Saturday, July 18, 2015

Second Senior Figure To Leave TfL In A Month : Is The House Of Cards About To Crumble?

Transport for London finance boss Steve Allen has quit the organisation to take up the post of Chief Financial Officer at HS2 Ltd, the Government backed company developing the UK’s newest high-speed rail link.

At TfL Allen was responsible for more than £11bn worth of annual transport spending and £21bn of capital investment, and was also overseeing the organisation’s efforts to trim costs.

Before joining the capital’s transport agency in 2003 he held positions at the Department for Transport, Citigroup and Abbey National.

News of his departure comes just weeks after TfL boss Sir Peter Hendy was poached by the transport secretary to head the board of trouble rail infrastructure company Network Rail. 

However HS2 says his appointment was agreed before Sir Peter’s move was announced and is unrelated to his former boss’s departure.

HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Simon Kirby said: “On a project as large and complex as HS2, rigorous financial control is essential. That’s why I am delighted to welcome Steve to the team. His experience of delivering multi-billion pound investment programmes will be invaluable as we move towards the start of construction in 2017.”

Mr Allen said: “HS2 is an ambitious, innovative and challenging project that promises to transform the experience of rail travel for huge numbers of people across the UK and provide a major boost to economic growth. I am excited to be joining at such a critical time for the project.”

    Source : MayorWatch blog.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lovebox/Citadel Festivals, Victoria Park – Taxi and Private Hire Arrangements

On Friday 17 July and Saturday 18 July 2015 the Lovebox Festival is taking place in Victoria Park and on Sunday 19 July 2015  the Citadel Festival takes place. Special taxi and private hire arrangements have been put in place for the duration of the festivals:

 

Taxis

A marshalled taxi rank will operate in the park at Royal Gate West, opposite The Royal Inn on the Park pub with access via Lauriston Road. This is the same location as was used last year and also for Field Day. Taxi drivers who hold the Hackney Extension, are licensed for Newham plus All London drivers can use this rank. However drivers licensed for the Hackney Extension area and Newham are not permitted to ply for hire anywhere else outside of their licence area and must only pick up passengers at the taxi rank

 

The taxi rank will be marshalled between the following times:

 

·         Lovebox, Friday 17 July – 20:00-01:00

·         Lovebox, Saturday 18 July – 20:00-01:00

·         Citadel, Sunday 19 July – 20:00-00:00(midnight) 

 

Private hire

A marshalled private hire pre-booked pick-up area will also be available. This area is only for use by pre-booked private hire vehicles (PHVs) and the marshals will be checking booking details with drivers and passengers to ensure that passengers only take PHVs they have pre-booked. This is the same location as was used last year and also for Field Day.

 

Private hire operators should direct passengers and drivers to the dedicated pre-booked pick up area at Royal Gate West, opposite The Royal Inn on the Park pub with access via Lauriston Road. All private hire drivers must follow the directions of the marshals at the pick-up area.

 

The pre-booked private hire pick-up area will be marshalled between the following times:

 

·         Lovebox, Friday 17 July – 20:00-01:00

·         Lovebox, Saturday 18 July – 20:00-01:00

·         Citadel, Sunday 19 July – 20:00-00:00(midnight) 

 

The vehicle entrance to the taxi rank and pre-booked PHV pick up area is Royal Gate West and is marked on the map below, the taxi rank and the pre-booked PHV pick up area is in the actual park.



Road closures

There is a road closure at Lauriston Road/Victoria Park roundabout (southern side) but taxis and PHVs are allowed past this to access the taxi rank and pre-booked PHV pick up area inside the park. 

 

There are ‘Road closed’ signs on Lauriston Road but taxis and PHVs are allowed past these too.

 

The map below shows the section of road that taxis and PHVs are allowed to use but which is closed to other vehicles.

 


Old Ford Road will be closed each day before the end of the festival to facilitate the safe egress of people from the park. This means that taxis and PHVs cannot go along Old Ford Road and turn into Grove Road.

 

TfL’s taxi and private hire enforcement officers will be conducting compliance operations in the area to help prevent touting.

 

Regards

 

Transport for London – London Taxi and Private Hire

Email: For enquiries emailtph.enquiries@tfl.gov.uk

Web: For licensing information visit theTfL website

or try TfL’s Common Questions Section

Twitter: You can now follow us on Twitter @TfLTPH

Telephone: For driver and operator enquiries call0343 222 4444, for vehicle enquiries call 0343 222 5555

City Mayor Backs Cycle Ban : "Cyclists and buses are just a lethal cocktail".

With the recent introduction of cycles super highways across London, perhaps it's time to look at banning cycles from certain streets in and around the capital. 

Would it not be sensible to take cyclists off main roads, for their own safety, especially along accident black spots.

Below we look at what the Mayor of Melbourne is backing, to cut down on his City's increasing cycle casualties.

Victoria's largest bicycle group has slammed a Melbourne City Council plan to stop cyclists from using three major CBD streets.

"This shift in view by the lord mayor is quite odd," Bicycle Network's Chris Carpenter said.

"Banning bike riders on specific streets would be an unprecedented move and would set Melbourne back years in terms of liveability."

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said preferred safety routes should be drafted, with King, Flinders and Lonsdale streets flagged as particularly dangerous.

"Cyclists are very vulnerable road users and there are accidents all the time," Mr Doyle said.

"Cyclists and buses are just a lethal cocktail."

Mr Doyle said it was a matter for VicRoads to impose a ban, but the council would make the necessary recommendations.

               Accidents waiting to happen, cyclists, or potential casualties 

Do cyclist need protecting from their own stupidity ?

    Source : 9News.com 

Do We Really Need New Laws ? Or Do We Just Need The Ones We Have Enforced...by Richard Busby.

The London Taxi trade, have a set of laws and regulations in place because of the market we work in.
 
We do the kowledge because we have to know how to do what someone wants instantly, to get from A to B to c and back.

We have a purpose built vehicle with turning circle to do just that job and are wheelchair accessible plus safety trained to a higher standard. 
These system has been tried and tested over many years and has made us number one in the world.

Uber has been allowed to enter our market, which their drivers are totally not qualified to be in on all levels. They have no concept of direction or in many cases destination, so how can you be available for instant hire ? 

In many cases, their grasp of communication with the customer is zero, frequently going the wrong way, by following instructions from a sat nav, sometimes ending up in one way streets the wrong way, doing u-turns in a car not fit to work in our market. 

They where licenced as mini cabs. So they should be banned from working the instant hail market on safety grounds alone. Our licensing authority has a duty of care to the general public and other road users. The way this company and its drivers operate should be deemed not fit for purpose and should be banned when there licence comes up for renewal in 2017, if not sooner.
 
If TFL won't do it surely there is cause for concern, and perhaps our representative orgs should now be turning their attention towards the department for transport and the police. 

This is the avenue that has to be gone down as everyone seems to be forgetting the basics which is the law and safety of the travelling public.

Richard Busby 

Editorial Comment:
There has been much talk recently about Plying For Hire not being defined in law, but at present we still have case law. Only recently (10th July) a minicab driver was fined over £405 at Uxbridge Magistrates court for "Plying for Hire". 


We must now turn to the question of why TfL show no apatite to enforce the plying for hire law with regards to touting. There needs to be a public inquiry, carried out by Parlimentary transport committee to ascertain if corruption at any level is endemic within TfL.

The Uber and RD2 licensing fiascos also needs investigating by parliamentary committee as it is painfully clear that TfL did not interpret the PH vehicles act 1998 in the manner to which the bill was originally set down. In the case if RD2, TfL lied about the circumstances of the issue of multiple licence variations given to RD2 in disregard to the regulations set out in the act.

The Met's Cab Enforcement Unit is part financed by TfL funds, but under the proceeds of crime act Cab Enforcement teams could be self-financing. In fact, with the amount of touting witnessed nightly in Central London, they may even make a profit.

For many years, the City of London Police have turned a blind eye to cars from RD2, forming an illegal rank and openly plying for hire. 

Last night, the Mayfair Mob, aided by the Shorditch Mob flash mobbed the Forge. Backed up by the LTDAs AdVan, they took back the work leaving this popular night venue. 

Amazingly, as the AdVan parked outside the bar, traffic wardens, police and a parking enforcement CCTV car turned up. Manpower the CoL police have always claimed unavailable after 10:30pm.

        Photos by Mike Calvey

* Why do they only turn up when Taxis park outside this venue?
* Why are RD2 given special treatment in the city?
* Why has this situation been allowed to continue for so long?

Having Plying for Hire set in statuette is fine as insurance for the future. But if the laws are not being enforced, then it's a complete waste of time. 

The big question now is:
Do we really need new laws, or do we just need the laws we already have enforced.

Below is an excerpt of just one of many judgements involving private vehicles charged with Plying for hire. 

The case Gilbert v McKay 1946 set a precedent in case law. Standing case law can be used to prosecute any driver or operator allowing their cars to be available for immediate hire (Plying for Hire) and there have been many such instances. The MPS Heathrow case shown above, being the most recent.

In summing up, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Goddard stated,
“In my opinion, even if the cars had been standing in a private yard and could not be seen by the public, there could still have been a "plying for hire" if they had been appropriated for immediate hiring”.  

The important thing here is the reference to a private yard and not on view to the public at the time of hiring. Even more important is his reference to immediate hire. In the case of the Private Hire Vehicles Act 1998 it clearly states that all jobs allocated to PH drivers must be pre booked through a third party operator. Driver must not be hired directly by the passenger. 

This is exactly what's happening in the case of Uber's ehailing. Uber publicly state they do not accept pre bookings.

   

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Uber's multimillion-dollar fine for refusing to reveal business data in California.

Uber has picked up a substantial fare in California on Wednesday when a judge fined the taxi-alternative company $7.3m (£4.7m, A$9.9m) for refusing to give state regulators information about its business practices, including accident details and how accessible vehicles are to disabled riders.

The fine was part of a ruling by an administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission, the regulatory agency that allowed Uber and its competitors such as Lyft to operate in the state as long as the companies reported aspects of their activities.

The judge agreed with utility commission staff who said Uber had not filed all required reports, specifically about how often it provided disabled-accessible vehicles when requested, places where drivers tended to turn down ride requests and the causes of accidents.

Uber had argued it provided sufficient information to the commission. The judge acknowledged that Uber provided some information but said it was not enough.

In a written statement, Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend called the ruling and fine “deeply disappointing” and said the company would appeal.

“Uber has already provided substantial amounts of data to the California Public Utilities Commission, information we have provided elsewhere with no complaints,” Behrend wrote, adding that submitting more detailed information could affect the privacy of passengers and drivers.

Uber has previously been in dispute with public officials. In Portland, Oregon, for example, it had an extended disagreement with the city that led it to suspend operations. In France, Uber suspended its low-cost service following an escalating legal dispute and sometimes-violent tensions with traditional French taxi drivers. French authorities had ordered the service — called UberPop — shut down, but Uber refused, pending a legal decision at a top French court

     Source : Associated Press in San Francisco

London told by MP, it must choose between Uber and black cabs.

London must choose between the chaotic Uber or its heavily-regulated but safe black cabs because the two cannot operate side by side, a Tory MP has warned. 

MPs don't seem too worried about the demise of the Licensed Taxi Trade, only 6 stayed behind for the debate. Only 4 stayed for whole debate.

       MPs debating their 10%pay rise.

Charles Walker said while cab drivers had to pass the Knowledge and undergo background and financial checks, technology start-up Uber was brazenly ignoring the rules and flooding the capital with mini-cab drivers. 

He warned City Hall officials were having to deal with as many as 1,200 new mini-cab registrations every month, while Uber straightforwardly ignored most regulations. 

Mr Walker said if Uber was preferred there should be a genuine free for all, releasing cab drivers from the current regulations on themselves and allowing them to put "any old piece of rubbish on the road".

Taxi drivers went on strike last summer to protest "the inefficient manner in which TfL manages taxi and private hire in London", said the LTDA's Steve McNamara 

Speaking in a late-night Commons adjournment debate, Mr Walker said: "For 400 years, London has recognised the need to have a properly-regulated and licensed taxi service. I suggest our illustrious predecessors were not fools in this matter. 

"London can't have it both ways: it can try but it will end in tears." 

Mr Walker said without the enforcement of regulations on all kinds of taxi, fares would rocket, cars would be unsafe, disability access would be hit and people would be less safe.

He said the enforcement officials had neither the resources nor the sanctions available to properly uphold the rules - telling MPs there should be the ability to get rule breakers off the roads for good. 

The Broxbourne MP said there was currently no penalty for not meeting the rules. 

"I want to be clear: I want to derive reassurance from a licensed and regulated black cab taxi trade. Of course, it's not a perfect trade but it's a very good one," he said. 

"I want to know when my children are out in London, they will always have the option of easily finding a black cab to take them home or back to the place they are staying. 

"And I want to know they will pay the price on the meter, not a meter price artificially inflated through surge pricing as Uber drivers did during the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis and in London by 300 per cent during last week's Tube strike. Thank you Uber, thank you for nothing. 

"I want to know my children are being driven by a professional with four years' training because my children's safety is important to me." 

He continued: "Why shouldn't fares be left to the discretion of the driver? Only the fools will be left to pay the higher rates and that's their punishment for being stupid, weak, old or frail. 

"This is not the London I want to live in but unless we take regulatory enforcement seriously, I fear it is the one we are going to get."

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said he understood Mr Walker's desire to raise his concerns in the Commons, but added licensing was the responsibility of Transport for London (TfL)

He said: "London's taxi service is recognised as one of the best in the world, with high vehicle standards - including disabled access and skilled drivers. 

"By learning the world famous Knowledge of London, London taxi drivers therefore earn the unique right to ply for hire on the streets of the capital. 

"Private hire vehicles offer a different service, also with high standard but allowing a customer to choose who they travel with. 

"This combination of taxi and private hire ensures that the needs of as many Londoners as possible can be met." 

Mr Goodwill said "time does not stand still" for the iconic black cab, with the market changing due to new technology. 

He noted the "industry must adapt" but change brings challenges, explaining TfL and other licensing authorities was faced with accommodating "21st-century technology in 19th-century legislation". 

Mr Goodwill said a consultation had been carried out in the capital which may deal with some of Mr Walker's concerns, adding the results would be published later this year.

Read full transcript of last nights late debate. Fantastic support from MPs Victoria Borwick and Jim Shannon.

>Click Here : For full debate <

EDITORIAL COMMENT:

So there you have it: Times not standing still, it's a changing market, 21st century technology with 19th century legislation. London must choose between Uber and Black Cabs...

MP Charles Walker expressed fears about the possible annihilation of the taxi trade, we then have the transport minister stating that licensing responsibility is firmly with TfL. 

As predicted, we hear the same old rhetoric of how the taxi trade must adapt and accomadate 21st century new technology, as if we were no more than a bunch of Luddites. The fact that any technological advances in the passenger transport field have always appeared first in the taxi trade, years ahead of our competitors, not mentioned of course!

The transport minister worryingly bigged up the private hire trade saying that although they give a different service, it was also of a high standard and gave customers choice". I'm surprised he didn't come out with the other TfL spin cliche "it's what the public wants". Just who was the minister referring to, Uber perhaps?

His final statement should flag up danger signs when he said a consultation had already been carried out which "MAY" deal with some of Mr Walkers concerns. 

Other news from the HoC: Written Answers

MP Tom Watson had asked the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will place in the Library copies of all correspondence between

(a) his Department and the Mayor of London 
(b) Transport for London, on 
(i) the taxi industry and 
(ii) Uber in the last 12 months.


We were informed yesterday that Mr Watson has now received this written answer from Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under Secretary (Department of Transport).


    Source : Telegraph