Saturday, June 06, 2015
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 and..............you've guessed it !
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.
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.
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 ?"
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.
Friday, June 05, 2015
Chislehurst Crash: London Taxi Driver Dies After Car Flips Onto Its Side By War Memorial In South London
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.
Thursday, June 04, 2015
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Web: For licensing information visit the TfL website
Twitter: You can now follow us on Twitter @TfLTPH
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 us....is 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.
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.
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 professionalism..............to 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.
Tuesday, June 02, 2015
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.
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.
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.