Saturday, May 30, 2015

Volvo's Self-Stopping Car System....Op's. But make sure you've paid for it.

Bit awkward for Volvo.

One of their new cars was being tested for the ‘pedestrian detection’ feature when it rammed into someone.

The XC60 is seen reversing in a Dominican Republic car park.

The driver is believed to have accelerated forwards and the car is seen smashing into a bloke with his hands in his pockets.


It left two men with bruising and minor injuries.

The car giant said the people who bought the Volvo did not pay for the pedestrian detection functionality.

Spokesman Johan Larsson said: ‘The Volvo XC60 comes with City Safety as a standard feature however this does not include the Pedestrian detection functionality.

‘It appears as if the car in this video is not equipped with Pedestrian detection. This is sold as a separate package.’

Good to know.

  • This car was being driven by a human being. Moreover, this vehicle was not fitted with Pedestrian Detection, a Volvo safety system designed to identify pedestrians and apply a vehicle’s brakes.
  • Instead, this vehicle was fitted with a feature called City Safety, which is standard in all Volvos.

 This system contributes to safer driving in heavy city traffic by avoiding or mitigating rear end collisions with other vehicles in low speeds by braking. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to work on this occasion.

    Source: The Metro UK.


Friday, May 29, 2015




• All-new Metrocab for the UK to enter series production in Coventry in 2016
• First production vehicles to be sold in London
• Existing Multimatic Facility in Coventry undergoing expansion to accommodate Metrocab production
• New jobs being created in the Midlands
• £50 million to be invested in taking all-new Metrocab to production


Mytchett, Surrey, 28 May 2015 – Frazer-Nash Research Ltd and Ecotive Ltd, the makers of the all-new Metrocab – the only zero-emissions capable black cab currently operating in London, are pleased to announce that the Metrocab for the UK will enter volume production in Coventry next year, as part of a new partnership with manufacturing specialist, Multimatic. 


Multimatic is a privately held global corporation supplying components, systems and services to the automotive industry. The company is headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and has operating divisions in North America, Europe and Asia, with manufacturing partners in South America and Australia. Multimatic’s core competencies lie in the high volume manufacture of automotive mechanisms, structures and suspension components, as well as the design and development of automotive body and chassis systems.  


Multimatic Niche Vehicles (MNV) manufactures complete cars as well as body/chassis assemblies for low volume programs such as Aston Martin’s One-77, Zagato and GT12, the Lagonda Taraf and Ford GT.  Multimatic Engineering supplies customers as diverse as Red Bull Formula One, Tesla and Mercedes AMG.  Multimatic has a well-established manufacturing facility in Coventry, which is now undergoing a programme of expansion to accommodate the start of Metrocab production next year.


Metrocab chairman, Sir Charles Masefield, said: “This announcement marks another important step in bringing the all-new electric powered Metrocab to volume production.  Our prototype fleet is already operating very successfully in London, proving that our Range Extended Electric taxis are the solution to delivering on the City’s Ultra Low Emission Zones promises from 2018.  Next year we will enter volume production with the hugely respected and experienced Multimatic.  We are delighted to be working with such an established partner to fulfil our ambitions following our significant investment in developing this product and to bring further skilled jobs to the UK.”


Multimatic Vice President, Larry Holt added: “We have been following closely the development of zero-emissions capable taxis in the UK, and have worked with Metrocab for a number of years to bring their prototype fleet to the market.  We are all delighted with the performance and operational results of this first fleet, and it is very satisfying to now commit to enter series production of the all-new Metrocab.  The taxi has clearly been designed and engineered from the ground up with the global market in mind, and Multimatic has the facilities and capabilities to make this a truly international product – a prospect which really excites us.”


The Metrocab is available now on the streets of London as a small trial fleet operated by Comcab, and is the first zero-emission-capable taxi to be licensed by Transport for London to operate on a trial basis as a London Hackney Carriage.

– ENDS –


About the all-new Metrocab:

The purpose-built all-new Range-Extended Electric (REE) Metrocab taxi represents the cutting edge of green transportation technology. The vehicle incorporates the latest technology for comfort, performance and safety, providing unrivalled efficiency and economy with significantly reduced daily operation and maintenance costs together with customer benefits including full disabled accessibility, panoramic roof for views of the city, increased luggage space and unrivalled comfort for up to seven passengers. 


The taxi is driven by two electric motors, with a 1-litre petrol engine range extender coupled with an optimisedgenerator to recharge the battery pack (which takes as little as 10 minutes while driving).  Charging is also available via any mains electric outlet providing even lower fuel consumption.  


Developed by Surrey-based Frazer-Nash Research, this unique powertrain system offers ultra-low emissions and a zero emissions mode, improved air quality, reduced noise pollution, and economic benefits including tax incentives and grants.



Metrocab key features:

• 98 MPG on the ECE101 Cycle and over three times more fuel efficient than comparable current London taxi
• 75% less CO2 than comparable current London taxi
• New Metrocab <65g/km CO2
• >560km combined range
• Significantly lower running costs, typically saving a London cabbie £20 – 40 per day
• Zero-emissions mode and home charging via standard mains outlet
• >10 years in development and over a million powertrain test kilometres
• Six passenger seats (plus optional seventh passenger seat in the front)
• Designed to comply with London Taxi Private Hire (LTPH)regulations


Metrocab Technical Specification:


• Range extended electric vehicle 
• Designed to comply with London Taxi Private Hire (LTPH)regulations 
• Capable of zero emission operation
• Vehicle health diagnostics and status telemetry system 



• Overall length:................................ 4,905mm 
• Overall width:................................. 1,800mm 
• Overall height:................................ 1,925mm 
• Wheel base:.....................................3,181mm 



• Gross:................................................ 2,515kg 



• Top speed:........................................ 80mph (Restricted) 
• Max gradient:................................... 1:3
• Emissions:......................................... <65g/km CO2
• Turning circle: ................................. 7.62m (designed to meet LTPHrequirement)
• Regenerative braking 



• Peak motor power:........................ 2 x 50kW
• Peak wheel torque:........................ 2 x 1,400Nm 



• 1 litre petrol range-extender engine coupled to generator unit 
• Fuel efficient urban and highway generating modes 
• Meets Euro 5 emission standards 



• Lithium-ion polymer large format cells
• Stored capacity:............................... 12.2kWh 
• 3kW on board charging 




• Driver multi-function touch screen display and instrument cluster with colour display 
• Passenger colour display 
• USB charging socket
• Digital infotainment system 
• Hands free telephone 
• Air conditioning and heating
• Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
• 3-seater rear bench seat - fore/aft adjustable for more luggage space when required
• 3 rear facing flip down seats
• 1 optional front passenger seat
• Full wheelchair access 
• Panoramic glass roof 
• Mood Lighting
• Air suspension 

* Correct at time of going to print, subject to change 



For further information contact: 

James Andrew               +44 (0) 207 287 9610




'Cheaper than who?' By I'm Spartacus

After an eventful week in the trade, it's been unfortunately concluded by yet again a trade organisation suggesting that abolishing Rate 3 will revive our fortunes.

I have previous written on this 
>Click Here<but obliviously need to restate the case so that YOU the working driver are fully informed.

1. Price wars can only be won by those with the lowest cost base, that ain't us is it?

2. The unlawful predatory competitor that this hare brained initiative aims at has a yield pricing (surge) model that results in fares more than Rate 3 at demand times.

3. The average Rate 3 journey is under the minimum fare charged by large PH firms.

4. Once this is 'given away' without any compensating factor such as a realistic flag fall we won't ever get in back, have not the lessons of this organisation conceding an age limit rather that condition based system been learnt?

5. Our rate of pay is known, it's on the fare chart, in the interests of transparency, it's absolutely required that those proposing the grand idea publish detail of exactly what they get from the cab trade such as stand down pay, expenses and reduced or free rental cabs.

6. Can we assume that they have negotiated lower cab rentals, insurance and servicing across the entire city for the whole trade to take account of this price drop?

Here's a suggestion: why don't the committee members of this organisation have their cabs emblazoned in big letters '20% off your fare in this cab', work nights for 6 months and through an independent verifier let us know how busy, busy, busy they are?

They could even have their own special rank and call themselves Lidl Cabs.

In comparison to this, Cecil Selwyn's idea to concrete over the Thames to increase road space seems very sensible and achievable.

Let us hear no more of it!

I'm Spartacus.

Editorial Comment:
If my memory serves me well, it was in fact Monty Schiemann who said the Thames should be diverted at Chiswick, concreted over and a 6 lane motorway put down, so industrial and continental traffic could bypass London's busy streets and connect through to the A40 with exits at both intersections with the North and South Circular.

This was many years before the conception of the M25. 

Looking back now...was it really such a crazy idea?



Thursday, May 28, 2015

How did my dad's Uber account get hacked?

Thousands of users of taxi app Uber have reported their accounts being hacked or hijacked. Uber say there has been no Hack, it's just weak customer passwords!

So what's really going on?

"Bilaal, your Uber is arriving now," my dad was told.

My dad's name is Ed. And he hadn't requested an Uber car.

He's not alone. The US website Motherboard reported two months ago that "thousands" of Uber account details were available to buy for as little as $1 each on the anonymous "dark web". 

Outraged users have been complaining about being charged for various fraudulent taxi rides. 

One Londoner was hit with a bill of about £3,000 for 142 journeys - about 10 a day - over the course of two weeks. 

Other "phantom" trips have supposedly taken place in different cities, or even countries

Fraudsters often try changing the phone number or email address attached to the account, preventing the account holder from immediately realising they've been hacked.

Bilaal was less ambitious. He changed the name on my dad's account to Bilaal, presumably so he wouldn't accidentally give himself away if the driver asked for Ed.

And his first trip wasn't exactly what you'd expect from a joyriding, dark-web-using Uber hijacker.

It lasted 45 seconds - a distance of 0.12 miles - and Bilaal stayed in a single street, near the University of East London's student union.

This was at 09:25 and it didn't even cost enough to cover the £5 minimum - so Uber automatically topped it up by £2.24.

Question marks over Uber's security were also raised in February, when news arose of a previous security breach concerning the details of about 50,000 drivers. 

But while Uber confirmed the breach on that occasion - albeit more than four months after it occurred - this time it has consistently denied one took place. Many users receive a response similar to my dad:

"It looks like someone may have accessed your account illegitimately. Whilst this may be the case, please note that our team has investigated and found no evidence of a system-wide breach at Uber."

But it took a while for my dad to get a response, something that has irked numerous other users.

In the meantime, at 09:31, just five minutes after his first ride, Bilaal got another Uber from further down the same road - and made an equally baffling journey.

In a 46-minute ride, Bilaal went a total distance of one mile - ending up on the opposite side of the same roundabout he'd started at, and costing £10.63 to my increasingly frustrated and perplexed dad. "He's either someone visiting all his mates or he's a drug dealer," my dad said at the time.

Twice at this point he'd received the call saying his Uber was outside. Twice he'd said: "I didn't order an Uber, cancel it". Twice he'd been sent a receipt. And twice he'd replied with requests for Uber to do something.

He heard nothing from Uber - and for a while Bilaal went quiet too. 

He suddenly resurfaced an hour and a half later on the A12 in London - a fair distance from where he'd been dropped off - taking a 29-minute, £15.36 trip out to Chigwell, in Essex.

Despite rejecting any possible security breach on their system, Uber has acknowledged the issue and promised to refund all fraudulent rides to anyone whose account has been compromised.

My dad was reimbursed and received several apologetic emails the next day. "We can confirm that we haven't had any breach," says Harry Porter, Uber's spokesperson in the UK, Ireland and the Nordic countries. Other companies have experienced similar security issues at around the same time, he says.

At the end of March, British Airways' Air Miles accounts were among those reported to have been cyber-attacked. Amazon, Netflix, EE and Vodafone accounts are all also apparently available to purchase on the dark web. 

"The hypothesis that we currently have - and it seems to be correct - is that an e-commerce or online company somewhere has had some kind of breach," Porter says. 

"And what people are doing is they are trying those login details against a number of other online companies - Uber is one of them - and some of these are getting through."

"That is quite plausible," says Dr Steven Murdoch, a cyber-security expert at University College London. It's still extremely common for people to use the same password on numerous websites, he says, and Uber uses email addresses rather than personalised usernames.

Sellers can get access to large databases of personal details - either from the dark web or the internet - and then test them across various websites to see if they're of any value, Murdoch explains.

"If it's just a database of usernames, email addresses and passwords, that's not worth very much," Murdoch says. "That gets sold as a big file for a very small amount of money." But individual website accounts - such as for Uber - are worth more, he says.

"The people who are selling on these websites do have a reputation to maintain," Murdoch says, "and they try to make sure they are selling a good product - albeit an illegal one. Many do offer refunds, so if it doesn't work they'll give you another one for free."

There are even guides on sale, teaching buyers how to use their illegal accounts, reports Motherboard. The hijackers are apparently advisedto login via the website, rather than the app, for example. 

Uber is taking steps to heighten security. Any change in name, number or email address will now require text verification to confirm it's you, Porter says.

"If there is a suspicious vibe on an account then the original phone number associated with that account will get a text saying, 'Someone's trying to book a ride in this country, is this you?'"

There's also the possibility for greater police cooperation. In theory, a suspected criminal in an Uber is being tracked the whole way.

"If you can alert the driver in time, while they're still in the car, surely they can just drive straight to the police station and hand them in," my dad suggests.

If it's possible to pinpoint exactly where someone is at a given time, Murdoch adds, maybe the fraudster's been caught on film at some point too. 

Porter says Uber is already in contact with relevant authorities and cooperating in ongoing fraud investigations.

Other suggestions surfacing online question whether Uber drivers could be involved, especially given the bizarre routes of some fake trips.

"A fraudulent driver could book people to use their own service," Murdoch says, using a fake account and driving wherever they want to increase the price.

"But I'd be surprised if that actually works out," Murdoch adds. "If it keeps on happening then Uber will just take the view that it's too suspicious and take the money off the driver."

In fact, Uber's promise to reimburse victims of fake trips extends to drivers too.

We make sure the driver, who is also kind of a victim in this, gets paid. So no one will lose out," says Porter.

Bilaal used different drivers anyway, including for his final £27.73 ride of the day.

Having been in Essex at midday, Bilaal had kindly made his own way back to the A12 by 21:00, sparing my dad further expense. 

But then he took one hour and 21 minutes to travel nearly 10.5 miles - far from outrageous bearing in mind London's traffic.

Except that his destination was 1.1 miles away - and he'd already passed it at least once during a journey that should've taken about six minutes, according to Google Maps.

Oh, Bilaal. What were you up to?

Official figures show that the numbers of people interested in becoming a London taxi driver have fallen and the car-booking phone app Uber is being blamed. But is this the beginning of a serious decline for the traditional black cab? 

    Source BBC Magazine 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

For those that may have missed it "Deregulation"

The Enterprise bill. Page 18 the queens speech.

The Queen's Speech has outlined plans for a bill to cut red tape, potentially saving British business at least £10bn.

For the first time, the plans will be monitored by independent regulators, who are charged with making sure the target is achieved.

The bill has also proposed a new Small Business Conciliation Service.

It will help settle disputes between small and large businesses, especially over late payment - an issue that concerns many small businesses.

The service will handle disputes without the need for court action.

There will also be a reform of the current system by which businesses appeal against business rates, which is intended to simplify the process ahead of a revaluation due in 2017.

The government says it also intends to take other steps to strengthen UK competiveness and to back businesses to create jobs.

It intends to have made the £10bn worth of cuts by the end of this Parliament.

Please remember the Scots have tagged Taxis and Pedicabs to an air weapons bill.

    With thanks to Les Reid. 

Illegal minicab drivers sentenced for fraud

Two men who forged Transport for London (TfL) private hire licences to illegally operate as minicab drivers have been convicted of fraud and sentenced following Roads and Transport Policing Command investigations.

Masood Sheikh, 60 [31.10.54] of Millfield Avenue, Waltham Forest was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday, 15 May after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud.

Hichem Hamilaoui, 44 [31.10.70] of Redcliffe Gardens, Redbridge was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, which has been suspended for two years, at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday, 15 May after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud.

Both will now be subject to separate financial investigations by the MPS under the proceeds of crime act.

Both Sheikh and Hamilaoui were arrested after TfL compliance officers visited their operator and, while inspecting their records, identified that they were operating as minicab drivers, even though their private hire licences had been revoked. Inspection of their paper licences showed that they were forged and have been used to fraudulently gain employment with cab companies.

The compliance officers then contacted the Police who attended and arrested the drivers.

Inspector Tracy Allison, Roads and Transport Policing Command, said: “This is an excellent result which has seen two fraudsters receive robust judicial outcomes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Windsor House Demo : Drivers From All Representative Groups.

As Big Ben struck 2pm, Taxis descended on Windsor House. Within minutes, Victoria Street was bought to a complete standstill as an estimated 3-4,000 London Taxis filled the surrounding area.

TfL had taken the precautionary measure of diverting the busses which only added to the problem. Normally a spokesperson makes the scripted statement to the media, that just a few hundred taxis turned up, but without busses breaking up the lines of cabs, the true picture was much clearer. This time it was easy to see that thousands had attended. 

Another lie perpetuated by TfL is that the action is being carried out by a small splinter group. We managed to point out to every press officer, reporter or camera man we could find, that the drivers lanyards signified their trade loyalties and it could be seen that every representative group were in attendance. This was a major victory of the rank and file who are fed up with org and Union infighting.

By half past two, traffic was tailing back along the 
Victoria embankment to Blackfriars. 
Over Westminster bridge to the Elephant
ParkLane was at a standstill 
The Mall was solid both ways 
West London, Kensington and Bayswater resembled a car park.

Many drivers had come on foot, with one I met making a 300 mile round trip to be here. At one point, a crowd of 70-80 drivers were protesting outside the main doors. The noise in front of Windsor house was deafening, with police unsure what to do next. 

Members of the public were given flyers and appeared to be very sympathetic. Some actually joined it, giving cheers and rounds of applause as drivers filed pass.  

Traffic cops tried desperately to divert taxis away from the area, but this just added to the mayhem. The officers from traffic division seemed to be under pressure and in a few isolated cases, took their frustrations out on cabbies stuck in traffic. The highly dangerous practise of sitting stationary in traffic without wearing a seat belt was elevated to a major offence. 

Drivers were also ordered, -under section 37 of the road traffic act- not to u-turn. One knowledge rider was pulled over the coals for having the wrong tyer pressures. You really couldn't make it up.

There was also moments of light relief as a group of pedestrians wearing pig marks with pink hair danced in front of the police and then a lone Wizann knowledge boy cycled back and forth on a Boris bike, waving a Totally Failing London pamphlet.

             But there's more to this story. 
The knowledge boy's moped had broken down and still desperate to support the demo, he hired a Boris bike. 

Abdinasir you were my hero of the day. 
May I wish you, on behalf of all at Taxi Leaks, a speedy progression through the knowledge system.

The demonstration lasted the full duration of the allotted two hours and then around 4:15pm someone made a call to the fire brigade, which resulted in three pumps and a ladder being despatched to Windsor House. In the chaos and confusion, certain employees made a swift exit from the building in the direction of St James Park tube station.

Wonder if there will be an investigation into wasting the fire brigades valuable time.

Some interesting faces turn out on parade, ranging from trade org Chairpersons (UCG, LCDC, LSTC,), Council of Management and committee officers (UCG, LTDA, LCDC, RTDA, ELTDA), plus Union officials (GMB,Unite).

UCG's Len Martin's Interview with Rita Chatterjee


           Courtney Tells It Like It Is


     Video by David R