Saturday, January 23, 2016

Trouble Brews, As Taxis Confront Uber Picking Up At Airport.

On Thursday, Uber started transporting passengers from LAX, cutting into taxi drivers’ opportunities and prompting taxi drivers to slam the ride-sharing company for lax security procedures.

William Rouse, general manager of Yellow Cab of Los Angeles, the largest taxicab company in the city, told Southern California Public Radio, “They continue using a weak background check system that does not even have the possibility of considering convictions that are over seven years old. There’s no doubt that there are certain consumers who choose [ridesharing companies] in spite of their obvious risks.”

Taxi service has not declined at LAX; in fact, Rouse admitted that Yellow Cab pick-ups were 7% higher in January 2016 than in January 2015. The UCLA Labor Center has reported that although taxi service plunged 18% between 2013 and 2014 after Uber and rival ride-sharer Lyft arrived in Los Angeles in 2013, airport rides during the same period rose 15 percent. 

The Labor Center acknowledged, “Airports are one of the prized sites for earnings for taxi drivers.

Drivers are given access to the airport one day of the week known as their ‘airport day.’ Drivers typically earn more money due to longer fares, and they tend to work longer days.”

Uber’s website states that its vetting of its drivers are adequate, writing, “In the US, potential Uber driver-partners are required to undergo a screening process, which includes a driving and criminal history check that covers county, federal, and multi-state databases.”

Lyft started picking up passengers at LAX in late December, but its permit required the company to pay LAX at least $25,000 per month from $4 fees for each drop-off and pickup. Those funds are contributed to the airport’s general operating budget. Those same provisions now apply to Uber.

Assembly Member Valerie Shawcross Calls into Question, George Osborne Motives On Lobbying For Uber

Boris doesn't deny at MQT, when asked that he was directly and personally lobbied  by George Osborne  in support of Uber. 

How does that work ?  - what is a Chancellor of the UK Exchequer doing lobbying personally for a global company that isn't a corporate taxpayer in the UK?  

It's not sustainable for UK democracy and public services  for our  government  to favour companies  who don't make a contribution to the coffers over local small enterprizes that do!   

The  UK  is  a good place to do business because it is a well run  and regulated business environment.

 But antiregulatory right wing ideologists in Government will destroy the UK's economic success by undermining our public services and regulated environment  through their active support of tax avoidance!

Source : Facebook January 21st 3pm 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Uber gets a taxi brokerage licence despite controversy over ride-sharing

The city says Uber Canada is now operating as a legal taxi brokerage in Toronto despite continuing to illegally connect riders to unlicensed drivers.

On Friday morning, Uber announced it had received its taxi brokerage licence after applying in May amid ongoing controversy about bringing the company under the same city rules as traditional taxi companies.

Those within the taxi industry criticized that move Friday, saying little has changed and Uber still isn’t following the rules.

Uber, which links riders with available cabs through its UberTaxi service on a mobile app, also offers cheaper rides through unlicensed drivers using the UberX service on the same app.

“This is another step towards our participation in a comprehensive regulatory solution that includes ride-sharing,” Uber Canada spokesperson Susie Heath said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the City of Toronto towards new regulations for ride-sharing, which are expected in the coming months.”

Tracey Cook, the head of the city’s municipal licensing and standards, drew a line between the two services, saying she considers UberTaxi now operating as a legal taxi brokerage.

“For the purposes of dispatching or connecting licensed City of Toronto taxi cabs under UberTaxi that is lawfully permitted under the taxi cab brokerage license,” Cook said, while at the same time confirming UberX is still operating illegally.

According to the city’s rules, taxi brokerages are prohibited from connecting riders to unlicensed cabs. Any dispatch company breaking those rules could be fined $50,000 with an additional $25,000 levied against each company director.

Cook said they continue to enforce the current bylaws against UberX drivers and the company, with 120 bylaw charges currently before the courts and another 180 to 210 charges being processed. 

Licensing staff are also working on new regulations to bring UberX under city rules, which are expected to be put forward in April.

This change follows months of controversy after the city took Uber to court over claims they were operating illegally in the city — a fight that is playing out across North America.

After a Superior Court judge ruled last year that Uber was operating outside the legal framework and not breaking city rules, council voted to update the bylaws to bring those Uber services using licensed taxis and limos into the city’s jurisdiction.

The brokerage licence, which costs $400 to get and less to renew each year, puts Uber in the same league with major cab companies such as Beck — one of several groups vocally opposing the service they say is taking away drivers’ livelihoods.

On Friday, Beck spokesperson Kristine Hubbard said she’s glad for the acknowledgement that Uber is a taxi dispatcher just like her company, even as Uber continues to label itself a “ridesharing” service. 

But Hubbard said she’s stunned by the city’s position.

“It is irresponsible at best that we would see our regulatory body issue a licence to a company that has constantly broken the rules, constantly undermined authority and has no respect for our legal system here,” Hubbard said.

“If the Beck Taxi app was to connect today someone to an unlicensed vehicle we would be charged against our brokerage licence.”

Hubbard questioned why the same would not apply to Uber.

Councillor Jim Karygiannis — who has been firmly aligned with the taxi industry since arriving at city hall — said he plans to bring a motion to the licensing committee, which is meeting Friday, asking the city to seek a court injunction against UberX.

Perhaps We Should Call For Our Licensing Authority To Be Dissolved Or Replaced?


CARSON CITY — State auditors released a scathing report Tuesday on the Taxicab Authority that regulates the industry in Southern Nevada, faulting the agency for excessive fees that cost riders tens of millions of dollars and an overbearing board that exceeds its statutory role and could expose the state to liabilities.

The internal audit recommended the Taxicab Authority be dissolved. It suggested Clark County or the Nevada Transportation Authority, which regulates ride-sharing companies, taxis and limos throughout the rest of the state, assume Las Vegas-area oversight as well.

"I don't know if I've ever seen a more critical audit in my experience," said Gov. Brian Sandoval, who chairs the Executive Branch Audit Committee.

The authority in fiscal year 2015 had funding revenue of $11 million and expenditures of about $6.1 million, the audit said.

Among other things, the audit criticized excessive credit card fees and a fuel surcharge approved in July when gasoline prices were declining.

The 20-cent-per-mile fuel surcharge equates to about $27 million annually, which goes to the industry, auditors said.

A month after the surcharge was approved by the board, it was reallocated, with 8 cents made part of the permanent fare structure.

"We noted there was unfortunately little documentation to support not only the surcharge, but the reallocation that occurred after that," said Warren Lowman, executive branch audit manager.

The audit noted gasoline prices dropped about 10 cents per gallon over the summer of 2015 and the number of visitors to Las Vegas was up 2 percent over the same time the year before. Additionally, passenger traffic at McCarran Airport was up more than 7.2 percent, resulting in a 1.2 percent increase in taxicab trips.

"In summary, industry fuel costs were down and revenues were up," the audit said.

The fuel surcharge was implemented soon after ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft were given authority by state lawamkers to operate in Nevada

Credit card charge criticized

Besides the fuel charge, the audit said a $3 fee for using credit cards "exceeds all the operational costs to the industry" for providing the convenience and amounts to an "unsupported revenue" for the industry of $14.2 million to $20.3 million annually.

It recommended reducing the fee to 90 cents or eliminating it all together, noting that cabs in Clark County are the only ones to charge for using a credit card.

About 25 percent of cab trips in the county are paid by credit card, and the fee accounts for 17 percent of an average fare for a 5-mile trip, the audit said.

According to statistics reported by the Taxicab Authority this month, annual revenue hit a record $425.1 million for Clark County's 16 cab companies and was up 4.1 percent over the previous year.

Besides fees, the audit said the taxicab board routinely adheres to industry positions and oversteps its authority to dictate administrative functions.

"Board decisions have minimized authority staff work, relied on taxicab industry representation, changed established procedures, and countered decisions made for the welfare and safety of the public," the audit said.

It cited a board decision to overrule the agency's denial of permits for two drivers who had criminal records.

"The administrator considered the evidence and concluded applicants violated … criteria for sexual and drug offenses," the audit said. "The board concluded on appeal that extenuating circumstances and conditional privileges were sufficient deterrent and issued a drivers permit to both applicants."

Auditors said, "The board's appellate decisions of the administrator's conclusions on fitness for driver's permits may expose the state to liabilities."

Inspection intervention

The board also intervened in the administrator's inspection schedule "at the expense of one company over another" on New Year's Eve in 2014, the report said.

"As a result … the owner who failed to follow procedures but was helped by the board obtained an advantage over other taxicab owners who followed procedures during the holiday season but were unable to put taxicabs in service," the audit said.

The audit was advisory only and some of the recommended changes, such as to fees and credit card charges, require approval by the Taxicab Authority board before they can go into effect. Dismantling the agency would need legislative approval in 2017.

Bruce Breslow, director of the Department of Business and Industry, and Ron Grogan, authority administrator, accepted the audit recommendations. No board members attended Tuesday's meeting, though they were notified of it, Breslow said.

Breslow said the board's chairwoman, Ileana Drobkin, told him auditors have no authority over her regulatory board and she wouldn't attend.

"Technically she's correct. They're not bound by this," Sandoval said. But he said he would have liked to have heard from board members.

He added, "I just wanted to make it clear the board members were notified of the time and date,"

Drobkin did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Grogan said the taxicab board is expected to discuss the audit at its next meeting.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Surprise I'm Spartacus.

Watch the Mayors Question Time From Yesterday : >Click Link<

Surely no one expected TfL to do anything truly meaningful with the PH regs?

Did you really expect Boris (f**k off and die)
Johnson to allow anything to upset his corporate pals?

Still the requirement for NI numbers, active landline and display of insurance have some merits and are probably intended as a bone thrown to us and legally operating PH.

I never expected much as the real battles are about bogus self employment, corporate tax dodging and defining plying for hire.

TfL will no doubt already be expecting a reaction from us, let's be smart in how we do it.

Still the TfL board have to approve the proposals and we eagerly await Mr Oddy's wholesale rejection of them at the March board meeting, it's show time Bob!

Attend the upcoming RMT public meeting on the 7th March (Conway Hall) to examine options, go to your trade association meetings and make things happen.



Carpe Diem.

I'm Spartacus

LTC Black Cabs Not Unique, High Court Rules, Paving Way For MetroCab

A high court judge has ruled that one of London’s most famous sights, the black cab, is not that unique after all, concluding that they are “devoid of inherent distinctive character”.

Mr Justice Arnold said that the taxis are “merely a variation of the typical shape of a car” and ruled that trademarks exclusively relating to its shape should be deemed invalid.

He made the judgment on Wednesday after a legal row between the manufacturer of the traditional London taxi and the group behind a new eco-friendly cab. The ruling paves the way for the “green” taxis to hit London’s roads over the next few years.

Arnold said: “In my view the CTM [the design of the black cab] would have been perceived by the average consumer of taxis as merely a variation of the typical shape of a taxi.

“I should make it clear that, if one considers the question from the perspective of the average consumer of cars, in my view the CTM would be perceived as merely a variation of the typical shape of a car.”

The two trademarks in question during the hearing related to three-dimensional drawings of the exterior of the typical black cab.

The London Taxi Company, which is owned by Chinese group Geely, had claimed the new Metrocab was “substantially copied” from the design of the TX4, the latest version of the hackney carriage. 

The Metrocab is a hybrid-powered taxi developed by Frazer-Nash Research and Ecotive. The zero-emissions vehicle uses an electric battery and a petrol engine, which extends the range of the battery.

The judge dismissed fraud allegations by the London Taxi Company as “deeply implausible” and said that even if the trademarks were valid then the Metrocab was not simply a copy of the TX4.

The Metrocab is scheduled to go into bulk production later this year and is at the forefront of a drive by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, to ensure that all new taxis are zero-emission by 2018. Geely has pledged to invest £250m into a new facility in Coventry to produce greener versions of its black cab.

Peter Johansen, the chief executive of the London Taxi Company, said: “We are understandably disappointed by the judge’s ruling. We will review the ruling to determine our way forward.”

The London Taxi Company has been in operation since 1899, with black cabs going on to become one of the symbols of London.

A fleet of black cabs featured in the closing ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics, and last year it was voted as London’s favourite transport “design icon” in a survey conducted by Transport for London (TfL) and the London TransportMuseum.

It represents another blow for the traditional London taxi as it battles against the rise of Uber, the car-hire smartphone app.

TfL announced on Wednesday that after conducting a consultation it would not be introducing proposed new regulations that would have affected Uber, including forcing minicab operators to provide booking confirmation details to the passenger at least five minutes before a journey starts.

The high court decision follows a similar ruling on Wednesday about KitKat, with the same judge deciding that Nestlé could not trademark the shape of its chocolate bar.

Source : The Guardian

Letters To Editor : Regarding TfL's PH Regulation Press Announcement.

Hi James I have a few questions I would like to express as a letter to the editor of Taxi leaks.

Tfl Questions:

In your press statement yesterday, you state 
TfL proposes to take forward 13 of the proposals as set out in the public consultation and a further five amended proposals. Three proposals will be investigated further before decisions are taken. 

The following ideas will not be taken forward:

Operators having to provide booking confirmation details to passengers at least five minutes prior to the journey commencing.
Operators having to offer the ability to pre-book up to seven days in advance.
Operators being prohibited from showing vehicles as available for immediate hire, either visibly, for example by signage on the street, or virtually, for example via an app.
Private hire drivers only being able to be registered to a single operator at any time.

Why are these proposals not being taken forward?
These tenants are the difference between Taxis and Private hire the main crux of PHV and Taxi companies principle concerns. 
Please explain your reasoning line by line.

Question of Uber's petition:
can you confirm that the data was examined and adjudicated by an independent body like MORI for example because I have information to suggest that some parties have included Disney characters and world leaders not to mention many of disgruntled Ubers dissatisfied customers who have publicly denounced and refuted that they have contributed to this petition, if true, will Tfl should strike out all of Uber's data from the petition? 

          See this article : >Click Here <

Impact Assessment:
TfL will now undertake a further four-week regulatory impact assessment consultation on proposed changes to private hire regulations. The results will be put to the TfL Board with final decisions being taken at the Board's meeting on 17 March.

During this cooling off period we the London Taxi trade insist that you take our comments and observations above into consideration.

Just to be clear the London Taxi trade will fight your biased decisions contained through this press release and report to the highest courts in the land.

Tom Scullion.

         TfL...A Private a Limited Company:
       Transport Trading Ltd.  >Click Here<

I would like to know why a Limited Company i.e. Transport for London is able to decide what happens with all transport in London. 

I, and I assume most people, thought that Transport for London was a civil service department not a Limited Company with shareholders. 

Surely it is illegal for a Limited Company to decide what happens in our Capital City regarding any type of transport especially licencing private hire vehicles in the hundreds every week.

But then of course shareholders expect dividends. 

I think that having a private Limited Company running all transport in London is a conflict of interest as far as we the people are concerned.

Audrey Bullen

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

As We Predicted...It Was Always An Uber Smokescreen. TfL Press Release On New PH Regulations

TfL press release…

Following a review of private hire regulations in London, including a hugely successful public consultation that attracted over 16,000 responses, Transport for London (TfL) has today set out proposals to modernise the Capital’s private hire industry.  The measures, which will be put to the TfL Board for approval in March, will enhance standards of safety and customer service in light of the impact of new technology and the rising numbers of private hire vehicles in London.  Key proposals include:

  • A formal English language requirement for drivers.
  • Guaranteed fare estimates for customers in advance of their journey.
  • The provision of driver and vehicle details to customers, including a photo of the driver, before the start of each journey.
  • Private hire operators to ensure that customers can speak to someone in the event of a problem with their journey.
  • Even more robust ‘hire and reward’ insurance requirements.
  • Improved record keeping and real-time provision of driver and vehicle information to TfL to make enforcement even easier and more effective.

Welcome advances in technology and new business models have fundamentally changed the way in which the private hire industry operates in London – giving customers greater choice and convenience. These changes have also led to unprecedented growth in the numbers of drivers and vehicles.  The number of private hire drivers has increased from 59,000 in 2009/10 to more than 95,000 today.  This has contributed to wider challenges for London such as growing traffic congestion, illegal parking and areas of poor air quality.

In discussions with central Government, the Mayor has been pushing for legislation to enable TfL to restrict overall numbers of private hire drivers and vehicles.  The Mayor believes that more must be done to address the congestion and air quality impacts of increasing numbers of private hire vehicles, which now outnumber taxis in central London during the day.  Whilst the Government has been reluctant to pursue such legislation, the Mayor has asked TfL to investigate the impact and feasibility of removing the Congestion Charge exemption for private hire vehicles in central London to tackle pollution and reduce congestion*. TfL estimates that the number of private hire vehicles circulating within the central London Congestion Charge zone has increased by over 50 per cent in the last two years.  This means that 1 in 10 vehicles entering the zone is now a private hire vehicle.

In addition the Mayor has secured a commitment to progress separate legislation to enable TfL to regulate pedicabs, helping to tackle fare abuses prevalent among some pedicab drivers, whilst tackling the congestion they cause in central London, particularly in the evenings.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “New technology has revolutionised the private hire industry in recent years, bringing with it quantum leaps in terms of faster, better and cheaper services for customers.  However it has also meant a rapid increase in the number of private hire vehicles on our streets, an increase that is responsible for causing congestion and has the potential to worsen air quality in central London. Private hire vehicles now represent over 10 per cent of vehicles entering the Congestion Charging zone on a daily basis and I have asked TfL to investigate the impact and feasibility of removing the Congestion Charging exemption for private hire vehicles with a view to cutting congestion in central London. I am also delighted to have secured a commitment from the Government  to take forward new legislation that will finally enable us to regulate the pedicab industry that has operated free of any real authority for far too long.”

In addition, and subject to approval by the TfL Board, TfL will alter the structure of licence fees paid by operators of different sizes to better reflect the costs of compliance and enforcement activity.  This will provide further financial incentive for operators to maximise the efficiency of their operations and minimise the number of vehicles they use across London as a whole.

Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer for Surface Transport, said “Londoners have given a very clear indication of how they would like us to shape the regulation of the private hire industry to deliver improved safety and customer service.  We had an overwhelming response to the consultation with 16,000 responses and all of the proposals we are taking forward received majority support. We also discussed the proposals in detail with the trade over several months. The final package includes formal English language requirements for drivers, guaranteed fares quotes for customers before their journeys, easier process for customers to complain if they need to, and more information given to customers about the car they are about to get into. This will create the environment for a flourishing private hire industry and wide choice for customers alongside London’s iconic and world-class taxi service.”

In total, TfL proposes to take forward 13 of the proposals as set out in the public consultation and a further five amended proposals.  Three proposals will be investigated further before decisions are taken.  The following ideas will not be taken forward:

  • Operators having to provide booking confirmation details to passengers at least five minutes prior to the journey commencing.
  • Operators having to offer the ability to pre-book up to seven days in advance.
  • Operators  being prohibited from showing vehicles as available for immediate hire, either visibly, for example by signage on the street, or virtually, for example via an app.
  • Private hire drivers only being able to be registered to a single operator at any time.

TfL will now undertake a further four-week regulatory impact assessment consultation on proposed changes to private hire regulations.  The results will be put to the TfL Board with final decisions being taken at the Board’s meeting on 17 March.

Given that technology is continuing to evolve at such a rapid pace, further changes to the private hire regulations are likely to be needed in the near future. Therefore, TfL will keep the regulations under review to ensure that they keep pace with the changing industry and support a modern and thriving trade.

In addition to these new measures, the Mayor and TfL are already taking action to improve service and safety standards in the trade, including:

  • Introducing an enhanced topographical test for new private hire drivers, requiring drivers to demonstrate enhanced map reading abilities and English language comprehension.
  • Introducing a new complaints system so that customers can contact TfL if they have received poor service from a private hire company or driver.
  • Introducing mandatory disability equality training and other improved training for drivers.

Next steps

We will now undertake a further four-week regulatory impact assessment consultation on proposed changes to private hire regulations. The consultation will be promoted through the regular weekly email you receive from TfL, and the results will be put to the TfL Board - with final decisions being taken at the Board’s meeting on 17 March. 

Any change to the exemption for private hire vehicles would require a variation to the Congestion Charging Scheme Order which is subject to statutory consultation requirements. 

Given that technology is continuing to evolve at such a rapid pace, further changes to the private hire regulations are likely to be needed in the near future. Therefore, TfL will keep the regulations under review to ensure that they keep pace with the changing industry and support a modern and thriving trade.

Hacked Uber accounts worth more than stolen credit cards.

Cybercriminals don't care that much about your credit card number anymore. 

Uber, PayPal and even Netflix accounts have become much more valuable to criminals, as evidenced by the price these stolen identifiers now fetch on the so-called "deep Web," according to security company Trend Micro.

The price of stolen Uber account information on underground marketplaces such as the dark web, has risen to an average of $3.78 per account, while personally identifiable information (PII) has come down from $4 to just $1per record over the past year -according to data compiled by Trend Micro for CNBC last week. 
(PII includes any information that can be used to commit identity fraud, like Social Security numbers or date of birth and varies in price depending on the specific information for sale.) 

So how can a criminal make best use of a stolen Uber account? 
The hacked credentials can either be used to build a fuller picture of a victim for identity theft, or they can be used to charge phantom rides, experts said. A phantom ride is when a criminal sets up a fake driver account, and charges nonexistent rides to stolen accounts. 

Also found for sale are the following accounts, at these average prices per account; 
• PayPal — with a guaranteed $500 balance — ($6.43), 
• Facebook ($3.02), 
• Google Voice (97 cents)
• Netflix (76 cents). 
By contrast, U.S. issued credit card credentials, sold in bundles, were listed for no more than 22 cents each. 

"It's an incredible underground ecosystem. 
There is a high level of competition for these criminal buyers and there are a lot of different types of forums. It's incredibly diverse, but incredibly mature," said Ed Cabrera, vice president of cybersecurity strategy.

"They are doing their own market research on where they can find the data that's most valuable in the criminal underground and they develop their attacks accordingly," he said. The company issued a report on the phenomenon last October. 

Hackers are even advertising stolen data on YouTube to buy.

A quick search for tweets with the hashtag #uberaccounthacked reveals a number of complaints related to "ghost rides," in which users claim their Uber accounts have been charged for rides they did not take. These are often in far flung locations across the globe. 

"This also highlights the need of these providers to be more cognizant of sudden changes in the accounts' behavior," said Forrester research analyst Andras Cser. "If a user suddenly takes a cross country ride versus following their usual movements, that should spark an alert." 

"On the other hand, that's incredibly hard — maybe I am traveling, or my wife is using my account," he said. 

The reason why credit cards are worth less to crooks at this point is because banks and credit card issuers have developed more sophisticated fraud detection systems, rending stolen cards worthless very quickly, said Cser.

The biggest threats to your data while traveling
Tech companies are aware of the threat, and many (including Uber) employ teams to monitor accounts for strange activity, alerting users when accounts may have been compromised. They also encourage users to adopt additional security measures and use different passwords for different accounts. 

In some markets, Uber is testing its version of two-step authentication, so when a user logs on from an unknown device, they are prompted to enter additional credentials. The company plans to roll this out in other markets soon.

Facebook advises users to turn on its version of two-factor authentication called login approvals  and to run a security checkup, a tool that walks users through security options to add extra account protection.

"We use a variety of methods to detect and prevent compromised accounts, including those that sometimes appear on these types of forums, and we've developed tools to help people secure their accounts in just a few steps," a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC.

Netflix encourages concerned users to contact customer service and has posted user guidelines for keeping accounts secure.

"Netflix employs numerous tactics to prevent and detect fraudulent activity," a Netflix representattive told CNBC. "We also encourage people to avoid third parties making claims about lifetime accounts. While this is a limited issue that occasionally generates press, members who want to check the security of their account can contact customer service."

The fact that people often use the same password across multiple accounts makes security particularly challenging. Experts say companies should employ to new technology to offer users better protection from hackers. 

"The time has come to move away from passwords. They should be looking at behavioral biometrics solutions to authenticate users — how the user actually behaves, how they hold a phone, how big their fingers are and how hard they press the touch screen," said Cser.

Source : CBNC 

Power to the people of Islington, after Caledonian Road Station closure is withdrawn.

              Power to the people of Islington.

It seems TfL have bottled it, after being threatened with legal action.
There always was a simple solution...but as we all know, 
TfL don't do simple solutions.

Gareth Powell, Director of Strategy for London Underground, said: 
“In light of points raised by Islington council, we’re reconsidering how we can refurbish lifts at Caledonian Road safely and with as little disruption as possible for local people. Two public bodies being involved in litigation on this issue would be a waste of public money, which we obviously want to avoid. We’re all in agreement that the lifts need to be refurbished and that when this happens everyone will benefit from a new, more reliable service. We’ll be discussing our plans with Islington to find the best solution.”

This from the Islington Gazette:
Transport for London (TfL) this morning backtracked on plans to shut Caledonian Road Underground Station for eight months.

It comes after huge opposition to the transport authority’s proposal to close it for lift repairs from March.

A petition, launched in October, when the plans were first announced, has reached 7,500 signatures.

And earlier this month, Islington Council launched legal action against TfL, citing impact on disabled people and claiming the station’s two 30-year-old lifts could be repaired one at a time - allowing it to stay open.

TfL withdrew its March closure plans after saying it would be a waste of public money to fight the council’s legal action. It will now work with the council to find a solution.

Nigel Scott, 65, is the man who set up the popular petition. He works for the Shingles Support Society in North Road, near to the Piccadilly line station, and said this morning: “This is fantastic news. What we have always said is that this station is too important to close - both socially and economically. TfL never factored that in.

“The public showed its feeling against this. Islington Council also went for it, and that combination has been too much for TfL. It’s clear they hadn’t thought it through properly, and hadn’t anticipated this level of opposition. I hope they can now work it out.”

Gareth Powell, director of strategy for London Underground, said: “In light of points raised by Islington Council, we’re reconsidering how we can refurbish lifts at Caledonian Road safely and with as little disruption as possible for local people.

“Two public bodies being involved in litigation on this issue would be a waste of public money, which we obviously want to avoid.

“We’re all in agreement that the lifts need to be refurbished and that when this happens everyone will benefit from a new, more reliable service. We’ll be discussing our plans with Islington to find the best solution.”

Islington had accepted TfL’s request to stop the legal action after it offered to pay the council’s legal costs so far.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, executive member for environment and transport, said: “It’s clear that both TfL and the council would much prefer to resolve this dispute amicably, if possible, and we hope that TfL will deliver the improvements the station needs by replacing the lifts one after the other and keeping the station open.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Letter To Editor : Response To PH Regulation Review Question 2... By Will Grozier.

Jim please find below, part of my response to the Private Hire consultation.


2. Do you agree with our proposal for a time delay between journey booking and commencement?


If you don’t agree, please explain why. :

This proposal will do nothing to re-establish a very necessary differential between taxis and private hire. The situation at present is that there is no appreciable division between taxis and private hire as the taxi trade has effectively been de-regulated by the licensing of Uber who operate an immediate demand service.

In the absence of any current plans for Parliamentary action to re-calibrate the cab industry on a fair and equitable basis this review may be the only opportunity to prevent the taxi trade from being totally subsumed in the Tsunami of Uber expansion.

This un-precendented growth has led to severe congestion at many places in London, Soho and the West End generally suffer from gridlock at times and at other locations such as St Pancras and Victoria stations, amongst many, traffic is impeded by the double parking and illegal stopping that has become the hallmark of the App driven on demand market.

A far more constructive approach would be to limit access to the Congestion Charge Zone only to PHV drivers engaged in taking passengers into the Zone or those allocated a booking to pick up. This restriction should apply 24/7 as a 30 fold plus and rising increase in PHV movements in the CCZ cannot be sustained without gridlock of third world proportions becoming a daily ( and nightly ) occurence.

Empty PHV's should be obliged to leave the CCZ and park in an adjacent Zone.

For the purposes of this example I will use the existing Underground Zoning areas although this might not be wholly appropriate if further consideration is given to a plan which might be called 'Concentric Displacement'.

In this model drivers parked in Zone 1 but outside the Congestion Charge area could be allocated a job in the CC area or in Zone 2 but not in Zone 1. Similarly drivers parked in Zone 2 would qualify for work generated in Zone 1 inc the CC area and Zone 3 and so on.

An alternative to this would be the creation of an individual 'exclusion zone' around each vehicle in which no job could be allocated, what that radius that might be is a subject for further consideration but overall this measure would prevent opportunistic positioning by drivers as noted above, loitering around known hotspots and creating unnecessary congestion and curb the behavior of the public to wave an illuminated smartphone at traffic and then engage in the ordering process with the first driver to stop.

This would prevent the tendency of PHV drivers to congregate or cluster close to where work is known to originate - in the case of Heathrow the area could modeled on the Local Journey return area as presently applied to taxi hirings from the ranks, roughly an area bounded by the M25, A3, NCR & A40 although a somewhat smaller zone might be appropriate

More centrally the writer has experienced considerable difficulty removing Uber cars from taxi ranks, the Shepherds Bush Taxi Rank at night it has become an ongoing problem.

In the proposal the concern that would be passengers might be 'unecessarily inconvenienced' is mention twice in a short text. There is no need for anyone to be inconvenienced by this solution - if an immediate service is required then a licensed taxi becomes the default service to access. If an alternative is sought then the customer has the option to prebook a car for a specific time or wait for the response time advised by the operator.

A booking would be allocated to the driver in the form of a pickup location but with no other detail, once in position the name and contact details would be revealed at the booked time and similarly the vehicle registration number and driver contact information released to the passenger.

In addition drivers must be stationary when being allocated a booking as the current practice of drivers being distracted by their mobile phone whilst moving is unsafe and has surely been the trigger for the many accidents involving Uber Prius vehicles, indeed TfL's own PR Dept has issued warnings to motorists of the perils of such action.

A time delay whether it be 5 or 15mins will be perceived as a clumsy and partisan measure by TfL to obstruct Uber. 

A far more elegant solution would be to impose the above measures on the wholly justifiable grounds of combatting unacceptable levels of congestion in the CCZ and the prevention of unacceptable clustering around points of known demand in other places.- that the necessary time delay needed by the licensed taxi sector to re-establish some significant differential arises as a by-product of this instrument is a fortunate serendipity.


1)  No PHV's allowed in CCZ 24/7 unless POB, empty PHV's in the CCZ will be unable to accept hirings until outside zone.

2)  PHV's not to be allocated work whilst moving.

3)  Individual 'exclusion zone' or 'proximity buffer' to prevent access to hirings within sight of the driver to prevent opportunistic plying for hire.

4)  All above requirements to be driven by App modification, solution should be self policing.

 The current Alice in Wonderland environment where a 'booking' is legerdemain for an immediate hiring and a 'Meter' is not a Meter needs to be returned to reality. 

Private Hire is or should be a 'Private' contractual arrangement between 2 parties whereby a service is provided for an agreed price.

A price should be quoted on the basis of the shortest map route and take into account traffic loadings as currently available on App driven mapping.

This would be binding on the driver and at a stroke prevent the abuse we have all seen of Uber drivers taking wildly circuitous routes and charging outrageous fares to the dismay of deceived passengers who then have no resort to effective complaint.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Taxi Regulator Responds Over Cab Company Bankruptcy

San Francisco’s largest taxi company (Yellow Cabs) may soon declare bankruptcy. 

Yellow Cab Co-Op’s financial move has set off alarms across the industry, The City’s taxi regulator is finally weighing in. 

Kate Toran is head of taxi services at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates cabs in San Francisco. 

Firstly she said, she wanted to clarify that Yellow Cab’s bankruptcy is a Chapter 11, which is a restructuring to shed debts, but not necessarily to close. It had been initially reported that the company would close, as many news outlets reporting the story implied Yellow Cab was “doomed.”

Although many customers have moved over to ride-sharing App's such as Uber and Lyft, according to Toran there’s still a demand for taxi service in San Francisco, countering assertions in the national news. 

When asked for numbers to demonstrate that, she said Uber and Lyft historically do not share numbers in a public fashion with their regulators, the California Public Utilities Commission. Without a point of comparison, she said, people may make mistaken conclusions about the taxi industry’s health.

“Information they provide is under seal,” Toran said, of Uber and Lyft. 

If a taxi company were to close, Toran said one concern for the SFMTA would be ensuring taxi medallion holders transfer those medallions elsewhere. A medallion is a license to operate for a cab driver, some of which are sold by the SFMTA to cabbies for $250,000.

“The main concern is making sure those medallion holders are placed at other companies, Toran said. 

Also, she said preserving drivers’ records to an entity where they could be accessed would be another priority, after a taxi company closes. Among these records would be waybills, which are taxi drivers’ work history often used when trying to purchase or transfer a medallion. 

Toran said “it's also important to point out the taxi industry is trying to innovate and the Flywheel app is an example of that. The app works similarly to Uber and Lyft, but for taxis".

“It’s a game changer in a lot of ways,” she said.

Flywheel’s strength lies in combining the might of the entire taxi industry under one app, she said. Some taxi apps, by contrast, only hail cabs from one particular cab company. YoTaxi, for instance, only works with Yellow Cab. 

“My perspective,” she said, is “another thing the industry should do is stop being fragmented, shifting from each company focusing on its self-interest to taxis as a whole.”

That, she said, is the way for taxis to innovate in the new tech age