Saturday, October 25, 2014

Uber’s ride-sharing service was halted Friday, just hours after it launched in Nevada.

Uber’s ride-sharing service was halted Friday, just hours after it launched in Nevada.

Carson City District Judge James Russell blocked Uber from offering any rides in the state through at least Nov. 7. A hearing is set for Nov. 6.

The state’s attorney general sought the temporary order late Friday afternoon.

State and county taxi officers also were trying to stop the Uber drivers earlier in the day, but managed to do so on a much smaller scale.

On Friday afternoon, at least five drivers — four in Las Vegas and one in Reno — had been cited by regulators, according to Teri Williams, spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Business and Industry. Those drivers face fines of up to $10,000, Williams said.

Uniformed officers were at the Fashion Show mall on the Strip late Friday to meet Uber driver Michael Elsner with a ticket.

Five unmarked white Nevada Taxicab Authority vehicles surrounded his blue Ford Focus as he was driving east on Fashion Show Drive about 3:30 p.m. He was pulled over while trying to drop off two passengers. Two undercover officers wore black ski masks.

Elsner appeared annoyed but handled himself with humor.

During a call to an Uber hotline operator, he told officers and reporters, “They’re [Uber] worth more than $18 billion. Do you think the Nevada Taxicab authority is going to win? I mean, Come on, come on.”

He continued by telling the operator what happened. “It’s like a sting. It was crazy, man. They had one cop on the front telling me to get out of the car, if I had any drugs. It was wild.”

When asked by the operator if he needed anything else, he told her, “I want my car to be taken out of impound as soon as possible because I have to go to work tomorrow morning, but I know that won’t happen. And I don’t want to have to pay any fines so put some of that $18 billion you all have behind me, will yah?”

Elsner politely thanked the operator before hanging up the phone. His Focus was on top of a tow truck at 4:30 p.m.

Uber western region spokeswoman Eva Behrend said in an email Friday that the company will pay the fines, at least for now.

“Uber vigorously defends the rights of our partner drivers and firmly stands by them when they are wrongly cited or impounded. We will cover any financial or legal costs associated with these unjust actions,” she said.

But she did not respond to an email seeking comment on the court action.

Tom Ely, recently appointed interim director of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, said most citations Friday resulted from tips to authorities, but that Uber cars are easy to find.

“Uber does have an app out there that can be viewed and we can see where their vehicles are,” Ely said. “Since they don’t have the certificate of conveyance so they can operate legally in Nevada, we’re taking the proper enforcement action.”

Philosophical differences have driven the debate over Uber and other ride-sharing companies seeking to operate in the state.

Regulators say Uber drivers are transporting people without a license, which goes against state law.

But Uber management says the company is a technology platform that connects people who need rides to drivers who can provide them. They say they aren’t a transportation company and the drivers who will operate in Southern Nevada are independent contractors who sign an agreement that enables them to use the company’s app, which also provides electronic payments from the passenger to the driver.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Colton Lochhead atclochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Find him on Twitter: @ColtonLochhead. Contact Ricardo Torres at rtorres@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0381. Find him on Twitter: @rickytwrites.


Milton Keynes Minicab Clipboard Johnny charged with touting.

The Daily Mirror reported that Sohail Masood 34, put on a yellow high-vis jacket with ‘Book a Cab Here’ on the back and approached people at a train station, ahead of waiting black cab drivers

A court heard he had already clashed with rival drivers outside the rail station in Milton Keynes, Bucks, on a previous occasion before he was arrested.

Masood, who owns Northants-based ‘Starline Cabs’, was found guilty of soliciting people for private vehicle hires.

It is believed to be the first time the Crown Prosecution Service has managed to secure a conviction for the charge, commonly known as ‘taxi touting.’

Dad of two Masood, from Milton Keynes, told the city’s magistrates: “The first time there was an incident between myself and taxi drivers there.

“The black cab drivers were not very happy about it. They were shouting at me and pushing me to try to stop me from what I was doing.

“I stayed calm and did not retaliate. I was just doing my job.”

He said on that occasion police attended and calmed the situation down and told him to move on to diffuse the situation.

Masood insisted that he did not approach anyone and only booked ‘minicabs’ for customers who approached him 

as the council had told him he could legally do.

Prosecutor Matthew Knight said: “You wore a high visibility jacket that said, book your cab here’. 

“Which means that your actions were enticing people to come to you and book their ‘taxi’ with your company.”

Shiraz Rustom, defending, said Masood was a reputable businessman of good character.

He said: “Mr Masood faces losing his livelihood for something he made the effort to make several checks on about whether he would be breaking any laws. 

He believed his actions were within the law.”

Although Masood was convicted, he was then given an absolute discharge, meaning he faces no punishment because the magistrates said he had tried to find out if he would be acting within the law.

He was ordered to pay £150 court costs.


Mirror survey: Should touting for passengers be a crime?  Click here to take part and read this story on the Mirror website


Editorial comment:

Over the years there have been many convictions and there is much case law, but for illegally plying for hire. 
Many touts have been arrested most take a police caution. 

This is the reason why it's imperative "plying for hire" must be defined in Law when the Law commission finally submit their report.

This is the first conviction for Touting and has indeed set a  precedence.
But again there is much wrong with this case.
Ignorance of the law, should not have affected the sentence. 

We waited many years for LTPH to bring a case of touting to court. They always said that it would be a dangerous area. 
Mason and Chapman said they were waiting for an open and shut case.....they took Diamond Chauffeurs to court....and then lost.

Unfortunately, there is no appetite from TfL to seriously enforce against touting or illegally plying for hire. Once convictions statistics start mounting up, everyone would be able to see the scale of the problem. TfL prefer to stay low key on this. 

Complaints are misplaced, no arrests=No problem 
FOI requests return same answer, "we don't keep statistics on these issues"

The police see this as a low priority and in some cases, actually facilitate touting. Same with councils. 

Let's hope that now we finally have a first conviction, that we can now go forward from here on.  



Uber Arrives In Las Vegas Today...battles with taxi companies loom.

Technology company Uber has arrived in Las Vegas and plans to launch its ridesharing service today, a move that could spark an all-out battle with local taxi companies intent on keeping the competitor out of the market.


Uber’s launch is timed to coincide with this weekend’s Life is Beautiful festival, which will draw tens of thousands of people to downtown Las Vegas. The company expects many will be looking for rides to and from the festival grounds to avoid parking headaches. The service should be available starting around midday and company spokesman Lane Kasselman said, p hundreds of drivers are already signed up to offer rides.

Uber has made lots of fans as it’s rolled out its service, which allows users to order a ride through a smartphone app to more than 100 cities across the country since launching in 2010. Before today, Las Vegas was one of the largest cities Uber hadn’t launched in. The company is also launching its service in Reno and Carson City.

Uber officials were coy about what took them so long to arrive in Las Vegas, stating only that they were waiting for the right time to launch. Experts have said that Las Vegas’ highly-regulated taxi industry and unique structure of the market, that 95% of the region’s 26 million cab rides take place at the airport or on the Strip, making it a more challenging environment than most cities.

The app works by connecting riders with a network of independent drivers, who use their own vehicles to transport passengers. The rides are touted as being 10 to 20 percent cheaper than a traditional taxi ride with faster pickup times.

Uber drivers will not be allowed to pick up riders on the Strip or at the airport, although they can drop off passengers at those locations. Instead, the company says it will focus on outlying residential areas it considers underserved by traditional taxis.

“We’re focusing on launching for people who live and work here,” Kasselman said. “There’s no question about the Strip having lots of transportation options, but the people that actually drive the economy in this city don’t have those options.”

Uber shies away from comparisons with taxicab companies, maintaining that it’s merely a technology platform that connects users in need of a ride with drivers willing to share their vehicle for a price.

Uber’s success in other cities has made it some high-powered enemies at taxicab companies. Las Vegas taxicab operators have argued for months that Uber’s service would be illegal if launched in Nevada.

Uber has pushed back against these claims, and Kasselman said the company is confident it can legally operate in Nevada. In fact, Kasselman argues, state regulations don’t even consider a service such as Uber, leaving a gray area that needs to be further defined.

Uber’s presence in other cities has drawn fierce challenges and many lawsuits in cities such as Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco, but the company has largely weathered the opposition and continues to operate in those cities. In many cases, new regulations were passed specifically addressing and legitimizing the ridesharing model championed by Uber and similar companies such as Lyft and Sidecar.

In Nevada, Uber will have to contend with the state’s powerful taxi lobby, which has given more than $3 million to political candidates since 1990, the highest amount of any state in the country, according to data from the Sunlight Foundation.

For now, the company is not launching its Uber Black service, which involves luxury town cars, in Nevada because state law requires those vehicles to be booked at least an hour in advance and to include a minimum fare. Neither of those requirements fits in Uber’s current business model.

    Source VegasInc

Friday, October 24, 2014

Questions In The Commons.


John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead, Labour)

What steps he is taking to improve passenger safety in taxis and private hire vehicles.

 

Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport); Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative)

The Government’s principal role in relation to taxis and private hire vehicles is to ensure that the legislative framework and the guidance to licensing authorities are fit for purpose. Our best practice guidance for licensing authorities stresses the importance of adequate safety checks and enforcement to ensure that these services are safe.

 

John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead, Labour)

But the Government are also planning to allow taxi operators to subcontract calls to other taxi operators without consent. What implications will that have for safety, especially for women?

 

 

Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport); Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative)

All the taxis will have been licensed, albeit by a neighbouring authority. I cannot see the difference between getting into a minicab in York to go to Scarborough, so I am being driven around Scarborough in a York minicab, and a firm in Scarborough ordering a York cab for me because it is so busy owing to the success of our resort.

 

Julian Smith (Skipton and Ripon, Conservative)

I urge the Government to look one more time at the provisions in the Deregulation Bill, which is currently before the Lords. In northern towns such as Skipton, taxis have been a key part of the problem of child sexual exploitation.

 

Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport); Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative)

It is up to licensing authorities to carry out all the necessary checks. If people who are not the designated driver are driving vehicles, it is a matter for enforcement. The changes that the Government propose would make no difference to that.


Editorial comment:

Robert Goodwill mentioned the word "ENFORCEMENT" twice in this report.


When any authority dishes out licences/permits/authorisation, etc, it is absolutely essential that that authority has a stringent and efficient ENFORCEMENT programme fully operational and effective, built into the structure.


Without it, abuse and total breakdown of compliance is the obvious outcome.


London is a classic and prime example of what happens when a Government Authority dish out licences, without first ensuring that an adequate and effective ENFORCEMENT programme is backing it.


TFL have an Enforcement Team, but we have seen them in operation, absolutely woeful.


I have extensive contacts in elite security operations, and believe me, if any of TFL's Enforcement & Compliance Team gave their CV's to my contacts, they would be laughed out of town !


Massively inadequate compliance, ludicrously off target most of the time and an appalling rate of successful prosecutions.


So although Robert Goodwill mentions the need for active enforcement, actually acquiring a professional unit capable of serving the remit, is a different ball game.


8829 Semtex 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dundee Taxi Driver Attack Caught On Video.

Police are investigating after a video of a woman and a taxi driver apparently fighting in Dundee was uploaded online. 
In the clip, which appeared on YouTube, a woman in a black top can clearly be heard shouting and gesturing at a man in the driver’s seat. 



About 25 seconds in, she can be seen leaning into the cab and appears to wrestle the man, setting off the cab’s horn twice. 
The pair continue to struggle in the cab seat for almost a minute before the woman walks away. 
In the background there is traffic chaos as cars are forced to drive round the vehicle, which is pulled over across one side of the road facing oncoming traffic. 
The incident took place on South Road and was reported to police. 
The video description reads: “This is after about 10 minutes of arguing, she stopped the cab and opened the driver’s door, leaving the cab half on a busy road.”
A police spokeswoman said officers were making inquiries into an incident between a taxi driver and a woman.
“Anyone who has information that could assist with inquiries is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101.”
The taxi driver is in a cab that has “Premier” written on the back, but when the Tele contacted Premier Taxis, they declined to comment.
Graeme Stephen, chairman of the Dundee Taxi Association, said: “I don’t know what happened in this case, but in general safety is a concern for taxi drivers. 
“You’re picking up lots of people — sometimes groups of them — and you’re on your own. 
“You don’t know if they’ve taken alcohol or drugs, or whether they’ve just argued with their partner. 
“A whole host of things could have upset them and the taxi driver gets the brunt of it. 
“I find that it’s helpful to have CCTV in the taxi. 
“Lots of taxis in Dundee have it, I’ve had it for six and a half years and it’s very good. 
“The system is set up by the council and the police and they are the only ones who can play back the footage.”

    Source: The Evening Telegraph.

Uber hit with French “deceptive practices” fine, UK tax complaint and Uber no longer operating in Tuscaloosa

Uber keeps getting disrupted by European laws. 

On top of those recent >Dutch driver arrests<, the U.S. quasi-taxi outfit has now been >fined €100,000 ($128,000)< in France for falsely marketing its paid-for UberPop (a.k.a. UberX) offering as a carpooling service, and told by the Parisian court to warn its drivers that they face “criminal conviction.”

 Meanwhile, in the U.K. transport authorities have >referred Uber to the tax authorities< for, unlike other taxi firms, not paying any tax in the U.K. (Revenues go to a Dutch subsidiary that’s >owned by a Bermuda subsidiary<.) 

Indian authorities are >also on the firm’s case< over tax, so at least it’s not just Europe.

Click on links >...< to read full stories 

    Source: Gigaom

Uber no longer operating in Tuscaloosa

Police Chief Steve Anderson told the City Council on Tuesday that the Uber ride-sharing service is telling its drivers to stay out of Tuscaloosa.

"It appears they have ceased operations in Tuscaloosa for the time being," Anderson said.

The city said earlier this month that Uber drivers would face arrest unless the San Francisco-based company complied with a series of vehicle-for-hire regulations that are enforced on other, more traditional taxi services.

City Attorney Glenda Webb said she had not heard from Uber's legal representatives since Oct. 7.

"Like everything else Chief Anderson and the TPD handles, they did a great job on this," said District 6 Councilman Eddie Pugh. "We appreciate what you did on this, chief."

Uber is a global transportation company that recently expanded into 24 new cities, 22 of them college towns like Tuscaloosa, prior to the start of the 2014 college football season.

Uber officials said the service it offers is not that of a traditional taxi cab business.

Uber doesn't own the vehicles or employ the drivers — each is an independent contractor who uses his or her own vehicle — but the company said drivers must pass records checks going back seven years.

Because of this, Uber officials said the city's "outdated rules" governing traditional taxi and limousine services do not apply to them.

    Source: Tuscaloosa news




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Warning: KPM Rental Drivers Uninsured.

Warning:
If you have a rental cab with KPM, you should be aware that the group insurance policy covering all KPM's rentals has been cancelled and you should not drive the vehicle. 

A letter sent out today, confirms that the company has gone into creditors voluntary liquidation.

If you have any queries, you are advised to contact 
David MacCormack at Close Bros on:





Assembly Member Darren Johnson Shows Support For Taxi Trades Concern Over Uber Advert.

After receiving TfL's reply from Vernon Everitt, Taxi Leaks editor Jim Thomas, in conjunction with the RMT London Taxi Branch Press Officer, contacted assembly member Darren Johnson over the Uber advert on TfL's website. 

Darren understands our concerns and has tabled a formal question to the mayor over the advert, in light of current outstanding legal matters.

We received this email earlier today.

Dear Xxxx
Many thanks for copying me in. I completely understand your concerns and have tabled a formal question for the Mayor of London as follows:
 
Given legal questions surrounding Uber’s operation in Greater London are still awaiting clarification, is it appropriate for the company to be advertising on the TfL website?
 
I will let you have a response as soon as it is received.
 
Regards
Darren
 
Darren Johnson AM 
Green Party Member 
London Assembly 

Darren also posted this on Twitter a short while ago

 

Things You Should Know About Uber...Who's Driving You?

What is it about Uber, that makes TfL bend over backwards to support them as a fit and proper company to hold a Private Hire Operators Licence in London?

This company has carried on operating in European cities where it has been ban, with no regard for being compliant with the rule of law in that country. 

How can TfL advertise this company on their website without it being a conflict of interest?

TfL say the Uber Advert meets their in-house guidelines!
 
It may fulfil in house 'guidelines', nonetheless it's completely inappropriate for a public authority that (in the case of Taxi and PH licensing) exercises a quasi judicial function, to carry material from a licensee.

No other UK regulator or licensing authority carries' any such advertising and an internet search has found none anywhere in the world that so do!

TfL not only have to be beyond reproach in these matters, but perhaps just as important, they need to be seen to be so.

Would the Civil Aviation Authority carry a link to Ryanair on their website, or the rail regulator carry one for the Heathrow Express?

Of course not, neither should TfL.

Watch the Video below and find out the truth about 4 Uber Myths.





Tuesday, October 21, 2014

City of London Police carry out controlled explosion, on unattended Taxi left opposite Gherkin... By Jim Thomas.

The City of London police panicked when a silver TX2 was left on a Taxi Rank, outside the Gherkin building in St Mary's Axe. This seems to be the City of London Police way of informing Taxi drivers not to leave your cabs parked on City ranks overnight.


Taxi drivers have been leaving their cabs on Taxi ranks in the City for many years as drivers decide to take the train home to deepest Essex rather than driving through the rush hour traffic. 

But now, with the security status raised to a substantial threat of a terrorist attack, the City police will be keeping a more vigilance eye on vehicles they find abandoned on Taxi ranks. Instead of putting out a statement to the Taxi trade, informing drivers not to leave vehicles unattended on City ranks, they decided to blow one up, hoping the message will get to drivers quicker.

City of London Police said officers were called at about 7.45am on Monday morning after the vehicle was reported left there overnight. 

Police threw a cordon around the area amid the alert, with several key roads closed during the rush-hour, a controlled explosion was carried out on the Hackney carriage, which was parked near the skyscraper.


Witnesses reported seeing a small controlled explosion on the silver taxi in St Mary Axe. Pictures showed its rear window smashed and the back of the vehicle, which was covered in police tape, damaged.

The window of a nearby Slug and Lettuce pub also appeared to have been smashed. The taxi was removed by officers and the cordon lifted after around an hour.

A spokesman said: "We were called to a report of a suspect vehicle. Officers were sent to the scene and the vehicle has now been removed. It is no longer being treated as suspicious."

Perhaps the CoL police could now concentrate on the hundreds of cars that are left parked outside clubs, hotels, bars and restaurants touting every night. 
Or like RD2, have all minicabs got special dispensation from the police as well as TfL? 

      Minicabs parked outside old Billingsgate, apparently with the blessing if TfL.

If a terrorist wanted to leave a car bomb outside a building in the City or anywhere in Central London, they have only got to put a minicab roundel in the window and they can park it wherever they like. 

Editorial Comment From Semtex
I myself am only too aware of the dangers of the imminent threat of terrorism. I realise that with the National threat being escalated recently, Police Forces across our capital, have to justifiably be vigilant.

I would expect then, that the decision by the Area Commander in the City Force to blow the cab up, was made after intelligence suggested that the parked up TX2 had indeed appeared suspicious.

However, if the controlled explosion had been deployed as a result of the cab being left there overnight, then that is a different issue.

The cab was Licensed, plated and still bearing the driver's personal identifier numbers.

It would take a Police Commander minutes to ascertain who the driver was, and the origins for the authenticity of the vehicle.

I cannot for the life of me believe that the City Police would display a show of strength by going for the easy nick London Cab trap again? 
Surely not? 

As you say Jim, with mini cabs across London parking and waiting illegally every night of the week with apparently no official challenge, it makes you wonder where the priorities are.

Bearing in mind that mini cabs are driven predominantly by foreign nationals, most Police Forces simply cannot afford a counter claim from Human Rights Representation Barristers. They are terrified of them. 

To display their strength then, a hit on the easy nick London Taxi Trade manages to complete the target led paperwork back at the station, perfectly !

Statistics are met, time scales adhered to and a visible show of zero tolerance on clear view for all to see. Fundamentally though, and as we all know, it ain't any of us who are likely to blow London up, is it?

To anybody outside our ranks, the act of a controlled explosion on the TX2 opposite the Gherkin would portray a zero tolerance, razor sharp and steadfast approach to National Security by our City Police Force.

As I say,I assume that was indeed no doubt the case. There is no way the City Police would blow a cab up for parking on a rank on a Sunday night,unless they had some real concerns would they ? 
Would they?

8829 Semtex. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

Ex-Police Officer Turns Vigilantly To Arrest Uber Drivers Breaking The Law.

A former riot-police officer turned hire-car driver in Australia has taken it upon himself to crackdown on UberX drivers operating illegally.

Russell Howarth, founder of the group Arresting Uber, made his first citizen's arrests on a driver in Sydney last week and plans to carry out 10 more this week in an effort to raise awareness of unlicensed drivers transporting passengers illegally through the UberX service.

Uber currently operates in over 200 cities across 45 countries around the world and is continuing to expand internationally despite resistance from local taxi organisations and unions. UberX markets itself as the "low-cost Uber" in which drivers use their own vehicles without the need for a "vehicle for hire" license.

"Uber commits more offences and makes more money than any organised crime group in the world," Howarth told IBTimes UK. "The enormity of the illegal activity of Uber is incredible."


Howarth made his first arrest last week after ordering an UberX car to stop and demanding to see the driver's paperwork. When the UberX driver admitted that he was operating illegally, Howarth informed him that he was a private citizen and was affecting a citizen's arrest.

"It was an attempted publicity stunt," an Uber spokesperson said, after hearing of Howarth's first arrest. "I'm not sure we would have heard if any Uber partners had been arrested, but we have not."

No charges have been formally made against the driver in question but Howarth claims that they may still face ciminal charges that could lead to a fine of up to $110,000 AUS (£60,000) if the case is taken to the Supreme Court.

An online petition started by Howarth in support of his cause has already attracted over 1,000 signatures, and since word of the arrest has spread, Howarth claims to have noticed a small drop in UberX drivers operating in Sydney.

"Uber are going to realise soon that these arrests are the biggest threat it has ever faced," Howarth said. "They seem to have an aloof arrogance that they will get away with it.

"The taxi industry could potentially never recover from the damage incurred from Uber avoiding regulation and the government not stepping in."

    Follow @arrestinguber on Twitter

Taxi drivers convoy through Eccles in memory of murdered cabbie Alan Henning.

People lined the streets and applauded as the convoy wound its way from the AJ Bell stadium into Eccles town centre yesterday afternoon.


The streets of Eccles were brought to a halt as more than 200 taxi drivers formed a convoy in memory of murdered cabbie Alan Henning.

Taxis were decorated in yellow ribbons and balloons as the town paid tribute to ‘Gadget’ as Mr Henning was known to friends.


Terror group Islamic State released a video showing his murder earlier this month.

Mr Henning’s nephew, Stuart Henning, 33, also a taxi driver from Irlam, who organised the tribute, said: “It’s our way of saying thank you and goodbye. It’s something we do in the taxi game when someone sadly passes away. We organise a convoy to show our appreciation.

At the same time as the convoy a celebrity football match was taking place to raise money for the Henning family.


Celebrities Ralf Little, Chris Bisson and Andy Whyment were among the players who turned out for an all-star team at AFC Monton’s ground in Winton, Salford.

Organisers praised a ‘fantastic’ crowd with all proceeds from the charity match going to a fund set up for Mr Henning’s family.

On Sunday, Mr Henning’s widow Barbara, and their two children, were in Perth, Scotland, for a thanksgiving service for another murdered hostage, David Haines.

The two families released a joint statement calling on people to come together to defeat terrorism.

    Source: Manchester evening news