Friday, August 07, 2015

TfL To Introduce Automated Predictive Signal Timings, In Response To Forecast Traffic Jim Thomas

Transport for London is to procure (at great expense to the tax payer) an automated predictive signalling system that adjusts traffic signal timings in response to short-term forecasts of traffic conditions.

This could be a disaster for London's road users, remember that during the Olympics they said they would be tweaking the signal timings in real time to cut queues. Then realised after, they had no record of what the timings were originally to return to after the Olympics finished. 

As ranks and highways officer for the UCG, I was invited along with colleagues to see the nerve centre of the operation, at Centre Coms in Palestra. When I asked questions about the then daily traffic congestion and why this system wasn't being trialled we were hurried away. 

When I later blogged about what we had seen, the deputy director of LTPH did her best, to get the article taken down. But my concerns were proved right and after the Olympics the tweaking had left London's traffic phrasing in a right mess.

It is said this new system Is to PREDICT likely congestion and then take active steps to prevent it occurring, or minimise its effect. You have to wonder if these predictions will be done by the same people who had advance knowledge of the Hammersmith flyover closures.

TfL’s director of road space management, Alan Bristow, 
said the system would be “at the heart” of a new surface intelligent transport system (SITS) that will also see TfL’s existing urban traffic control (UTC) system replaced. 

This should be interesting, considering the mess on London's road network which has been caused by a program of extensive road works and resurfacing, spearheaded by massive 24 hour congestion along the Victoria Embankment towards Tower Bridge (which itself is soon to be closed for a number of months).

Short-term traffic forecasting is an area of growing interest in road network management said Bristow. But then it would be, it makes their highly paid jobs seem worthwhile. Plus, when London grinds to a halt, they can always blame the computer. 

London Cabbie Patrick O'Dowd gives his two bobs worth about the state of our trade.

  London Taxi Driver Patrick O'Dowd, speaks out and gives his views on the desperate situation this trade currently finds itself in.

Patrick will be posting a series of video blogs over the next few weeks.

In this episode, Patrick talks about the power of social media and how important it can be if used correctly by drivers, in a united fight back against our Machiavellian licensing authority (TfL). 

This is a heart felt statement of fact from a Taxi driver, who describes himself as a "Londoner Irishman" cabby whose forefathers were all cabbies.

A must watch.


You can subscribe to Patrick's YouTube channel by clicking on >This Link < and checking the subscribe button.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

After UCG Discredit Statement, Surely It's Time Leon Daniels Was Sacked ?

Managing Director of surface transport at Transport for London, Leon Daniels has again  been caught out misleading the Taxi trade, misleading the public and misleading the GLA transport committee.

First we had the farce of Uber's land line!

Daniels proudly gave out a landline number saying that this was indeed the required number Uber needed to take bookings and comply with their operators licence. 

The number given out by Mr Daniels later proved to be the personal number of Ubers London general manager, not a booking or customer service number.  


Now we have the issue of Uber driver's mythical on off hire and reward insurance:

 It is our opinion that Daniels has used his position to personally accredit a commercial company which allows their drivers to illegally drive Private Hire vehicles, without the necessary Hire & Reward insurance. 

In his most recent audience with the GLA transport committee, Daniels publicly stated that TfL have regularly check the validity of insurance and as these vehicles are cars, it's perfectly within the law to "switch on and switch off" the hire and reward element.

Trade orgs have been complaining about this so called "on off" insurance for many months, saying it is no more than a myth, but Daniels has been adamant and defended Uber's drivers at every opportunity, even though there have been multiple cases come to light through the media, where drivers have been shown to be uninsured at the time of major accidents. 

On these occasions the company (Uber) turn their back on the passengers/third parties saying they must take it up with the driver as per their terms and conditions. 

If a driver is found not to have hire and reward at the time of an accident, while carrying a fare paying passenger, then the vehicle is uninsured.

The United Cabbies Group have today announced  they have conformation in writing from the Association of British Insurers that;


It is our opinion that for a civil servant to put the public at grave risk in this manner is not acceptable and Taxi Leaks believe Mr Daniels position at TfL is no longer acceptable. He should be given the opportunity to resign and if not, should be sacked with immediate affect.

    Notice the mistake from TfL Taxi Ranks!

EE recalls power bars after 'exploding' charger burns woman

A fault was found in some of the free chargers that can cause them to overheat and even explode.

Last week, a medical student in Aberdeen tweeted a picture of burns to her hand that she said was caused by an exploding Power Bar.

"The EE powerbar which exploded, almost burned down our house plus it left my hand like this: Firework," Katy Emslie, 26, wrote on Twitter.

The mobile operator has warned customers in a text message today that they are recalling the devices marked E1-06.

"We're recalling batch E1-06 and request that customers stop using them and return their device to a local EE store at their earliest convenience," the mobile operator said.

EE said that no other batch numbers have been affected and the firm intends to replace those recalled "once we've completed our investigations".

Launched in April, EE's Power Bar scheme gives customers the chance to claim the free portable charger and replace them at EE stores for fully charged ones if they are away from a power supply.

The scheme was met with huge demand and around 1.5 million power bars were have been issued.

The mobile operator is yet to offer any further comment on the recall.

  Source : ITN

Man Walks Into A Bank

A wealthy business man walks into a London bank and asks for the loan officer. He says he’s going to Europe on business for two weeks and needs to borrow £5000. The bank officer says the bank will need some kind of security for the loan, so Mr Singh hands over the keys to a new Rolls Royce, which costs quarter of a million pounds.

“The car is parked on the street in front of the bank,” says Mr Singh, “and I have all the necessary papers.”

The bank officer agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan. After Mr Singh leaves, the loan officer, the bank’s president and all their colleagues enjoy a good laugh at the man for using a £250,000 Rolls Royce as collateral against a £5,000 loan.

One of the employees drives the Rolls into the bank’s underground garage and parks it there. Two weeks later, Mr Singh returns, repays the £5000 and the interest, which comes to £15.41.

The loan officer says, “Sir, I must tell you, we’re all a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and discovered that you’re a multimillionaire. Why would you bother to borrow £5,000?”

The man replies, “Where else in London can I park my car for two weeks for only £15.41?”

Hackney's ‘parklet’ turns parking bay into social space

The UK’s first San Francisco-style ‘parklet’ has been installed in the London Borough of Hackney. The parklet has been installed on a former loading bay in Pitfield Street to create a space where people can park their bikes and sit and relax. Measuring 8m by 2.6m, the space offers three Sheffield bike stands and a decking area with benches and planters of grasses and herbs. Solar-powered lighting is installed in the floor for safety.

The idea borrows from successful experiments in San Francisco, Portland and other  cities in recent years and championed by campaign groups such as Re-Bar, founders of the annual Park(ing) Day event.

The semi-permanent installation is a joint project by Hackney Council, the charity Sustrans and cycle infrastructure designer Cyclehoop. The scheme, outside a new café, is designed to change the way we think about public space and create green sanctuaries in urban environments.

The project was funded by £5,000 from the Sustrans Innovations Fund and co-funded by the council using Mayor Boris Johnson’s Air Quality Fund. This covers the installation and also monitoring of how the parklet is used in order to evaluate its success.

It will remain on Pitfield Street until 10 August, when the street is due to be pedestrianised as part of the construction of the new Cycle Superhighway 1. The parklet will then be moved to a new location within Hackney, says the council.

Sustrans project leader Ben Addy said: “We believe that London’s streets should be safer and more enjoyable for people walking and cycling. We want to make them spaces where people can relax, and where they actually choose to spend time, which benefits the whole community.

“The parklet sits alongside other interventions, such as 20mph speed limits and filtered permeability, helping to change how we all perceive our streets. It will help make streets social spaces.”

Feryal Demirci, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and sustainability, said: “It is just one small part of our ongoing transformation of Hackney's neighbourhoods into the most liveable and attractive in London, with cleaner and greener streets, filled with healthier and more active residents. Part of this plan is challenging the assumption that our streets are for vehicles only.”

Anthony Lau, managing director of Cyclehoop, added: “The Hackney parklet is inspired by the idea of reclaiming parts of the city for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Sustrans said if the project is well received by the public, similar installations could be made more widely across London and the rest of the UK.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Letter To Editor : TfL Say They Can't Cap PH...Is This An Outright Lie ?

Dear Jim

LTPH are currently putting out tweets saying that they do not have power to restrict PH driver numbers.

So, what power did Director of LTPH John Mason have to restrict Yellow Badge Suburban Driver numbers back in 2011?

Was this restriction unlawful?

Surely TFL have set a precedent with PCO NOTICE 13/11 which suspended applications for YB Taxi Licenses. (see the text of that Notice below)

You don't need to be that bright to understand that if they have done this before they could do it now. 

You certainly dont need to wait for a lawyer to tell you what is obvious.

The fact is TFL have CHOSEN not to suspend applications because they are CORRUPT.

TfL are a government agency that have a duty to be impartial, transparent and fair. At present they are none of these requirements. They have bent over backwards to support a commercial company, have relaxed rules and even lied when questioned but GLA committee. 

I am amazed and disappointed that no one in the taxi trade has the ability to work this out or the balls to get on and do something.

Even if immediate action is taken, because of the trade's representative orgs and Unions lack of foresight and action, it is questionable if there is anything left to save.

TfL recently tweeted a Taxi driver:
@TfLTPH @xxxxxxxxx No cap on YB, but they were suspended in 3 areas pending suburban review >Click Here For 13/11< - 

that is being reviewed now. 

Is a suspension not a cap?

If not, then why can't new PH applications be suspended ?

New House of Commons Transport Committee named

Labour MP Louise Ellman has been re-elected as chair of the House of Commons’ Transport Committee. The committee’s remit covers all transport modes and it has looked at parking policy and enforcement on several occasions.

The new look committee' membership is:

  • Louise Ellman (chair): Labour (Co-op)
  • Robert Flello: Labour
  • Mary Glindon: Labour
  • Karl McCartney: Conservative
  • Stewart Malcolm McDonald: Scottish National Party
  • Mark Menzies: Conservative
  • Huw Merriman: Conservative
  • Will Quince: Conservative
  • Iain Stewart: Conservative
  • Graham Stringer: Labour
  • Martin Vickers: Conservative

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Camden Council Go Ahead With Their "Stepped Track" Cycle Lanes.

The London Borough of Camden is installing what it says are the capital’s first ‘stepped track’ cycle lanes, where the lane is set at a different height from the adjacent footway and carriageway.

The lanes are being installed on Pancras Road, beside St Pancras International station. The road joins Royal College Street to the north, where Camden has already installed ‘light segregation’ cycle lanes that are segregated from motorised traffic by plastic Armadillos and plant boxes. 

Works on Pancras Road are due for completion next month and also feature Camden’s first bus stop bypasses – continuous cycle routes round the back of bus stops that enable cyclists to overtake buses without entering the carriageway.

“Camden remains the most innovative borough for cycle schemes,” Camden officers told councillors last week, identifying measures such as Royal College Street; a proposed ‘protected’ junction for cyclists   (Goods Way/St Pancras Road); and plans to turn Tottenham Court Road into a bus and cycle only road (construction is due to begin in November and be completed in 2018/19). 

Camden plans to commence construction of cycling facilities at the north end of Royal College Street next month, providing a link to Kentish Town/Camden Town. The works will feature another stepped track cycle lane and a ‘protected junction’ at Camden Road. 

The light segregation on Royal College Street was implemented in August 2013. Since then, Camden says cycle flows on the street have risen 70%, with 2,000 cyclists a day and up to 17% more female cyclists using the road than neighbouring main roads. 

Consultation has just begun on plans for a western extension of cycle facilities from Royal College Street via Pratt Street and Delancey Street. This will feature segregated cycle lanes, reduced through traffic, and a pedestrian/cycle zebra crossing.

A 12-month trial of a new road layout is also due to commence on Tavistock Place and Torrington Place next month, an important east-west route. Camden says the cycle tracks and footways are overcrowded.

Another major project on Camden’s horizon is a revamp of the Holborn area, covering the streets around the Holborn gyratory, creating better conditions for walking and cycling, and high quality public space. A public consultation on proposals is due to commence this winter, and councillors will be asked to approve a scheme in autumn 2016. Camden will seek funding for the project from Transport for London. 

   Artists visualisation of how Tavistock Place.

This will be discussed at LTT's London Cycling Show on the 15 September

Press Release From The UCG : Members Meeting.

At a very well attended, standing room only, members meeting yesterday, UCG Chairman Len Martin explained that answers from our and the LTDA barristers are expected within 7/10 days.

The UCG barrister is looking at the veracity of TFLs stance that they cannot cap PHV numbers; 
It is our belief that they can.

The LTDA barrister is working on the Uber app constituting Plying For Hire.

When these opinions are received a multi org  meeting will take place to discuss the next step.

The UCG will convene another members meeting on August 17th to give an update

Angela Clarkson

City worker raped after getting into minicab after night out in Notting Hill

A city worker was raped by a stranger after getting into what she believed was a minicab after a night out in Notting Hill, a court heard.

Ali Moaberfard, 38, drove the woman to a house in Uxbridge where he raped her while she was semi-unconscious, the jury was told.

The woman said she woke to find the man having sex with her. She told Blackfriars crown court: “I felt disgusted, I had been taken somewhere against my will and someone had had sex with me against my will.

"He essentially kidnapped me — taken me to a house where I didn’t know where I was.”

In the morning. she was woken by the alleged rapist who told her that he had to go to work and would take her to the station, the court heard.

The woman said she drank six rum and Cokes at a party in May 2012 before deciding to leave at 1am.

“It was a free bar, I was having a good time, I don’t remember leaving the party — I don’t remember anything until I was in a car sometime later,” she said.

“I thought it was a minicab. He stopped, ushered me towards a house and I lay down on a sofa and passed out.

“I woke up and he was on top of me, my trousers and my underwear were pulled down and he was having sex with me. I was almost unable to move, I tried to push him off. I was quite weak, but he did stop after that — I was protesting, saying, ‘No’.”

The woman referred herself to the Whittington hospital a few hours after returning home, where staff contacted police.

Moaberfard was arrested in November 2012 after DNA tests were carried out on the woman’s clothing. Moaberfard, of Whetstone, denies rape. The trial continues.

    Source : Evening Standard 

Monday, August 03, 2015

Heathrow sees parking revenues grow to £52m in first six months of 2015.

Like many airports, Heathrow can resemble a massive car park with runways attached. There is no doubting that public parking spaces the airport operates make a substantial contribution to its revenues - £52m in the first six months of this year, according to the latest report from the airport’s operating company, Heathrow (SP) Ltd.

The airport’s 23,000 on-site parking spaces provide business travellers and tourists with a range of services in a variety of surface and multi-storey car parks.

The airport, which says it is busier than ever, has reported revenues of £1.3bn and a pre-tax profit of £120m for the six months to end of June, compared with £23m a year earlier. The airport has reported a 1.3% rise in passengers to 35.5 million while its revenue rose 5.9% to £1.3bn.

The airport’s biggest earner is aeronautical income (charges to airlines), which generated £817m in the first six months. Also important is Heathrow’s retail revenue stream, which increased 4.2% to £247m (up from £237m). Public parking is the second biggest retail activity after duty and tax free shopping. In the first six months of this year, the airport’s car parks generated £52m, up from £48m in the same period last year.

“Car parking has continued to perform well in 2015,” says John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive officer, in his latest report. “The growth reflects increased car parking capacity, including the award-winning Terminal 2 multi-storey car park and the new 800-space Terminal 5 business car park which opened in February 2015. In addition, continued yield management and a broader product offering have contributed to the growth.”

Retail income at Heathrow:  1 Jan-30 June 2015

  • Duty and tax-free- £60m
  • Car parking - £52m
  • Airside specialist shops - £47m
  • Bureaux de change - £23m
  • Catering - £21m
  • Other retail income - £44m
  • Gross retail income - £247m
  • Retail expenditure - (£10m)
  • Net retail income - £237m

The airport’s car parks are run under contract by APCOA Parking (UK), which monitors all activity from a control centre in the new Terminal 2 car park. This 1,500-space structure, which served the new Queen’s Terminal, was named Best New Car Park at the British Parking Awards 2015. The car park features a number of innovative technologies, including a Car Finder system that enables drivers to locate exactly where they have left their vehicle via dedicated video terminals. Ideas like the Car Finder system will be included in the new look multi-storey car park currently being fitted out at Terminal 4. 

While parking is a key revenue generator, Heathrow points out that it is investing in ways to reduce emissions from road traffic. Heathrow’s action plan for 2015 states that it will incentivise low-emission vehicles and provide more electric vehicle charging points. Holland-Kaye says: “Heathrow is working with partners to champion a joint approach to reducing emissions from road traffic in the Heathrow area and is working with Transport for London and other stakeholders to formulate a regional strategy for air quality.

“In June, Heathrow was awarded the Eco-Innovation Award by ACI Europe, recognising how much progress Heathrow has made in reducing emissions from the airport (down 16% over the past five years), and recognising features such as the world’s largest single site car-share scheme, the UK’s first publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling site, and an unrivalled public transport system connecting passengers to central London and surrounding communities."

A bigger Heathrow is now on the taxiway

Heathrow Airport is Britain’s biggest and busiest airport, and it is planning to become even bigger and busier. Heathrow emerged as the preferred option for a third runway in Sir Howard Davies’ report on providing a new runway serving London and the South East.

The Davies Commission hedged its bets, stating that Gatwick’s expansion plan as a “credible option”, but Heathrow was taken the report to be a ringing endorsement. 

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive officer, says: “The Airports Commission’s unanimous and clear recommendation to support Heathrow was warmly welcomed by business leaders and politicians from across the country and closed the debate on where a new runway should be built. Our focus now is on working closely with government to deliver the benefits of expansion for all of the UK as quickly as possible.”

Holland-Kaye says the expansion of the airport would deliver £211bn to the UK economy and 180,000 new jobs. While he said “spades could be in the ground” by 2019, there are still political hurdles to clear before work on the new runway can begin.

The Davies Commission’s preference for Heathrow’s North West runway plan was controversial, as there is considerable opposition to the idea of expanding the airport from not only rival airport Gatwick but many people living in its flightpath, environmentalists and politicians, including several significant Conservative MPs, most notably London Mayor and member for Uxbridge Boris Johnson. However, Prime Minister David Cameron, a former sceptic on expansion of Heathrow, seems to moving closer to accepting the Davies Commission’s recommendation. A Cabinet committee looking at the issue, to be chaired by Cameron, does not contain ministers who are known critics of expanding Heathrow.

Aside from David Cameron, other attendees include chancellor George Osborne, business secretary Sajid Javid, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, environment secretary Liz Truss, Climate change secretary Amber Rudd and Chief Whip Mark Harper. However, Home Secretary Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead, and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, MP for Runnymede – constituencies under the flight path – have not been invited to attend.

The committee’s terms reference are to “consider matters relating to airport capacity in the south east of England in the light of the Airports Commission's report”. The Chancellor said a final decision on whether to expand Heathrow or build a new runway at Gatwick will be made by the end of the year. 

    Source : Transport Extra

Another day, another 'miraculous escape' as roof ripped off tourbus... By Glen Alotto

Roof ripped off packed tourist bus after it crashes into tree in central London

The roof of a packed tourist bus was ripped off when it crashed into a tree in central London this afternoon.

The cover of the bus, which witnesses said had been partly open-topped, was completely torn off in the collision in Bloomsbury.

Startled passengers were left sitting in the packed top deck with the detached roof resting up against the side.

Four people were taken to hospital while others were being treated nearby, according to early reports. The London Fire Brigade is currently working to lift one remaining passenger away from the upper deck.

The incident happened about lunch time in Woburn Place, close to Russell Square Tube station.

Craig Douglas, 28, said passengers were "hugging and consoling" each other after their "miraculous" escape.

The salesman from Essex, who witnessed the aftermath, said: "The roof was hanging off even though the branch really did not look big enough to do it; I don't know how it happened.

"Everyone was standing up and seemed rather okay. A few people were hugging and consoling each other.

"It looked miraculous that everyone got away, the whole roof was off and there was glass all over the floor."

The London Fire Brigade said crews were called at 1.12pm. Firefighters, ambulance workers and police remain at the scene.

A spokesman for LFB said: "It's a tourist bus in collision with a tree that's taken the roof off, so we're working with LAS down there at the scene at the moment."

    Source : Evening Standard.