Saturday, May 23, 2015

Licensed Unlawfully, TfL Still Turning A Blind Eye To Protect Uber.

On Friday 22May, an open letter to Boris Johnson from Addison Lee’s chief executive Liam Griffin appeared in the Financial Times. It describes TfL's response to the rise of Uber and similar operators as “deplorable”.

TfL's hesitancy “to apply the same regulatory standards for private hire operators to app-based firms has enabled these e-hailing services to distort public perception of the wider sector”, Mr Griffin said in his letter.

He welcomed Boris's review of private hire regulations but said the proposal to cap numbers is “an unworkable and outdated solution; a panic measure being brought forward in the attempt to get TfL off the naughty step”.

Mr Johnson has said that the increase in private hire vehicles — numbers have risen by a fifth in the past year to 78,000 — has led to greater congestion in London, more air pollution and more illegally parked cars. His staff insisted the mayor was not on a witch hunt against Uber.

But Mr Griffin argued that the cause of the problem was not the existence of operators such as Uber but TfL’s failure to enforce regulations properly by “turning a blind eye to the new e-hailing operators’ behaviour”.

Mr Griffin therefore calls for an “overhaul of the regulatory system to accommodate and address the needs and issues of the modern transport environment”.

>Read Mr a Griffins Full Letter, Click Here<.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said: “We have not treated, and do not treat, Uber any differently to any other London operator and we are satisfied that Uber complies with private hire licensing requirements.

“Where the requirements are met, we are legally obliged to grant an operator’s licence.”

Really Leon?

Why was the requirement for a land line to take pre-bookings dropped in Uber's case? (It's actually on the aplication form. Was it because uber don't do pre booked jobs....they a replying for immediate hire! Isn't that unlawful Leon?


Below is an Email train sent to us by Steve Garelick, Branch Secretary Professional Drivers G56:

It would appear to us that not only were Uber Licensed even though they did not fully comply with PH regulations, TfL are still bending over backwards, turning a blind eye to protect them.

From: Steve Garelick @ GMB Drivers 
Subject: Uber - Suspension of Licence

As you will be aware I tested Ubers system to confirm if a driver could drive uninsured or with false documents without immediate detection.

This has been proven and I again tested the system at the weekend to prove no substantive change has taken place.

Additionally one of TfLs Prerequisites is a book of complaints is supposed to be kept with appropriate resolutions.

I am doubtful that considering Uber have removed and restarted their twitter feeds that a full list of complaints is not in place.

Further to I understand that the UGC have kept a copy of the old Twitter feed of complaints which are at over 8000 this is a staggering amount even for a company of so many accomplished journey’s.

It would be hard to confirm this without actual data from twitter users which makes me question why the feeds with original complaints has been removed.

The fact that no inspection in person of validity of documents is a concern.

A further aspect of compliance is consistent  complaints of rider accounts being used by other individuals.

This would point towards hacking or sales of client data.

Additionally the fraudulent transactions breach PCI DSS rules. Understandably data protection is a specific aspect of licence applications as well as financial probity.

On this basis I believe that Uber's licence is not fit for purpose.

I might add that when initial licensing had taken place I questioned John Mason nearly 2 ½ Years ago and he advised me in a meeting at TfL that he licensed the company personally and all was in order.

This clearly was not the case.

I understand that if Uber's licence is revoked they will switch tack to a ride share scenario not only are the DBS issues but this will question the ethicacy of this company further.

Notwithstanding my evidence and concerns I believe it is time to find a meaningful solution.

I am also concerned that not only are devices being exchanged between drivers (Something I foresaw and mentioned previously.) but there is clearly a avoidance of tax as I understand you may nominate overseas accounts. This may also be leading to benefit abuse.

Stealing benefits from those who really need them is not only unacceptable but immoral.

GMB would now formally request a suspension of Uber London’s licence until solutions if any can be found.

Steve Garelick
Branch Secretary Professional Drivers G56


From: Hayward Siwan 

Subject: RE: Uber - Suspension of Licence

 

Dear Steve

 

Thank you for this and I apologise for the delay in responding. We have looked into each aspect of your allegations.

 

We recently undertook a compliance inspection at Uber London Ltd and we are satisfied with the insurance in place for all their active drivers. We also reviewed their complaints system. 

 

We are looking further into the hacking allegations and will keep you updated when we have reached a conclusion.

 

 

All the best Siwan


Subject: Your response to my request for suspension - Uber

 

Hello Siwan,

 

I was staggered to see the response I received on Friday.

 

It seems that despite my evidence to the contrary proving indefatigably that a driver could work without insurance this seems to have been dismissed as a misnomer.

 

Furthermore I am wondering what happens to the previous documents that are on Ubers system because when I uploaded documents in the first instance my insurance was still in date rather than add this back to their system I was requested to despite a request to upload a pre-existing document they should have still had.

 

This took place prior to my testing the system for alternative upload options.

 

Does this mean that documents are deleted from their database as a matter of course despite specific rules to the contrary?

 

Likewise I am doubtful that The high level of daily complaints that can be seen on twitter alone are catalogued as per TFL instructions and that all are showing within Ubers complaints book.

 

Judging by the deleted tweets we conclude this is being obfuscated to protect Uber from bad publicity.

 

You have not responded to our request on how you wish to handle the breach of data protection based on the 200 Driver names received in error from Uber.

 

This was sent some weeks ago.

 

I have been able to furnish yourselves with multiple instances where I was able to log on to the Uber platform and be allowed to drive with inappropriate documents such as restaurant menus and GMB application forms.

 

Despite recent changes to the document system it is still possible to upload a fake insurance document without detection.

 

Just because changes may satisfy you now this does not absolve this company.

 

This would be like saying because a mugger did not mug anyone recently that they were not guilty.

 

To ignore this and choose to rely on your own data is inexcusable.

 

I have now provided clear proof that Uber accounts are available and that data protection as well as card protection are not in place.

 

A response from yourself asked for me to contact the Police.

 

I can advise  that unless TFL make a test purchase under secure conditions no case can take place as I am not prepared to buy illegally obtained data to prove illegality.

 

It seems to me the onus that you have set down to me on more than one occasion is not only unreasonable but unacceptable as you are supposed to be upholding the law.

 

The general view of those involved in both Private Hire and Taxi in London is that there is a level of protection granted to Uber that does not exist to others.

 

Unless you can publicly dispel these views the presumption will continue.

 

Please explain why my evidence has been ignored.

 

Additionally can you now confirm NO Licensed operator requires a telephone number after their inspection for Public contact as both Uber and Hailo have none in place.

 

As soon as you can confirm this we will act to advise the trade promptly.

 

I would also like to understand why the data protection issue has been dismissed.

 

The clear level of complaints on Twitter alone beyond 8000 being what they are within the complaints book with appropriate action and client addresses and resolutions.

 

How with consistent overcharging, charging for others journeys, journeys not booked and proof that drivers are not taking correct routes that TFL finds no wrongdoing is beyond me?

 

The case for financial probity is now proven but ignored by TFL.

 

Understandably I will now repeat my request to revoke this companies licence.

 

Finally despite an article that went in to the Evening Standard in my name missing a portion of the interview with the reporter you wrote in somewhat terse terms  which asked for an apology and questioned why I had not alerted yourselves to matters when had indeed emailed yourselves and others.

 

I am still awaiting an apology for the fact I had indeed emailed and you had chosen to ignore me.

 

It will come as no surprise that my being elected to my position was based partly to preserve safety for PHV and Taxi users and of course for my not unsubstantial membership but also to help with my Professional experience to improve the quality of life for those who work in our trade .

 

To continue to treat myself and my membership in this fashion is not only disappointing  it is deplorable.

 

It is my belief that I have treated TFL staff with the upmost courtesy over the recent years and what I am seeing in return is disappointing.

 

Indeed your TFL council has exhibited a similar propensity for discourtesy as to not respond even with an acknowledgment to my recent reply to him despite the clarity of my response.

 

Understandably I am more than petered.

  

Steve Garelick 
Branch Secretary Professional Drivers G56

Read Steve Garelick's emails to John Mason in full, concerning the licensing of Uber in 2012 >Click Here <




Friday, May 22, 2015

Update on City Hall, MQT 21st May 2015 : Caroline Pidgeon Tells Boris to Grow Some.

Just a quick update on City Hall...

Well it was certainly 'eventful'... shall we say!

There were less cabbies there than any of the last three, which was disappointing, but still enough to fill the big auditorium, bar only a handful of empty seats. 

Once again the trade sat there in silence listening to Boris bluster his way through all the other stuff. Then it was GLA member Val Shawcross' turn to grill him. And she didn't let us down! 

She told Boris in no uncertain terms that the Taxi trade was almost dead thanks to his and TfL's incompetence. By not taking control of Ubend he has let them obliterate our industry!

..

Val's interrogation was closely followed by Caroline  Pidgeon, who bought up the fact that drivers without insurance were coming to London from as far away as Manchester to work unlicensed for Uber.

She also told Boris he didn't have the guts to stand up to Uber.

Both these videos are a must watch....

..


All Boris could reply was that it was a "Free Market".

Is it a Free Market?  

What's 'Free' about having the tools you can use and the price you must pay for them dictated to you?

What's free about having no say in the price you can charge your customers? 

What about the dozens of regulations we have to abide by that the scabs don't?

And oh yeah let's not even acknowledge the Knowledge which we all had to do...that the scabs don't!

And the list goes on...

Don't give us this 'Free Market' cobblers you Cretin when it's anything but!


Well, as you can imagine, this certainly got the crowd going, with people starting to heckle & catcall Boris. 

AND I DON'T BLAME THEM!

Boris Johnson's attitude was one of... 'There's nothing I can be arsed to do, that's the way it is, you lot are history...Tough!'

"Its a free market, live with it"

And that was when most of the trade got up and marched out!

I know the guy who led the mass exodus (no names mentioned) feels a bit bad for letting the trade down, but don't be mate, it had to happen. Boris needs to know the anger in this trade, because he certainly isn't getting this info from his so called 'Advisor'!

Three times now we have sat there on our best behaviour, letting the GLA get on with their work. Well done all.

Now I'm not one to suffer fools gladly and this Buffoon has virtually kicked the door shut in the taxi trade's face.

Gloves off if you ask me!

Those of you who manage to get to see the footage on the Parliamentry Channel, (Re-run I might add because the live footage suddenly switched to Scottish Parliament just as they announced Taxis....SPOOKY!) will hear me shouting at Boris about the Windsor House demo next tuesday.

"See You Next Tuesday" Boris... Oh the irony!

I told him it was going to be the biggest Taxi demo he's ever seen. Don't let me down folks. This is OUR job, our trade, our livelihoods. We can't just let this bunch of muppets take it away from us. We are gaining real momentum and we must keep the pressure on them. And the best way to do that is numbers.

This needs 000s of us. It should be ALL of us, but we all know there are some who will never do anything for anyone. They will probably be the first to scream "Why didn't somebody do something"? Please don't be one of them. And if you have been, please change, this is critical now, its no longer a joke, its here, its in our faces, and it is real!

Spread the word...

Drive-in/On Foot Demonstration...Tuesday 26th May...Windsor House, Victoria St.

Those of you who are in a taxi trade org...Phone them now and ask them if they are supporting the demo?

LTDA    020 7286 1046

LCDC   020 7232 0676

Unite     07903 525520

The RMT voted against supporting it by a majority 14/13, and obviously the UCG have called it.

Any trade org who does not support this is simply undermining the efforts of those that are, and is the reason why we go round and round in circles. 

And this is exactly the reason why TfL are allowed to get away with it. Boris always trots out the line... "We consult with the taxi unions, they don't support this, its only a small group of militants".

And round & round we go, getting screwed into the ground!

So call up your trade org now, ask them if they are supporting it? Demand to know why not if they say no.

Then decide if they are worth the money you pay them?

Don't let them mug you off!

Anyway, thanks again for your time, and likewise the LTDF.

Keep punching...See you Tuesday...Dizzy.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Letter To Editor : Eddie Symes' Reply To Steve McNamara, In Regards To Monday's Meeting.

This is the email reply, HATDU Chairman Eddie Symes sent to Steve McNamara LTDA, with regards to Mondays meeting. 


Hi Steve

Thanks for the invite to the taxi trade meeting on Monday 18th May.

I regret to inform you that HATDU will not be attending for the following reasons, on 23/3/15 HATDU asked to be invited to attend a meeting hosted by Siwan Hayward [TFL] regarding enforcement in London and at Heathrow.

As HATDU are the only taxi trade organisation whose membership are all registered to work at Heathrow we believed that we should be allowed to represent our members on an important issue regarding Heathrow.

On 24/3/15 Siwan Hayward consequently invited HATDU to attend this meeting on condition that the UTG [LCDC, LTDA & Unite] had no objections.

We were then informed by Siwan Hayward on 29/4/15 that Unite had opposed HATDU attending as this could lead to other trade organisations [UCG & RMT?] being allowed into meetings in future and we assume that the LTDA supported Unite on this issue as the invitation was withdrawn.

The HATDU Committee are also disappointed that HATDU is not represented at the current consultations regarding c/card acceptance by London taxi drivers as we are the only trade organisation that actually manages a processing business for its members and we believe our seven years experience in this field would be invaluable to point out the potential benefits and pitfalls involved especially at Heathrow.

At a time when the taxi trade is under attack from many directions we believe that all trade organisations should come together and show a united front but unless all trade organisations are allowed into all relevant meetings with TFL, GLA, Mayor's office and Mr Bob Oddy this will not happen.

You can't pick and choose which meetings HATDU can attend.

I also take issue with your remark on the answerphone message that I was being invited because I'm a " face" at Heathrow.

Whilst this may be true after working there for 37 years, I believe that I should have been invited as the Chairman of HATDU a legally registered Society with the 3rd largest membership of any organisation only consisting of Licensed London taxi drivers, apologies to UCG if I'm wrong with my figures.

I will be copying all relevant parties to this e-mail.

Regards

Eddie.


     With thanks to Eddie Symes

Have You Given Up?...Will You Stand Up And Fight... Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Men.

Below is a 38 second trailer of the harrowing story of Neil, a licensed London Taxi driver of 19 years. (Full story Sunday)



Neil is just one of the many drivers within our ranks who will lose their homes in the wake of crippling debt. 

He and his wife were surprised by bailiffs, who turned up and gave them just two hours, to pack up all their stuff and get out.

Before he became a Cabbie, Neil was a sergeant in the Royal Signals, a 17 year veteran of Northern Ireland, The Falklands and the Golf. This ex service man who did his bit for his country, was actuall kicked out on Armistice Day.



This is a hard watch and I must admit I'm struggling to edit the full video through floods or tears.

"There but for the grace of God, go many more of us"

TfL have bought this trade to its knees. 
They are sitting back waiting for us to die off and blow away. 

Time is a commodity we no longer have...
Will you fight, or will you just accept defeat at the hands of this woefully inadequate TfL? 

Windsor House, 2pm 26 May 2015.





Canadian Taxi drivers take UberX protest to city hall.


More than 100 taxi drivers staged a lunch-hour protest in front of city hall, demanding the city and province take more action to combat the ride-sharing service UberX.

The cab drivers contend that UberX is engaging in illegal transportation, and it is costing them fares and reducing the value of lucrative taxi permits.

“We don’t want the taxi bureau to be given more power; we want Uber shut down immediately,” one protester shouted into a megaphone while surrounded by about a dozen others on the steps of city hall.

“We’re asking the transport minister to stop UberX at the source, by blocking its Internet connection,” Hassan Kattoua said. “The minister says that the Taxi Bureau has to act, but it only has two inspectors. It’s not a police force. They take Uber to court, and that’s not a solution.”

Alain Rochon, the director general of the city’s Taxi Bureau, said in fact there are eight inspectors, and he plans to add more in next few weeks.

Kattoua said Uber seems to have lots of money for lawyers and is pleased to let the slow process of the justice system run its course while the company takes hold in Montreal.

“We’re losing at least $50 to $60 (each) per day, and the value of our permits is going down,” he said, adding that a permit that used to sell for more than $200,000 now goes for about $170,000.

Kattoua said Montreal should follow the example of Spain. In that country, a judge ruled the UberX ride-sharing service, which allows people to use their personal cars to offer rides for money, was illegal. The court ordered telecom companies to block online connections to Uber.com.

Taxi drivers here have begun to take the law in their own hands.

Last week, Kattoua and another driver hailed a ride through UberX and asked to be driven to the offices of the city’s Taxi Bureau, where they surrounded the car and waited for an inspector to come out and impound it. The scene was captured on video by La Presse.

The inspector said he did not condone the taxi drivers taking the law into their own hands, saying they could be risking their safety.

Transport Minister Robert Poëti has said he supports the actions of the city’s Taxi Bureau, which as of Tuesday had seized 61 cars since UberX began last year.

Poëti said he is investigating making fines for illegal transportation stiffer, but for the moment he ruled out taking more drastic measures, such as launching an injunction against the service, as was done in Toronto. Poëti said he believes the measures in place are good deterrents.



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Uber challenges London mayor Boris Johnson over cap on minicabs

Uber will challenge plans by Boris Johnson to cap the number of minicabs operating across London, arguing that the move would mean “higher prices” for millions of travellers in the British capital.

The Mayor of London, who was elected as an MP this month, is pressing for new legislation that would limit the number of minicabs in the city. 

The proposals, which are expected to feature in this month’s Queen’s Speech, are being seen as a direct attempt to curb the rise of the US taxi app group.

In a letter seen by the Financial Times, Jo Bertram, the head of Uber’s business in the UK, has requested the chance to debate the issue with the mayor directly. 

She also complains that Uber is not yet represented on the board of Transport for London and has been shut out of other industry bodies from which it can better challenge the move.

“London is one of the great cities of the world and Londoners have embraced Uber’s technology; tens of thousands rely on us for their job and millions more use us to get where they need to go,” Ms Bertram said.

“Capping the industry’s ability to grow would mean higher prices and less availability for the millions of people who rely on Uber and services like ours to get around.”

She added that new regulations should “protect people — their personal safety and their pockets — not hamper new innovations they value and that make their lives easier”.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: “The Mayor is not on an Uber witch hunt . . . It doesn’t matter who the drivers work for. It just doesn’t make sense to have such a large number of minicab drivers in the capital.”

The letter is Uber’s first step in lobbying against the cap proposals revealed by Mr Johnson last week. “We must be able to take action against the threat posed by the massive increase we are seeing in the number of private hire vehicles,” he said.

Mr Johnson argues that the increase was to blame for greater congestion on London’s roads, more air pollution and the problem of illegally parked vehicles.

The number of minicabs in the capital has increased by nearly a fifth in the past year to more than 78,000. Uber has about 14,000 drivers in London, making it the largest provider of private hires in the city.

The rise has put pressure on TfL, caught between the popularity of Uber and incumbent taxi groups. The transport regulator is currently undertaking a review of the London taxi market.

London’s long established black cab drivers have complained that a lack of regulation was skewing the market in Uber’s favour. The London Taxi Drivers Association has taken Uber to court alleging that the use of smartphones to log journey’s flouts regulations.


   Source : FT