Saturday, August 02, 2014

Eco City Vehicles blames Boris and Uber for sales slump

ON YER BIKE - Boris Johnson wants to force out diesels with daily charges within a ultra low or zero emission zone in London.

Not really a policy designed to make Taxi Drivers rush out and buy a new Vehicle. Not one vehicle currently on sale would be exempt from the new tax, being implemented on the 1st January 2020, just over 5 years away.

Eco City Vehicles (LON:ECV) have seen their shares slumped after a warning revenues were down 33% in the first six months of 2014.

The firm, which supplies London’s licensed reduced emissions Mercedes Vito taxis, blamed the controversial Uber app and Mayor Boris Johnson’s environmental proposals. It said the trading environment remained challenging due to the uncertainties caused by those two factors.

Johnson’s proposals include daily charges on diesel vehicles within a zero or ‘ultra low’ emissions zone in central London. 

It could become the latest squeeze on cabbies who claim their businesses are being eroded by TfL's unfair bias towards the operation of the Uber app.

Eco City has also warned investors that more funding would be required during 2014, and it is reviewing strategic option - excluding the sale of the company.
On AIM, the share was down 36% at 0.42p today.

Editorial Comment:
With uncertainty surrounding the implementation of the diesel vehicle surcharge, looming in 2020, would anyone in their right mind, really consider spending the best part of 50k, on a new Taxi that will almost certainly be replaced by a vehicle with a completely different engine in the very near future?

Why hasn't the Vito Taxi been future proofed, by the addition of the Bluetec system which Mercedes have been fitting to S type limos for some years?

What is it they are waiting for?

Uber app 'competing unfairly', Margaret Hodge claims

The Uber taxi app is "competing unfairly" with London's black cabs, senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge says.

She has written to Boris Johnson asking why Transport for London allows cars to take bookings through the app without a licence to operate in the capital.

Mrs Hodge claims the firm is "opting out of the UK tax regime" but Uber said it complied with "all applicable tax laws".

The smartphone app works out the cost of fares using GPS. Cab drivers say it is similar to using a taxi meter, which only they are legally entitled to do.

'Impact on livelihoods'
The app's Dutch operating company, Uber BV, does not pay tax in the UK - but Mrs Hodge said TfL could insist that it does so.

She said: "I am particularly concerned about the tax structure that Uber and others have apparently constructed and the impact this has both on the public purse and on the livelihoods of London cabbies and private hire drivers.

"This structure allows these new entrants to unfairly undercut London operators by opting out of the UK tax regime.

"TfL allows this to happen by failing to apply the appropriate regulations to Uber."

Thousands of taxi drivers went on strike in London on 11 June
In the letter to Mr Johnson, the mayor of London, Mrs Hodge, who chairs the cross-party Commons Public Accounts Committee, added: "Surely TfL has a duty to enforce legislation that will ensure a fair and level playing field for all taxi and private hire operators?

"I would be grateful if you could set out the steps you will take to ensure that TfL does not inadvertently allow tax avoidance in London and that all taxi and private hire drivers receive a fair deal."

She has been backed by the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA), which represents 20,000 mincab drivers.

'Corporate greed'
LPHCA chairman Steve Wright said: "London's taxi and private hire industries are being compromised by inconsistent licensing enforcement by TfL and the apparent ability for app-based operators like Uber to operate through an offshore tax regime.

"As well as the loss in revenue to the country, a whole industry that has a wonderful compliance record - unlike some of these new apps - is being undermined by foreign entities, working the UK tax system for corporate greed."

But an Uber spokesman said: "Uber complies with all applicable tax laws, and pays taxes in all jurisdictions, such as corporate income tax, payroll tax, sales and use tax, and VAT.

"Uber London Limited is a licensed private hire vehicle operator and recently passed the largest inspection of records ever conducted by TfL."

Chief operating officer at TfL Garrett Emmerson said he was "fully satisfied" the app was operating lawfully.

He added: "TfL's role is to licence and regulate the taxi and private hire industry in London. We do not have any powers in relation to an operator's corporate structure and how or where they pay tax."

    Source BBC news

Editorial Comment:
Margaret Hodge has been backed by Steve Wright (TfL Board Member), who represents 20,000 minicab drivers.
Yet our man on the board of TfL, who represents an alleged 10,500 licensed Taxi drivers seems to be silent on this issue.

Again and again TfL have jumped to the defence of Uber. 
First we had Leon Daniels stating that although he was going to ask someone smarter than him, in TfL's opinion the Meter software used by Uber was not in their opinion a Meter so perfectly legal...even before they had recieved an opinion from the high court.

Now Chief Operating Officer, Garret Emmerson states he is fully satisfied that the Uber App is operating legally.

Seems to us at Taxi Leaks, TfL are going beyond the call or duty to opinionate the legality of this company which has been banned across the USA and also in many cities across Europe and Asia. 

Latest city to sling out this app is Seoul in South Korea, where the licensing authority has promised Taxi drivers there own council sponsored smart phone app.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Advance Notice: No Glory Campaign & Stop the War Coalition

On Monday 4th August 2014, two groups called “No Glory Campaign & Stop the War Coalition” intend to hold a static demonstration in Parliament Square against the glorification of World War One.

They intend to assemble from 6.30pm, ending the event at 8.30pm. They will be remembering those that have died. The organiser estimates 100 - 200 people attending, including Jeremy Corbyn MP.

This may result in an increase in noise levels andfootfall in and around the immediate area.

Other Parallel Events

There are a number of events occurring that day and there will be an increased police presence across central London.

A proportionate policing plan is in place.

 There will be Police Liaison Officers on duty throughout the event that will be linking in and engaging with the demonstrators.

Please see the attached link for details should you encounter a protest in or near to your building.

For updates during Monday follow the MPS public order twitter account @MetPoliceEvents

Don't forget!

More Harassment From TfL. Letter To The Editor.

Dear Jim,
I was totally dismayed to read the article on Taxileaks concerning the driver who was 'detained' in Victoria by a 'Compliance Officer' and subsequently told in writing that he had committed the offence of 'Plying for Hire'!
The letter to the driver from TfL is completely illogical.  Firstly, there is no such offence.  Secondly, he has been found guilty of committing the non-existent offence without an opportunity to provide his version of events.  He has been warned about any 'repetiton' of the offence so therefore, in their opinion, an offence was committed.  To add insult to injury this 'offence' has been recorded on his file.
I find this totally unacceptable and I am pleased to see that the driver concerned is going to take this issue further.  TfL are again making the rules up as they go along and are setting themselves up as Judge, Jury and Executioner.  This goes against all principles of natural justice where anyone is innocent of any offence until proven guilty.
I had a similar, though less serious, incident with TfL recently.  We operate a fleet of 100 plus licensed taxis and from time to time we are contacted by TfL to nominate the driver of a certain vehicle on a specified date, usually as a result of TfL receiving a complaint from a member of the public.  TfL then take up the matter with the driver concerned and rightly so.
I received a letter addressed to me personally concerning a complaint about the driving of one of our licensed taxis.  The letter said that, since I am shown as the licensee of the vehicle (which I am for all of our vehicles) then TfL 'ASSUME' that I was the driver concerned.  I was warned as to my future conduct but no record was placed on my file (I am a licensed taxi driver).  Naturally I wrote back to TfL saying that they had no right whatsoever to 'assume' that I am the driver concerned and this applies to any licensed taxi.  I advised that their proper course of action was to contact the licensee to asertain the identity of the driver first.  

My letter was sent to Palestra recorded delivery so that I could confirm that it had been received.  I believe that Royal Mail did in fact deliver the letter but, funnily enough, it was not signed for so TfL can deny ever having received it and remain unaccountable for their actions.  Needless to say I have never received a response.  I suspect that this is standard practice at TfL with recorded delivery although obviously I have no proof.
I agree with your recommendation that all licensed taxi drivers should join a Trade Organisation that provides legal cover.  In the past this was done to protect drivers from all sorts of 'incidents' that could take place out on the road but now it is essential to protect drivers from persecution by their own licensing authority!  What a sorry state of affairs.

    Name and address withheld 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Uber Allegedly Inciting Suburban Taxi Drivers To Break The Law.

It's been alleged, that employees of a certain controversial smart phone app, may be inciting suburban drivers to break the law.

According to TfL, it is illegal for a suburban driver to accept a hiring/booking (pre booked or otherwise) while outside of the area they are licensed by TfL to operate inside.  The journey would also not be covered by their insurance as this would be a case of illegally plying for hire. Driving without insurance is an arrestable criminal offence.

Uber promotional staff are visiting suburban ranks, encouraging Yellow Badge Drivers to sign up to the app. 

We've been informed, that promotional staff are telling  suburban drivers who sign up to Uber, not only will they receive a £50 incentive fee, but also (if they remove their IDs), they can wait around in Central London and can accept work. 

This surely is an incitement to get others to break the law and could in itself be an illegal action? 

But will TfL take Uber to court. The simplest thing to do is revoke their licence with immediate effect.

Or is this latest incident more proof of TfLs bias towards Uber.

Uber's should never have been licensed in 2012, as they did not conform to the conditions of fitness and were using a meter to calculate fares in contravention of the Private Hire Vehicles Act 1998.

It should have been upto Uber's to go to court, to appeal against TfLs decision.

Why would a licensing authority, take the trouble and expence of going to court, to prove legality of an operator they themselves have already licensed. It just don't add up.

This whole Uber issue doesn't smell right and (in our opinion) requires an independent investigation to make sure corruption hasn't taken place, insuring Uber's licence was issued with no complications.

The LTDA should never have taken Uber drivers to court, they should have gone for TfL, for not acting responsibly as a Licensing Authority.

TfL under the watchful eye of Mayor Boris Johnson, Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy and Managing Director of Surface Transport Leon Daniels have a duty of care to their licensees to operate in a clear and transparent manner. 

Over the last 5 years this has not been the case and there have been instances were rules have been overlooked and bent to accommodate certain PH operators.

PH roundels were supplied wholesale to a West London minicab firm, without the need for their cars to be inspected. Ex Director of LTPH John Mason excused this action as just someone doing a friend a favour. 
No one was ever prosecuted.

RD2 were issued multiple licence variations the same day they registered as a PH operator in contra to a TfL policy requirement that PH operators be in business for a minimum of one year before variations can be issued.
After a year of lies from Both the director and deputy director of LTPH, we were finally informed, TfL can do whatever they like and that TfL policy is no more than guidelines.

Now the scandal of Uber being Licensed without conformity or compliance to conditions of fitness.

TfL should be the true target of any legal action:
The Taxi trade orgs need to man up and take on TfL in the courts. 
At present, they are chasing the wrong criminal. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Letters To Taxi a Leaks Editor, Jim Thomas.

Dear Jim
Thanks for including my letter about the compliance officer who abused her power and stopped me working in Bulleid Way, Victoria. If you remember, as I was making my way through Bulleid Way to the RAFT, I was flagged down by a women getting off a coach, who I stopped for. An unmarked car then pulled across my path like a scene out of the Sweeney and a female stuck her hand through my window shouting "Compliance". She had no police or warranted officer with her, so had no right to stop me in this manner. I was livid as my fare was marched away from my Taxi by a tout minicab.

Well yesterday I got a letter from TfL saying that I had been reported for "Plying for hire" nothing else, no Plying on unauthorised standing, plying without a licence or unfit vehicle, simply "Plying for hire".
I didn't know that "Plying for hire" was an offence.

Well to cut another long story short, they've decided not to press forward with her complaint. It seems in their opinion, without hearing anything from me, they have decided I am guilty of an offence which they consider to be a one off. This incident is to remain on my record and I am threatened that any repeat could result in my licence being revoked. 

I am not happy with this and will be taking this further. I will of course keep you informed. 

Name and address withheld.

Letter from TfL licensing below:

Editors Comment:
Reading again the original letter and now this one, in our opinion, this is a clear case of harassment by the licensing authority TfL. A case of a compliance officer overstepping her limited power and actually stopping a driver, in the course of his/her legal right to "Ply for hire" (not yet an offence) and pick up passengers.

This is also a clear example as to why it's imperative that all drivers belong to a representative org or Taxi Union, doesn't matter which one as long as it can provided legal cover. You may never need it, but when you do, it's priceless. 

It's very clear that after recent unrest and direct action from within the trade, TfL are retaliating in a belligerent and vengeful manner towards licensed Taxi drivers.

Photo of the week:


The borough that allows this freakshow on a daily basis but wants to ban Taxis from using the A400!

Wonder if Leon Daniels has sent this fellow a legal summons for using LUL/TfL's intellectual property?


Boris To Introduce New Ultra Low Emission Penalty On Current Diesel Vehicles.

Plans to charge drivers of diesel cars about £10 to drive into central London are being considered.

The levy would be on top of the current £11.50 congestion charge for driving into the centre of the capital.

The Mayor wants the new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to be introduced by 2020.

The Times newspaper says he will also lobby the government to increase vehicle excise duty on diesel cars to encourage motorists to move to cleaner vehicles.

Only diesel vehicles meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard will be exempt, while petrol cars registered before 2006 will also have to pay the new charge.

All new cars sold from 1 January 2015 must meet the Euro 6 emissions standard, a stringent European Union directive to cut exhaust pollutants which targets a cut in nitrogen dioxide, seen as an air pollutant.

London, in breach of European targets on air pollution:
A spokesman for the mayor said the plans will be subject to a full consultation and any levy on cars not meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard would be "likely to be a similar amount to the congestion charge".

The mayor's environment adviser, Matthew Pencharz, said: "Over recent years the Euro diesel engine standards have not delivered the emission savings expected, yet governments have been incentivising us to buy them.

Editorial Comment:
The most worrying aspect of this new measure is that Boris has made no statement about an exemption for Taxis and Private Hire. 

If this measure is bought in without exemption, many drivers and most garages hiring out Taxis would face a major financial difficulty. 

The secondhand value of virtually all Euro 5 or lower vehicles will fall through the floor. We need a statement from Boris as soon as possible about the future of pre Euro 6 vehicles.

Boris isn't banning polluting vehicles, he's just squeezing money out of drivers who have had no choice in the vehicles available to them to buy and is raising funds with another tax on hard working Taxi trade.

The problem being NO2 and NOx emissions:
Boris also consciously ignored health considerations attached to the production of new Taxi vehicles. His age limit policy (signed off by the United Trade Group without consultation of their membership) removed thousands of older vehicles from service, consciously knowing they were less polluting in the area of NO2 and NOx particle production.

This new measure isn't about health or cleaner air for London. It's all about the money (AGAIN).

Follow the Money.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Studies Reveal Health Risks Of E-Cigarettes

“There’s no such thing as a safe cigarette.” This is a line that has been used to describe menthols, filtered cigarettes, and slims, but it also applies to the latest product for smokers:

The electronic cigarette. 

They have been widely heralded by users and manufacturers as a completely harmless smoking alternative, but there isn’t much research to back up that statement. Recent studies have shown that they still contain tiny particles that can irritate lung tissue and could cause disease.

Modern electronic cigarettes have been available for a decade and have been booming in popularity. Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigs don’t burn dried tobacco leaves doused in nearly 600 additives; 69 of which are carcinogenic. 

Instead, a battery-powered device heats a liquid solution (called e-liquid) of nicotine and flavors, creating an aerosol that is inhaled to simulate the physical sensation of smoking in a process known as “vaping”.

Higher end models of e-cigs allow the user to adjust the voltage from the battery, which regulates the intensity of the heating element. As the solution gets hotter, it intensifies the effect of the nicotine hit. 

Unfortunately, these higher temperatures also affect the glycerin and propylene glycol used as solvents within the e-liquid, converting them to carbonyls found in cigarettes such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. 

Earlier this year, a study found that increasing an e-cig’s voltage from 3.2V to 4.8V while using an e-liquid with both solvents produced almost as much formaldehyde as a traditional cigarette. While the human body produces formaldehyde as a byproduct of normal metabolic activity in the cells, it is suspected of being carcinogenic when inhaled. 

The same study also found that at lower voltages, e-cigs produced up to 800 times less formaldehyde than a cigarette. While this might sound a lot safer, the size of the vapor particles and the delivery method into the lungs heavily impact the risk of disease.

Particles found in inhaled cigarette smoke have a median size of 0.3-0.5 microns. Testing has found that the e-cigarette particles have a median of 0.18-0.27 microns. About 40% of these particles can travel deep into the lungs and become embedded in the alveoli, where gas exchange occurs. Even if the particle itself isn’t toxic, the size alone places a burden on the lungs and can cause disease. 

As vaping is still fairly new, there just has not been enough time to do the necessary long-term studies regarding health risks. Though these early studies do hint that e-cigs are a better option than traditional smoking, that isn’t really saying a lot, because cigarettes are pretty terrible. 

Even if vaping is better than smoking, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. As its popularity continues to grow, it is important to understand the full risk associated with vaping for both the user and those exposed to the vapor secondhand.

    Source: IFL Science. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

More Disruption From Boris And TfL, At The Hight Of The Season For Taxi Drivers.

Prudential RideLondon – Saturday 9 Augustand Sunday 10 August


On Saturday 9 August and Sunday 10 August 2014 the Prudential RideLondon event takes place in London and there will be road closures and changes to the road layout to accommodate the events.  


Once again there are four separate events and these are:

-        Freecycle – Saturday 9 August 2014 – this is a 10 mile route in central London

-        Grand Prix – Saturday 9 August 2014 – this is a series of races in St James’s Park

-        London – Surrey 100 – Sunday 10 August 2014 – this is the race for the general public that starts in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, goes out to Surrey and then ends on The Mall

-        London – Surrey Classic – Sunday 10 August 2014 – this is the same as the 100 race but for 150 top cyclists only



Maps showing the routes for the different events can be found here:

-        Freecycle route

-        Grandprix route

-        London – Surrey 100

-        London – Surrey Classic


Road closures

To allow the different events to take place some roads will be closed and details of where these will be, the closure times and when the roads are expected to reopen can be found in the leaflets available on our website here. Road closures for the events on Sunday will be in place from 05:00and roads will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Roads in east London are expected to reopen from 13:30 whilst in central London all roads, apart from The Mall, are expected to reopen by 20:00.


The Mall will be closed from 07:00 on Friday 8 August until 06:00 Monday 11 August.



A number of bridges in central London will be closed until the evening on Sunday 10 August but Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge and London Bridge will remain open all day.


Tour of Britain – Sunday 14 September 2014


On Sunday 14 September 2014 the final stage of the Tour of Britain comes to London. There are two races in central London – a time trial and a circuit race – and both of these start and finish around Whitehall and go out to Tower Hill.


A map of both race routes is available here.


Road closures

Roads along and around the route will be closed to allow the event to take place and Westminster Bridge will also be closed. The first road closure will be from 03:00 and this will be Whitehall (northbound). From 07:00 Whitehall (southbound) will be closed and from 08:00 all roads on the route will be closed. After the event most roads are expected to be reopen at 19:30.




Transport for London – London Taxi and Private Hire  

Email: For enquiries  

Web: For licensing information visit the TfL website or try TfL’s Common Questions Section

Twitter: You can now follow us on Twitter@TfLTPH

Telephone: For driver and operator enquiries call0343 222 4444, for vehicle enquiries call 0343 222 5555



Sunday, July 27, 2014

More Free Stuff For Taxi Drivers 😊


Taxi Driver In Road Rage Gun Attack, Caught On Video.

A video taken from inside a public bus shows a man pointing his gun at a taxi driver in the middle of a flyover along EDSA. 

   Screen shot from Facebook video

MANILA, Philippines – As if EDSA traffic weren't stressful enough, what would you do if you encountered this on the road?

In a video that made rounds on Facebook this week, two drivers were caught in a heated argument in the middle of a flyover along EDSA and near Camp Crame.

In the video, a man wearing a blue shirt, kicked the door of a white taxi and tried to stop its driver from getting out.

He pulled out a gun from a bag as the taxi driver, wearing a red shirt, emerged from his cab, himself holding a sharp-pointed object.

The gun was pointed at the taxi driver, who threw the sharp-pointed object back in the taxi. They argued for a while, but the man in the blue shirt eventually put away his gun and took the sharp-pointed object from the taxi driver.

The video was shot from inside one of the public buses plying EDSA. As the two drivers went back to their respective vehicles, a voice in the background can be heard noting their plate numbers: KDP 313 for the Mercedes-Benz and UVN 607 for the taxi.

But the scene did not end there. As the Mercedes Benz drove off, the taxi driver ran back to his cab and drove off as well, tailing the first car. A few meters away, the taxi cut off the Mercedes-Benz, and they stopped at another side of EDSA for another round of confrontation.

See the video below, as reposted by Youtube user cisconix

Facebook user Mark Norman Mendenilla said after he shared the video on Saturday, July 26: 
“Dapat sa mga ganitong tao eh tinatanggalan ng lisensya ang baril. Paano ba 'to nabigyan ng lisensya eh sa ganitong sitwasyon lang bumubunot kaagad? 
There was never a threat to pull out his firearm.”

(People like these should be stripped off their gun licenses. How did this man get a license if he takes out a gun just in a situation like this? There was never a threat to pull out his firearm.)

The Facebook video by user Naoj Ragiaba had 35,603 shares before it was taken down Saturday. –