Saturday, June 06, 2015

Letter To Taxi Leaks: Why Haven't Orgs Taken TfL To Court, For Failing To Enforce The Legislation?

Dear Mr Editor of Taxi Leaks… I saw this tweet today on the J.O.B@joinourbattle time line

But, apparently TfL say there are no hard and fast rules governing Apps. Below is from a page on their website where, after discussion with both trades, they present their view on what should be the regulations.

This passage taken directly from TfLs own webpage 

And it made me ask the main trade bodys this question over twitter in responds to the above tweet. 

@The_LCDC @TheLTDA @RMT_LondonTaxi @UnitedCabbies This is what I don't understand & maybe one of you can explain. 

As yet, not one org has replied.

If TFL have issued a licence against their own rules and with the fact that there is no phone contact to pre book, why have you not taken a private prosecution against TFL for failure of duty’s to apply the regulations within the regulators set standards? 

Here is my thing and please let me state a few points from my point of view and my position. 

Firstly I am not a taxi driver I am however doing the KOL and have just broken the back of my 200th run. So I know my view won’t be like so many of you great taxi drivers. 

I look at see what the trade is trying to do, and I despair at some of the stupid replies given by taxi drivers to people who have posted a tweet against the big U about an experience. To only then get slatted instead of supported by taxi drivers. 
(LOOK if you want people to come back to you! Don’t then go and insult them!) 

Would it work with you? NO IT WONT 
So don’t go doing it to those that decided to speak out against the U… You need them on your side…!!

Back to my main point and the reason for this email to yourself:- 

1) I don’t understand why the main trade bodies haven’t gone directly against TFL and taken them to court for failure to enforce the legislation they do have i.e. guidelines/rules. 
a. Uber have no landline for pre bookings. 
b. Uber state clearly they don't do pre-bookings. 

2) I also don’t understand why a group of 200 or so cabbies haven’t clubbed together and gone to a barrister (with the help of their orgs) and sued TFL for loss of earnings due to them braking/not enforcing their own rules.

Now I am no great legal mind, hell I left school not even being able to read and write, but even I can see there is a case to be answered.

Cabbies have to submit tax earning to the government, so this is a legal document that shows earnings year on year. If you got 200 or so of these, showing year on year losses and can point these to TFL’s door then they would have to defend their actions in court of law. 

And if proven, TFL would be left wide open.

And who knows what would then happen…

I realise that I by writing this letter have put my neck on the line. But it is something I feel needs to be said.

Be Lucky 
Rob Zappone


Although the above passages taken from the TfL website show a prospective of what they would like to see as future legislation, >Click Here< , at the bottom of the page after a line indicating the end of the article, TfL publish current regulations.

As can be plainly seen Uber are currently in contravention of these rules as they put the passenger in direct contact with the driver.

It is stated clearly in this section that any app that puts passengers in direct contact with a driver for purpose of a private hire is illegal. They then go on to say they will take appropriate action against the person responsible for the app....TfL haven't done this in the case of Uber's app.

Do We Really Need To Move With The Times ? .... By Semtex.

 Not a day goes by, without a comment by either the media, our customers, TFL or even our own, to accuse our London Taxi Trade of failing to move with the times.

To some extent, I can see where these comments derive from. And to some extent too, I can see that we ourselves, have given people ammunition, for such an accusation.
Naturally, we have probably all done something whilst driving a cab, that may have come across as eccentric. After all, we are a special breed !
But looking at this under the microscope, what actually are "The Times" and what is required to "Move with them ?" 

I have always interpreted the phrase "Moving with the times" as keeping up with technology, new and latest ideas, thinking, and state of the art equipment, leading to better service and customer experience.
I am very close to my 60th birthday. I doubt I am alone at my age, whereby I don't find myself saying on a daily basis either to myself, or aloud  " they didn't have that problem in my day" or "we did it a much better way when I started work ".
I agree emphatically, that during my lifetime's experience, immense advancement has been made in so many areas of our lives. I also agree that many of these new ideas have been genuine enrichment.
But the more I ponder over this, the more I can pluck out instances, whereby "moving with the times" has actually sent us backwards.
There cant be many frontline Metropolitan Police Officers who joined the job previous to Hendon Training College closing in 2007, who actually truly believe with hand on heart, that the Met were "moving with the times" when it closed its doors for the last time, in respect to the 5 month training course ?

These days, potential coppers take a new "slimline entrants course" known as the Initial Police Learning & Development Programme. Sounds great doesn't it ? But rest assured, that this was actually going backwards with the times, as the current level of police expertise with new recruits will testify.
Sometimes, when I am on my way home from London after driving the cab, I stop in a Tesco Super Store, and load up with groceries. My wife has been seriously ill of late, so I find I do most of this stuff myself. I load up the trolley, go to the check out've guessed it ! 

Not one solitary cashier available, and my only chance of getting my grocery is to serve myself, using those immensely annoying self service tills ! Iv'e done a day's work knocking my pipe out pushing a cab round Central London. Im tired, wound up like a spring, dying for a wee, and haven't even took the dogs out yet. 

Ive got fingers like a bunch of Fyfees Unripened, and now I have to put seventy quids worth of shopping over  a scanning machine, all by hand, and the bloody thing screaming " you have put an unidentified item in the packing area!"
Did Tesco honestly think, with hand on heart, that these tills were "moving with the times ?"
I took my family to a well known and quite expensive restaurant about a month ago. We weren't exactly celebrating, but discussing an issue that was important to our family, in hushed tones, and so as no other diners could hear.
During the whole of the main course, there was this jumped up, obnoxious rude city merchant, talking about hedge funds, who he thought would win the FA Cup and where he was going on his holiday. 

He wasn't actually shouting, but he was talking loud enough for the whole dining room to have to listen to him. My wife broke the ice and awkward silence from our table, by reminding the kids that if that had of happened when me and Dad were courting,  old city boy's table would have gone up in the air, followed a split second by his Confit of Duck and Slow Braised Red Cabbage !
We have all had to listen to these rude twerps, but is actually being able to do what our rude boy did, an example of "moving with the times ? " I doubt it.
Have any of you ever managed to get that very last parking space, feel absolutely lucky that you got it as you straightened the car up to the kerb, gone to pay, and then seen that they only accept text payment ? It was easy to put a £1 coin into the slot on the meter, but apparently, texting and phoning, in an area where there is little or no phone signal is "moving with the times". Not in my life, it isn't.
Which leads me to my point. The London Licensed Taxi Trade has been going for over 300 years. West End stores brag about their heritage without having a patch of our service history time to quote. To continue trading and successfully driving a huge array of people across London, for such a long period................must surely suggest that we have got our business right ?
To be respected across the whole world and be depicted on post cards as a flagship of not just our wonderful city, but our United Kingdom also, must surely indicate we have a service that is working correctly ?
If this is the case, then why is it, just because an inferior service attempts to trade cheek by jowl with us, accepts payment in a very modern form of mobile phone app, and can by virtue of their inferior professional standard offer journeys at suspiciously low tariffs....................why is it assumed that we refuse to "move with the times ?" 

Why is it then, that just because Uber come into the market with their cheap brand, that our established, iconic, trusted and proven business model, is expected to diminish our standards, to match their cheaper service with apparent cheaper prices ?
"Moving with the times?" Not on your nelly !
As previously mentioned, not everything in the modern hi-tech world is proof of moving forward. People pay an awful lot of money to travel on the Orient Express. Why don't they just get a cheaper ride and jump on a Euro Star train to Paris, or the fast HS1 train to Dover ? They value their unique and superior service, that's why. As old as the Orient is, its first class service has become the flag bearer for the industry that it is in. 
Don't get me wrong. I love a bargain. I adore the 6 chocolate & almond ice lollies in Lidl for two quid and the pork loaf in Iceland for 3 quid is surely a fantastic deal.
But surely, some things in life are sacred ? Harrods is a very expensive grocery store, but be fair, their stuff is a different class. You ever had the beef from Allens opposite the Connaught ? A bit dearer than anyone else, but again, a different class. Could you imagine either of these two iconic businesses reducing their prices to compete with Lidl ? Of course not ! So why should our great iconic taxi service compete in a price war to oblivion ?
I believe that any attempt to try and compete with an inferior service by matching their cheap price structure, would be a disaster for our London Taxi Trade. Our standards of vehicle, insurance, running costs and personal licence are high for good reason. Our vehicles are purpose built, our personal licensing criteria is complex and long winded, and our CRB Criminal record checks are thorough, concise and strictly vetted. If Uber or any other mini cab app company attempted to compete with us using our standards, they wouldn't survive a week ! The London Taxi and it's drivers are of the very highest calibre indeed.
So really, Its not all about cheaper and cheaper still is it ? Despite the lollies from Lidls and the pork loaf from Iceland being a bargain, the fleece I bought from Aldi flew up my back like a venetian blind when I done the zip up ! 
Sometimes a good deal isn't as good as it really looks.
The London Taxi Trade is a jewel in the Crown of London's rich heritage. Leave it alone. It works as well now, as it always has. Yes you probably can get a cheaper ride home if you look for it, but by and large I feel that our service is still the best taxi service in the world bar none.
Sitting here in my armchair and seriously thinking of the future of our trade, I came to the conclusion that if working 120 hours a week, without washing, running on red diesel, and navigating London's streets and roads using satellite navigation to undercut the professionals is  " Moving with the times " then I am more than happy enough to be accused of being the dinosaur I  always thought I was.
London Licensed Taxis..........Once again voted The Best Taxi Service In The World.
Be lucky all.
8829 Semtex.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Letter To The Editor : RE Unauthorised Signage

Jim, just fired this off earlier to:

RE Unauthorised Signage
Dear Sir/Madam

I have read your recent letter regarding the above and and I  would be grateful if you could answer the following questions.

When I volunteer my time to take under privileged children or veterans on charity day trips will compliance officers be taking details of drivers who display charity stickers on  their taxicabs?

I have previously attached balloons and ribbons to my vehicle at some of these events to help make it a fun day out for the children. More recently I have attached a large poppy to the front grill of my taxi whilst I was transporting veterans to Horse Guards Parade for Remembrance Sunday. Do balloons, ribbons  and paper poppies count as 'objects' as described in your recent letter? 

I have read TPH notice 14/06 and I cannot see any exceptions to the rules. I am therefore concerned about any compliance action that may be taken against me the next time I volunteer my time to help one of these marvelous charities supported by the London Taxi trade.

I would be grateful if you could reassure me that no suspension or revocation action, as described in TPH Notice 14/06 and threatened by your colleague Garrett Emmerson, will be taken against drivers who display unauthorised signage or objects at these charity events.

I would also be interested to know how many taxi drivers have been reported for having balloons, ribbons or poppies on their taxis. Please treat these questions as a Freedom of Information request.

Sean Kellet.

Chislehurst Crash: London Taxi Driver Dies After Car Flips Onto Its Side By War Memorial In South London

A London taxi driver has been killed in a crash near a south London war memorial this morning.

The black cab flipped onto its side after colliding with a car at about 3.20am this morning in Royal Parade, Chislehurst.

The driver, 52, suffered critical injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. His family have been informed.

A 24-year-old was arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and is being held at a south London police station.

The upturned taxi was left resting on its side after the accident, close to the Chislehurst War Memorial at the junction with Bromley Road.

Road closures and bus diversions remain in place with motorists warned to avoid the area.

Detectives from the Met's serious collision investigation unit are investigating and have appealed for witnesses.

A spokeswoman for the London Ambulance Service said: "Sadly, the patient was pronounced dead at the scene by the doctor from London's Air Ambulance."

There were no other reported injuries.

Anyone with any information should call police on 020 8285 1574 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Read more >Click Here<

Thursday, June 04, 2015

An Open Reply To TfL's Andrea Shaw's Letter.... From Taxi Driver Sean Paul.


I have a real problem with this letter that been sent out to certain individuals based on the liquid  laws that flow from Windsor house, Victoria St 

Firstly, the date refers to the signage being used on the day of the demonstration. It makes sense then- whatever the signage was- that it would've been removed once the demonstration had dissipated.  

Secondly, TFL are ambiguous as to what the signage was? Could it be that it was defamatory to the TFL brand?  

The primary reason I take issue with the issuing of such a letter is, if the sign referred to TFL’s failures,  at least it was keeping with the truth, which in contrast to Uber’s app which grossly presents itself as the safest form of transport there is.  

So, not only is it fine for Uber to blatantly deceive the travelling public- via technology that TFL conveniently feel unqualified to regulate against- but conversely, see fit to waste public money by sending out letters about signage used at a time that cannot be described as a typical working day. 

Not only do I find this practice petty and redundant but I find it seriously discriminatory. If we really want to get in to the subject of enforcement-  especially at a time when TfL should be concerning themselves with repairing their relationship with the taxi trade- could those in charge of enforcement send to the trade a copy of Uber’s landline telephone number?  

It is all very well putting rules and arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but only enforce against transgressions those who are easy to target, further disadvantaging them against unreproachable big dollar Corporations 

In closing, if we are going to have enforcement,  then at least apply across the board. If you think that Uber’s non- compliance of not having a landline is innocuous,  because it doesn't suit that working model, believe me, it is not nearly as futile as the letter you have posted regarding signage used on a demonstration. 

Sadly, this is another setback in the relationship between Sir Peter Hendy and the taxi trade 


Sean Paul 

Tottenham Court Road car ban: Taxis refused judicial review

Black cab drivers have been denied permission to mount a legal challenge against the decision to limit car access to Tottenham Court Road.

Plans for a £41m revamp of the central London street, including a daylight ban on cars six days a week, were approved by Camden Council in 2014.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) said it was "madness" and would hinder customer pick-up and drop-off.

It sought a judicial review of the decision that was refused on 1 June.

The council said the redesign would make the street safer and support businesses ahead of the opening of a Crossrail station in 2018.

It undertook an assessment of the impact the partial car ban might have and said allowing taxis to use the street would lead to more traffic congestion, worse air quality and increased traffic collisions.

Only buses, bicycles and local access would be allowed on the street from 08:00 to 19:00 Monday to Saturday, but side streets should still give other vehicles 60% access to Tottenham Court Road, the council added.

    Source BBC

Totally Failing The Taxi Trade...TfL Over Stepping The Mark...Again.... By Jim Thomas

Overstepping their authority again, TfL have sent hundreds of letters out to drivers who had Totally Failing London cards in their Taxi windows on the Windsor house demo.

At the risk of being bombarded by the usual trolls, I'm of the opinion that:

a) A Taxi can also be used by both the driver and the owner, for social and domestic use. (A private vehicle)

b) TfL have no authority over what the driver or owner displays in or on their vehicle when that vehicle is not being used as a Licensed London Taxi.

I wondered what these "Red Star" bus inspectors were doing, taking numbers of Taxis at the demo!
Do they not have Red Star inspectors in China, North Korea and Russia? 

These "Red Star" inspectors were issued written guild lines for use when harassing drivers....when questioned, they didn't even understand the requirements they were reporting.

It is everyone's democratic right to peacefully demonstrate.
TfL have totally and woefully over stepped the mark of democracy by again harassing, protesting drivers.

At the next demo, I will have the controversial sign in every window, will cover the TfL plate with one and have already made smaller ones for the ID holders. 

Warning: When you are using your vehicle for social domestic use, your must comply with the seat belt law. 

Before the demo, the LTDA tweeted to its members that if any driver received a complaint, ticket, summons or threat of prosecution following the action, then said members should phone up admin as soon as possible for them to deal with it. If you are an LTDA member and received this threat, then you should contact the LTDA ASAP.

So I believe the trades biggest org has the same opinion as me, that no offence or contravention would have taken place. 

Sir Peter's Legal Advice On Uber...Letter From Brian.

Curiouser & curiouser. ..Sir Peter takes legal advice from Martin Chamberlain QC,  two years after the horse has disappeared over the horizon, and this eminent human rights lawyer gives his legal opinion in secret, no paper trail, no document of reference, no notes.
Really ?  In real life....really ?  

A verbal legal opinion is probably cheaper than a written one and Sir Peter was obviously trying to save the taxpayer  money.

Perhaps Caroline Pidgeon might like to invite Mr Chamberlain QC, to give another verbal opinion in front of her committee.Maybe ask if it's normal chambers practice  to give learned opinion by word of mouth. Maybe ask what research was involved before delivering his verbal legal opinion. Maybe ask what prior relationship existed, if any, between Sir Peter and Mr Chamberlain.

In a week when Slippery Sepp has been hooked by the good guys, we can cling to the thought that we are also the good guys...and our time will come.

Be lucky, Brian.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Private Hire Regulations Review, Consultation. TfL Press Release.

Just over two weeks until Private Hire Regulations Review consultation closes


· TfL continues to seek views on potential changes to Private Hire regulations

· To contribute, >Click Here<

There are two weeks remaining in the consultation on proposed changes to regulations governing the Private Hire trade.  Transport for London (TfL) regulates private hire drivers, vehicles and operators and is seeking views on whether those regulations should change and how they should be managed.


TfL launched the consultation as a direct result of discussions with the taxi and private hire trades.  The consultation seeks views on a wide-ranging number of topics relating to the Private Hire industry, including: 

· whether drivers should meet a standard English-language requirement before becoming licensed;

· whether TfL should take on an increased role in the complaints procedure;

· how regulations may be amended to allow ride-sharing; and

· how regulations governing in-venue operators may be improved.

The consultation also asks whether private hire operators’ databases, of bookings and jobs undertaken, should be uploaded to TfL’s servers. This would provide TfL with a greater understanding of the industry, assist in licensing and aid enforcement activity.


Transport for London – London Taxi and Private Hire  

Email: For enquiries email  

Web: For licensing information visit the TfL website

 or try TfL’s Common Questions Section

Twitter: You can now follow us on Twitter @TfLTPH

Telephone: For driver and operator enquiries call 0343 222 4444, for vehicle enquiries call 0343 222 5555

The State Of The Trade : by Semtex.

Personally, I think the current UCG, headed by our colleague Len Martin, are most definitely on the right track to save us. What'smore, when our friend and colleague Dizzy first launched the UCG some years back, he too was on the exact flight path to save our trade from the peril it's in now.

Sadly for Dizzy, and with our trade being how we are, the game was ticking over not too bad, and the majority of us were too short sighted and unable to see what was happening behind the mask of TFL. As a result,  the UCG never did the massive backing it deserved.
Wind the tape on fast forward two or three years, and now the penny has dropped ! London Taxi drivers in their thousands are now realising that their livings have been annihilated.  TFL and their masterful plan are all but waiting to push the corks from the bottles of Krug, reserved for when the Great London Taxi Trade are put away with the Trafalgar Square Pigeons.

And the way things are, the invites to TFL's Taxi Trade Assassination Party, will probably already be printed.
It is utterly pointless to analyse where we went wrong. To do so, would be to criticise our own colleagues and their various membership organisations who are there to prevent the above happening. Without sounding like a drama queen, our future financial livings in this industry is on critical ground now, and whatever we do in the next coming months, will no doubt decide where we go next.
So what or where next then ? I am not knowledgeable enough to have the winning formula for our trade's survival, but neither am I naïve enough to think that sitting down or negotiating with a body who want shot of futile.

I genuinely believe that nothing can be gained by sitting down with TFL. They have showed and demonstrated utter disdain and disloyalty to the service that we have expertly provided for so many years. They are not to be trusted in way, shape or form in my opinion.
I know it's not everybody's idea that militancy is the way forward, but surely, when you have been abused, mis-treated, disrespected and rode over rough shod to the degree that TFL have done with us...........then a bite back and zero tolerance to further punishment is the answer ?
Reading the article earlier this week regarding the case of the car used in a crime with a PHV Roundel on the windscreen, had my blood boiling. That needs to be referred to Scotland Yard immediately. How many times have I predicted in the past, that sooner or later this lapse in security enforcement will see people killed ?

I have purchased several ex-police vehicles in the past, to transport my detection dogs in. As you can imagine, they are fully air conditioned, with all the appropriate cages and equipment in the back for the dogs, and can be picked up at a decent price when the police dog units invest in newer vehicles. 

However, I have NEVER EVER bought one with blue lights still on, Battenberg reflective police stripes and sirens still connected ! They are all stripped out by the police before re-sale, and obviously, for very good reason ! Why then is the removal and return of a mini cab roundel not a mandatory proviso when a mini cab driver licensed by TFL, parts with his vehicle then ? Its an absolute no brainer to me, and an issue that needs urgent investigation by the police, especially the Counter Terrorist Units. Again, another hugely important lapse of care or concern, by the untrustworthy, unprofessional TFL civil servants who control and govern us.
I know, and am always saddened to see, that even at this stage in our fight for survival, our trade is still divided. 100% backing of the UCG and it's militant stance is still not happening, and although I am naturally bias, I always wonder why. I don't wish to name or get into arguments with various trade leaders and their membership, but what are they assuming will happen to us all ? If we don't get out on them roads and take back what we worked four years to qualify for, how will we survive ? Is there another solution ? I would love to hear of the plan ! Honestly, I would.
The underhanded and slippery dealings with the Uber licensing has obviously dealt our trade an unexpected and unfair blow. I could easily undercut most dentists on price in any UK town, if I decided to open up shop with no university academic qualifications, no dental college training and no expensive hospital machinery.

Avoiding my income tax, and using just pliers, unsterile  needles and a head torch, I could make a killing in the dentistry game, by simply avoiding to work under the required professional standards. But, would I get away with it ? Of course not! dentists around the country would be up in arms demanding for me to be closed down immediately. And I would be, quite rightly. And yet..................the murky, distrustful and woefully inadequate untrusted of Transport For London, not only allow a similar gang as my fictional dentist to trade in the first place, but bend over backwards and ensure that the pathway ahead is clear for them to both succeed and establish themselves ! Isn't that truly unbelievable ? It sounds quite dubious doesn't it ? You bet it does ! Its as murky as hell !
If that were to happen to the rogue dentist, how many PROPER dentists, who have been forced to comply with the latest legislation, been forced to invest in the proper hygienic equipment, been forced to take the appropriate university degrees, been forced to go through the demanding and professional six year training, and forced to operate in the appropriate premises............................would congregate outside Parliament, screaming the place down ?
Yes, you're right ! Thousands and thousands of them !! And so they should do too !! The dentists who take care of us, can thank their lucky stars that it is The British Dental Association who look out for their profession, and not TFL !
Last week's call from the UCG achieved a record number of our colleagues attending. I don't know why all of our trade organisations, clubs and unions didn't officially support it, but I know that members from all of them, responded to Len Martin's shout for action and unity.
It was good to see, and it was humbling, proud and emotional.
I certainly don't know the answers to either our current situation or our place in London for the future.

I am a big lump, but I had tears coming down my face as I stood up there last week. I have always been proud to be a London Taxi Driver. It took me four years to the day to earn my coveted green badge. I didn't find it easy neither, and struggled as many of my colleagues did, along the long road to achievement. I have achieved much during my life time, but count the gaining of my Green Badge to be among my proudest endeavours of my life. 

Last week, I wasn't quite sure if my tears were because I was witnessing the very end of our magnificent and Iconic earned place in London, or whether it was just the start of a last minute, passion fired come back, to regain the rights and privilege to operate and ply our trade, granted to us by The Protector, Oliver Cromwell, all those years ago.
God willing, it was the latter.
It should be blatantly apparent to everyone in our trade by now, that the men who were sent to kill us are doing ok.
Negotiating, talking, doing deals and constant blah, blah, blah, must surely be a stalling tactic now and refused with the contempt that it is offered in.

We as a trade are really on our last legs now. Len Martin's call last week witnessed first hand what this trade can do when pushed to the edge. Whenever Len puts the call out for support, we could do a lot worse than back him up.
London Taxi Drivers are feeling TFL's woeful contempt of us via our pockets and bank accounts now.
We as a trade are not frightened of healthy competition. We as a trade are not frightened of mobile phone apps. We as a trade are not frightened of technology or indeed the use of it.
But what we are frightened of, is a woefully inadequate governing authority, who for some reason that will eventually be revealed, have maliciously and deliberately failed to create a fair and honest platform. We as London Taxi Drivers have adhered rigorously to strict professional standards, effective and thorough CRB character checking, encyclopeadia standard  topographical knowledge, specialist and hospital medical and fitness attainment, a fully wheelchair and disability functional and compliant vehicle, a sealed and tested fraud proof tariff meter approved by Government, and a closely monitored exemplary character of honesty and integrity check.
And it is for that reason, that we are financially unable but furthermore, unwilling, to lower our world famous platinum standards of iconic become like the aforementioned rogue dentist, just to offer a cut price bargain.

The public wouldn't dream of visiting our unqualified dentist character would they ? But when the vodka and tequila get deep into the bloodstream late on Friday nights in Central London, the offer of a cheap ride by an unqualified imposter, is too good to resist !

That is of course, until you wake up in the rape suite of the Metropolitan Police and Officers from Operation Sapphire, waiting to interview you. Your unqualified bargain lift home, wasn't what you thought it was.......was it ?
We are without doubt, a Taxi Service that all other countries across the world attempt to emulate. Our standards of professionalism and expertise are not a coincidence, neither a case of good luck. They have been achieved as a result of a long winded, drawn out rigorously tested process, which only the best candidates and the squeakiest of cleanest, get through. When a person emerges metamorphous  like from taking part on the world famous knowledge, to a professional London Taxi Driver, a massive evaluation of both his or her character and professional skills, have been evaluated.
The traitors of Transport For London of course, have not the slightest emotion of this proud achievement. They have systematically allowed a magnificent iconic service, to have to come begging by demonstration, to bring our genuine case of woeful treatment, to the public, who we have loyally and steadfastly served so well, for over 300 years.
This is our last chance colleagues. When the UCG's Len Martin puts the call out again for support, bear in mind what I have written above. We have been knocked about with disrespect by this bullying lot of double standard traitors for too long now. Either we fight for what we are professionally licensed for.....or we lose out to the dodgy dentist !
It s our choice. I suggest we all await the call from Len, and lace the boots up again !
Be lucky all.
8829 Semtex.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

A Thought On Tariff Reform From UCG Chairman, Len Martin.

Rate 1, 2, 3 or 4 ? a thought on the work some trade reps are engaged in...

In my previous life (most of my working life was in IT) I worked in many areas ending up European Commercial manager for an American company.

Among the things I was responsible for was european telecoms law, competitor analysis and pricing.

Where do I start?

Price is a very important thing, it tells us about supply and demand. It tells us about the intrinsic value customers place upon a product or service. It can signal quality. It can be used to control demand.

But it is a very complex creature..... Before we start to debate rate 1,2 or 3 we need to understand something called the price demand elasticity curve. 

Every product or service will fall into two categories. Price elastic, and price inelastic.

Water is relatively price inelastic, there are no substitutes for water, without it you will die. Price management will prevent you wasting it, but not drinking it. This is why there is a regulator to ensure the price of our water supply is governed.

Wheat is price elastic, it is a staple food, but there are substitutes Rice, Corn and Potato. So a variation in price will affect demand more when there are available substitutes.

This is the thinking behind the rate adjustments being discussed by the UTG.

So, it seems reasonable to suggest that if we drop our prices, then demand will increase yes?

But how much will demand increase by? if we drop our prices by 10% and we increase demand by 10% as a result (ignore additional fuel etc for now) then we are back to square one.

This example suggests perfect elasticity, But what if we drop our prices 10% and demand only increases by 3% ? or what if it increases by 20% this unknown is called the price demand elasticity curve and every product and service has one.

There are two problems we need to address here.

  1. No one knows the price elasticity curve for a Taxi ride. Because we have only ever had civil servants used to running subsidised buses setting our fares for us. So we have no history of price sampling to plot our price demand curve.

  2. What are the causes of our loss of work levels? Price? over supply? lack of regulation? I contest that although we should seek to understand the price demand elasticity of our service we need to examine the root causes of our loss of work. We have 78k private hire vehicles now and many are acting as illegal hackney carriages responding to hails and touting. This means that supply is the issue here. Over supply! it is intentional and planned. By flooding the street with vehicles plying for hire our work levels have dropped. If you believe as I do this is the root cause of our work dropping off, then we have to ask is price the burning issue….?

If we drop our prices by “X”% and win back “Y”% of the work, (without enforcement) what will the PHVs do when there is less work for them? sit back and watch Taxis filled with passengers and grumble? OR will they respond with a price lower than us? 

So we respond with another cut in price? and PHV will do what?

This game goes on for a while and eventually the player with the deepest pockets and/or lowest cost base survives and the other players in the market go out of business (or as an economist would say “exit the market”)

At what point do we start to argue we are a better service than PHVs? before or after the price war?

Here are some more things to consider….

The price stability of a market depends on the ability of players to move in and out of the market thus adjusting the supply of products or services.

The Barriers to entry and the barriers to exit play a significant role. The barriers to entry for a PHV? £300, The Barriers to Entry of a Taxi driver are many times more than this in terms of knowledge costs, loss of earnings etc.

The Barriers to exit are linked to the initial cost of the barriers to entry and perhaps a long term loan to purchase a bespoke vehicle. Many Taxi drivers are stuck where they are. If you have chosen driving a Taxi as a professional career, chances are you have been out of the general workplace for a long time. What skills do you have for the modern workplace? This is a real barrier to exit for many.

So before the trade starts playing pricing specialists, some serious competitor analysis is required. Understand the real reasons behind the decline in work levels. Understand exactly what a drop in price will mean to demand and the response from the PHV industry.

Preferably be freehold on your cab, because you could get in real trouble if you drop your prices and it makes no difference or little difference to demand.

If any of the reps dealing with the pricing/rate issues (of which the UCG are excluded... which given my background seems a pity eh?) want to read about what they are doing, try this book if you can find it anywhere… Product Policy by Yoram Wind. It is the bible of pricing there are newer books, but they are all re-hashes of this. 

Len Martin