Saturday, August 22, 2015

Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave. How Not To Answer A Question....By Boris Johnson.

Mayor answers to London

Illegal Minicab - prosecutions

Question number4012/2012
Meeting date19/12/2012

Question byDarren Johnson

TfL took over responsibility for prosecuting minicabs illegally plying for hire from the Metropolitan Police Service over a decade ago. Can you confirm how many such prosecutions TfL has pursued, broken down by year?

Answer by Boris Johnson

I am aware that local authorities outside London prosecute Taxis and Private Hire drivers for plying for hire, however this is due to the fact the legislation outside London differs from London. In basic terms, outside London, under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, a licensed vehicle is always considered licensed and is, in most cases, clearly identifiable as a private hire vehicle due to its colour or identifiers. This makes the offence of 'plying for hire' clearer and has many stated cases. In London, a licensed private hire vehicle is only considered licensed if driven by a London licensed private hire driver undertaking a booking for a London licensed private hire operator. Therefore a licensed vehicle parked may not be considered plying for hire as it may not be working.

For this reason in London, touting and associated problems are addressed by intelligence led enforcement activities involving the 68 TfL funded police officers in the Metropolitan Police Safer Transport Command (STC) and City of London Police as part of the Safer Travel at Night (STAN) initiative. STAN involves a programme of activities including industry regulation and licensing, enforcement and education. 

The Mayor, TfL and its police partners are always pushing for the strongest penalties for touting and other cab-related offences to provide a more effective deterrent. It is for this reason that licensed private hire drivers convicted or cautioned for touting lose their TfL licence for a minimum of one year. Since the policy was introduced in August 2008, almost 1,000 drivers have had their licences revoked for touting.

Tactics and sanctions are kept under regular review to determine what is the most effective and appropriate action and/or sanction in given situations. TfL is currently reviewing its approach to illegal playing for hire offences as part of the joint TfL/MPS cab enforcement strategy. 

It's clear to see Mary Boris Johnson has completely sidestepped the question and given a different answer which was not asked for. Three years later Boris still refuses to answer, so we will answer for him. 

Minicabs prosecuted by TfL for illegally plying for hire, broken down by year: 

2002 = 0  2005 = 0  2008 = 0  2011 = 0

2003 = 0  2006 = 0  2009 = 0  2012 = 0

2004 = 0  2007 = 0  2010 = 0

Of the 24 tout squad offices in the City of London funded by TfL, complete with state of the art control centre at Wood Street Police Station, not one arrest for illegally plying for hire. Money well spent? 

Editorial Comment From Semtex : 

Respect and hats off to the hard punching 24 TFL Tout Squad Officers based at Wood Street and the 68 (my arse!) Intelligence Led (???) Officers from the Met, in blitzing the illegal and potential terrorism associated dangers of mini cab touting in our Capital! The Safer Travel Command was indeed, money well spent and with their impressive arrest and prosecution targets met as expected in the figures above, we should be extremely proud of them.

These Officers would like to thank St Dunstans for their exemplary and ongoing Training Initiatives, and London Taxi Drivers would like to thank Boris Johnson, in allowing the Pants On Fire School of Intelligence, to be of assistance. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Safer Transport Command was quoted as saying " My officers would like to thank David Blayne in his tireless help of proving to our officers that they cant see a hole through a ladder, and the incredible act of tout arrest, is purely a delusion on their part".

With Boris's tounge twister regarding the criteria of different taxi status both in and out of London, we now know why The Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Briefing Paper, recently drafted by Louise Butcher, titled "What is a Taxi?" has become such a huge seller ! 

If I couldn't do 100 times better than these totally incompetent, pathetic, untrained, imposters, fraudulent, limp wristed, wage taking deceivers, in a week than they have done in 10 years, my old bills a bloater !

I could do better out there on my own than these lot , honest I could !

Absolutely two bob mate ! Waste of money, waste of time waste of space !

Sack the lot of them tomorrow or put them on a no nick no wages basis !
They would starve to death mate !

Intelligence Led Compliance ?? My lilly white arse !! They couldn't spell it !


Friday, August 21, 2015

Call for terror law to solve Camden traffic problem caused by Uber drivers, turned down.

Uber minicab drivers parking outside St Pancras International station are causing traffic problems.

A Camden councillor has called on the council to use terrorism legislation to help tackle huge traffic problems caused by Uber taxi drivers parking outside St Pancras International station.

Black cab drivers have complained of having to double park in Pancras Road due to mini cabs, waiting for ‘e-hails’ from apps such as Uber, sitting in restricted bays for up to 12 minutes.

This is leading to traffic tailbacks along Euston Road in both directions and security risks at Camden’s major transport hub.

The problem is being attributed to former local government secretary Eric Pickles who earlier this year introduced a 10-minute grace period for motorists when parking tickets run out.

The rules also apply to the bays in Pancras Road, which previously allowed motorists to stop for two minutes but now allow minicab drivers to sit for up to 12 minutes.

Green Party councillor Sian Berry is calling on the council to use a Traffic Regulation Order restricting waiting to two minutes based on a separate clause in the law covering the risk of terrorism.

Press Release From Councillor Berry:

 Councillor says 10 minute parking 'grace' period at St Pancras is causing chaos

Green Councillor Sian Berry has called on Camden Council to use terrorism legislation to enforce its two minute free parking period restriction at St Pancras International station. 

Mini cabs taking advantage of a 10 minute 'grace' period introduced by Eric Pickles in April this year are currently causing traffic chaos, bus delays and security risks at Camden's major transport hub.

In a dossier submitted to the council this week,[1] Cllr Berry has included photographic evidence from black cab drivers showing the restricted bays on Pancras Road are filled throughout the day with mini cabs waiting for 'e-hails' from apps such as Uber.

The occupied bays mean that legitimate drop-offs and pick-ups are forced to double park, leading to traffic tailbacks along Euston Road in both directions. 

This also causes problems for pedestrians on the road and bus delays on the 214 and 46 routes. In one incident, Cllr Berry whose ward in Highgate is served by the 214 bus, counted six green light changes before her bus could enter Pancras Road from Euston Road due to parked cars blocking the way. 

In the dossier, which answers points made in a response from the council to a query about the crisis in July, Cllr Berry sets out two  potential ways to overcome the new restrictions and enforce the necessary waiting times: 

1. Make a new Traffic Regulation Order that can be enforced without a grace period, restricting waiting to 2 minutes based on a separate clause in the relevant law covering the risk of terrorism - this would be fully justified at this very sensitive location where having traffic at a standstill, and unrestricted free parking for longer periods, is a clear risk 

2. If all else fails, introduce a set of steep parking charges intended to deter minicab drivers from staying longer than 2 minutes with a simple 'pay by text' process for making the payments and enabling enforcement

Sian says: 

“Black cab drivers have supplied me with a wealth of evidence, and I have visited the site many times to see for myself how many bays are occupied by minicab drivers simply waiting there and looking at their phones.

“Something must be done and, looking at the legislation, I believe the reason sections of the Road Traffic Regulation Act covering terrorism aren't named in the grace period regulations is that security risks override any need for parking flexibility. This is clearly applicable at this site and I've asked the council to look into making a new order on this basis. 

“As a last resort, charges should be put in place to prevent the chaos we are seeing every day on this road, and getting bus journeys and safety for pedestrians back to normal.

Camden Eviroment Chief Replies:

Environment chief Cllr Meric Apak said he does not want to use “anti-terrorism traffic orders” and is relying on parking wardens to address the problem


So no change there then from the lycra clad council. As long as the cycle lanes stay clear, the councils not interested.

Victory In Rio De Janeiro : First Law Banning Uber, Finally Passed After Mass Demo

Last month Taxi drivers blocked the streets of Rio in protest against Uber

More than a thousand taxi drivers protested in Rio de Janeiro on a Friday against ride-sharing company Uber, blocking roads and stalling traffic during morning rush hour as tensions rise in the city over the mobile app ride service. 

In Rio, cabbies parked their yellow taxis in a chain stretching for 5 kilometers (3 miles) along one of the city's main thoroughfares that connects the affluent south zone with the central business district. Taxi drivers honked their horns and chanted.

"We want to combat the illegal (drivers). We are the official ones, we have a responsibility, we are professionals who have families," said Alexander Campos, a taxi driver from Belo Horizonte who drove the 400 kilometers (248 miles) to Rio for the protest. 

Uber Technologies Inc responded by offering free rides to customers to help alleviate transport issues on what it called a "difficult day for getting around." 

The company has come under fire in countries around the world, with local taxi drivers complaining that Uber drivers are not properly regulated and have fewer overhead costs, which makes them unfairly competitive. 

Lawmakers in Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city, and capital city Brasilia have already voted to ban Uber after protests by their local taxi drivers. 

Yesterday the bill received the require executive approval in Rio and will now be taking force.

This was posted on FaceBook just after midnight last night.

Why Don't Our MPs Support Our Licensed Taxis, With The Same Vigour Australian MPs Support Theirs.

After watching the video below of a speech made by Australian MP Anthony Byrne, I am at a complete loss to understand why we haven't seen a line of MP's from London and other major cities around the country, queuing up to make similar speeches in protection of our Taxi and Private Hire industries. 

Why are government licensing agencies, bending over backwards to protect a company that doesn't want to play by the rules of any legislated regulations. 

In London it gets much worst:
We have had the Managing Director of Surface Transport for TfL, lie to a GLA transport committee over the availability of on/off insurance. 

Plus the same TfL Managing Director, also lied to the transport committee, about the availability of a landline phone number, for the use of pre booking journeys, as required under licence application regulations.

Isn't it time this clown was removed from office on the grounds he has put public safety at high risk ?

Uber have always stated "WE DONT HAVE A CONTACT NUMBER" just an email address . They also constantly state, they don't take pre bookings.

Trouble is this man is not just a one off, he is one of three top TfL officers on the top order of pay grade, who have consistently bent over backwards to lie and support Uber, against ant criticism.

Even our Mayor's office of Boris Johnson, have repeatedly  failed to honour promises to protect public safety and have failed the London Taxi and Privae Hire industries big time. 

The video below is really "a must watch". 
The Taxi drivers in his constituency must be really proud to have him.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

If you can’t beat them, join them: Hong Kong taxi drivers plan car-hailing app to rival Uber

Hong Kong Taxi based groups are planing to launch their own new mobile platform to rival car hailing services like Uber and Lyft. They promise to offer a credit system which should improve customer service quality.

NG Kwan Shing, convener of an alliance of Taxi groups, said the platform would ask traditional taxi drivers to follow a charter that will require them to meet certain service standards.

If drivers failed to meet certain standards, they would lose points under a rating system. Drivers who scores full too low could then be banned from working the app. 

NG, speaking during an RTHK talkshow yesterday, said car cleanliness and occurrences of abuse such as price gouging would be covered in the system. A complaint hotline would also be set up.

"This is something we must do. We have to deal with it now because operational standards of taxes have dropped dramatically in the past decade" NG said.

The plan comes amid new competition from mobile car hailing apps. Many commuters are fed up with the daily abuse of cabdrivers, such as price gouging during bad weather and refusing fares unless the destination suits them.

Andrew Shuen Pak-man, founder of the Lion Rock Institute which advocates a free market, said passengers were most upset by drivers refusal to take them to unpopular destinations and their failure to know the best route was also an increasing problem.

Shuen said these were the comments given in a survey of 500 Hong Kong residents the Institute had recently interviewed on the street.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Vibrant online community chat, or cesspools of abuse? Have comments had their day?

The debate about comment sections on news sites is often as divisive as the comments themselves. Recently outlets such as The Verge and The Daily Dot have closed their comments sections because they've become too hard to manage. And they're far from alone. 

Moderating comments is a full-time job (or several full-time jobs) at many news organisations. 

Officiating comments on a BBC News story requires knowledge of more than a dozen different disqualifying categories. Alongside shouting, swearing and incivility, comment sections can also attract racism and sexism. 

Evidence of the latter found when looking at live streaming app Periscope.

That's the downside. But it's also worth remembering that many news organisations use comments sections to make real connections with audiences, find stories, and turn what was once a one-way street into a multi-headed conversation. 

So are comments on news websites useful, or have they had their day?

Nicholas White, editor, The Daily Dot said:

In our experience, our community hasn't evolved in our comments. It's evolved in our social media accounts.

To have comments, you have to be very active, and if you're not incredibly active, what ends up happening is a mob can shout down all the other people on your site. In an environment that isn't heavily curated it becomes about silencing voices and not about opening up voices.

For us, it's partially a question of where to put scarce resources. I can't point to any specific comment and say it's the straw that broke the camel's back. There was no point at which somebody said something which was so vile and horrendous that we said: "That's it, we're done!" It was more that we weren't seeing the conversation happen on our site. It wasn't bad comments rather than a lack of conversation. 

Our "favourite" type of comment is from people who clearly haven't read the article. When our users start trolling us, we gently troll them back. Although our guideline is that you should always act as a journalist. So if someone is saying something that's absolutely wrong, we'll answer back with something like "If you observe in paragraph three, the point that's made there directly contravenes what you said." We try to be journalistic trolls and we do it with a bit of a wink. 

That said, there is a line, and there are people who are absolutely vicious, who we ignore and block and don't engage. 

Taxi And Private Hire Licensing Briefing Paper...Added To House of Commons Library.

On the 5th August, a briefing paper was introduced into the House of Commons library, laying out the present position and the Law Commission's intentions regarding Taxi and private hire licensing.

This is a must read for every Taxi driver concerned with the future of the trade. In our opinion most of the content is hypocritical and biased.

Section 3.4 poetically deals with the reason why parliament should not define "Plying for Hire" in law, but instead give a clear definition to pre-booking alongside a new offence of making it illegal for any service other than a Taxi to accept a hiring there and then.  

Controversies surrounding Uber in London:
While the trade and the GLA were astonished at the lies told to the transport committee by Leon Daniels about Uber's so called "on off" insurance, it would seem that his words have been accepted by the author of this report (Louise Butcher) as genuine fact. 

Also contained in the final section in a run down on where we presently stand with TFLs long drawn out high court action regarding a definition of the Taximeter used by Uber, with TfL pointing the finger at the LTDA for holding up proceedings.

Anyway, before we give any serious opinions about the danger of this briefing document which has now been submitted and added to the House of Commons library, read it for yourself and discus with your colleagues and trade reps. 

>Click here for PDF<

Editorial Team Comment, From Semtex:

I've read the draft in it's entirety. Once again, another pointless, misaligned research study, that has no doubt cost a fortune to compile.
Typical political drivel, and to be honest, I don't know what segment of society or political group it is aimed at.

The report and it's erroneous conclusions were apparent from the start on page 1, titled "What is a taxi?" I rest my case !

TFL have allowed the standards of our trade to become so blurred, it requires academics to spell out what a bloody taxi is now !!!

Would they have asked what a taxi was in the 60's ?

Not only that. The Law Commissioners advice of more effective law and enforcement procedures dealing with touts and the likes, has gone unheeded.

The laws are there, but are of absolutely no use unless some bugger is out there watching that they are complied with !
Why is it hard to understand ?

Another booklet of utter shite produced at no doubt huge expense, pretending to the professionals that all is well, all is being managed and all is under control.

None of the above applies ! Another ruse to look like something is being done. It aint ! We are dying !

No parliamentary or judicial confidence or following for me mate ! If any of you think the laws or Government Scrutiny Reports will save you, start digging an escape tunnel now !

That bloody clock is ticking its little face off now folks, and the only thing we have got to look forward to, is we nick an extra hour in October !!

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock............


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Press Release From The UCG : Letter to Helen Chapman and TfL senior Management

Copied to Isabel Dedring (Deputy Mayor for transport), Caroline Pidgeon, Val Shawcross, Leon Daniels, Garrat Emmerson, Mike Brown (New commissioner taken over from Sir Peter Hendy)


I recently submitted an FOI asking for TfLs E-Hailing Policy.
After chasing this a number of times I was sent a response that stated TfL have no policy on E-Hailing.
Sir Peter Hendy sat in front of the GLA transport committee and waived an iPhone at the committee and said, this is what the public want, convenience they want to order a car or Taxi on their phone.
This was echoed by Boris Johnson at the next meeting, he said it is an "unstoppable force" and that at some point grooms were no longer required by horse drawn carriages.
If this theory is correct that the public want to engage car or Taxi services on their smartphones in future, then, as the regulator of Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles you have identified future engagement methodologies, yet taken no steps to ensure that these new engagement methods comply with the relevant regulations and laws. I should be shocked by this, but of course I am not.
The law states that a customer of a Private Hire Vehicle service must not contact the driver directly, rather the booking must go through an operator who then assigns the job to a driver. 

As you have no policy on this, how can you know this is the case? 

You do not audit these "Apps" and therefore you have absolutely no idea how these "Apps" are functioning. 

They are in many cases placing the customer in direct contact with the driver, this is illegal and invalidates their insurance policy.
We know that Addison Lee went to great lengths to ensure their booking platform complied with the law. It was a bespoke system designed from day one to operate within the law.
Many of the new "Apps" appearing are of foreign origin and have been adapted for the UK market. The developers may have had scant regard for our laws or even a total ignorance of London PHV legislation.
What I expect and require from TfL is that a policy is formulated that ensures any "App" used by a PHV driver undertaking work within the London metropolitan area will have been tested by a TfL officer or department, the exact method of operation of this system fully understood and tested to ensure it complies with the law.
When this testing is complete a TfL approval number be issued to that "App" and it is considered certified.
Any PHV driver using an unapproved "App" will be liable to prosecution for possible plying for hire as an unlicensed Hackney Carriage.
The approval number can easily be incorporated into the "about" field that all software has enbedded in it.
Without such a policy in place TfL will be complicit in such activity as you are fully aware this is not just a potential outcome of a lack of policy, but it is happening every night already.
When can Londoners expect to be protected by the regulator charged with public safety? to paraphrase Sir Peter Hendy, "TfLs job is to protect the public". When will TfL TPH have a policy on something absolutely paramount to public safety?

I urgently request that such a policy is in place and being actively implemented within 90 days from the date of this email.

Best Regards, 

Len Martin
UCG Chairman

Monday, August 17, 2015

Estimated 30,000 Visitors At Peak Time....No New Ranks ! ... By Jim Thomas.

Cleaning up the Air, or cleaning up for Private Hire?

Just when you thought "it can't get any sillier" ! Just when you thought "surely they couldn't make any worse policy mistakes" ! 

Recently [another] expensive consultation has been published, this time about the preposed Garden Bridge. 

Contained in the consultation is a report of the research (if you can call it research) regarding capacity and demand for Taxis.

In this so called research, we are informed that within the peak weekend hours, the visitor numbers to this attraction would be somewhere in the region of 30,000. 

A report submitted with the planning application to both Lambeth and Westminster Councils, indicated that in their educated assessment of the expected tourist visitor group during the peak hours (estimated at 1,300 new visitors per hour) approximately 2% could arrive by and 2.1% could depart by Taxi, with a demand of approx 25-30 departing visitors requesting the use of a taxi during the peak hours. Based on an average capacity of 2.5 visitors per taxi, this would equate to a calculated demand of just 12 taxis per hour. In their opinion, that's 72 new taxi journeys per day, on a time scale from 6am till midnight.

The report goes on to say that visitors requiring taxis should be directed to the north side were available ranks are situated in the Strand (Savoy, McDonalds), Aldwych (ME hotel, One Aldwych Hotel, Waldorf Hotel, Australia House) 

Are they sure!!! No need for new Taxi ranks as visitors can walk to the Aldwych or down the Strand. It's the Shard all over again !

Are they clearing the way for touts to pick off unsuspecting tourists ? Will there be new PH satellite offices ? Will we see mobile booking vans sited around both ends of the bridge ?

Will we see belligerent Compliance Teams, harassing Taxi drivers looking to become hired while minicabs are left alone to tout ?

This project has all the hall marks of one almighty cock up.

What are our ranks and highway teams doing at these Unison House meetings ? Will the UTG step in ? Will Oddy suddenly speak out at TfL board meeting ?

While we are on this subject, what plans have been drawn up in regards to easy access Taxi ranks on New Year's Eve ? Has Winter Wonderland 2015 Taxi rank issue been resolved ?

   Looking forward to another "Winter Of Discontent"

After the mess of last years  New Year and Winter Wonderland rank chaos, I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for this lot to sort anything out.

Uber's Private Settlement Proves Money Talks...On Off Insurance, My Arse.

Minicab App Company Uber, has reached a settlement with the family of the little girl who died after she was hit by an uber car.

Sofia Liu, six, was struck while crossing the road in San Francisco, on New Year's Eve in 2013.

Uber had argued it could not be held responsible for Sofia's death because the driver, Syed Muzzafar, had not had a passenger in his car at the time.

Court documents say the family has asked the court to keep details of the settlement private.


The company described its drivers as freelancers who were free to log in to the app and accept jobs whenever they pleased.

It said its function was simply to connect a buyer and seller and therefore it was not responsible for what happened between them.

But the family of little Sofia held Uber responsible because the man behind the wheel had been an Uber driver logged into its app at the time of the collision.

Sofia's brother and mother were also struck by the car while the family was crossing the road.

"While nothing will ever bring Sofia back, the family is grateful to the American judicial system for providing them a way to resolve the legal issues raised by Sofia's death," the family's lawyer, Christopher Dolan, said.

A spokesperson from Uber said: "While we cannot ease their pain, we do hope that this [undisclosed] settlement helps the family move forward.

"The Lius suffered a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to them."

It's now an everyday sight to see Uber cars involved in accidents on London streets with drivers unfamiliar with the layout of traffic systems often photographed going the wrong way on one way streets 

Last evening, there were reports of three major incidents involving Uber drivers, two motor cyclists were knocked down and taken to hospital within hours of each other.

It's only a matter of time before people start dying.

This was the carnage at Notting Hill Gate where a Pizza delivery bike was hit by a Prius. 

The driver of the cab, a grey Vauxhall, was not hurt, but was today said to be shaken by an Uber spokesman.

Neither man was arrested, but the driver has been taken off Uber's books 

Earlier yesterday evening a motorcyclist was knocked down on Brompton Road, Knightsbridge when an Uber driver decided to Uturn without using his mirrors. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

On-line Petition : To make the TfLs High Court proceedings Sean Day.

Uber Technologies Inc. is an American international transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California. 

The company is estimated to be worth $51 billion. The legality of Uber has been challenged by various governments and organisations, who claim that its use of drivers who are not licensed to drive taxis is illegal and potentially unsafe. Insurmountable evidence suggests there is a legitimate cause for concern. 

Transport for London (TfL- the publicly funded subsidiary of The Mayor and City Hall) is responsible for regulating and licensing taxis and private hire trades in the Capital. 

TfL has submitted an application to the High Court, for a binding declaration on whether smartphones (which use GPS technology to calculate the cost of fares charged in respect of any journey by reference to the distance travelled or time elapsed) adhere with the current law on 'taximeters'. 

A taximeter is presently defined as; ‘a device for calculating the fare to be charged in respect of any journey by reference to the distance travelled or time elapsed since the start of the journey (or a combination of both).’ 

Private Hire Act 1998. 11(3) The device in a taxi is strictly regulated by TfL and is authorised by them for use only in licensed taxis. 
Conversely, the use of a smartphone ‘taximeter’ is not certified for use and tariffs are open to alteration. 

Although fares are calculated using the same methodology, TfL is of the opinion that a smartphone does not constitute a 'taximeter’ and is willing to spend millions of pounds of public money on legal costs to defend Uber’s working model. 

If TfL is successful, it will mean that the private hire industry will no longer need to agree fares in advance, as a smartphone 'taximeter' does not contravene current legislation, and is therefore legal. 

It is our view that TfL have not acted with complete transparency regarding the concessions afforded Uber by granting them a private hire operators license. In less that three years, TfL issued over 40,000 private hire licenses, thus facilitating the infiltration of drivers- working from the Uber platform- into the instant hire market. 

TfL recently stated that proceedings in the High Court will be conducted in private. Given Uber's financial strength as a political lobbyist, we are calling on the Mayor to insist that proceedings are heard in public. It is only right and fair that a case of such magnitude and of great public interest, is conducted openly and honestly. 

We conclude, that an unambiguous, publicly witnessed High Court declaration will bring clarity on this issue for all parties. 

Justice must be seen to be done. 
Sean Day