Saturday, November 01, 2014

More Of The Mayor's Crazy Cycle Madness.

Transport for London has launched a six-week consultation on plans to transform Wandsworth town centre by re-routing the A3 and A205 South Circular roads to the north of the town centre along Armoury Way. The changes will free Wandsworth High Street of heavy traffic. The consultation will be used to inform the proposed highway layout. An additional detailed consultation will be carried out next year. TfL says construction could begin in 2017 and be completed in 2019. Consultation closes on 5 December

You can find the consultation here 

Planners say they hope to turn this:

Into this: Wandsworth High Street, Buses and Cycles only, between Buckhold Road and a Garret Lane.

Again, how are London's only fully wheelchair accessible service supposed to get disabled wheelchair users to destination on this part of Wandsworth High Street? 

Have disabled needs not been taken into account?
Are their plans to scrap wheelchair accessability?

Along with plans for Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road and Baker Street, this is another major part of London that Tacis are planned to be excluded from.
As someone once said, "You couldn't make it up"

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dover Street Wine Bar Closed After 35 Years, Sold To Novikov For £1m.

Well-known West End bar Dover Street Restaurant and Bar has closed after being sold to a Russian restaurant chain.

The site has reportedly been bought by chain group Novikov, for a lease of more than £1m, according to the London Evening Standard. It is not yet known when or if the group plans to open the site.

The London newspaper reported that a notice on the wine bar door stated: “It is with deep regret that Dover Street Restaurant and Bar has officially closed, following the passing of its owner in July…thank you for your custom…and for all the great times that we have shared together in this very special place.”

The wine bar has been in operation for over 35 years, and often attracted celebrity clientele. It also regularly played live music.

Uber, not as cheap as some may think, new survey shows,

London is the fifth most expensive city to travel around, according to research by online transport platform Go Euro.

The company ranked 60 of the world’s major cities based on the cost of their urban transit options including public transport, taxis and peer-to-peer platform Uber.

London’s average cost for a public transport ticket was £4.68 for a single journey while a 10-kilometre taxi ride cost £17.91 and a similar length journey using Uber was £20.78. So, people standing by Taxi ranks and using their phones to call up an Uber car, are paying more in most cases than if they just jumped into the Taxi on point.

Only Stockholm, Zurich, Gothenburg and Rotterdam were more expensive for similar journeys, while Manchester ranked as the 18th most expensive for urban transit. 

Public transport cost £2.58 per ride in Manchester while taxi and Uber journeys were £12.94 and £12.61 respectively. Again not such a great saving while standing about, watching vacant Taxis drive by while waiting for an Uber car to locate you with their sat-nav.

The top 10 cheapest cities were dominated by Asian hubs with New Delhi, Mumbai, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City taking the top five spots.

Anti Piracy Campaigner Branson Sinks Small Fortune Into Pirate Car Ride Share Jim Thomas

After seeing the failure of his North America investment in Hailo and still wanting to be involved in the people transportation business, Sir Richard Branson, has invested a small fortune in a San Francisco based ride-sharing service "Sidecar". 

Sidecar has announced the $15m funding injection will help them roll-out of the service nationwide. The ride share service allegedly allows users of a smartphone application to share car journeys.

Technology website ZDNet has reported Branson as saying: 
“Technology has turned transportation on its head, it’s fundamentally changing the way we get around. We don’t need to own cars; services like Sidecar can get us around town. Sidecar is developing an everyday travel solution that sits side-by-side with public transit.”

While Branson has been seen to be a massive anti-piracy campaigner in the music business, most people in the Taxi industry would consider sidecar to be no more than a pirate car service. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

City Hall Tories call for midnight traffic light switch off.

London’s transport bosses and local councils have been urged to switch traffic lights off over night to help cut journey times and reduce pollution caused by car emissions.

Conservatives on the London Assembly suggest the move would cut vehicle emissions by ending cars sitting with engines idling at red lights and reduce delays by 2,251 hours every day.

They also claim drivers would see time and fuel savings worth £40m by 2020

The recommendation is contained in a new report published by the group today which calls on Transport for London and the capital’s local boroughs to pilot the proposal during daytime off-peak hours.

TfL is also urged to regularly review traffic lights on roads it controls “to see if any are redundant.”

Richard Tracey AM said: “Every year Londoners waste over 170 million hours sitting in traffic, costing London’s economy £4bn. Many of these journeys in our city are unavoidable.

“But rather than hurting motorists with ridiculous charges and taxes, we should look at innovative ways to cut congestion and make traffic flow more smoothly.

“Turning off traffic lights at night, like they do in parts of Europe and North America, is one measure which would boost the economy and help the environment.”

Editorial comment:
I have been an advocate of turning off certain traffic signals at night for many years. That was until TfL started to fill the night streets with untrained, unprofessional drivers, who spend most of their time looking at the screens on their smart phones or sat-navs, rather than looking where they are going. Drivers with scant regard to any road signage let alone traffic lights.

While there are many junctions that could be better managed and some would even benefit by having the lights removed, personally I believe it would be irresponsible and dangerous of TfL and the local councils to turn off all the signals at night regardless. 

  Martin Hoscik MayorWatch URL:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Minicab driver jailed for ‘appalling’ sex assault on passenger.

A pervert minicab driver who carried out an “appalling” sexual assault on a passenger has been jailed for six years.

David James still maintains he was innocent of the terrifying attack on the vulnerable woman in the back of his minicab in the early hours.

Recorder Simon Taylor QC told the 72-year-old great grandfather that drivers were in a position of great trust.

“You breached that trust in the most foul way by taking advantage of this young woman – of her being alone and in drink,” he said.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that the harm will be lasting to some degree. There are also elements of degradation and humiliation.”

James, of Sturdee Avenue, Gillingham, denied assault by penetration but was convicted last month.
Maidstone Crown Court heard James was working for a Chatham minicab firm when he drove the woman, 25, and three friends home from a nightclub in November last year.

She was the last to be dropped off in the early hours. As she took the change from her fare the father-of-three he kissed her, thrusting his tongue in her mouth.
She dropped her purse in the footwell and then found James had joined her in the back.

She tried to escape but James kissed her again and put his hand down her top. He then lifted her dress, pulled down her tights and assaulted her.

The victim told of being left in a “sobbing heap” and said she afterwards repeatedly showered and scrubbed herself because she felt so unclean.
James claimed the woman was “up for it” and twice snogged him. He insisted nothing else happened.

He said: “I was a bit surprised getting a kiss from a young girl. I thought: ‘Happy birthday.”

Asked if he sexually assaulted the woman, he replied: “No, definitely not. I am a bit old for that.”
Recorder Taylor said he had given anxious consideration to imposing an extended sentence for public protection.

But he added: “Although your attitude to women, and in particular to the victim, is appalling and gives rise to real concern to a risk of reoffending, I don’t think you meet the criteria for an extended sentence within the Act.”

A sexual offences prevention order was made and James’ name will appear on the sex offenders’ register for life.


From A Legal Perspective: Solicitor Ted Mercer's View On The Uber App.

I shall be upfront about my preferences in this area.  I like London Black Cabs.  
A number of times they have saved my bacon in delivering me to some unknown destination in the Metropolitan area that I would never have found by myself in time for whatever meeting or Court hearing I have had.  
Moreover, although some of them can be a trifle surly from time to time, the majority of cab drivers I have consistently found are helpful, pleasant and often an unexpected fountain of knowledge.  
This blog, however, is prompted by not taxis I suppose but by the Uber App and a service which enables you to hail a car by app and then have the price of the journey calculated by the distance from the point of pick up to the point of drop off.
What I am about to comment is actually prompted by the Chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee suggesting that the Uber App is in someway anticompetitive.
The starting post for my examination of the law as it relates to the Uber App is however to look at the situation from a different perspective.  
It’s a wonder Transport for London (“TFL”) may consider that it does not need to licence Hackney Carriages but that, as they say, is not the point.  
The point that TFL needs to consider is that whether in so acting, not whether it is doing what it is required to do by the general law, but whether or not in terms of Competition Law it is actually discriminating against Hackney Carriage drivers.
Why should they have made to go through “The Knowledge” and maintain their cars in a certain way and keep to the, one might say, relatively archaic rules relating to London cabs, most of it dating from the 19th Century and governed by a set of 1934 Regulations.
The fact is that when it comes to controlling who effectively applies for hire on City streets the person in control of the market is TFL.  
That is because they have a public duty in respect of both transport generally and of public safety in respect of certain forms of transport and in respect of enforcing the law.  
It is, with respect, not good enough to want to argue that new, particularly internet borne, forms of competition should not be subject to unnecessary regulation but rather why should you subject existing forms of competition (i.e. taxis) to regulation?
Nobody should take this as a plea that Hackney Carriages are no longer regulated in respect of their ability to publically apply for hire.  I am actually specifically not arguing that it is unnecessary to licence Black Cabs.  I think they are a wonderful feature of London life and personally I would very much not like to see competition drive them out of the business.  
When it comes to a legal analysis of the situation that they face themselves over Uber and the app the position I think they need to adopt is to argue how they are discriminated against.
TFL needs to be faced with a scenario where there is a free-for-all as being the only way to go forward, not one group that can do what they like and one group that is subject to a form of regulation which even in Dickensian times was probably regarded as onerous.
What TFL has to acknowledge is that it is the person who controls and is the dominant player in the market.  It controls competition and having that dominance it needs to use it in a way which does not lead to discrimination.
Now TFL is probably then going to try and utilise the unappetising argument and say that it is an excuse to abuse a dominant position by exercising discrimination to have to comply with UK Legislation.  Compliance with UK legislation is a Competition Law “get out of jail free card”.
I do not think, however, you need to be a genius to move to a position where Hackney Carriage Legislation in fact needs to be struck down as being incompatible with EU law on competition.  
If push comes to shove, maybe that is what the taxi drivers might just do but I would suggest that it would be a brave Mayor of London and, in terms of “Yes Minister”, a politically courageous Mayor of London who would abandon the Hackney Carriage legislation.  
I think Londoners, and indeed visitors to London, rather like Black Cabs manned by people who, in the majority of cases, indeed the vast majority of cases, seem to know where they are going.
The result of the Uber App question may be that all regulation of cabs disappears.  One wonders, in an existential sense, if that is a place any Mayor wants to go.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Boris Wants To Launch World’s First Ultra-Low Emission Zone

Yesterday, the Mayor launched a public consultation into the ULEZ which he claims will half emissions in the capital by 2020

Now watch Dave Davies from Cabbies Against Boris, interveiw on London Live

Dave Davies tells London Live about Boris's record so far:

In the six and a half years he's been in office, Boris introduced the low emission zone and the Taxi Age limit. Neither were evidence based and as a direct result of the failure of these policies, there's been no reduction in emissions. Curently in London, over 80 people die each week from pollution related illnesses.

Looking forward to the Ultra Low Emission Zone, Dave predicts it will be exactly the same unless the process, the decisions of the Mayor and TfL are evidence based. He said the only way this will happen, is if there is a public inquiry into the failure of these policies and what can be done to address this.

He went on to say there are things that could be done immediately that aren't being done. In Sweden they use a clean diesel that reduced pollution by 30% in all diesel vehicles instantly, why hasn't this been adopted here?

Boris seems to be accountable to no one and there needs to be some accountability before decisions are made.

This is a must watch interview as Dave Davies is the first person to actually speak up for the trade that makes any sense on this issue.

Monday, October 27, 2014

TfL Notice 12/14 Ultra Low Emission Zone Consultation.

Transport for London (TfL) on behalf of the Mayor of London is launching a public consultation on the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London. The ULEZ would improve air quality and public health, reduce CO2 emissions and help stimulate the market for low emission vehicles. The consultation will be open for 10 weeks from 27 October 2014 to 9 January 2015.

Everyone has their part to play in improving London’s air quality and public health. In a survey about air quality in London conducted by TfL earlier this year, respondents indicated that all vehicles types should be included in measures to improve air quality, including taxi and private hire licensees.

If approved by the Mayor, the ULEZ would require all vehicles driving in central London to meet specific exhaust emissions standards (ULEZ standards) in order to drive in the zone without paying a charge. It would operate in the same area as the Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ) and operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

This would be in addition to the Londonwide emissions standard for heavy vehicles which is already in place under the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

The ULEZ charge for non-compliant light vehicles, such as cars and vans, would be £12.50 a day. For heavier vehicles, such as lorries and coaches it would be £100 a day. It is proposed that the ULEZ standards would be enforced using the existing camera network and failure to pay would result in a penalty charge notice. ULEZ charges would be payable in addition to any applicable LEZ or CCZ charges.

The ULEZ proposal would also require changes to the taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing requirements. Together, this will mean:

• All new taxis and PHVs must be zero emission capable from 2018;

• A 10 year maximum age limit for non zero emission capable taxis from 2020 (irrespective of date of licensing). All taxis will be exempt from the ULEZ standards;

• Zero emission capable taxis will have a 15 year maximum age limit;

• All PHVs driving in central London must meet the ULEZ standards from 2020 or pay a daily charge.

In considering the impact of the reduced taxi age limit, the Mayor and TfL are proposing a specific fund to assist taxi drivers to replace their vehicles. We will work with representatives from the taxi and PHV trade in order to shape how this funding will be apportioned. We will share more information on this when it becomes available.

In addition, we have been in regular dialogue with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to ensure their new £500m funding allocation specifically supports taxi and PHV drivers to purchase zero emission capable vehicles. This is in addition to a supporting fund for on-street rapid charging infrastructure.

For further information about the ULEZ and to provide us with your views about the proposal please visit our website at 
or alternatively email

Helen Chapman 
General Manager
For previous Notices visit Transport for London

New Style Licences, New IDs And New Holders. PHV Numbers Reach All Time Jim Thomas

Drivers are now starting to receive the new style Licences and IDs. 

Included in the pack are new style ID pouches with an indent, to make removal easier. The IDs have a slight pigment on the reverse, but once inside the pouch, the new pigment is almost unnoticeable.

the new drivers licence has a broken foil strip down the right hand side which unlike the one found embedded on bank notes looks like it has been printed on. The licence now carries the bar code which should match the ones found on the ID cards. 

The driver's photo is slightly smaller than on the old licence and the word Taxi has been removed from the TfL roundel.

Unlike the previous new issue licence, you are reminded that it is an offence to refuse to carry a guide dog unless you have a specific medical exemption. The accompanying letter also states that the IDs are not to be tampered with, laminated or altered in anyway. Clear instruction is given as to where the IDs should be displayed.

From the 17th of November 2014, it will be mandatory to display the new identifiers and we are informed that any driver displaying old identifiers will be subject to compliance action.

I have never had a problem with displaying an ID to let the public know I am licensed for the area I'm actually working. But I feel uncomfortable displaying my badge number so prominently. 

Why does our badge number need to be so large?

Clause 10 has recently been abandoned from the deregulation bill currently going through parliament. This would reflect the view that all over the UK (excluding London), it is deemed a huge safety issue and that only licensed private hire drivers should be driving licensed private hire vehicles.

Unfortunately for the traveling public in London, TfL say that anyone can currently drive a private hire minicab around the capital, whether they are licensed or not. 

Because of this factor, it then seems incredible that the only mandatory notification on a PHV, to show that it is in fact a licensed vehicle, is an unreadable yellow roundel, that nine times out of ten is obscured by tinted windows. 

Even though the Taxi trade have to have a purpose built vehicle, carrying both a registration number plate from the DVLA and also a TfL Hackney Carriage plate, it seems strange that we should also need our badge number emblazoned on the ID card identifying the driver.

Considering the security status we currently find ourselves in, only TfL licensed registered drivers should be allowed to drive minicabs. PH drivers should also be identifiable and should be matchable to a particular vehicle by means of their badge number, displayed on front and rear windows.
If it's good enough for Taxis...then it's good enough for PH. 

TfL recently announced that PH driver numbers currently exceeded 71,000. A recent FOI request by Taxi Leaks staff, has uncovered that in the first six months of 2014, there were over 8,600 new PH driver applications granted.