Saturday, August 29, 2015

Another Day...Another Bus Crash.

Bus crashes into tree on busy east London street leaving at least 12 injured 

  • The single decker bus crashed into a tree near Manor Park station in east London. Police, paramedics, plus the air ambulance were all called to the scene.

  • At least 12 people were injured, with 10 taken to hospital and two in a serious condition
  • It is not known what caused the smash or whether the driver was injured 

Chaotic pictures show the front of the single decker bus crumpled against the tree, while shaken passengers watch from across the road. 

Two of the 12 injured are in a serious condition, with 10 being treated in hospital.

Among the injured are a man thought to be in his 40s with head injuries and a woman in her 60s with an injured hip. 

London Ambulance Service (LAS) declared a major incident, sending six ambulances and the air ambulance to the scene.

Police officers and the London Fire Brigade helped the 15 passengers and driver off of the red W19 bus and closed part of Station Road. 

It is not known what caused the crash, or what condition the driver is in. 

New York Taxis Finally Launch An App To Compete With Uber.

New York is launching the Uber of taxis. 

Insiders of the city’s taxi industry are finally launching an app that lets users hail cabs and pay for rides using a smartphone. It’s such a great idea you have to wonder what took so long.

The app is called Arro and, as first reported by Crain’s, it’s in beta testing with 7,000 New York City cabs and could launch within weeks. Here’s how it works: A user launches the app, which gives a nearby cabbie the passenger’s name, pickup address, and cross street. The user, meanwhile, gets the driver’s name and ID number. The app saves credit card info, letting passengers pay the metered fare and tip automatically. Another advantage is no surge pricing; the app developers told Crain’s that fares always will be meter-based.

Arro comes as on-demand ride companies like Uber and Lyft are getting a lot of attention for their impact on public transit. It is largely taken as gospel that the taxi industry’s taken a major hit from the growth of these services. New York’s Taxi & Limousine Commission has seen a dramatic drop in the price of taxi medallions and an increase in foreclosures for medallion owners. Uber and its ilk have dinged other forms of transit too. Just this week, Uber admitted it is testing Smart Routes in San Francisco that let drivers pick up and drop off passengers on specific routes—something that would appear to encroach on bus services. That has some worried that might make the city less likely to invest in mass transit.

But as much as people like to denounce on-demand ride services, the truth is they are far more convenient and much less constrained than public transit. As my colleague Alex Davies noted earlier this year, private transportation models can be successful because they need not please everyone. They also have greater latitude to innovate, which can lead to leaps forward like paying via smartphone. Arro appears to be an effort to bring to the taxi industry a level of service and convenience many people now take for granted.

New York has some 20,000 taxis, but Arro’s partnership with Creative Mobile Technologies limits the service to just a portion of them. Still, the startup reportedly is working on a deal with VeriFone Systems, which would add more taxis. And if all goes well in New York, Arro plans to launch in other cities, including San Francisco, Boston and Washington DC.

Source : Wired 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How Much Longer Can London Traffic Absorb 700 Extra Private Hire Vehicles Every Week?

Since 2013 the number of Private Hire Drivers on London's streets, has increased by 25.9%, to a staggering 85,742, even though the number of London PH operators has fallen by 5%. 

At present TfL are possessing over 2,000 new PH driver applications a month.

By comparison, over the same period of time, the number of Central London Taxi driver new licenses only rose by 1.5%.

   DfT statistics March 2013-March 2015

Smart phone based Uber, who soft launched in 2012, have around 20,000 drivers in London and are presently expanding at a rate of 2,000 extra vehicles every month. Apart from the large amount of new licensees, the app is also recruiting from existing licensed PH drivers.

 Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick hopes to increase their vehicular presence in London to 42,000 by March 2016. This would then amount to more than half of all London's PHV licences based on today’s figures.

Uber's expansion will soon see the number of Uber drivers overtaking the number of official London Taxis, which is already the case in New York. However, it should be noted that PHV drivers outnumbering those in hackney carriages is not a new trend.

Taxis and PHVs require a licence for both the driver and the vehicle. In total there were 297,600 licensed drivers in England with 103,900 (35%) of those operating in London. About three-quarters of the licensed drivers in the capital are for PHVs, compared with taxi-only drivers.

Bad Air Problem :

There’s no doubt London has a serious problem when it comes to air quality. Last year the European Commission started legal action against the U.K. for breaching pollution targets, specifically associated with nitrogen dioxide (NO2, a toxic byproduct of car engine and exhaust fumes combining with oxygen).

London is reported to have the highest levels of NO2 of any European capital city. London’s city authority website itself notes that “most” air pollution in London is caused by road transport and domestic, along with commercial heating systems, and recommends that businesses encourage employees to use public transport, walk or cycle to work.

“City-dwellers are particularly exposed, as most nitrogen dioxide originates in traffic fumes,” the EC noted in a press release detailing its legal action against the U.K., adding: “Nitrogen dioxide is the main pre-cursor for ground-level ozone causing major respiratory problems and leading to premature death.”

A study, published this July, of the health effects of NO2 and particulate matter pollution, commissioned by the Major of London and carried out by King’s College London using 2010 data, reported a higher health impact than the previously estimated 5,900 annual deaths associated with NO2 long term exposure in 2010. Recent reports now show associated deaths as high as 9,000.

       Images tweeted by Mayoral candidate Cristian Wolmar.

Inspite of being told newer vehicles create increased levels of NO2, Mayor Boris Johnson still insisted on introducing an age limit on Taxis, removing older less polluting FX4, TX1 and TX2 models and replacing with newer more polluting vehicles.

If the huge health costs associated with traffic fumes in urban centers weren’t bad enough, the U.K. is facing EC fines of up to £300 million for breaching air quality standards.

What’s clear is that the continued increase in the quantity of vehicles in conjunction with the reduction of space on London’s roads is not compatible with meeting European air quality standards.

Rickshaw Rider Offers Young Lady Free Ride For Sex.

Rickshaw driver 'sexually assaulted young clubber after seeing her crying in the street and offering to take her home for free'

  • Mohammed Hossain allegedly invited the woman, 21, into his carriage 
  • Touched her on the leg and inner thigh, Blackfriars Crown Court heard
  • Allegedly didn't stop when she struggled and said she had a boyfriend
  • 35-year-old admitted she was in the carriage but denies sexual assault 

A rickshaw driver assaulted a young clubber after offering her a free ride home from London’s West End, a court heard.

Mohammed Hossain allegedly tempted the 21-year-old woman into his carriage after spotting her crying in the street.

The 35-year-old then clambered into the back seat alongside her before sliding his hand up her short skirt, it was claimed.

Patrolling police officers spotted the distressed woman stumbling out of the rickshaw near the British Museum and gave chase as Hossain pedalled off.

Hossain, from Plaistow, east London, was arrested further down the street and appeared to be drunk, Blackfriars Crown Court heard.

James Benson, prosecuting, said: ‘On the night of the March 6, a female had gone to a nightclub that Friday with a friend of hers in the West End of London.

‘She had drunk some alcohol and at 1am she decided to leave the club. She was a little tipsy but she was not drunk. She was wearing going-out clothing, including a short skirt.

‘By the time she had left the club she had had some kind of argument and so when she left she was on her own.

‘The defendant, sat on the bike seat of the rickshaw, decided to engage her by talking to her and learned about the fact that she was upset.

‘He offered to give her a ride home in the rickshaw for free. She thought the defendant was just being nice, and so she got into the rickshaw.’

Hossain put a blanket over her legs and then pedalled away before stopping near the British Museum, the court heard.

He went into a shop and came out with a bottle of vodka, a bottle of Red Bull and a polystyrene cup.

The alleged victim accepted a sip of the drink but when Hossain put an arm around her she told him: ‘No I have a boyfriend.'

Mr Benson added: ‘From that stage on the defendant should have been aware that she was not going to consent to any further touching.

‘When he first tried to put his arm around her she told him no, but the prosecution say the defendant persisted and touched her on the knee.

The 35-year-old allegedly tempted the woman, 21, into his rickshaw bike after spotting her crying in the street, it was claimed

‘She felt in reasonable control at that stage, so she told him she wanted to go home. The defendant then leaned in for a kiss.

‘She pulled back and said the words: "No, I have a boyfriend." He tried to put his arm around her shoulder again and she pulled back again.

‘The defendant took his hand, put it on her knee and then moved his hand up the inside of her thighs towards her underwear and only stopped a very short distance from touching her between her legs.

‘Having done that the defendant leaned in again to kiss her and she shouted no.' 

Hossain, from Plaistow, east London, was arrested further down the street and appeared to be drunk, Blackfriars Crown Court (pictured) heard

The alleged victim struggled and managed to get out of the rickshaw as two police officers drove past in a patrol car.

Mr Benson said: ‘They say they saw her stumbling from the rickshaw, and she was clearly upset.

‘She told them what happened and one officer chased the rickshaw as he rode off. The second officer went around the street and caught him and detained him.’

Hossain admitted the woman had been in his rickshaw but made no comment in police interview. He denies sexual assault.

The trial continues. 

Source: DailyMail 

An Open Letter To TfL's Managing Director Surface Transport, Leon Daniels ... From Sean Paul.

Mr Leon Daniels Managing Director Surface Transport TFL.

I write without affiliation, but share the sentiments of many licensed taxi drivers, who are continually subjected to your abject failure in fulfilling your duties prescribed to you as Managing Director of Surface Transport. 

During your tenure, you have overseen, and wilfully enabled the destabilisation of the licensed taxi industry by issuing in excess of 30,000 Private Hire licenses over a 3 year period. It is indefensible that you are complicit in facilitating the en-mass infiltration of off-shore corporations that are decimating legitimate taxi businesses by providing the same (instant) public-hire service.

As Director for surface transport, part of your brief is to recommend and endorse legitimacy as defined in the Private Hire Amendments Act 1998. I believe that you have overstepped your brief by allowing e.hailing apps such as Uber to over saturate an already well served market. The result has seen the total collapse of the regulated trades. 

As it stands, the running costs of maintaining the compulsory purpose built vehicle, will be no longer financially viable. I believe this constitutes the breaking of a prevailing trade agreement, as no negotiations or consultations, were to my knowledge entered into. This also applies even if discussions were of an implicit nature.

This is nothing short of unethical, covert political and business practise with a total disregard for 24,000 individual sole traders. As you play a significant role responsible for maintaining the cost index ratio, it is of my firm opinion that you are not suitable to represent the licensed taxi trade, either as individuals, or as a collective. 

Furthermore, I believe this constitutes the breaking of a prevailing trade agreement, as no negotiations or consultations were- to my knowledge- entered into. This also applies if discussions were of an implicit nature.

The contempt that you have shown for the industry means you are incapable of applying objectivity in matters concerning taxis and their integration into the wider transport network and highway infrastructure. Because you have worked in contrary to the interests of taxi drivers and as a consequence, put members of the public at an unprecedented risk, it's inconceivable that drivers would want to align themselves with you as their regulator or arbiter.

The taxi trade has seen no attempt by your office to address the ‘future proof’ report submitted by members of GLA, therefore I have made recommendations to the local Government ombudsman - as you are an appointed official, and therefore do not serve with advocacy- to investigate inconsistencies with a view to you offering significant reparations to the taxi trade or standing down from your position as Director Manager for Surface Transport. If this is not your intention, then I will make appeals to the European Court of Justice to question TFL’s accountability as a publicly funded institution.

Currently, I am intolerant to your justifications in haemorrhaging PH licenses at an alarming rate when no law compels you to do so. There are only two primary positions that would determine your adherence to the prevailing legislation on the issuing of licenses. 

The position is either ignorance of amendments to the cab order, or maleficence with intent to  destabilise the market via the back door. If we are dealing with ignorance, then allow me to highlight that several mitigating circumstances entitle you to halt the issuing of PH licenses. 

If that's something that confounds you, then you also have the authority to amend secondary legislation devolved to City Hall regarding license issuing. I hope that solves a degree of duress involved in having oblige an already non existent law. If non of these points are addressed, I will petition relevant bodies to be unhesitating in no longer recognising you as regulator, and absolve you of having jurisdiction over drivers, either, as a whole or part there-of.

Please treat this letter as a means of resolving the septic chasm that exists between you and the trade. Considering the inescapable dire financial position you have put me in, and the detrimental impact on me and my family as a consequence, I steadfastly expect you to respond, proposing a way forward. If it is not your intention to seek resolution, then now is a timely reminder that you are not above the law, and I will be left with no alternative but to seek alternative options.

Note: after seeking advice, I state taxi drivers meet all the necessary licensing requirements re: conditions of fitness, and their ability to work under normal practices remain unaffected.

Sean Paul
(Licensed Taxi Driver/ Proprietor)

Editorial Comment :

At present, TfL are approving an extra 2,500 new private hire licenses every month. 

These new vehicles are adding to London's congestion emmisions

This is causing a significant rise in the number of unnecessary deaths caused by traffic pollution (currently over 9,000 p a)

London has now been named as Europe’s most congested city for the first time. Motorists are said to be spending four whole days on average stuck in traffic each year.

>Click here for article in a Standard<


Monday, August 24, 2015

As The Lycra Clad Army Push On Past The Palace, Cyclists On Queenstown Road Complain At Red Lights.

 Again we see another artist impression, void of the congestion this new facility will creat.

After receiving a royal blessing, Boris's Super Cycle Highway will now push forward, putting removable bollards along Constitution Hill and across the entrance to the Mall. The wonder Queen Victoria Memorial was once one of the most beautiful gyratories in the world, now reduced to an eyesore of traffic chaos.
Regardless off the fact they already have a segregate rout, Boris said cyclists refuse to use the old path as they wanted to express their right to use road space along with other vehicles. Not content with sharing space with other road users, cyclists want sections segregated off, squeezing the motorised traffic from the current three lanes into two. 

The old cycling rout takes them pleasantly onto the fringe of the park, previously used by horses. But, to navigate round the QVM and across the Mail, cyclists would have to dismount to use the pedestrian crossing. 

How demeaning it must be, dressed head to foot in Lycra, wearing hats adorned with Go-Pro cameras, having to walk the 50 feet, in upmost safety across the traffic lights, guarding the entrance to the Mall.

Look at the congestion caused at admiralty arch. Traffic often tails back down the Mall, after cyclists were given one of the two lanes leading into Trafalgar Square (causing a massive bottleneck). The common sense approach would have been to ask cyclists to dismount, twenty feet from the arch and continue as pedestrians, remounting on the other side...but alas this was seen by the Lycra brigade as unthinkable.

After all the cost involved with the changes to the present set up at QVM, will cyclists actually use it ?

At present, there are no laws in place to force them into the segregated road lanes. We have recently found with the roundabout on Queenstown Road, if they don't like it they won't use it. 

Cyclist are now complaining they have to wait too long at red traffic signals, something many are not used to. So the majority are ignoring the new facility.
No like'y, no ride'y. 
The way the Mayor has cow tailed to the cyclists we can e lecture a quick tweak of the signals phasing with motorists paying the price and waiting longer at their reflective signals. 

It will be interesting to see just how many cyclists refuse to use the CSH along Victoria Embankment when it finally opens.