So with operation Neon, in the eyes of the majority of night Taxi drivers, an enormous flop....we are to get more of the same, unwarranted COs, with no power of stop, walking round London doing absolutely nothing other than harassing Taxi drivers over ranking.
We are told the new compliance officers will focus on hotspots of illegal private hire car activity including the West End and the City. Apparently they will have the ability to access the insurance MIB but only in office hours (9am to 5pm)....you couldn't make this stuff up.
“I want Londoners to feel safe when they take a taxi or minicab and that is why I have approved a major increase to the size of our team that targets touts and illegal activities,” said Mr Khan. At present, a tout has more chance of winning the lottery than being prosecuted by TfL for touting!
Perhaps the Mayor can explain to us all, how putting staff on the street with about as much power as a bus inspector (which most of these officers will be part time) is going to make passengers "safe".
Steve Burton, Transport for London’s director of enforcement and on-street operations, who's teams of compliance officers are sometimes seen, two days a week aimlessly walking round the west end added: “Illegal minicab activity not only poses a serious risk to passenger safety but undermines licensed, law abiding taxi and private hire drivers.” It's a shame then Steve that your COs have no power to do anything about rouge drivers who are not licensed by TfL!
Perhaps Steve Burton can explain how more of the same benign COs are going to make passengers safe? Last year 154 serious sexual assault including rapes in licensed private hire vehicles. And that's just the 10% that the Met police estimate reported the attacks
He warned rogue minicab drivers flouting the law that they will be caught and “dealt with robustly”. (Yes but who by Steve, your officers have no power! And those warning letters you send out are a joke)
This expansion of TfL compliance was welcomed by the LTDA. More proof that this organisation hasn't got its finger on the pulse of what's really going on out there.
Funding to pay for the new officers will come through changes to private hire operator licensing so that larger firms pay a greater share of the costs of enforcement.
Of course Uber have backed the extra officers, as this measure completely bypasses their illegal plying for hire MO.
Tom Elvidge, Uber's general manager for London, said; “It’s important that people only use a properly booked car from a licensed private hire operator.” Which is an amazing statement from a company that doesn't take bookings and is only available for immediate hire.
Is Tom Elvidge advising customers to use other operators who actually do take proper phone bookings?
Transport for London, the Met and Westminster Council have been running Operation Neon since May to target rogue drivers at weekends, and in most Taxi drivers opinion, has been a complete waste of time and money.
So far, nearly 10,000 private hire drivers have been advised and moved on to keep roads clear for taxis but only on Friday and Saturday. More than 5,000 were reported for not wearing their badge, not really zero tolerance, and nearly 500 for not having a badge and were stopped from working for the rest of the evening. (Go home....yeh ok....lol, they must be quaking in their boots....not.)
Since this operation has been running, only 65 drivers have been "reported" (not convicted) for plying for hire offences. A group of well trained, warranted cab enforcement officers would be able to nick 65 touts over a weekend, as the problem is completely out of control.
Westminster councils parking Marshals who sometimes accompany operation Neon officers have the best record and have issued nearly 3,000 parking tickets.
Mr Khan has also pledged to clean up the capital’s taxi fleet to make it the “greenest in the world”.
With a trade struggling financially, Khan and TfL wants us to invest the best park of £60k in an uncertain technology, which has added health risks to drivers that manufacturers and TfL are glossing over.
All taxis in London will from October 3 be required to accept card payments, including contactless. Unfortunately the implementation of this policy has been nothing short of scandalous.
The boss of transport union RMT has said the plans fall short, with neither TfL nor City Hall willing to look at the role of "e-hailing" smartphone minicab services like Uber.
Mike Cash, RMT general Secretary said "This practice circumvents the current regulation regime which is there to protect the travelling public. Neither TfL or the Mayor appear to have the will to tackle this blatant flouting of the regulations by the likes of Uber".
"In addition, proposals laid out in a recent consultation review of Private Hire regulations are to be revisited under Mayor Khan's administration. The union is deeply concerned that yet again they fail to regulate the virtual plying for hire of private hire vehicles which is now endemic on our streets."