Saturday, January 17, 2015

New police unit (RTPC) for roads, Incorporating surface transport in Jim Thomas

TfL and the Mayor's spin doctors have been working flat out to try and regain the high ground, after publication of the damning "Future Proof" report from the GLA inquiry which branded them as "Woefully inadequate".

In the past we saw the TOCU squad disbanded after officer in charge Joe Royal stated publicly that the regulations concerning the set up of satellite offices in his view, were unenforceable. 

We then saw a decline in on street enforcement as warranted Cab enforcement officers were regularly seconded to bus and tube ticket fraud initiatives.

We even got to a stage where the chairman of the LCDC was informed that only two actual Cab Enforcement officers were available on a Saturday night.

Now we've been informed that the Metropolitan Police are to created a new, single police command to replace there flagging Safer Travel At Night (STaN) teams and further improve the safety and security on London’s Bus/Tube network and other surface transport services. This is supposed to include Taxis and Private hire services.

Apparently, there are to be 2,300 Police and Police Community Support Officers (CSO)involved. Of course, the majority will be CSOs, who do not have the power of stop, and actually have less power than current TfL compliance officers. These new bodies will supposedly work closely with Transport for London (TfL) as part of a new Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Roads and Transport Policing Command (RTPC).

We've seen Policing on the cheap before.
Now we have Cab enforcement on the cheap. 

To be honest, it would have been more efficient, much cheaper and had greater affect, to insist that local council traffic wardens move on touts illegally plying for hire, forming unauthorised ranks outside venues such as Swallow Street, Old Billingsgate, etc.

MPS Commander Stephen Watson, said: “The Met enjoys a first class partnership with TfL in ensuring that the millions of people who use London's transport system every day are kept safe and that our networks are secure and reliable".

"Much has already been achieved through our joint efforts and we are confident that this new and fully integrated command will enable us to build on a legacy of success". 

Perhaps Commander Stephen Watson would like to explain in detail, just what the legacy of success appertaining to the Taxi and Private Hire trade actually is?
Does he consider the conviction of 34 touts over a period of 12 months, a legacy of success ?

Also Commander Steve Watson, perhaps you could give us accurate statistics for the amount of reported minicab related sexual assaults, including rape, for the period April 2013 to March 2014, the estimated unreported attacks and then the number of actual convictions made for these offences ?

Perhaps you could also explain why only 10% of victims of serious sexual assault, report the attacks to police ?

Uber ordered to shut down in South Carolina, Philadelphia Racketeers and City of Boston Sued:

(Reuters) South Carolina:
 Ride-sharing company Uber has been ordered by South Carolina regulators to cease operations in the state while it remains in the process of seeking permission to legally do business there.

The San Francisco-based company, valued at about $40 billion in its latest fundraising, has touched a raw nerve in many parts of the United States and other countries by threatening to open up often tightly controlled and licensed taxicab markets.

Uber said in a statement that the South Carolina Public Service Commission's order directed at Raiser LLC, an Uber subsidiary, was unexpected and issued despite the company's close work with state regulators.

The commission said it believes Uber has been operating in the state since July. On its website, Uber offers service in four South Carolina cities: Columbia, Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Greenville.

The ride-sharing company has been under increasing scrutiny over passenger safety issues. In recent weeks, two Uber drivers in Chicago and another in New Delhi, India, have been accused of sexually assaulting passengers.

Uber Sued In Los Angeles and San Francisco: 
Prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco last month said they sued the company for misleading customers about its background checks on drivers.

Philadelphia: Uber accused of racketeering:
Dozens of Philadelphia taxi companies are asking a federal judge to shut down their rival, Uber car service. They accuse Uber of racketeering and wire fraud.

The cab owners mince no words in accusing Uber of operating “unlawfully,” “in bad faith” and with “evil or rancorous motive and ill will.”

“Not since the days of bootlegging has there been a criminal enterprise so brazen,” the suit reads. “Their outrageous acts are legion.”

The suit refers to Uber cars as “gypsy cabs,” that have undermined the state’s regulatory scheme and the financial state of the entire industry causing, the suit claims, immediate and irreparable harm to the taxi companies, for which they seek unspecified damages, as well as an injunction.

The suit says Uber meets the definition of a corrupt organization under the RICO statute and says the payment scheme to drivers amounts to wire fraud.

Boston: Taxi Drivers Sue City For Allowing Uber/Lyft To Operate
The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court, said the city's policies make taxi owners "spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per taxi to engage in taxi business and to comply with its vast set of regulations," while ride-hailing company vehicles "compete in the same business without any particular regulation."

India: Uber Rape Victim To Sue In US Court: 
 A woman who was allegedly raped by an Uber taxi driver in India's capital has hired a prominent lawyer to sue the online-hailing taxi service in U.S. courts.

The financial executive, who cannot be named under an Indian law that grants rape victims anonymity, has hired Douglas Wigdor, a New York-based employment lawyer.

    Source : Reuters : CBS: Boston Globe : Indipendent 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Breaking News...or is it Broken News? Oddy Breaks His Silence:

Apparently, there has been breaking news about the LTDA/Uber driver prosecutions. It appears, from a letter sent to TfL board members, that the LTDA, without consulting its members (again), have offered TfL the option to take over the summonses issued against a number of Uber drivers found using their App. 
Shades of the Bug Bugs case all over again!

You would've thought the LTDA would have informed its members by at least a Text, an email, their website or even on their Twitter account. But no, the announcement came completely out of the blue, in a letter published on the MayorWatch blog. 

Two hours after the post on MayorWatch, the LTDA had to answer awkward questions from concerned members.

Not unexpected if the truth were known, neither have a good reputation when dealing with serious legal matters concerning Taxi trade working practise protection. Both now playing pass the buck.

One thing that's come out of this exposé, is Bob Oddy's past statements that he cannot speak to the board of TfL concerning Taxi trade matters. And yet the article on the MayorWatch blog States:

December’s meeting of the Transport for London board was a little livelier than usual thanks to a bust up between transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy and Bob Oddy, a TfL board member and London Taxi Drivers Association deputy General Secretary.

The pair locked horns after Sir Peter updated the board on the TfL’s attempts to have the High Court rule whether, as the LTDA claims, Uber’s use of an app to calculate fares breaches laws forbidding minicabs from fitting meters.

We've been told for over 6 years, Mr Oddy can't speak about Taxi matter as this would be a conflict of interest! Although truth be he only has to ask permission and declare his interests.

Bob's now on record as actually defending the LTDA to the TfL board.

More on this story >Click Here<

Also today, the LTDA anounced that they don't trust Hendy Daniels or Emmerson on Twitter feed!

Update From MayorWatch: 
To address some the concerns raised elsewhere, Oddy is normally barred from discussing Taxi business at TfL board meetings but at December’s meeting Mayor Boris Johnson, who also serves as TfL’s chair, adjourned the meeting to allow him to respond to Hendy’s comments.

Boris requested that the webcast continue throughout the resulting discussion which was on the public record but legally happened outside of the meeting in order to satisfy rules on any conflict of interest.

    Source MayorWatch blog.

The Proverbial Is About To Hit The Fan : part 1 Jim Thomas

In my opinion it's only a matter of time before Uber get banned from using their app as a meter. But as their whole system falls to bits without and going on what has already happened in other countries where they have been banned, it would be fair to assume they will just carry on operating regardless. 
When this finally happens, TfL's problems start big time.

Uber have shown in the past they have no regard for Taxi regulations anywhere in the world and believe that as their technology wasn't invented when the Hackney Carriage and PH acts were written, then it doesn't apply to them.

They already act illegally by offering the public instant hails. This is done with the full knowledge of TfL, who have chosen since they were first licensed under ex LTPH Director John Mason in 2012, to sit back, do nothing and just take the licensing revenue. 

TfL in the last financial year, managed to clock up just 34 convictions for touting. Although extremely easy to spot, TfL have neither the man power or the appetite to deal with this issue. If on a rare occasion TfL were to take action, Uber would gladly pay all fines, enabling their drivers to carry on working the system. 

TfL's current directorate and enforcement are useless, clueless and woefully in adequate. Before we see any meaningful movement against Uber, we would need a completely new directorate, including the replacement of the Transport Commissioner himself. 

We need proper on street Cab Enforcement by warranted officers. Current compliance teams and the secondment of a few "Golden" bus inspectors is just a joke. 

If, or should I say when Uber are banned, that's when TfL's problems really become huge.

But you can always count on TfL to be inventive. 
I personally predict they will do what they always do in this situation. Having no chance of policing and stopping, they will incorporate new legislation into the PH act, a power Peter Hendy already has (seen with the introduction of ID badges). The PH Act London 1998, is formulate in such a way -sections marked as prospective- meaning it can be added to or changed without legislation being sought.

TfL could well bring out a new licence to run concurrently with the present PH license, which will enable the holder to use an app for electronic hails. In there eyes, problem solved. This is another clear case of why we must make sure that  "Plying For Hire" is defined in law, as part of the Law Commission proposals, that will hit parliament after the forthcoming elections.
We have in the past been informed, the definition of a pre booking run up time is unclear in any of the acts, but former LCDC chairman Alan Fleming has pointed out on numerous occasion that there is a plethora of existing case law covering pre-bookings. Case law confirms that if PH are available for immediate hire, they are plying for hire. This has also been confirmed by Mr James Button (expert in licensing, training and legal advice).

But will banning Uber make any difference to their operation?
Take Victoria Australia for instance. They are banned from using a meter there, but Uber advise drivers to carry on working and have informed their drivers they will pay any fines incurred. In just a few short weeks, Uber has paid out £250,000 (in Aussie dollars) which they say is just petty cash to them. This is happening in nearly all the cities they are banned in. 

Can you imagine TfL trying to stop Uber operating here if they get banned and continue to operate. It would be like the Keystone Cops, taking on the Mafia.

They advise their drivers to take Uber phone off the windscreen and place in cup holder. As most of their drivers haven't got a clue where they're going, they have to rely on the in-app sat nav directions. We will probably see an escalation of collisions as drivers continually take their eyes off the road to look down at their phones.

Drivers are also advised to remove all signage, which in London could include roundels. They are also told to ask passengers to sit up front. This advice has been given to Uber drivers in Victoria...please watch the ABC news clip below.

In the last financial year, TfL managed to clock up just 34 convictions for touting. Although extremely easy to spot, TfL have neither the man power or the political appetite to deal with this issue. If on a rare occasion TfL were to take action, Uber would gladly pay all fines, enabling their drivers to carry on working the system. 

TfL's current directorate and enforcement are useless, clueless and woefully in adequate. Before we see any meaningful movement against Uber, we would need a completely new directorate, including the replacement of the Transport Commissioner himself. 

We need proper on street Cab Enforcement by warranted officers. Compliance teams and a couple of "Golden" bus inspectors are just a joke. 

If, or should I say when Uber are banned, that's when TfL's problems really become huge.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

GLA Action Updates : From Unite LTDA, RMT And The LCDC.

There has been movement on support for the action being taken by drivers on Wednesday the 21st of January 2015:

This statement has appeared on the Cab Trade New FaceBook page: 

LONDON ASSEMBLY LABOUR has emailed Unite the union Cab Section with the following advice for the upcoming Mayor's Question Time. 

"While we welcome their presence we would just warn you that this MQT is mostly focussed on the planned rise in fares, and the Taxi Trade is not on the agenda. TfL will not have a response to the Transport Committee report as of yet and as such it may be quite an unsatisfactory meeting for your members.

What we would suggest is that your members coming along for the 25th February Transport Committee meeting in the chamber, where the report issued on the taxi trade is on the agenda, and Sir Peter Hendy will be questioned on this."

This tweet has appeared on Twitter:

The LTDA will be attending the actual meeting to ask questions of Hendy and so far, have refused to answer if they support any action from drivers.

The RMT has sent their members another text:
      **RMT LONDON**
      **TAXI DRIVERS**

Dear member,

We have been informed that next Wednesday's Mayor's Questions will not be the subject of the GLA investigation. 

This has instead been assigned to the Transport Panel scrutiny to be held on February 25th @ City Hall.

We urge members to attend this meeting.

Details to follow.
In solidarity
Lewis Norton
Branch Secretary

The LCDC has responded by posting these statements on Twitter this afternoon saying:

No need to throw cold water on next weeks Lobby?
We can do both and keep the pressure on TFL.

Flyers for the Lobby at City Hall on Wednesday 21st Jan are now ready. We will be dropping them of at venues / cafés / maybe handing them out on 

Editorial Comment:
So as far as we know, the action regarding the Mayors Question Time on 21st of January (next Wednesday), will still go ahead as planned. 

If there are any changes, we will post updates as soon as we get them. 

The future is finally looking better. 
TfL desperately fear the trade will rise up and unite in action against them, their spin doctors have worked their socks off, as they try to wiggle their way out of the GLA inquiry report. Now they are on the back foot and they are running scared. 

This is a war we can win and every battle matters. 

Press release from the LTDF : Wednesday 21st January 2015, City Hall, Mayors Question Time.

On Weds 21st Jan 2015 at 10am London Mayor Boris Johnson will be holding 'Mayors Question Time' at City Hall.

This is the 1st MQT since the Greater London Authority (GLA) report, which listed a whole host of recommendations that should be implemented by Transport for London to sort out the mess they have created.

You can read the full report by >Clicking this link<

Here are a list of the main points

R1. The Mayor should publish a long term strategy for the development of taxi and PH industries. How TfL will strengthen enforcement and clamp down on illegal activity. 

R2. The Mayor should produce a strategy for guaranteeing a sufficient number of high quality drivers and vehicles across the city.

R4. TfL should produce a signage strategy for taxis and PH, including plans to pilot number-plate-based fixed signage.

R7. The Mayor/TfL to set out plans to ensure that all Underground stations on the 24 hour network have a taxi rank in place by September 2015.

R10. The Metropolitan Police Service should improve the information it collects on cab-related crime to ensure greater understanding of whether offences are committed by taxi drivers or PH drivers or rickshaw riders or by unlicensed drivers.

R11. Mayor to provide the committee with a definitive assessment of resources currently devoted to enforcement, set out costed plans to increase enforcement where necessary and address funding gaps. 

R12. Mayor/TfL and MPS to set out specific steps to improve efficiency and visibility of non-covert night-time ops.

R13. Mayor/TfL should immediately clarify policy on destination bookings and reinstate the requirement for PH drivers and operators to record a destination at time of booking.

R14. By March the Mayor/TfL should conduct a full review of satellite offices, identifying and securing enforcement resources to regulate them efficiently, including plans to clamp down on unlicensed marshals. Any further satellite applications should be suspended until this has been achieved.

R16. The Government should act upon the Law Commission findings for the introduction of stiffer penalties for touting and greater enforcement powers for borough and police officers, including higher fines and vehicle seizure.

R18. By March, TfL should revise its driver engagement activity to ensure its as widely representative as possible and improve transparency of decision-making processes by routinely publishing the minutes of trade meetings. TfL should also publish a breakdown of annual licence fee spending.

R19. By March, the Mayor/TFL to set out how it will increase accessibility and visibility of its complaints procedure, improve systems for passenger feedback and complaints. Complaints data to be reported to the TFL board on a quarterly basis.

As you can see, these are most of the things that the Taxi trade has been complaining about for years, and if they were implemented would go some way to ensuring our future looks brighter.

However, TfL are under no obligation to do anything and will try and sweep this under the carpet.


TfL's Chief Operating Officer Garrett Emmerson immediately came out on London Live 24 and defended TfL saying they were doing a great job and that they had 400 Enforcement Officers.

Watch "London live" on YouTube London live:  

Yet only a few days before, a TfL Enforcement officer replied to an email from LCDC Chairman Grant Davis claiming that they only had 4 officers available for the whole of London...on a Saturday night!

So you can see what we are up against.

If we do nothing...TfL will do nothing!

We must support the GLA and demand that Boris Johnson make TfL implement these recommendations.

For the first time we have an independent, impartial official body identifying where TfL have failed, branding them…
    "Woefully inadequate", 
    "Not fit for purpose" and 
    "Needs to get to grips with the basics"

Quite damning in anyone's language.

Even the BBC's London Transport correspondent Tom Edwards reported "I can't remember such a critical report from a transport committee. It is brutal".

He also went on to say that "All taxi drivers will feel vindicated by this report".

Too right we are Tom! 

This report identifies clearly where TfL have let it all go so wrong. Now they must fix it!

But they won't do so, unless we put them under pressure.


The public gallery at City Hall is free and holds approx 300. It will be on a 1st come 1st served basis.

We intend to fill the public gallery with as many cabbys as possible, and show the Mayor that we will not allow this GLA report to be ignored.

We also hope to fill the walkway outside the front doors.

Plus, @flash_demo will be staging a drive-thru protest on Tower Bridge and surrounding areas at the same time.

Please follow   @flash_demo   on Twitter

I believe 2015 is a pivotal year for the London Taxi trade. If we can force TfL to get a grip on this out-of-control monster they have created, we may just be able to start turning this problem around.

If we don't, then we can expect things to continue to deteriorate, until there is nothing left.

So its imperative that we all turn out en masse to show Boris and his henchmen that we demand action!

Please put this date in your diary and do all you can to attend. Preferably on foot, but just as equally effective in your cab.

Mayors Question Time - 10am - Wednesday 21st Jan 2015 - City Hall.

Your future depends on it.


Dizzy LTDF.

Ps. A lot of taxi drivers have put in a great deal of work on behalf of us all to get the GLA to commission this report. And what a great job they have done too.

Now we must all support them. This action should not only be taken by taxi drivers, but everyone who is connected to the trade and makes a living from it. Garages, cafes, radio circuits, trade orgs etc.

Ask yours if they will be attending and supporting us?

They should do because when we're out of business...they'll be out of business too!

Editorial Comment:
Lewis Norton secretary on the RMT London Taxi Drivers Branch has text all members asking them to support this action. 

The LCDC has posted on their Blog that they will be supporting this action. They are asking drivers to attend City Hall and fill the public gallery. 

As of 12:30 pm, 15 jan, we have a "Possibly support" reply from LTDA

No reply from Unite as yet

Will keep updated.  TtT.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hendy charges taxpayers £44 for bottles of wine with meals at the Groucho.

After the extremely bad media coverage surrounding Sir Peter Hendy's massive £7,000 nine month mobile phone bill, we now have another extremely embarrassing revelation, concerning his entertaining habits and passion for leaving more than generous gratuities.

The manner in which someone on over £350,000 per year plus a 6 figure performance top up bonus regularly entertained guests wouldn't normally be of interest, but the fact that as tax payers we are picking up the bill, makes this interesting reading. 

The GLA have urged Transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy to publish the names of those he entertains on expenses after it emerged that it's us, as tax payers, that are picking up the bill for expensive bottles of wines and generous gratuities.

Between July and September last year Sir Peter charged taxpayers more than £1,200 for lunches and meals.

Recent Freedom of Information requests have revealed that the sum includes meals at the exclusive members only Groucho Club in Soho, where we as tax payers treated Sir Peter and his guests to bottles of wine costing up to £44 each. 

Apparently, we also treated him to bottles of Mas La Mola (£45 a go) at the Ember Yard restaurant in Berwick Street and servings of oysters at Le Boudin Blanc accompanied by a nice bottle of Pouilly-Fumé at £41 a bottle.

It obviously concerned the transport commissioner as  on occasions he actually contributed towards the cost of the alcohol ordered by his guests. But on some occasions, taxpayers have covered the entire cost inclusive of service charges plus generous tips for staff.

 Labour MP John Mann, a member of the Commons Treasury Committee, expressed astonishment at the cost of the food and drink. “People struggling with the high cost of living in London will see this as rather excessive,” he said. “What’s wrong with a pub or a cafe if Sir Peter needs to eat and drink? Or why not a sandwich in his office?”

City Hall expenses have to provide a full list of names of those benefitting from publicly-funded hospitality.
But this is not presently a requirement at TfL.

GLA member Darren Johnson says, this should change and has now called on TfL to reveal who is benefiting from this generous hospitality, provided at our expense. 

According to the MayorWatch Blog, Mr Johnson said: “We, as taxpayers and fare payers should be told who we are paying for. 

“I’ve no desire to stop Peter Hendy from working late into the evening and meeting important people who can help improve London’s transport system, but when the tips alone are more than the cost of a daily travel card then Londoner’s want the reassurance that real business is being done.”

     Sorce: MayorWatch Blog 

European Union court hands London's embattled taxi drivers some good Jim Thomas

A European Union court has finally handed the London Taxi Trade some good news. They've ruled that Taxis can keep their right to drive in bus lanes.

Minicab firm Addison Lee, had argued that this amounts to unlawful state aid and gives Taxis an unfair advantage over their drivers, but the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice court ruled on Wednesday, the bus-lane rule did not use state resources to confer "a selective economic advantage" on London cabs. 

Common sense has prevailed, something we don't see to often when it comes to the administration of our iconic industry.

Below is press release from TfL.

Judgment notes: 
TfL policy does not appear to the ECJ to involve state aid nor confer, through State resources, a selective economic advantage

Transport for London (TfL) has today welcomed the judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), in Luxembourg, on the case brought by Eventech, a subsidiary of Addison Lee, that challenges TfL's policy of allowing taxis, but not private hire vehicles, to use bus lanes in the capital.

In its judgment, the ECJ recognised that taxis are distinct from minicabs noting the former's "legal status, are in a factual and legal situation which is distinct from that of minicabs, and consequently those two categories of vehicles are not comparable".

The ECJ notes that drivers of taxis are subject to strict standards in relation to their vehicles, their fares and their knowledge of London, whereas those standards do not apply to minicabs.

The ECJ goes on to recognise that only taxis can ply for hire, they are subject to the rule of 'compellability', they must be recognisable and capable of conveying persons in wheelchairs, and their drivers must set the fares for their services by means of a taxi meter and have a particularly thorough knowledge of London. Concluding that in that context, the bus lane policy does not confer a selective economic advantage on taxis.

Leon Daniels, TfL's Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: `Our policy on bus lanes was upheld by the High Court. We welcome the opinion from the Advocate General and now the European Court of Justice, but ultimately await the decision of the Court of Appeal. As this process continues we are maintaining our well-understood and effective policy that helps to keep London moving in the interest of everyone.'

In the original Judicial Review proceedings in 2012, TfL explained to the court that taxis are allowed to drive in bus lanes because they can ply for hire, whereas minicabs cannot. It would be more difficult to hail a taxi, especially on a busy road, if the vehicle concerned was not near to the kerb. Unlike minicabs, taxis are required to be wheelchair accessible and their ability to use bus lanes is of great benefit to wheelchair users. Allowing tens of thousands of minicabs to drive in bus lanes would also impact on the reliability of bus services and risk inconveniencing the six and a half million passengers who travel on buses each day.

Mr Justice Burton agreed, noting in his High Court judgment: `There is to my mind a clear distinction between the need of black cabs (and their passengers and the public) for them to be in the bus lanes, by way of visibility and availability of, and access to, black cabs for those hailing a cruising taxi'.

He went on to note: 'I consider it makes entire good sense for black cabs to be travelling in bus lanes. Minicabs just do not have the need to use the bus lane, and black cabs do'.

The proceedings were brought by Eventech, a subsidiary of Addison Lee, against the Parking Adjudicator, which arose from Penalty Charge Notices issued by Camden Council for illegal use of the Southampton Row bus lanes. Both the London Borough of Camden and TfL were named as interested parties. The High Court upheld TfL's bus lanes policy in 2012 and the Court of Appeal hearing took place in April 2013.

There are around 23,000 licensed taxis in London and approximately 53,000 licensed minicabs in the capital.

    Source: TfL website/Press release

And So It Starts. TfL Turn Their Back On The London Cab Act 1968, And The Private Hire Act 1998.

Taxi Leaks has over the last three years, been warning about a rise in third party companies which take bookings for private hire journeys, without the necessary TfL license. 

How do they get away with this:
It's simple, they advertise cheap rate journeys and farm out the bookings to licensed operators. They get away with wild claims about service and calling themselves Taxis and Cabs (contra to the London Cab Act 1968 section 4 subsection 2), simply because they are not licensed so don't come under TfL. 

They are acting as private hire operators without a licence and TfL have refused point blank to do anything about this. It's an enforcement matter that should be dealt with by Cab Enforcement. 

These company's have free phone facilities in hospital, hotels and even tube stations. They advertise in the press as a Taxi and they get away with it because no ones doing anything about it. 

It's only a matter of time before Uber has it's licence revoked, but it won't make any difference to their operation. Like in other cities where they have been banned, they will just keep operating. 

Uber London have stated on many occasions they don't see themselves as an operator, but a technology company that puts customers in direct connection with private hire drivers. This is actually in contravention to the private hire act 1998 which clearly states all private hire bookings must be pre booked with a third party operator. 

They further state that because this technology wasn't around when the legislation was laid down, they don't come under the licensing regulations. In virtually all cities they've been banned, they have just carried on regardless. 

A very dangerous precedent has been set. The fact that TfL have sat back and done nothing about this type of operation in the past, will not sit well with any action taken against a Uber operating without a licence.

Latest company to offer Taxi/Cab cut price journeys is CabPal and SplitCab. Advertising Cab sharing to Heathrow for as little as £10 a head.  On their website they advertise cab, cabs, cab journey, cab fare and cab share. The words Taxi, Cab and their plurals are restricted to Licensed Hackney Carriage only. 

This issue is extremely serious.

We need TfL to take action now, before Uber are revoked. That way Uber's defence would not be able to point to the lack of case law.

TfL have failed to uphold the PH act and have been labeled by the GLA as woefully inadequate.

By doing nothing, TfL are seen to be condoning these companies. As TfL are seen as letting Uber run-amuck, discarding private hire legislation, the problem is now escalating rapidly. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top German court deals blow to Uber as complaint is classed as admissible.

(Reuters) : Germany's highest court has declined to hear a complaint brought by online taxi service Uber over a ban on its activity in the city of Hamburg, dealing a blow to the company.

The Federal Constitutional Court said the complaint was "not accepted for a decision due to lack of admissibility," a spokesman for the court said on Friday, adding that the court had given no further justification for its position.

Hamburg's transport office sent Uber an injunction in July last year that said its drivers needed special licences to transport passengers. An administrative court in Hamburg subsequently rejected Uber's urgent motion against the ban.

Uber customers order and pay for a car with its application on their smartphones. Instead of having taxis prowl city streets looking for customers, Uber allows smartphone users to summon a nearby car to pick them up.

Uber had argued its service did not involve professional drivers but rather private persons who did not require a special licence.

San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc, valued at about $40 billion in its latest fundraising, has touched a raw nerve in many countries by threatening to open up an often tightly controlled and licensed market.

The firm, backed by investors including Goldman Sachs and Google, rebuts the criticism and argues it complies with local regulations.

The Constitutional Court's decisions cannot be appealed in Germany and it was not clear what further action Uber could take.

"We take note of the court's decision and decline further comment," an Uber spokesman said.

    Source : Reuters