Saturday, January 24, 2015

Who Needs Enemies? .... Hailo Backup Will Send You A Car If No TaxiAvailable.

Hailo has added a new feature for its users in London that provides an alternate backup car in case you find your chosen mode of transportation unavailable.


For example, if you’re looking to hop into one of the capital’s iconic black cabs but Hailo doesn’t have any available, the Backup feature means that a HailoExec car will be booked at no additional cost. Exec-level vehicles, as the name implies, are generally high-end saloon cars – only Mercedes E-class, BMW 5-7 series, Jaguars and Audi A series are allowed.


It works the other way around too, if you book a HailoExec and none are available, then a black-cab will arrive instead. The feature is completely opt-in, so you’re not being forced to use the Backup option if you don’t want to. If you 
do want to, you can find the setting in the Options menu as you’re booking your car.

The company said in a blog post that it is also working to add the option to pre-book cabs, like its rival GetTaxi already offers; the feature is currently in testing but the company didn’t give an exact launch date, though it likely won’t be too far away.


                                       

            How it should work : Well Done TaxiToo



      Source : The Next Web: Hailo Blog : Twitter

                    HOW SAFE IS UBER?

                  

     Video by DavidR

Friday, January 23, 2015

Letter To the Editor : Technology Must Be Tried, Tested And Available...by GreenBadge John.

As long as politicians are driving utopian ideology cobblers years ahead of real available now technology, the London Taxi Driver is always going to pay the financial cost what ever the outcome, who can ever forget the stupid catalytic converter retro-fit scheme which was forced upon owners at a political arms length, especially as it was authorised by an un-educated so called "trust" ... remember that?

Now Nissan has realised that a business cannot rely on future expansion with an unreliable political stewardship, 

They have wiped their mouth and walked away losing £26 million quid, so what hope is there for single owner drivers?

The technology MUST be present and proved to be efficient first....BEFORE licensing constraints are placed upon existing reliable technology. 

That proof should not be simply taken as lip service from greedy green based tech companies, but be bourne out in time and motion studied evidenced based facts. 

As motorised engineering is used in all daily motorised aspects in London it should be studied accordingly an not just by forcing Taxi drivers to adapt ahead of other main stream users. 

Convicted of fraud, displaying counterfeit ID badges and adapting metal Taxi driver badge...but still Licensed by TfL.


AN Enfield councillor has denied reports that he faced a prison sentence for fraud shortly after he was elected.

According to a Metropolitan Police leaflet Nesimi Erbil, Labour councillor for lower Edmonton, received eight points on his licence and a fine of £580 at Southwark Crown Court on September 26 for fraud offences.

In January last year Mr Erbil had been stopped by the police while driving and was found to be displaying fake “all London” taxi identifiers and an adapted yellow badge around his neck.

However, he was only licensed to drive his cab in the areas of Enfield, Haringey, Waltham forest and Hackney, but he was stopped driving with a passenger on board in Regency Street, Westminster, whom he had picked up from Blackfriars Bridge.

The police report adds that he was handed a four week prison sentence suspended for twelve months, however the councillor insists there was no sentence handed down.

“If I had been sentenced like that I would not be allowed to drive my cab. I am still driving it.

“My leader knows all about this and this is a politically motivated smear campaign that is deliberately timed to coincide with an election.”

Editorial Comment:
What happened to TFL's one hit and your out policy?



    Source : North London Newspapers 

Uber Returns To New Delhi After A Ban Of Just Six Weeks.


Uber announced today that it will resume operations in New Delhi, India. It was banned by authorities six weeks ago after a female passenger accused an Uber driver of rape.

In a blog post, the company said that it had applied yesterday for a license under Delhi’s Radio Taxi Scheme, which requires Uber to eventually maintain a fleet of 200 cabs, run a 24/7 call center, and install taxi meters in cars. In other words, it would have to operate like a traditional taxi company.

Car-calling apps like Uber and Indian competitors Ola and TaxiForSure have opposed the scheme because it requires them to own taxis instead of just functioning as a marketplace for drivers and passengers, and therefore costs more money.

Instead, Uber had argued it should be regulated under India’s Information Technology Act of 2000, which would recognize it as a tech company.

The Radio Taxi Scheme, however, includes several pre-requisites for taxi drivers, including a criminal check, that could help ensure the safety of riders.

The company said it will also do its own background checks on drivers and add safety features like an in-app emergency button and ShareMyETA (estimated time or arrival) feature. This is especially important because Uber had been criticized in India for relying solely on police checks, which many people view as unreliable.

Uber added that it is cooperating with Delhi authorities, who have introduced new regulations for car-calling services, and will only work with drivers who have had their police clearance re-verified within the last six weeks.

Editorial Comment:
Uber set to return to the New Delhi Taxi Market  under Delhi’s Radio Taxi Scheme 

They've  found a way back into the market, under different legislation, but they still believe they shouldnt be treated the same as other established Taxi companies. 

Even so, Uber say the Radio Taxi Scheme legislation doesn't really apply to them and they should be regulated under a completely different set of standards, in their case the information Technology Act of 2000. 

Just goes to show that where there is big money, there is always a way back in the game. 

    Source : TechCrunch.com

Journey from Fort Worth Texas to Aubrey Texas.
That's about the same distance as North London to Gatwick and return.  

On New Years Day 2015, this trip cost one unlucky Texan $1,760. That's approximately £1,176 in real money. 

Uber operate on 4 levels 
Uber X, 
Uber Black car, 
Uber Exec 
and Uber Lux.

This journey, was only on the second level of their pricing platform.

                





Is The Future Of Technology Taxi Shaped?

                          LONDON TAXI TECH

The taxi market in London is a key example of a culture clash between these two groups. The history of regulation in the London taxi market goes back to 1636. Following laws introduced by King Charles 1 (designed to reduce the use of hackney coaches in London for fear of congestion!) reform has been ad hoc. This all changed with the sudden arrival of smartphone apps, and the dramatic disruption that followed.

There are now many well-known brands operating in London. Some are focused on protecting and developing the black cab trade and playing by the rules; others seek to create new a market for minicabs and play by some of the rules; and some don’t even know what rules are.



Whatever your view on each, the frustration from drivers, passengers and campaigners is clear to see. Regulators have yet to win the confidence of almost everyone connected to the sector – and failed to persuade almost anyone that there is a coherent plan to manage the many issues that are now confronting a vital part of London’s infrastructure. Tech is pulling the sector inside out, and fundamentally reshaping it – without passengers, and Londoners, having a say. Active engagement and thoughtful consultation is required.

This issue is not particular to transport in London. It is the elephant in the room of regulators working in a wide range of sectors and industries.

The taxi and private hire sector in London should be seen as a test bed for this issue.

             Finding a solution before it’s too late

Policymakers should show leadership, work with the recent practical set of proposals made by Caroline Pidgeon AM and the London Assembly, and set out a clear timeframe for consultation, before leading to a dedicated ‘Taxi Bill’ in the next Parliament.

Crucially, the tech sector should be active participants in this process. Tech companies must be fully hardwired into the policymaking process – they should both listen and be listened to.

Finding a balance between innovation and established ways of working is far from easy. Not least when communities believe their heritage and history is being eroded; and when there are fundamental issues of safety and accessibility at risk. But it is an issue that policymakers and regulators must engage with now, before the market decides what is in its interest, rather than the public interest; and before today becomes a future none of us had a say in.

My own view is that this new tech should not be used to torpedo long-standing ethical considerations, or, in some way, be exempt from commonly accepted values and standards. In the taxi sector, this is about safety, accessibility, transparency and community engagement. However the sector evolves in the future, should these not still form the backbone of the industry?

Tech should disrupt markets, not destroy values. Will 2015 be the year of responsibility in tech?


    Source: Chris Hall, Tec City News

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Minicab driver arrested after attempted kidnap of a teenager

Do you know women who stopped alleged attempted kidnap of girl in Bromley?


A minicab driver allegedly attempted to kidnap a teenage girl in Bromley before two women came to her rescue, police say.

The 14-year-old girl was walking along Turpington Lane at 3.25pm last Wednesday (January 14) when a man driving a silver saloon car pulled up beside her.

The man allegedly threatened her in an attempt to get her into the vehicle but two women waiting at a nearby bus stop by Brosse Way intervened.

The women verbally abused the man, telling him what they would do to him if he did not leave the girl alone.

The suspect then drove off towards Bromley Common.

A 26-year-old minicab driver was arrested on Friday (January 16) on suspicion of attempted kidnap.

He has been bailed until a date in mid-February.

Detectives are appealing to the women who intervened to come forward to help them with their enquiries.

Detective Constable John Farthing, of Bromley police CID, said: “We would like to trace the women who intervened and stopped this potentially escalating into a much more serious incident.”

Anyone with any information should contact Det Con Farthing at Bromley police’s CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

    Source : NewShopper

Taxi For Garrett Emmerson ! More Spin From TfL's Chief Operating Officer, Surface Transport....by Jim Thomas

How seriously do you think, TfL are taking the damning GLA report that branded them as Woefully inadequate?
Yesterday at City Hall, the Mayor admitted he hadn't even read it.

Later in the afternoon, Garrett Emmerson, TfL's Surface Transport Chief Operating Officer, appeared on the Eddie Nestor BBC London show and said, they are seriously looking at two of the nineteen recommendations. 
Yes, it's not a misprint, just two!

  1. The signage on Minicabs.
  2. Making the acceptance of credit cards by Taxi drivers mandatory. 

He then repeated his amazing claim that TfL were the Gold Standard of Licensing Authorities which others aspire to. It's an old PR trick that if you tell a big enough lie often enough, people start to believe its the truth. Garrett's belligerent attitude seems to suggest TfL are going to put their heads down and hope this all just goes away.

He also made some amazing contradictory comments about enforcement:


In his London Live TV interview with Caroline Pidgeon, 
Emmerson claimed TfL had 400 officers in total dealing with touting. This suddenly dropped to 170 when explaining to Eddie Nestor. 

Yet LCDC chairman Grant Davis was told, on a Saturday night before Christmas, only 4 enforcement officers were out working.

He also claimed that touting was down from 66% of PH journeys to just 16% and that in "the last few years" there had been 8000 arrests for touting. 
Funny then that TfL should publish figures that show that last year, they managed just 34 convictions

Is their legal team really that bad?

Below are two of the question put to Garrett Emmerson. 

 




Associated Press Ban The Term "Ride Sharing" For Uber, As Its Inaccurate.

Companies like Uber and Lyft have often referred to their services as "ride-sharing" or in done cases "Taxis".

But these are not accurate terms. 

After much criticism, Associated Press (AP) now agrees in part and has banned the words ride-share for Uber-like services in its widely-used style guide. The better term, AP says, is "ride-hailing". Of course in London I could think of a better term.

Well, it's a start! Perhaps they can now add, stop calling private hire car services TAXIS

In July, AP was criticised over the trend of calling these and other services "sharing" and called on its Greater Washington readers to come up with a better term.

When a number of people collectively buy something so all can use it, that may be sharing. When a company brokers transactions between people buying goods (in this case, rides) from people who sell these goods, that's not sharing.

As Charlie Warzel explained in BuzzFeed, "Though Uber has recently introduced a carpooling service, the vast majority of services that Uber and Lyft and others provide mimic a traditional taxi service. You don't get in an Uber to share a ride with another paying passenger".

There are already ride systems and services that are much more properly "sharing." Virginia has long had the practice of "slugging," where drivers pick up other passengers at designated lots in order to use the carpool lanes. Other people are creating companies that help people actually share rides. In London, this would be known as stage coaching and I believe is not yet legal without a published rout and time table. 

Amazingly after the LTDA's now infamous Bug Bugs case, Richshaws were allowed to continue to operate under the stage coach act as they charge separate fares, even though there is no rout or time table. An apeal although winnable, was never lodged.

Jenny O'Brien is a community manager for Carma, a smartphone app that connects drivers and riders for the purpose of carpooling. 

She says, "When I tell a potential user about Carma, as soon as I say 'app' and 'ride sharing' they say, 'Oh, like Uber!' Then I have to explain that Uber is more like a taxi". But she is in fact as just as wrong. Uber are private hire.

She went on to say "It's frustrating that the public lumps us together because of the misuse of the term 'ride sharing.'"
She's stating that carpool and ride sharing companies are frustrated by being associated with Uber.


Many writers follow the AP Stylebook. 
It is fortunate that AP has agreed with the critics to more accurately describe this some of the new technology and services offered, but now they really do need to focus on the difference between Taxis and Private Hire.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

GLA, Mayors Question Time : Not A Demo, More A Show Of Support!

Main thing about today's meeting was getting on the map & showing support to the London Assembly.

We now need to get the message out to the whole trade for wider support on the 25th Feb, when the GLA Transport Committee will be confronting  Hendy!

Looking at the webcast, what stood out most today was the level of disdain and almost contempt Boris has for accountability. He made it patently clear that he had not read the GLA report and had only been briefed on the recommendations made within. But promised Caroline Pidgeon a written response. 

 

Boris heckled by drivers as he told the GLA:"this Mayoralty sticks up for the Taxi trade".

Not a protest, more a show of support for the GLA report.



Press Release By The United Cabbies Group : Todays Taxi Drivers Protest at City Hall London.


Today, london's taxidrivers will stage a protest both on foot and by driving around City Hall during Mayor's question time.

We Will Be There to Draw Attention to:

On the 16th December 2014 The London Assembly published it's findings into the "woefully inadequate" performance of TfL as the licensing and governing body for both London's Taxis and Private Hire services. 

This report has been described as "brutal" and it calls Transport for London "not fit for purpose", "woefully inadequate" and calls for it to "get a grips with the basics".

London's Taxi Drivers have been long dissastified with the performance of TfL as it's governing body, complaining continually that TfL is not fit for purpose and claiming it has washed it's hands of the problem of uncontrolled touting. This report has been described by drivers as "long overdue"

Todays protestors will be making themselves heard and noticed, in an attempt not to allow this report to be swept under the carpet. 

The recommendations in this report are vital to the future survival of the worlds best Taxi service.

Full Report Here

Below is the fantastic interview of the chair of the GLA Transport committee, Caroline Pidgeon by Radio Taxi Group Boss, Geoffrey Riesel. It really is a must watch.  



    
 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Press Release From The RMT LTDB : Trade Meeting At Woodfield Road.


RMT LTDB officers attended a trade meeting hosted by the Licensed Taxi  Drivers Association (LTDA) at Taxi House today (19/01/2015) to discuss the current ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) consultation and the impact on the trade. Considered by some as the single most biggest threat to the trade, there are however, some positive points.

Despite initial outrage, impact will not be on the licensed taxi trade. Instead it’s the private hire industry. This is due to ULEZ proposing Zero Emissions Capable (ZAC) vehicles be available by 2018, and for drivers to invest. 

Currently, Mercedes Benz are the biggest supplier to the London PHV market (supplying some 6000 vehicles to major fleets) and do not have a vehicle in their portfolio that meets the standards, and a future model is to have an estimated price tag  in the region of £100,000. 

Even the ubiquitous Toyota Prius looks set to betray the PHV industry, as it’s newer model is said to be around 30% dearer! Concerns made by the LPHCA (Licensed Private Hire Car Association) are that this is an unviable cost to drivers and would restrict prospective individuals entering the profession.

As of yet there is no concrete offer of a vehicle to be made available to the licensed taxi trade, with Nissan being the latest company to pull out. But there is feeling that if and when a vehicle enters the market, the trade will have the advantage over the PHV industry, as relative costs will be lower.

The RMT have never been against the principle of cleaner air for London. In 2012 the union sought to lobby parliament to secure a scrappage scheme for owner drivers to be compensated, but following a petition, received almost zero support from the trade. 

It is our view that the ULEZ consultation is not the biggest threat to our trade and that vehicle costs are ancillary when considering income. 

Over the last decade we have seen our market share dwindle and incomes fall whilst simultaneously seeing our outgoings rise. This can be attributed to the erosion of our working practices, from the satellite offices to E-hailing of PHVs.

The RMT LTDB  believe fundamentally that our incomes should be able to comfortably absorb price burdens like a new vehicle no matter if a fifteen, ten or even five year age limit is stipulated.

We should be united in securing our right to ply for hire and to future proof our trade. For no matter what they try and throw at us.

Editorial Comment:

THE LTDA FINALLY OPEN THE GATES TO THE TRADE.


TfL's main fears are now being realised, as the Taxi Trade finally made an effort towards a United Trade. The LTDA hosted trade talks at Taxi House.
Virtually all groups were invited including the UCG and the RMT LTBD. Not perfect but at least a begining 

Unfortunately the LCDC's Grant Davis ignored the invitation and gave no reason for the no show.
 



Has it been a complete set up....Have we been turned over again?

Question : Who do you think was actually first to bring to TfL's attention the fact that Uber were using meters?

Was it the LTDA.......................no!

Was it The LCDC.....................no!

What about Unite the union....no!

Or even the  LPHCA................no!

Actually, it was Addison Lee.

According to Sir Peter Hendy's letter to the TfL board posted on the MayorWatch blog, Addison Lee registered the complaint that Uber were using a meter to calculate fares, on 24 August 2013.

Fearing no action would be taken the LPHCA instructed solicitors on the 10th of December 2013, followed then on the 17th December 2013 by the LTDA.


In regards to Addison Lee's letter, TfL were only aware that the issue was raised in August 2013. But what did they do about it......nothing as usual.
On the 10 December 2013 the LPHCA instructed solicitors to formally raise at a senior level within TfL, an alleged potential breach of Taximeter prohibition, in relation to smartphones being used by Uber. 
Well done TfL boardmember Steve Wright. 
Surely that's the whole point of being a board member.

Bringing up the rear like the poor relation, came our caring sharing, representative trade org general secretary, the one with over half the trade as members. He then puts in a complaint about Uber's operation after being  completely overshadowed by Addison Lee and the LPHCA.

TfL then supported Uber by stating they had looked at this matter and in their opinion it wasn't a Taximeter.


The LTDA then took out private prosecutions against a number of Uber drivers and to everyone's amazement, Leon Daniels, appeared in an interview on BBC London and announced that TfL couldn't "proceed" with their quest for a legal definition, because of the LTDA's case being bought in the magistrates court. 
 
But actually at that stage, TfL have not actually sort high court action. It's all been smoke and mirrors.

Hendy and Daniels both said they want the LTDA to "drop" their cases so they can "procede" with their action. 


Bob Oddy has now, on behalf of the LTDA (without consulting members) asked TfL to take over the Uber driver summonses, which would then be sent back to a magistrates court. 

But even if TfL do take on the cases, any defence lawyer worth their salt will tear their prosecution to pieces. In fact even I could tear this prosecution to pieces, using this section of Hendy's letter to the board of TfL.

TfL have clearly stated in the past (and in Hendy's letter), that in their opinion, a smart phone used to record details of a journey and calculate a fare, is not a "fitted Taximeter". 

This whole case has been a farce, designed to make us take our eye off the ball.

After TfL's statement, the case on this issue became unwinnable.


It probably never was. In the process of the trip, Uber's smart phone shows a sat nav page and does not show a progressive total that the passenger can clearly see. A total read out and breakdown is only available on conclusion of the journey.

Chasing the wrong criminal:
The fact that Uber drivers are accepting instant hirings that are not pre-booked, which have not been taken in accordance with PH regulations such as, over a landline by a third party operator, is the real problem. 
A problem that could easily sink Uber's ship. 

A blind eye has now been turned to this section of the PH legislation and this aspect of Uber's  modus operandi, is now completely off the radar.

Everything is there, in Hendy's letter to the TfL board, posted on the MayorWatch blog.

The letter should have been confidential, but suddenly appears on a blog. This letter itself has the potential in part, to destroy any case against Uber concerning the use of a metering device.

Why has it taken 18 months for this issue to come to a head?

If  Uber's licence had been revoked, they would have appealed. The case would then have been heard within days in the appeals court, as has happened all over Europe and North America. But TfL have no backbone and ran scared, passing the blame onto the LTDA.

Uber themselves are currently telling the world's courts they are a technology company and not a private hire operator. 
If this is true, who is the operator accepting pre-bookings?
Is it the drivers, as this would definitely be illegal!

And what happens if their licence is revoke, a licence they say they don't need....will they carry on regardless?

Why would TfL issue an operators licence to a company that states it's not an operator?

Would they allow me to start up my own bus company, stating I don't want to be part of TfL's surface transport, set my own time table and fare structure? Of course not, so why licence a PH non operator?

In a recent court case in Philadelphia, the prosecution alleges this company is taking no notice of Taxi regulation world wide and are acting like organised criminals similar to the bootleggers of the roaring twenties. The company CEO, Travis Kalanick has been accused of being a racketeer.

This whole business stinks of corruption.
Instead or taking out prosecutions against Uber drivers, the LTDA and LPHCA should be suing the arse off TfL.

The United Trade Group (UTG) has again allowed themselves to  be sold a pup. 

Liam Griffin speaks out:
Addison Lee's Liam Griffin, has accused TfL of refusing to enforce regulations with Uber that Addison Lee has had to comply with.  

TfL fear legal action from the San Francisco company, whose backers include Google.

“TfL completely and utterly bottled it,” he said. “They decided that they would fold and not enforce regulations that they have done to us for a long, long time, on the basis that they are worried about being sued by Uber.”

This decision has put TfL’s “credibility” in doubt, he said: “This has been enforced for ten years... along come these guys, and all of a sudden, its fine to do it. That’s just weak management.”


Monday, January 19, 2015

Letter to the Taxi Leaks Editor : Uber can never compare to you...

Over the weekend, Taxi Leaks recieved a communication from Anne Flint, who lives in Colorado Springs USA. The comment was left on an archived post from mid 2013, "How can London Cabbies survive the threat of private hire firms? by David styles".
We have therefore reposted the comment as a letter to the editor

I recently discovered your blog after reading an article on The Knowledge. I'm an American Anglophile (been there 5 times - which is not enough). 

I'm distressed to learn of all the legal problems plaguing your industry. It seems to me that one way you can complete is to emphasize the history, charm, need I say leg room, and ability of your drivers to point out places and talk about the history. 

UBER can never compare to that. 

Tourists want the traditional taxi ride. Even though I think it is sad that the electronic "ease" (your competition's word, not mine) is going to take hold no matter what you do to defeat it, it is probably the way of the future. 

BUT there is no reason you traditional drivers couldn't come up with your own version of this and serve your public in this manner. As for all the legal and administrative issues you are facing, it sounds like you have to find a way to really get tough. 

No one is listening to you. Have you thought of rioting in the streets? I wish you the best of luck and next time I'm over there I will be taking the traditional little black taxi. 

Editorial Comment:
Anne's showing of support for the iconic London Taxi trade is typical for many visitors and residents alike. 
Yes we have found recent competition hard, but the thing that's been hardest to stomach is our own licensing authority showing of bias towards certain larger private hire companies. 

The bending and breaking of rules in order to show preferential treatment to a multinational billion dollar setup, banned in many cities around the world has not gone unnoticed. Not only by us, but also the Greater London Authority, which has branded TfL as woefully inadequate.

But it's no good pleading hardship. 
We have to show we are better than the rest.

TfL say that because this type of technology wasn't around when the PH act was written, then a lot of it doesn't apply to app based technology.

This is total rubbish, it's like saying that guns weren't invented when Moses was given the 10 commandments, so murdering someone with a gun isn't covered in law.

Legislation is laid down by Parliament and kept up-to-date by case law. If TfL fail to act, fail to prosecute then case law starts to flag behind. If legislation hasn't kept up with this technology, then it's TfL's failure.

Even without new legislation, it's still illegal to accept an immediate hiring, which hasn't been pre booked by a third party. This is tantamount to plying for hire, which is covered concisely by the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Acts.

Ok, they have new technology, but we have this also.
They have apps...and so do we. 

They may have Sat Navs....but  we have the knowledge!
And that's something they will never have.

Very soon, we will be seeing a game changer that could revolutionise the taxis trade...but, more on this later!