Almost 2 years ago, Taxi Leaks editor informed TfL that their flag ship app CABWISE was flawed.
We even sent them this video of the app not working the way they were saying it should..

The App fails to allow people to book a licensed Taxi when using the app installed on an iPad or iPad mini.

Over the past two years we have made multiple complaints anout the bias contained in the app and have posted the video on the blog on a number of occasions. 

Now after two years, it seems the original problem has never been fixed and all our complaints have been ignored.

So our question now is:
As it is impossible to book a licensed Black Cab on an iPad or iPad mini using CABWISE, why then do TfL advertise the app on there website showing only two Black Cabs. Surely this is misrepresentation and should be reported to the advertising standards office

TfL have a duty to be fair and balanced. Unfortunately, this case shows they are all but fair and balanced. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

Deleted The Account @TfLTPH, It's A Wind Up : You Won't Be Missing A Jim Thomas

In my opinion, the  @TfLTPH account is completely surplus to requirement.

With Oxford Street, recently reported as the most polluted street in the world, TfL have actually cut the number of taxi ranks spaces, forcing more Taxis to circulate. 

And it's about to get a lot worse.

Far from encouraging cabdrivers to rank, freeing up road space and cutting down on emissions, TfL constantly harrass drivers who queue to get on a popular rank. 

Using the @TfLTPH Twitter account, Taxi drivers are bombarded with tweets warning of covert enforcement, directed solely at the licensed Taxi trade.

But Private Hire seem to get the all clear to; 
* illegally ply for hire
* form unauthorised ranks
* park/double park, wherever they please
Just Block And a Forget a Them.

This account hardly ever gives out important information, just biased tweets aimed at discrediting and demoralising the licensed Taxi trade. 

Lately they have been blocking drivers who only crime has been to comment adversely about their persistent belligerent bias aimed at Taxi drivers.

They also threaten to block and report to the police, drivers who use profanity in their tweets.

You Can Also Report a Them For Spam.

How many times have we seen @TfLTPH complain about over ranking at Harrods or Tooley Street.

All too frequently, we see them protesting about Taxis at Finsbury Part station blocking a badly placed 18 foot section of cycle lane. 
Yet, when there's a bit of a "do" on at the old Billingsgate building in Lower Thames Street, cars from both RD2 and Addison Lee, are encouraged to form an illegal rank, completely blocking the cycle lane. 

If this were Taxis ranking up waiting for passengers, they would be out in force, badge and billing and handing out Parking tickets as if they were going out of style.

Not one tweet from TfLTPH about the blocking of the bus lane on Regent Street/Swallow Street Arch, by private hire vehicles illegally plying for hire and touting. 

Paddington has been a favourite target for TfLTPH. 
When we have complained about minicabs illegally plying for hire outside night venues, we are told parking is a matter for the local council to deal with. But TfL continue to harrass Taxi drivers with threats of enforcement, while saying next to nothing to Private Hire drivers

One of TfLTPH most common tweets:

Yet they say nothing about this illegal Private Hire rank at St Pancras, where minicabs wait, sometimes three abreast. 

Or this rank, set up by our licensing authority and the local council, on double yellow lines on Bayswater Road.

Complaints made to this account are completely ignored. None are answered. It is used by TfL solely to aggravate and annoy drivers. 

Our advice is to block this account and forget about it. Any thing important issued by TfL will always be retweeted by others, so you won't miss a thing. Leave them with just the PH drivers they seem to have most respect for. 

Don't give them an easy ride. Block them and report them for spam.
If Twitter get enough complaints they will remove the account.