Saturday, September 20, 2014

International hunt for Holloway Minicab Driver who helped student’s murderers.


Kyriacos Phantis, who has been convicted of helping the murderers of Mohammed Abdullahi, is on-the-run amd may have fled to southern Cyprus.

An international arrest warrant has been issued for an on-the-run minicab driver after he was convicted of helping the killers of a student in King’s Cross.

Kyriacos Phantis, 56, from Holloway, drove the killers of 20-year-old Mohammed Abdullahi to and from the scene of his brutal stabbing in York Way on June 29 last year, the Old Bailey heard.

On Friday, Phantis was convicted in his absence of assisting an offender in connection with the killing outside a takeaway shop and given a three-year jail sentence.

Following the verdict, police issued an appeal for help in tracking him down, saying they believe he has fled the country and could be hiding in southern Cyprus.

Former Acland Burghley School pupil Mr Abdullahi, a criminology student from Kentish Town, was knifed to death in a bungled revenge attack by Kyle Sober-Froud, 20, and Calvin Jerelle Collins, 19, both of Bloomsbury Street, Bloomsbury, and Dean Winston, 20.

Sober-Froud, Collins and Winston were convicted of murder and jailed for life in March.

The trio wrongly believed he was behind a shooting two hours earlier at the windows of Winston’s home in Torriano Avenue, Kentish Town. Nobody was injured in the shooting and there was no evidence linking it to Mr Abdullahi.

Phantis, of Carleton Road, had been placed on bail and was due to be tried separately, but he failed to appear at the Old Bailey last week.

In his absence, the trial heard how he ferried the gang around north London on the hunt for those responsible for the shooting outside Winston’s home.

Phantis delivered the three men to York Way where Winston, Sober-Froud and Collins were caught on CCTV punching, kicking and knifing Mr Abdullahi before driving them from the scene as their victim lay dying on the pavement, the court heard.

Prosecutor Kate Wilkinson said Phantis, who was employed by Fleet Cars in Junction Road, Tufnell Park, drove the gang around for 40 minutes.

She said: “The three men attacked and killed Mr Abdullahi in just over one minute, then ran to the waiting car and were driven away by Mr Phantis.”

Anyone with information on Mr Phantis’s whereabouts can contact police on 020 8358 0200 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

                       Still licensed by TfL
         More Proof TfL Are Totally Failing London

Why wasn't his license suspended as the international warrant was issued?

    Source: Islington Gazette

Letter To Editor: Who's The Real Hypocrite ?

At the forefront of Baroness Jones mind was to get home safe, so naturally she chose to get home late at night by taxi whilst highlighting to the Mayor that she had no choice other than to use a taxi that uses an engine that TFL are happy to licence.

Perhaps she should insist that TFL should demand manufacturers to use better engines before being licensed.

I'm sure the Baroness knows that Taxi drivers don't like the engines that are foisted upon us in order to do our jobs

Kind regards,
Mick Smith

Mick, from the figures supplied, it would seem that the Baroness only claimed for 35 Taxi journeys in a 36 month period. That's approximatel one Taxi journey every month and in our opinion, not an overly excessive amount. Although an avid cyclist, cycling isn't always an option.

As for the expences, Peter Hendy probably spends more on magazine subscriptions to vintage bus publications (which is reclaimable through his TfL expenses). I notice Assembly Member Andrew Boff never bought that up.

I totally applaud Baroness Jones's use of the best Taxi service in the world, after all she has a choice!
I'm happy to pay taxes to insure Assembly Members and staff, after working late, can be transported home in a totally safe manner.

What would Mr Boff have the Baroness do, go home to Camberwell on the night bus?

Perhaps Assembly Member Andrew Boff time would be better spent, campaigning for funding to find a cleaner engine for London's fleet of 25,000 Taxis.

Perhaps Mr Boff should look at the facts: 
For nearly three years, mayor Boris Johnson and TfL have been removing older Taxis that have less polluting emissions standards than new Taxis, under his 15 year age limit. 

Boris introduced the Age Limit without any serious scientific research, based on predictions from computer modelling. In plain English, guesstimates. 

Doesn't  this make Boris a total hypocrite, in big Hollywood in style letters?

The RMT have been heavily involved in pushing the Mayor for some form of scrappage payment scheme. 
In a recent press release, after giving evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee, Boris said he was supporting proposals for a scrappage grant of £1,000 to £2,000, to remove the most polluting diesels.

Going on the latest DEFRA and Kings College reports, does this mean that older Taxis, which have been shown to be less polluting than brand new vehicles, would be exempt from any scrappage grant?

Surely, the only thing that should be scrapped, is the unlawful 15 year age limit on Taxis, which was never evidence based.
Jim Thomas (TtT).

              Even more hypocrisy from TfL
     Ten Year Age a Limit On Private HireVehicles ?

    Pictures by kind permission of Darren Wigley.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Visa To Stop Processing Credit Cards, Over Smart Phone Apps From End Of September: Chip And Pin Only.

Taxi Leaks has received unconfirmed reports, that from the end of September, Hailo will no longer be processing passenger credit cards, over the phone through their app.

We have been told, if a driver wants to clear a CC using the Hailo app, then he has to get the passenger to sign up with their Card details and open an account with Hailo on the journey.

We've also been informed, this is not policy from Hailo but it is in fact Visa who are refusing to process payments made without chip and pin security.

It's been alleged that the growing amount of fraudulent transactions made by Uber drivers, is the main reason behind Visa's decision.

Currently, TfL refuse to deal with complaints against minicab drivers in the same way they deal with taxi drivers. Complaints made against PH drivers are sent directly to the Operator to deal with. 

Uber's terms and conditions state that they are not responsible in any respect for transactions made between passenger and driver and any complaint must be taken up with the driver.

Again more proof that TfL are incompetently unfit to be a licensing authority. 

Victims of Uber driver fraud have been left with no other alternative but to complain en masse to Visa and other card services. It is believed that othe card suppliers will follow this line.

We now wait for a press release from trade companies who currently allow credit card clearing over their smart phone apps.
More news as and when it comes in.

This taken from an Irish Taxi forum
posted August 15, 2014:

This is a bit of a disaster.

I assume Cab:app aren't being similarly sanctioned by Visa?

Fast Pay is Going - but 'Pay-with-Hailo' is coming shortly - and Chip and Pin

Due to legal action from VISA and other credit card companies, we unfortunately have to retire the fast-pay feature of the app at the end of August. Fast Pay will continue to work on the brand new driver app until the 27th of August.

VISA have deemed these street-card transactions as high-risk and are no longer willing to offer a processing service using this method.

We understand this was a hugely useful feature for many drivers - so we are delighted to announce a brand new innovative feature that we call 'Pay-with-Hailo'. We will be sending more information about Pay-with-Hailo next week but in summary:

Pay-with-Hailo will allow customers who wish to pay for a journey on their card to 'check-in' to a Hailo taxi and pay using the card on their Hailo account. This will be extremely useful for regular customers and new customers alike.

Drivers will pay zero commission on 'Pay-with-Hailo' jobs.

In addition to this, Hailo has secured a highly competitive rate for our drivers for chip-and-pin devices. We'll announce more details shortly on this but if you are interested in purchasing one - please register your interest here.

Vito Taxi Suppliers Eco City, Sees Shares Suspended: Company On Verge Of Collapse.

Eco City Vehicles, the firm behind the Mercedes Vito London black cab, today saw its shares suspended as it stood on the verge of collapse just two years after rival TX4-designer Manganese Bronze did the same.

The company, founded by ex-cabbie Peter DaCosta, broke Manganese’s monopoly by converting Mercedes people carriers into cabs approved by the Public Carriage Office.

But now its future looks bleak after Eco City admitted its subsidiary One80, which owns the intellectual property to the crucial steering technology that adapts the Vitos to comply with London taxis’ strict turning circle rules, looks set to collapse into administration.

With no more Vitos at present being built after a lack of sales led to a pile-up of stock, Eco City admitted One80 cannot survive because of a “lack of production revenues” as well as an impending legal case against its 76.6% subsidiary by one of its licence holders.

“The group continues to experience challenging trading conditions requiring Eco City Vehicles to seek additional funding,” the firm said.

It added it was in talks with a potential backer but warned those negotiations “may or may not lead to additional funds”.

That uncertainty saw Eco City suspend its shares — which have plummeted by more than 80% in 2014 — at 0.3p “pending further evaluation of its position and future structure”.

Eco City only has one person left on the firm’s executive team, finance director Jonathan Moritz, who did not return telephone calls today.

In August, Eco City blamed San Francisco cab-booking app, Uber, for slaying London’s iconic taxis trade. It said that its collapse in revenues — which were down by a third in the six months of July — were “mainly due to the emergence of Uber”. But the Vito is also facing challenges from new taxis from Metrocab, which is making an electric cab, and Nissan.

Eco City’s struggles follow Maganese Bronze’s collapse in 2012, just two months after the Spice Girls sang and danced on top of five of its cabs in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. The firm was later bought by China’s Geely, for £11 million, and restarted production.

    Source: Evening Standard Business: Lucy Tobin

This From The Rugulator:

19 September 2014

Eco City Vehicles PLC


("ECV" or "the Group")


Share Suspension and Trading Update


Eco City Vehicles PLC ("ECV"), the sole distributor of the licensed Mercedes Vito taxi, provides the following update regarding One80 Limited ("One80").


One80 is the Group's 76.6% subsidiary, which owns the intellectual property rights to the rear wheel steer technology and other design rights used on the Mercedes Vito taxi.


In September 2012 ECV acquired the benefit of a short term loan made to One80 by Cabvision Network Limited. This loan has now been repaid and the security over One80 assets has been satisfied. 


As previously announced on 12 August production of Mercedes Vito taxis remains on hold owing to existing stock levels of completed vehicles.


With a lack of production revenues and, also previously announced the impending legal case against One80 by the non-exclusive licence holder the directors of One80 have notified its shareholders of its intention to appoint an administrator for One80.


As previously announced the Group continues to experience challenging trading conditions requiring ECV to seek additional funding. ECV is in negotiation with a potential funder that may or may not lead to additional funds.


With the potential administration of One80 and the resulting contractual frustrations encountered with third parties in executing disposals under the Group's strategic review, together with the continuing challenging trading conditions there is uncertainty as to the Group's financial position and prospects, as a consequence, ECV has requested a suspension of its shares pending further evaluation of its position and future structure.




Eco City Vehicles plc

John Swingewood, Chairman

Jonathan Moritz, Finance Director

+44 20 7377 2182

Numis Securities Limited

Stuart Skinner (Nominated Adviser)

+44 20 7260 1000

David Poutney (Corporate Broker)

Luther Pendragon

Neil Thapar, Sam MacAuslan

+44 20 7618 9100


Thursday, September 18, 2014


Credibility,Trust and Professionalism 
After the Civil War , in 1654 Oliver Cromwell set up the Fellowship of Master Hackney Carriages by Act of Parliament, and taxi driving became a profession. This makes the licensed taxi trade the oldest regulated public transport system in the world.

Approaching almost 400 years of platinum service to London and her people, London Taxi Drivers have served billions of people with the same credibility, trust and professionalism, as our forbearers demonstrated in the 1600's.
It takes years to complete the world famous "London Knowledge". It is difficult, lonely, and incredibly long winded. What's more, the financial burden to get oneself through such an arduous marathon of qualification can be compared to a university degree.
It doesn't end there either. Enhanced Criminal Records check, full and thorough medical tests and a specialist driving exam is not only required initially, but monitored, checked and renewed throughout a London Cabby's career.
The shiny green badge that is issued at the end of this monolithic feat does not just represent a passed test. It represents enormous trust, envied knowledge of our capital, mental and physical soundness, and a massive responsibility to safely convey passengers through some of the most difficult and intense traffic conditions in Europe.

School children,film stars, celebrities, sportsmen and women, aristocrats, business people, ambassadors, diplomats, tourists, and even members of worldwide royal families know instinctively that to hail a London Cab not only guarantees them a total professional to entrust themselves with, but almost 400 years of pedigree, and solid gold loyal service.

There isn't a corner of the globe, whereby a photo of a black cab wouldn't be instantly recognised as part of our iconic London. Like the Queens Guards, The Tower of London and Big Ben, our London Cabs and their drivers are deeply engraved in the capital city's foundations.
How on earth can an established platinum service that is as desperately needed in London as much today as it was over 300 years so badly treated, rode roughshod over and disrespected as much as we are today, by the top of our establishment ?
The most senior police officer in the country was recently quoted as saying London Cab Drivers "only complained because they were scared of competition"

What does he know about our City ? He's a Yorkshireman ! He spent most of his professional life dealing with Scousers and criminals up North !

Apparently, he doesn't realise that motorised rickshaws are illegal either ! Ask him how serious hunting hares with dogs is or the penalties for serving a pint of John Smiths with a flat head is and I bet he could throw the book at you

How about the traitor Ken Livingstone ?  Remember this in 2007 ?

"“The black cab is one of London’s most instantly recognisable trademarks and is an incredibly important part of London’s transport network.This project will help address the barriers to employment that currently exist for women and people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities to participate in this important part of our city’s life.”
£2million he wasted on that ludicrous racist idea, before it was scrapped! In my mind he should have been nicked for racism, because it was ! Remember when he said the London Cab Trade was a middle aged white man's trade? Nobody helped me do the knowledge apart from my wife. I had no funding. I bought my own moped and points sheets.
I don't need to mention Boris Johnson and his betrayal to our trade, do I ? He slaughtered our loyalty and legacy during the Olympics, and murdered us with the emissions fiasco. Another egotistical self styled buffoon, whose only ambition is to be leader of his party.
I have had my green badge long enough to remember a mutual respect that our trade and the Old Bill had. Look at the situation today. Apart from specialist units who have  officers with predominantly vast experience, London's Police Service  in the main are shameful. 

The inherent lack of law awareness and proper police training has been hugely evident since Hendon Police Training College closed it's doors in 2011 due to lack of funding.

I am a great believer in public image. I think it's important, especially in the middle of our vast city. I am also aware of how brave and good smaller men and women can be in combat.

However, the copper I saw in London's Oxford Street last week must have been fired there out of a cannon ! If it wasn't Jimmy Clitheroe, mine's a bloater ! Not just their image either.

Their lack of any understanding of our job and it's laws are breathtakingly inept.
The legacy of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell all those hundreds of years ago, has been systematically raped, battered and left for dead by career chasing,  bent ,traitor politicians, out of touch coppers concerned only with personal nest feathering and a hive of untrained, scruffy, umpa-lumpers turning a blind eye to blatant mini cab touts breaking our laws.
With over 70,000 CCTV Cameras in London, the people who are trained and licensed to use them amazingly fail to see blatant acts of illegal touting taking place. Have half a tyre in a yellow junction box though, or stop for a hail on the zig zags, and witness the camera operators superb training rush to the fore !
Years ago when I trained for the knowledge, I was still in the army. Four years after I started, I was awarded my green badge.

I hardly remember coming down the stairs of the second floor of the hallowed Penton Street clutching my shiny new badge and immaculate Bill.
One thing I remember vividly though was the immense PRIDE. The PRIDE that I had been selected. The PRIDE that I had proved my worthiness. The PRIDE that I had managed to hang on in there, despite the long haul. The PRIDE that I now belonged in the ranks of one of the greatest and respected professions in London. The PRIDE that I was part of London's legacy and iconic status. 
But most of all was the PRIDE I felt, for achieving a goal that was respected the world over by everybody who has ever had any dealings with the London Taxi Trade.
Never once though on my way down those stairs, did I ever think, that one day, the very heart of the establishment that we have served so loyally and so professionally for so many years........would not only stab us in the back, but betray us with so much wilful contempt.
I am unsure of what the future of our trade holds for us. One thing is for sure though.

The Men who I first  predicted were coming to kill us several years ago........are certainly here now.
If there was ever a screaming case for TOTAL TRADE must surely be now.
Be lucky all .
8829 Semtex

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Deregulation by Stealth: Sat Navs To Replace The Knowledge OnMerseyside.

In Dublin, the deregulation of its taxi system has directly led to 50 Taxi drivers committed suicide in the last 4 years. Dublin now has more Taxis than London.

The nightmare of trying to scrape a living in a chronically overcrowded industry and in the teeth of a recession is causing a range of psychological and physical problems. Strokes and heart attacks are also far too commonplace.

Dublin City Council has done little to improve the situation. The suicide rate is going to get worse before it gets better, that's for sure.

And So It Begins
Front page Liverpool Echo:

Merseyside taxi drivers may no longer face 'knowledge' test

Taxi drivers at some of Merseyside’s biggest firms may be allowed to carry passengers without taking the traditional “Knowledge” test.

Sefton council’s licensing committee will decide on Monday whether to keep or scrap the controversial Knowledge Test which all new taxi drivers in the borough must pass.

Bootle-based private hire firm Delta Taxis has put forward a proposal calling for the test to be scrapped, in light of recommendations made by the Law Commission.

Their report states that “private hire services should only be subject to national standards. Licensing authorities should no longer have the power to impose local conditions.”

Within its submission Delta Taxis said it believes the “current test is nothing more than a memory test and out of date” and that “computer aided and satellite navigation has totally transformed the industry since the knowledge test was introduced 22 years ago.”

The test, which is conducted by the council, involves new driver applicants having to answer 20 questions on local landmarks and licensing and driving rules, selected from a list of 60 questions, as well as six route questions selected from a list of 40 routes.

Paul McLaughlin, Delta company secretary, said: “In all honesty it is no more than a memory test, which has absolutely no bearing on a driver’s ability to navigate.

“You memorise the routes in advance and regurgitate them back onto a piece of paper. It is a tick-box exercise which has zero practical benefits for drivers or customers.”

Wayne Casey from South Sefton Hackney Carriage Drivers Association said he believed the ability to find places in a driver’s chosen working area is a reasonable expectation,

He said: “Failure to have or acquire this knowledge is to deny the fundamental function of hiring a vehicle and driver as a taxi.

“The tests were introduced many years ago by Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council and seem common sense now.”

He also said how an informed choice, based on local knowledge, is still needed when using a sat nav as they usually give a choice of routes.

Tommy McIntyre from Unite the Union’s taxi section said: “The proposals (by Delta Taxis) seem ludicrous to say the least, that modern technology can replace the in-depth knowledge both private hire and Hackney drivers should have to perform their duties to the travelling public’s expectation.”

In a statement he said he believed an in-depth knowledge was beneficial to the local community who expect a professional who knows where they are going.

He added: “Modern technology indeed is an asset to the Hackney and private hire driver, but is in no way a substitute for the driver’s base topographical knowledge.”

Taxi use plummets 65 percent in 15 months as passengers turn to smartphone apps like Uber.

Smart phone ride services have decimated San Francisco taxi industry's business. 

Many taxi drivers are now using an application presently called Taxi Magic (soon to be called Curb) to get more fares, in an effort to compete with on-demand services like Uber and Lyft. 

The fall of the taxi industry in San Francisco, as less-regulated ride services have taken hold, has been both steep and sharp. The number of trips taken by taxis have plummeted 65 percent in just 15 months, according to a report presented to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board yesterday.

It's been evident that the booming popularity of app-dispatched ride services like Lyft and Uber have dramatically eaten into the taxi industry's business. But the report on the status of the taxi industry reveals the depth of the impact.

The average number of trips per taxi (based on 2 shifts per day) has been on a steady slide - from 1,424 per month in March 2012 to 504 this July.

The new ride services "have dramatically changed the for-hire transportation industry in San Francisco," said Kate Toran, the city's new taxis and accessible services director.

While the MTA regulates the taxi industry, the state Public Utilities Commission has claimed jurisdiction over the new ride services, which typically contract with people to use their personal cars to carry passengers who hail them with a smartphone app.

The new companies, unlike taxi operators, have lesser insurance requirements, no restrictions on the number of vehicles they put on the streets, no clean-air standards and less-stringent background checks. The newcomers say they're replacing a failed industry, while the taxi companies claim they're underregulated scofflaws.

Among biggest impacts of the ride services has been the drop in taxi rides taken by people in ramp taxis, which carry people in wheelchairs. As the ride services have grown and the number of cabs has diminished, so has the availability of wheelchair-accessible taxis, which are costlier to operate. The number of pickups in ramp taxis dropped from a high of 1,378 in March 2013 to just 768 in July. The ride services are not required to pick up people in wheelchairs. MTA officials have offered incentives to cab companies to keep more ramp taxis on the road.

The agency has already taken steps to keep taxis part of the city's transportation landscape by reducing or eliminating fees and streamlining regulations. They've also required electronic information systems in all cabs and encouraged the use of dispatching apps. Most cabs now use electronic hailing apps similar to what the ride services offer.

But MTA directors and some taxi drivers and managers said more is needed. Director Malcolm Heinicke wants to make it mandatory for taxis to have e-hailing apps, and taxi drivers said they want the city to keep ride services and limousines out of transit-only lanes and taxi stands.

    Source: SFGate.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Protectionism is good for you! I'm Spartacus.

It seems whenever someone speaks out on behalf of the cab trade, the interviewer says 'your just being protectionist' as if that something to be ashamed off.

Well let's give them the message that yes we are definitely being protectionist and spell out loud and clear what we are protecting.

We are protecting:
1. The hard won exclusive right to ply for hire.

2. Ensuring the best cab trade in the world has both a present and a future.

3. The public, from the riff raff that seeks to put them in danger such as the unsafe Pedicab, the unlicensed tout and the uninsured PH driver who touts a job or takes a virtual hail from an app.

Of course you will get the multi national vampires stating its free trade and that's good.

Well experience has shown (utilities, banks, supermarkets etc.) that it is not, as soon as these people have 'market dominance' they squeeze every penny out of the consumer and kill any new competition.

The vulnerability of the late night passenger and those who need the special facilities of a purpose designed cab prove that they and the cab trade need both regulation and protection.

Throwing us and therefore them to the wolves of corporate greed who are beyond the reach of the regulatory and taxation authorities is reckless.

If these raiders were offering cut price unregulated legal services, accountancy or any other so called 'professional services', you can be sure the 'great and the good' would move swiftly to stamp it out!

How then do we best protect ourselves?

There has been a lot of moves by many to bring all the cab trade together to speak as one, that seems doomed to failure as small minded parochial self interest rules at present.

We have a workable alternative, in that we rebuild a version of the old London taxi board where all (and it must be all) those who represent the trade (drivers unions and local associations and fleet owners come together), the others such as circuits, schools, manufacturers etc. can contribute but we need to tread  carefully and set rules about conflicts of interest and have a good leadership.

             Protectionism is good for you!

T&PH Notice 08/14...1984 Comes To The Cab Trade.

National Fraud Initiative 

Since 1996 the Audit Commission has run the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), an exercise that matches electronic data within and between audited bodies to prevent and detect fraud. This includes police authorities, local probation boards and fire and rescue authorities as well as local councils. Further information about the NFI is available on the Audit Commission’s website at 

As part of the 2014/2015 NFI data matching exercise Transport for London (TfL) is required by law to release information about licensed taxi and private hire vehicle drivers to the Audit Commission and in October 2014 TfL we will be providing the Audit Commission with the name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number (if available) of every licensed taxi and PHV driver. 

Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body 
against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it indicates that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out. 

The use of data by the Audit Commission in a data matching exercise is 
carried out with statutory authority under its powers in Part 2A of the Audit 
Commission Act 1998. It does not require the consent of the individuals 
concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998. Data matching by the Audit Commission is subject to a Code of Practice which can be found at: 

Further information on the Audit Commission’s legal powers and the 
reasons why it matches particular information can be found on the Audit Commission’s website at 

Data Security 
TfL considers the security of data as very important and will ensure that the data is transferred securely to the Audit Commission. 

Helen Chapman 
General Manager, Taxi and Private Hire
15 September 2014