Saturday, December 27, 2014

TfL, Are You Listening, This Is How It's Done!

Uber CEO faces two years in prison for operating illegal taxi service.


South Korean prosecutors have indicted the founder of Uber, Travis Kalanick, for operating an illegal taxi service in the country. The formal accusation against Kalanick and another man, a local rental car service operator, was made without physical detention. Violators of the Korean law in question, which stops rental car services from offering paid passenger transport, could face a fine of up to 20 million won ($18,121), or up to two years in jail.

SEOUL CITIZENS CAN EARN BOUNTIES FOR REPORTING ON UBER PRACTICES

Uber officially launched in the South Korean capital city of Seoul in August 2013, after a test phase that began in June, but only started trialling its UberX service — which pays private drivers for using their own car as a taxi — in August this year. The ride-sharing service faced anger from local taxi drivers, upset that amateur drivers were undercutting their fares. Where Uber doesn't require that its UberX drivers have any special licenses, private Seoul taxi drivers can reportedly expect to pay around 70 million won ($63,477) for the proper documentation.

The service also faced staunch opposition from local authorities: Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport declared that the ride-sharing app was illegal before it officially launched, and other branches of the administration made it clear that Uber would not be welcome in the country. "As soon as testing phases are over," a spokesperson for the Seoul city government said in September, "our dedicated squad will begin clamping down on Uber drivers." The city has made good on the threat, passing an ordinance last week that offers a 1 million won ($910) reward for anyone who reports on Uber's activities. For the moment, an Uber spokesperson said the service was operating as normal in the city.

  • Also in the news:

    Uber Faces Class-Action Lawsuit Over $1 'Safe Rides Fee'

    Uber faces a new class-action lawsuit from riders over its $1 Safe Rides Fee. (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)

    Uber has been hit with class-action lawsuits from cab companies and Uber’s own drivers, but the newest group to enter the fray is Uber passengers.

    Two Uber riders filed a class-action lawsuit against the car-service app company this week, claiming they should not have had to pay the $1 “Safe Rides Fee” Uber tacks on to each ride because the company’s background checks were misleadingly represented as “industry leading.”

    The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco, is the third in the last month filed on behalf of Uber’s passengers. An Uber customer filed a class-action lawsuit on Dec. 3 over a $4 fee charged to passengers going to San Francisco International Airport to reimburse drivers. The lawsuit says the company pocketed the fee. A similar lawsuit filed in late November claims riders were overcharged for a fee at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

    The most recent lawsuit seeks restitution for every $1 Safe Rides Fee charged to every U.S. Uber customer — which, given that Uber gave 140 million rides globally this year, would be a hefty sum.

    “We don’t expect to get 100 cents on the dollar — that would be shooting the moon,” said Nicholas Coulson, one of the attorneys filing the lawsuit. “But we do aim to get the greatest possible restitution.”

    Uber added the $1 Safe Rides Fee in April to help pay for its safety program — driver training, background checks and vehicle inspections. Until recently, Uber told riders its background checks are “industry leading” and “often more rigorous than what it takes to become a taxi driver,” but the complaint says those promises are false and misleading because drivers do not have to be fingerprinted.

    If that argument sounds familiar, it’s because the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles made the same point when they sued Uber earlier this month. To become an Uber driver, you only have to submit your name and identification to background checks. You don’t have to prove that the identity is actually yours, which would be done through fingerprinting or other biometric identification. Someone with a criminal record could, in theory, become an Uber driver using the identity of a sibling or a friend with a clean history.

    “At the end of the day, you cannot conduct the most comprehensive background check possible if the information you have obtained has nothing to do with the person that is signing on with you to be a driver,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said when that lawsuit was filed. “It is completely worthless.”Coulson said the class-action lawsuit is focused more on getting restitution for riders, while the district attorneys’ lawsuit prioritizes making Uber change its safety marketing language.

    When prosecutors sued Uber, they also announced a settlement with Lyft, a rival car-service app, over similar language about their background checks. Lyft, like Uber, charges a $1 fee — the company calls it a “Trust and Safety Fee” — and does not require fingerprinting for drivers. When Lyft settled with prosecutors, it agreed to change its language about its background checks. Coulson said that he and other attorneys have not ruled out filing a similar lawsuit against Lyft for its safety fee.

    It’s unclear whether class-action lawsuits like this one will go the distance. An Uber driver lawsuit is continuing along the legal process, but a similar one filed on behalf of Lyft drivers stalled in August. Uber’s terms of service for riders include an arbitration clause that could prevent riders from taking the company to court. But a judge in the Uber driver lawsuit ruled in June to allow drivers to opt out of their mandatory arbitration clause.

    An Uber spokeswoman was not able to give an immediate comment about the lawsuit. The complaint can be found >here.<

        Source Yonhap news and Forbes 



TfL London Taxi and Private Hire Notice 17/14 : Proof that TfL are changing the rules to suit Uber.

Newly Licensed Private Hire Vehicles – Hybrid Vehicles

In order to reduce harmful emissions and tackle poor air quality in London, in 2012 new emissions requirements were introduced for private hire vehicles
(PHVs). These were introduced as part of the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy and included a requirement that all newly licensed PHVs must be under five years old.

The requirement for newly licensed PHVs is now being updated, and with effect from 1 January 2015, full electric and petrol hybrid vehicles which emit
less than 110g/km CO2, as defined by the manufacturer, will be exempt from the 5 year rule. 

This is to recognise that these particular vehicle types have
lower emissions of NOx, PM10 and CO2 than conventionally powered vehicles.

The minimum Euro 4 emissions standard and maximum 10 year age limit still apply.

An eligible vehicle must be:
Full electric or
Petrol parallel hybrid or
Petrol full series hybrid

In addition to the above an eligible vehicle must fall within the fuel type ‘hybrid/electric’ and display CO2 emissions of less than 110g/km on the V5C
registration document.

NSL Ltd, TfL’s licensing contractor, will use the V5C to verify the above requirements are met prior to licensing vehicles.


Helen Chapman
23 December 2014 General Manager.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Minicab driver feared drowned after accidentally driving into harbour in heavy rain.

There's been many horror stories in the media recently, concerning the way private hire drivers blindly follow Sat-Navs. We constantly see minicabs coming at us, the wrong way when driving along one way streets. We've seen numerous sets and incidents where these drivers collided with other vehicles, cyclists and even street furniture, as they take their attention off the road ahead concentrating too long on the small screen. 

The report below is from the Daily Record and sadly shows just how dangerous these devices can be.

A 59 year old minicab driver, arrived at Ayr Harbour to pick up the harbourmaster shortly after midnight but it is feared he became disorientated due to the heavy rain and plunged into the water.


A minicab driver is missing feared drowned after he accidentally drove his car into a harbour.

The Record understands the 59-year-old man and his silver Skoda Octavia vanished at Ayr Harbour after he arrived to pick up the Harbourmaster.

It is feared he may have taken a wrong turn after becoming disorientated in the dark by heavy rain.
The private hire driver disappeared after he arrived at around 12.20am.

It later emerged CCTV cameras captured the car arriving at the harbour but it never left.
The man, who is from Ayr, worked for Prestwick-based Streamline.

The vehicle was fitted with a tracker but there has been no response from it since he went missing.
Sources said the driver appears to have simply taken a wrong turn and the incident is being treated as a tragic accident.

The Police contacted the coastguard just before 4.30am.
A search of the harbour, on the banks of the Firth of Clyde, was launched but it has so far failed to find any sign of the man or his car.

Divers from the underwater unit are expected to assist the search before darkness falls.

A police spokeswoman said the driver is being treated as a “high risk missing person”.

Streamline director Marie Wilkie said: “At this time we have no comment to make as we have had no official word back from the police as it is an ongoing investigation.

“In the meantime our thoughts are with the family at this worrying time.”


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Let's Make 2015 A Year a To Remember...The Year We Fought Back

Merry Christmas everyone! 
Thanks for making Taxi Leaks the most popular Taxi Blog of all time.

Looking forward to the fight back in 2015. 
If there is to be a mass trade action against TfL, it is imperative there is a clear concise list of issues that need resolving:

* The immediate removal from office of senior management at TfL who are deliberately damaging the integrity of the London Taxi Trade.

* An immediate cessation of Steve Burtons 's STaN agenda that TfL and other agencies are clearly working to.

* An immediate end to the Taxi Age Limit, with compensation for drivers and proprietors who have had their vehicles scrapped under this corrupt and improper policy. 

* Demand that the GLA endorse scrapping the Taxi Age limit based on the evidence of the DEFRA report compiled by Kings College London. 
To date the GLA have sidestepped challenging the Mayor on this issue.

* Demand a high court rulling on illegal Private Hire ranks using existing legal presidencies that cleary state PH vehicles cannot wait in a public place for immediate hiring. (Gilbert v McKay 1946)

Similar case upheld in Eastbourne 2000 by Lord Justce Pill, where a marshal escorted a member of the general public to a waiting car to be immediately hired.

We have trade organisations and numerous serving  committee members that have remained silent, flatly refusing to deal with the issues and case laws listed above.

Do not support the clueless yes men anymore. 

Make a commitment to fight to create a free trade movement with a positive clear agenda.

We have the talent, we need to bring them together, ditch subscriptions to the deadwood freeloaders and move on to create a better leadership and future for the London Taxi Trade.

Merry Christmas everybody.
We hope your Christmas is filled with peace, joy, and lots of love.

 .

Private Hire Regulations Review. TfL Notice 16/14.


This notice provides an update on our plans to consult on potential revisions to private hire regulations.  
The private hire operator, driver and vehicle regulations were made following the introduction of private hire licensing starting in 2001. TfL has identified a number of areas for consideration to ensure that they remain appropriate and fit for purpose.  

The purpose of the consultation is to review various aspects of the existing policy and regulations covering private hire operators, drivers and vehicles, and to invite comments on proposals for change. TfL will then consider in the light of the responses to the consultation what, if any, changes to make to the regulations. The consultation will include: 

  • A review of the information required to be captured by a private hire operator before the commencement of each journey 
  • A review of licensing of ‘in-venue’ operators and associated requirements 
  • Bringing the regulations up to date in the light of advances in technology, where appropriate 
  • Proposals to cover temporary events licensing 
  • Proposals to restrict the number of trading names permitted to be used in private hire operator licences 
  • Proposals to explore and clarify the types of premises that constitute a suitable operating centre 
  • Proposals to harmonise the retention period for record keeping and making clear what records an operator is required to retain 
  • Proposals to implement an English language requirement for drivers 
  • Re-visiting certain aspects of motorcycle licensing proposals 
  • A review of records of private hire vehicles and drivers to be retained by licensed operators including clarification on insurance documents to be retained. 

These are important issues for private hire operators and drivers and we will be inviting responses to help shape the future of private hire licensing in London. 

It is anticipated that the consultation document and how to respond will be launched in Q1 2015. 

image

Editorial Comment:

What an insult!

TfL who continually bleat they are strapped for cash, are to carry out another expensive Private Hire consultation. 

Let's remember what happened with John Mason's 2010/11 PH consultation. 

The Taxi trade didn't get one proposal, yet PH were given nearly everything they demanded. 

The recent GLA review branded TfL's running of Taxis and Private Hire as "woefully inadequate". The trouble is not the need for further/new regulations,  but a need for TfL to administer the regulations already in place, fairly and without bias.

TfL licensing have bent over backwards, issuing satellite office licenses without the regulatory 12 month trading gap. We've seen archways, phone boxes, kiosks and caravans licensed as Private Hire satellites offices, which come complete with permission to unlawfully form ranks on double yellow lines, bus lanes, red routs in some cases even blocking TfL controlled cycle lanes. 

We have seen the widespread issuing of suburban licenses, flooding certain areas with excessive numbers, with rank spaces in the suburbs given over to Private Hire. We've also seen the ease in which PHVs, Operators Licenses and Licence Variations can be obtained. We are now facing the threat that many tube ticket offices will shortly become PH booking offices. 

Any consultation will again be a complete waste of time if the current level of enforcement we currently have is maintained. Touting by both licensed and unlicensed drivers is rife, illegal plying for hire is rife. The ease in which someone can come here from abroad and within days be licensed as a PH driver without a fully enhanced background and police record check is also unacceptable.

This latest release is a knee-jerk reaction in the same vein as the report about unlicensed driver convictions we reported on yesterday. PR spin, smoke and mirrors. 

For us to return to anywhere near the level of trust and respect this trade had for the previous licensing authority administration we saw under the Met, would require the wholesale removal of top and middle management at TfLTPH who have, though their incompetent and bias performance, bought this trade to its knees.

Not one word in this release about enforcement, but hidden is the intent to make events, like the ones held at Old Billingsgate easier for PH to obtain temporary licenses. Also not included, the intention to make the requirements for pre booking clearer. 

Tucked away in plain sight is the intention to make clearer the implications of new technology. Will we see a system such as CabWave, where cars have a reader on the windscreen and if a potential customer waves a credit card over the reader, it would serve as a pre booking? 

This consultation must not be taken lightly and trade org legal departments need to go over every aspect forensically.

But the good news is, we have nowhere else to go but up. 

2015 will see this trade fight like never before. Drivers will unite, not because of the collaborating orgs but in-spite of them. The rank and file have had enough. If driver orgs want our money, let them show us they earn it.

TfL have always feared a united trade fight back regarding the escalation of PH drivers and operators, that's why they concentrated on the divide and conquer regime known generally as the engagement policy. During the run up to the Olympics, we saw most trade leaders from the largest orgs like pigs with their noses in the trough, for a promise of engagement and a seat at the table. 

Now the table has been folded up and taken away, they fight amongst themselves over the scraps.

If we are to unify over this level of adversity, we need assurances that collaboration and sell-out must never happen again.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

TAXI LEAKS LOOKS CLOSELY AT TfL STATISTICS ... By Jim Thomas

Surely, Heads Must Roll As TfL Post Horrendously Bad Statistics For Touting And Illegal Plying For Hire. 


It appears that in the face of a scathing GLA report, which labeled TfL as "woefully inadequate", the spin doctors at Palestra and Windsor House have tried to give the false impression that they have in fact been proactive and highly successful.

TfL claim they have had an impact on unlicensed touts with 34 conviction in the past 12 months!!!

Taking into account there are 68 cab enforcement officers, plus if Garrett Emmerson performance on London Live is to be believed and they do have another 332 back up staff, we start to see the appalling incompetence and utter waste of enforcement budget over the last 12 months.

That's 2 full time enforcement officers plus 10 back up staff for 1 conviction over a 12 month period.

In any other company, heads would roll. 
But let's not forget this is TfL. So, probably huge bonuses will be paid to directors and performance related pay bonuses to foot soldiers. 

Steve Burton, Director of Enforcement and On Street Operations at TfL, said: 
"These convictions are further proof that we take illegal touting and other illegal private hire activities extremely seriously. Thanks to the great work of our Compliance Officers and policing partners, these offenders have been successfully prosecuted and three have been disqualified from driving."

Great work Steve??? 
Considering your compliance officers have no power and concentrate solely on badge and bill checks, you must have these touts quivering in their unlicensed uninsured cars.
 
Taxi Leaks has worked out, the present odds for anyone being convicted for touting, on a nightly basis is 
210,000 to 1.

More lies from TfL
"TfL's Enforcement and on-street Compliance Team carry out vehicle and driver licensing checks across London to keep the public safe and stamp out illegal activity. They work closely with the police, delivering over six hundred joint operations every year. They also carry out evening patrols in hotspot locations, plain clothes anti-touting operations and high visibility enforcement activities to detect and deter bogus cab drivers."

This just isn't the case!
They claim on average 11 vehicle and driver check point operations weekly. 
Who carries this out, a special squad of officers wearing cloaks of invisibility?

Is Steve Burton merging Taxis with minicabs and including badge and bill checks in with the statistics to make the figures look more palatable?

The report goes on to announce, over 700 arrests were made in 2013/14 for illegal touting for hire, but doesn't give the number of licensed PHV drivers, convicted of touting.

"TfL's Taxi and Private Hire Compliance Officers work closely with TfL funded Cab Enforcement Officers in the MPS and City of London Police. They undertake joint operations on a regular basis informed by the latest intelligence on cab-related offending including cab-related sexual offences, touting and unlawful plying for hire."

TfL have had absolutely no success dealing with the escalating problem of illegal plying for hire. Their normal modus operandi, is to move on rather than report. 
They have an incredibly atrocious record of one conviction for illegally plying for hire over the past 14 years. They only managed that because the driver held his hands up and pleaded guilty.

TfL cooperate with clubs door staff and clipboard johnnies, allowing touts who operate in the area to illegally ply for hire, forming illegal ranks and openly tout outside exits, with completely disregard for the safety of the travelling public. 
We've recently seen horrendous scenes outside old Billingsgate Market in Lower Thames Street, in the run up to the Christmas party period.

TfL say they continue to push for stronger penalties for touting and for unlawful plying for hire offences including vehicle seizure and automatic driver licence disqualification.
They obviously aren't pushing hard enough, as TfL's enforcement teams are the only licensing authority in the UK not to seize vehicles.

"TfL introduced a "one strike and you're out" policy for any licensed minicab driver convicted of or cautioned for touting in August 2008 - they lose their PHV licence for one year. To date, more than 1,120 licensed drivers have had their PHB licences revoked."

That's a rate of just a little over 3 successful convictions for all types of PH contraventions a week. 
And this takes 68 cab enforcement officers with back up from another 332 staff!

Who's leading these teams, Stevie Wonder?

    Source: >tfl.gov.uk< click link for full article.
 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Uber's email regarding airports. Undercover Uber, Part 3.


Email just in:
Notice they mention collecting from gatwick surely there licence to operate must now be at risk with this evidence.

I know tfl compliance is a joke but someone must know what's going on, someone must be responsible.


Hi Uber Driver.
After a successful trial period over the weekend, we're ready to launch the new airport pick up process on Monday 22nd December at 12pm!

Thanks to everyone who's dropped by to pick up their airport board.  If you haven't got it yet, you can pick it up next time you come by for Office Hours. Remember, from tomorrow, riders we be expecting to see you at arrivals with an Uber sign - so to get your journey off to the best start, make sure they can identify you easily! 

THE NEW PICK-UP PROCESS
 
The following changes coming in for all drivers and riders from Monday 22nd December from 12pm. We will be communicating the change to riders too tomorrow. 

From Monday 22nd December, please follow this process:

Come into the airport zone if you want to pick up 
You’ll be automatically placed in a queue to receive a request
When you receive the request, you’ll have around 15 seconds to accept
Once you’ve accepted, call the customer to confirm which terminal they are coming into
Head to the short-stay parking of the correct terminal and collect a ticket
Park your car and go to the terminal’s international arrivals 
Wait for your passenger, holding the Uber sign
When you’ve found your passenger, confirm their name and accompany them to your car
Once you’re in the car, start the trip and take them to their destination as usual
For more information, including the airport queue zones, see our FAQs and the back of your airport board.

Please note, the drop off process remains unchanged.

PRO TIP

Have an iPad or a tablet computer? Click here to get a digital version of the Uber airport sign to keep on your tablet computer and display at arrivals!

AIRPORT FLAT FARES
 
As you know, airport flat fares are changing. The new flat rates represent a 10-15% increase on the current fares with the most significant increases on trips to and from Gatwick airport. We’re also making flat rates clearer, with each postcode having it’s own flat rate - e.g. SW, SE, NW, etc.

You'll be able to see each fare for your vehicle class, from each London postcode and to London Heathrow, London Gatwick and London City Airport here from 12pm on Monday 22nd December. 

Please note that all trips from the airport include a parking fee to cover 30 minutes of parking in the short stay car park.  This will automatically be applied to the fare and Uber takes zero commission on this.  

Please write in as usual if you have multiple stops on a flat rate to or from the airport so that the team can adjust this for you. 

Please note that the new flat fares will apply from 12pm on Monday 22nd December. 

PRO TIP

Get your trip off to the best start - offer to help your passenger with their bags, if you can!

Thanks so much for your help and support as we make airport flat rates clearer and fairer for both drivers and riders.  As always, if you have any questions, please email supportlondon@uber.com. 


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hailo Books Huge Loss As Taxi App Fights Off Fierce Competition.

Losses at taxi hailing app company Hailo have trebled after the company invested heavily in technology in a bid to fight off fierce competition in the taxi-booking space.


Losses rose from £7.6m to £21.6m in the year to December 31 2013, according to accounts recently filed at Companies House. Launched in 2011 by three London cab drivers, Hailo has since expanded to 16 other cities across the world.

People booked £80m worth of fares through the Hailo app, up from the £21m taken the year before. However, the company was hit by £25m worth of administrative costs.

Hailo, which lets people book nearby cabs through its eponymous app, has recently had to fight competition from entrants to the taxi-booking market including Uber.

The US start-up uses a mobile app to book rides in licensed taxis and minicabs, and measures the journey distance and calculates a fare which is paid direct to the driver.

Some 10,000 black cab drivers took part in protests across London this summer over Uber’s fee structure, arguing that private cars are not allowed to use fare calculators that act like a taxi meter.

It recently announced plans to launch a larger car service in an effort to win over business passengers, a key advantage of rivals such as Addison Lee and Hailo.

In its results, Hailo said the “significant number of start-ups in the taxi hailing market … is likely to lead to increasing levels of competition for Hailo in the future. To mitigate this risk, Hailo continues to work to develop strong consumer and driver relationships, building brand loyalty based off the reliability of the taxi service.”

Hailo recently said it was retreating from the US and Canada, after pricing battles between Uber and taxi app service Lyft meant that it struggled to be profitable in the region.


    Source: Telegrath