Saturday, August 16, 2014

Flash Demo And TaG Hit Squad, Hit FireHouse Restaurant In Chiltern Street And Broadstone Place...by Jim Thomas

Last night, with the help of the TaG Hit Squad and the Flash Demo Twitter accounts, disgruntled drivers turned up in a steady stream at the new pretentious eatery just off Baker Street, The Firehouse, and took back work from the cars touting outside.



I received a message from my friend Paul just before 9 O'Clock that after dropping a passenger in Chiltern Street, he was approached by two people leaving the restaurant. But, to his amazement, the doorman told the passengers that Taxis were not allowed to pick up outside and that my friend was a rogue driver. The people were told to go back through the restaurant to the rear exit where they could find a safe licensed car service.  


This place has had terrible reviews of bad service, poor quality food and not being too hygienic, but celebs love to be seen here. Last night apparently, it was Gary Lineker holding court a friend who was planning his stag do.

When I started work at 10pm, the FireHouse situation was already being discussed on Twitter. Drivers were told to hold back as a meeting with management was planned for next week.But it was decided to make a statement by means of an impromptu flash demo. 

Posts were made in the Flash Demo and TaG hit squad Twitter accounts and the action began.

Customers arrive at the Chiltern Street entrance, but when leaving, those who ask staff to get them a "Taxi" are shepherded to a line of waiting minicabs in Broadstone Place, the mews behind the restaurant. 

So both entrance and exit were covered by a continuing procession of Taxis. Not surprisingly, customers chose licensed Taxis over the inflated prices of the illegally plying for hire touts outside. 

Door staff and a lone traffic warden were busy taking photos of the Taxis forming a rolling rank and threats were made that drivers would be reported.

Coincidentally, the NSL traffic warden never said a word about the cars parked round the back in Broadstone Place. Let's not forget that these are the same wardens who refuse to ticket minicab touts illegally parked (in a bus lane) on Regent Street by Swallow Street Arch and touts parked on the pavement in Coventry Street, outside Platinum Lace lap-dance club. The same company that only allows Taxi drivers 3 minutes to complete a transaction, being paid off outside the Cumberland Hotel!

Doorman talking to Traffic Warden in Blandford Street.

There is a meeting with management next week, but there also need to be meetings with Westminster Council and TfL. It should be a requirement that before a licence variation is issued for a satellite office at any hotel, restaurant/bar or night venue, a Taxi rank should first be implemented. 

Time and time again, we have shown that if Licenced Taxis show a presence outside these places, the public are only too willing to use us. They are fed up with being ripped off by minimum prices by drivers who don't know where they are going.

Meanwhile, tonight will be another rolling rank to discourage the touts. It's not massively busy but there is a steady flow of work and customers were still leaving at 2am this morning. So if you're in the neighbourhood it's definitely worth a look.

Minicab tout takes walk up in Chiltern Street after doorman told passengers not to get into my Taxi.


  AdVan parked outside the FireHouse, last weekend.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Would you risk investing in a new Taxi, knowing that from 2020 you will have to pay a daily surcharge to come in to Central London? ...by Taxi Leaks Roving Reporter.

The first examples of super-clean Euro 6 diesel cars started to appear around January 2012. New car buyers have been able to choose Euro 6 diesel engines from manufacturers such as Mercedes and BMW for over 2 years now, with many more car firms tipped to roll out Euro 6 diesels before long. But Taxi manufactures have been slow to adopt the Euro 6 standard.

But what is a Euro 6 diesel?

In brief, it is a car/Taxi that meets super-strict emissions regulations set to come into force in 2015. Current exhaust emissions regulations meet Euro 5 standards, which became mandatory on 1 January 2011 for the sale of all new cars. 

Euro 6 standards are the next progression of this, and all new cars sold from 1 January 2015 must meet them.


So, what about Taxis being sold at the moment by LTC and KPM?

Despite enquiries, none of the current cab suppliers have made a statement about the fate of current Euro 5 Taxis after the introduction of the ULEZ ( Ultra Low Emmissions Zone).

The proposed ULEZ is due to be introduced in 2020 and it's been announced that Euro 6 Diesels would be exempt any charges to enter. 

That must mean that Euro 5 Cabs will be charged, a significant factor that affects both purchase and residual values of those cabs.

As is usual TfL have supplied no detail of the proposed ULEZ area, what specific arrangements for Taxis etc. Etc.

Importantly drivers looking to purchase cabs obviously need to have possession of the full facts, so they can make the right choices. We would have hoped by now that manufactures would have this information to hand and been offering substantial discounts on Euro 5 cabs.

It's been alleged by a major Taxi garage that LTC have not been releasing trade-in vehicles into the London used Taxi market for some time, thereby artificially creating a shortage of second hand Taxi vehicles. 

With this much uncertainty, more drivers are turning to renting vehicles causing the price of available rental cabs to increase. 

LTC have announced that the euro 6 TX4 will be available from 15th January 2015.

So far nothing from Eco City on Euro 6 Vitos.

New owners purchasing Euro 5 standard Taxis before 15th Jan 2015 must take into account that they will have to pay the Diesel engine daily surcharge to come in to Central London from the 1st January 2020. Plus the second hand/Trade in value of a euro 5 vehicle could plummet on the London market, leaving only the provinces as a viable alternative.

TaxiLeaks as ever will be first with the news as it arrives.




ECO CITY VEHICLES AGM. By Dave Davies.

Eco City Vehicles has made an extremely vague announcement following its AGM yesterday
14 August 2014


 Result of AGM


Eco City Vehicles PLC, the supplier of the licensed Mercedes Vito taxi, announces that all resolutions proposed at its Annual General Meeting held yesterday were duly passed.


This surely begs the question why is so little information being released about the AGM?
What were the resolutions passed?

The share price hit an all time low yesterday  of 0.35p which is 81%down on its year high

The shares have dropped a massive 55% in the last month alone.


How long will they continue like this with falling revenues and a falling share price ?

Any driver considering investing a huge amount of money in a taxi must surely ask himself how good will the warranty be if they are no longer in business?
How easy will it be to get parts and servicing?
How much will a Vito be worth after they have gone out of business?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

NEWS FLASH Uber banned in Berlin in latest taxi app crackdown.


Uber has been banned in Berlin, according to a press release from the State Office for Public Order of affairs.

The press release, issued on Wednesday, said the app-enabled service was in violation of the Passenger Transport Act. The headline of the press release was titled "prohibition order to protect the public".

The company has been threatned with fines of up to  €25,000 for each violation of the ban. Individual Uber drivers could face  €20,000 fines if they continue to carry on their business. 

According to the Berlin city government, Uber risks passenger safety through the use of "unverified drivers in unlicensed vehicles". The ban is not yet in force and Uber still has time to challenge the prohibition order in court.

Uber pushed back against the ban in a statement issued this morning:

"With demand for Uber services in Berlin on the rise, Berliners are voting with their fingers for choice, freedom and mobility for the future.

If the prohibition order goes through, it will considerably restrict the people of Berlin’s access to innovative transport options that open up choice and mobility in Germany’s biggest city and beyond. One of the biggest benefits of uberPop, our innovative ride-share service is the additional mobility option provided to people by Uber living outside the city limits.

The prohibition order therefore seeks to restrict freedom and limit mobility in Berlin and beyond."

Back in April, Uber was served with an injunction by a Berlin court for hurting competition.

The injuction was brought forward by Richard Leipold, a taxi operator and chairman of the city's taxi association.

Berlin's prohibition is just the latest in string of attacks by European regulators and politicians on the San Francisco startup.

France

After a strong lobbying effort by French taxi unions, Uber was subjected to the so-called "15-minute" law, which requires taxi apps to wait 15 minutes after customers place a booking to pick them up.

However, this has not been enough to appease the militant taxi unions of Paris. The French capital's taxi groups have since been lobbying for a doubling of the regulation to a "30-minute" rule.

Belgium

In April, a Belgium court ruling found Uber's operations illegal and threatened €10,000 fines for every ride. The ruling came after a series of protests by Brussels' minister for public works and transport minister, Brigitte Grouwels, along with several taxi companies who had accused Uber of violating regulations.


    Source: CityAM

Letters to the Editor: Covent Garden Hotel Complaint, Part 2

Dear Jim
I have just received confirmation from TfL that after reviewing my case they will be taking no further action and that the complaint will not be kept on my file.

I have though been contacted by the Covent Garden Hotel General manager Helie Jensen, who said in a phone call that I was completely out of order and that two other staff members have made statements to back up her concierge. 

I will be asking my Union (RMT) to take this matter further as the hotel has made no attempt to contact my passenger (their guest) who will confirm their staff to be lying. 


Camden Council Bid To Cut St Pancras Euro Star Taxi Rank Capacity.

I see Camden are looking to remove the segregated feed rank for St Pancras from Pancras Rd/Brill Place and replace it with a cycle lane after discussions with Camden Cycling Campaign. 

St Pancras is the main transfer hub for St Pancras Euro Star. 
Camden Councils Transport committee are made up mainly from cycling fanatics, who want the age limit on London Taxis reduced to ten years, already plan to ban Taxis from accessing major roads and popular shopping areas in the borough, now want to cut the Taxi rank capacity.


Camden Council leader Sarah Haywood and  cabinet member for transport Phil Jones.

We are proposing improvements to Pancras Rd Rail Bridge / Goods Way / Camley Street junction. 

We seeking to improve conditions for cyclists at the junction and have been discussing various ways we can do this with Camden Cycling Campaign.

The taxi rank from Pancras Road (south) to the Midland Road junction (under the bridge) will be removed; however the rank on Midland Road will be retained. Whilst the dedicated rank under the bridge will be removed, taxis will now be able to join the rank from both Pancras Road (north) and from Euston Rd / Pancras Rd (south) via general traffic lanes.

The taxi rank and footway under the bridge is within railway (HS1 Ltd.) land and our proposals will require a change of use of their property. 

This will, as explained above, involve the conversion of the taxi rank to a footway. We have discussed our proposals with them and they have not raised objections. We are working with them to ensure that access to the station by foot, coach and taxi is retained and delivery is not impacted.

Editorial Comment:
After finding a massive loop hole in the 1869 Hackney Carriage Act, on the 6th of March 1961, Carline with their Ford Anglias became the first company to pioneer the minicab in London. On the19th June that same year, Michael Gotla's Welbeck cars went into business with a fleet of 700 Renault Dolphins. This took minicabs to a new standard and meant a smartly dressed minicab driver in a beige corduroy suit and cap could drive you around London for only 1 shilling per mile.


Many thought this would be the end of the Taxi trade.
Since 1961, many have come and many have gone. The best Taxi service in the world has always stood firm against all competition. 

People want Taxis, people want drivers with the knowledge, people want licensed drivers who are fit and proper to do the job. They don't want cheap imitation.

It's not competition that puts this trade in danger.

But recently, a series of conditions on our trade, are proving to be the biggest threat to our very existence.

1. From January 1st only new vehicles that are to Euro 6 standard can be plated. This means if you have just bought a euro 5 Taxi, in five years time you will have to pay over £50 a week just to bring it into Central London.

2. The Law commission wants to do away with your exclusive right to ply for hire.

3. Councils are queuing up to exclude Taxis from parts of their borough. Ranks have been and are planned to be moved away from where they are needed the most.

When I first came into the trade over 40 years ago, there was 1 rank space for virtually every Taxi (although in 1973 there were only 13,000 Taxis). Today with just over 22,000 Green Badge drivers, this has been dramatically shrunk to 1 rank space for every 65 Taxis. 
AND ITS GETTING WORSE.

One of the worst offenders being Camden council who are planning to exclude Taxis from major roads and shopping areas. Not content with this, they also plan to shrink the amount of rank spaces in the borough. 

The life blood of this trade is the place where we are allowed to work, to ply for hire. Take away our streets, our ranks and you cut off the supply of blood to the very heart of our trade.

This consultation has been running since the 21st of July.

Click the link above and have your say.
Let's hope it's not too late. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Good news for Berkeley Street as consultation for Novikov rank finally gets underway. ... By Jim Thomas

CITY OF WESTMINSTER BERKELEY STREET THE CITY OF WESTMINSTER 
(PARKING PLACES) (E ZONE) (AMENDMENT NO. *) 

ORDER 201* THE CITY OF WESTMINSTER (TAXI RANK) (AMENDMENT NO. *) 

ORDER 201* 
1. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Westminster City Council proposes to make the above Orders under sections 6, 45, 46, 49 and 124 of and Part IV of Schedule 9 to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 as amended. 

2. The general effect of the Orders would be to introduce a dual use parking place (pay- by-phone / taxi rank) on the south-west side of Berkeley Street, outside ‘Novikov Restaurant’. The dual use parking place would operate as pay-by-phone between 8.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays (as existing) and as a taxi rank between 6.30 p.m. and 8.30 a.m. throughout the week. 

3. The proposed Orders and other documents giving more detailed particulars of the Orders are available for inspection until six weeks have elapsed from the date on which either the Orders are made or the Council decides not to make the Orders between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays inclusive at WSP UK, 10 th Floor, Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP. 

4. Further information may be obtained by telephoning the Council’s agents, WSP UK, telephone number (020) 3096 2891. Details are also available at http://westminstertransportationservices.co.uk/notices. 

5. Any objections or other representations about the proposals should be sent in writing to the Council’s agents,

WSP UK, 10 th Floor, Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP, 

or by email at tmo.westminster@wspgroup.com                                  
and quoting reference 7002/LH.

Closing date, 22 August 2014. 

All objections must specify the grounds on which they are made. 

Dated 1st August 2014. 
MARTIN LOW City Commissioner of Transportation 
(The officer appointed for this purpose)



Other consultations currently in progress are listed below. Get involved and have your say, don't leave it to others who may not even know what's going on.


Once these changes take place, it's too late to moan.


· Closing a gap on the A1 which currently allows a right turn:

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/streets/hyver-hill- the closing date is 15 September 2014


· New cycle superhighway between Oval and Belgravia:

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/cycling/cs5-inner- the closing date is 14 September 2014  


· Camden’s consultation on Pancras Road which will affect the St Pancras taxi rank:

consultations.wearecamden.org/culture-environment/public-consultation-proposed-walking-and-cycling-i/consult_view – the closing date is 29 August 2014


· New river crossings in east London:

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/river-crossings - the closing date is 12 September 2014


· Proposed junction improvements at Oval Triangle:

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/betterjunctions/oval - the closing date is 17 August 2014


· Extend the taxi rank in Berners Street:

http://westminstertransportationservices.co.uk/tmo/tmo_details.php?tt=2&id=733&wid=15 – closing date 22 August 2014



Letters to the Editor: Covent Garden Hotel Complaint, Part 1.

Dear Editor
I would just like to let your readers know about an incident that took place, outside a Central London hotel. 

I stopped for a passenger who hailed me outside the Covent Garden Hotel in Monmouth Street. The customer asked if I would be willing to take him and his wife to airport and if I could give them a fixed price. 

I told him that I would be happy to do it for a set price of £60. I told him that the meter would be set and If the fare went below my quotation, then that's what he would pay. However, if the fare went above my set price, the most I would demand from him would be £60. The customer was more than happy with this arrangement and put his luggage in my Cab.

The concierge, realising that his kick back was about to go out the window, rushed out shouting that he had ordered a taxi from Addison lee and tried to remove the luggage from my Taxi. 

I refused to let the concierge take the luggage as the passenger seemed content with my offered fixed price. But to myself and the passengers surprise, the concierge launched in to a volley of extremely aggressive abuse and said he would get his Taxi friends to sort me out. He also said he was reporting me to TfL for Touting and that he would "have my Job"

I dropped my passengers off at terminal 5. As there was concerned over the incident outside the hotel, the male passenger gave me an email address and said he would be more than happy to make a statement on my behalf, to confirm that no touting had taken place and that he had flagged me down of his own free will in good faith.

I kept the details but thought that would be the end of it.

But to my surprise a couple of days later, I received this letter from TfL.


Complaint enclosed:


I have since replied to the TfL letter and answered the complaint giving a full and comprehensive description of the events outside the hotel, including a statement from the customer Mr Pistorius. 

I also went to the trouble to get collaborative evidence from Addison Lee that no booking or cancellation had been received by them from the hotel for that particular time or in fact for the whole day in question.

I have contacted the Hotel group, Firmdale Hotels who currently have six hotels in Central London, Ham Yard Hotel, Charlotte Street Hotel, Soho Hotel, Dorset Square Hotel, Haymarket hotel and of course the Covent Garden hotel.

I explained that the concierge at the covent Garden Hotel, made malicious and false allegations about my conduct, which could possibly result in my licence being revoked. 

I have specifically ask the groups head office to deal with my complaint as I feel the Covent Garden Hotel management will do everything in their power to support their employee and may not handle my complaint fairly. 

I will let you know how I get on.


From the Wall Street Journal: August 12.
Eco City Vehicles: London Taxi Production on Hold

London taxi group Eco City Vehicles PLC (ECV.LN) Tuesday said production of the Mercedes Vito London licensed taxi it supplies the technology for, has been put on hold due to high stock levels.

"The Board expect production to resume in October subject to September sales performance," Eco City said.

-Shares down another 10%, valuing the company at GBP1.8 million ($3 million).


JAMIE TALKS ABOUT THE NEW TAXICAB APP:

SuperCabby Podcast Episode 6 – TaxiCab App

Play
We have been getting a lot of questions lately asking, “how’s the app going?” When will the app be available?” so I though that I would speak about how we started, how far we have come, when we realistically expect to have the app available. 

I talk about offers that we had from various third party app developers, why we didn’t accept any of the offers and the individual reasons why they were not appropriate for our trade. 

I mention some of the things that those involved with the project thought were fundamental for our app to succeed. I also talk about how the app business will be set up, how the cooperative will work and what drivers can expect from getting involved. 

This episode was not scripted and I spoke about the app “off pat” so please excuse some of the pregnant pauses and if I repeat myself please forgive me, this was originally broadcast on London Taxi Radio on Monday 11th August 2014 live. 

You can get in touch with the TaxiCab Group either by email or via twitter @TaxiCabLDN - 


Westminster City Council and The Metropolitan Police (Westminster), you have a duty of care to protect the public and make sure they are safe at all times.

This picture shows, the trust the people of London have in you is misplaced. 

How can you possibly allow this to happen.










Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Are you happy with your licensing authority.....by Travis B.

Just incase you were under any illusion that TfL had our best interest at heart.


Parked outside Hamleys and in a matter of minutes they are all over it like flys around crap.


Yet a few hundred yards away, outside Selfridges, parked on Zig Zag lines, a licensed Taxi rank and a bus stop, electric rickshaws currently banned in London are left in peace to carry on ripping off the tourists and putting the public's safety at risk. 


Then we have the case of TfL taking legal action to stop the LTDA using their "intellectual property".


And yet Arthur doesn't even get a phone call to tell him to stop using ours for illegally plying for hire.


Also while we are on the subject of unlawful usage of intellectual property:
Why have compliance done nothing about the minicab operator in Victoria Road Ruislip, who openly advertises Taxi Private Hire, complete on TfL rounal in their front window?
I have made multiple complaints over a four year period. 

  

I did go in there some time ago and aked them to provide me with a Taxi. They said it would be five minutes. After waiting, a car arrived and when I said I wanted a licensed Taxi as advertised in the window, the counter assistant just smiled and shook his head. Then, like Elvis, I left the building.

London Taxis have just been given notice by Leon Daniels that any unauthorised signage on London's Taxis will result in action being taken by TfL.

One rule for us and it would seem and no rules for them!


NEWS FLASH: Verifone apologises to Taxi drivers for insulting article in LTDA Taxi paper...by Jim Thomas

Verifone have today issued an apology on social media, after drivers complained about a defamatory article carried in the latest edition of the LTDA's Taxi paper.

Drivers were accused in an article on page 24, authored by VeriFone's Ben Priestley, of "keeping their precise earnings a secret with no record of what you make for the tax man"

Many drivers have made their own protest over this insult by refusing to use Verifone to process credit card payments and have covered up their in cab appliance.

To stop an escalation of the driver revolt, Verifone issued this apology on Twitter just before midday.


Not to be out done, the a LTDA finally puts out an admission that the article should never have gone out.
This was posted on Twitter around 6:40pm tonight.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Verifone accuses Taxi drivers of "keeping their precise earnings a secret with no record of what you make for the tax man". ..by Travis B.

In a paid for article carried in the latest edition of the LTDA's Taxi paper, Verifone's Ben Priestley has accused Taxi drivers who do not take credit cards, of "keeping their precise earnings a secret with no record of what you make for the tax man".

Just because an article carries the pretext "Advertisement", it should not indemnify the publication from all responsibility to the content of the article.

This article has angered drivers, many of whom say they will not be using Verifone in future. Those who have the facility fitted on rental vehicles say they will cover up the unit and use smart phone apps instead.

Drivers on social media and forums are calling for the immediate withdrawal of the online pages from the LTDA website and a full apology to be carried in. The next issue of Taxi paper

The Article Says:


The trade has been discussing taking card payments for
years, it’s become the accepted ‘norm’ now and will probably be mandated by 2016. Whilst nobody has said it in so many words, the only grounds to remain ‘cash only’ are to keep your precise earnings secret, with no record of what you make for the taxman (or missus) to hold against you. That’s despite nine out of ten taxi passengers stating that they wanted the option to pay their fare by card in a recent TfL survey.

As a consumer yourself, there’s not much you pay for with cash now. Not so long ago it was commonplace, making it hypothetically possible for cabbies to get one over on the taxman.

If you feel that you have been unfairly accused of tax evasion by Mr Priestley's remark in print, make sure you let the LTDA know how you feel.

Email their Vice General Secretary at 
bob@ltda.com 
and ask him to remove this insult from the Taxi online publication ASAP. 


Editorial Comment: by Jim Thomas.
Should trade publications take more care with paid for articles and adverts carried in their publications.
We have seen insulting adverts before were taxi drivers have been targeted by loan companies offering loans at unreasonable repayment charges. 

Also one trade publication carried full page adverts for an organised crime ring brothel, that was found to be using illegal immigrant sex slaves to service customers.

Surely our trade publications should have standards and should vet these types of adverts.

Or is it really all about the money?

Personally I use smart phone app Cab:App, to accept credit cards. It's extremely easy to set up and pays out three times a week. The money is paid straight into your bank account, in some cases within hours if a transaction. 

Customers love the app which charges them just 3% of the total transaction.

Compulsory Credit Card Acceptance:
Included in this years fare increase consultation, is a request by interested parties, to make credit card acceptance mandatory in London's licensed taxis. 
Taxi leaks has been told by the LTDA that they will fight this measure and have informed TfL if this becomes the case, then they will seek a Judicial Reveiw of TfL.

It is our belief that most other trade orgs would support the LTDA in this proposal. 



Cycle of despair.....by i'm Spartacus.

So another weekend where London becomes a theme park!


Cabs having to go 'round the houses' leading to angry customers and frustrated drivers, one can only imagine how much business the shops lose because of these seemingly endless cycling events.

We had Leon 'Olympic lanes' Daniels on TV saying just plan ahead, don't worry about closed bridges, blocked roads and closed underground lines, just plan ahead! On yet bike!

Pity TfL and the seemingly paralysed staff at LTPH cannot ride a bit faster on illegal plying for hire and the farce that is Über.

Another pity is that the so called leaders of the cab trade wish to indulge in taking pot shots at each other and taking offence to any criticism and using it as a barrier to dialogue, it's as childish as it is unhelpful.

Get on your bikes and get talking, that WILL make TfL backpedal!

Back to today, apparently we are expected to believe that the event brings millions into the London economy.

Just how much is a tin of 3 in 1 Oil?

I'm Spartacus (winner tour of London August 2014)