Saturday, February 20, 2016

Stabbed In The Back : Will TfL Board Implement The Sterilised PH Regs Proposals?...You Can Bet Your Life They Jim Thomas

TfL in response to a major outcry from the Taxi trade, plus a call from the GLA to make and implement certain changes to safeguard the public 
TfL agreed to hold a PH regulations consultation.

The stop the escalating amount of circumnavigation of the Private Hire Act 1998. 

And so, the Taxi trade held its breath (again)...would TfL finally come to its senses?

Using logic and common sense, would TfL bring the PH trade back into line with existing regulations?

Private Hire companies openly plying for hire through smart phone apps.
Private Hire drivers flaunting the law concerning Hire and Reward insurance. 
Drivers working for multiple operators
Private hire vehicles clogging side streets and local businesses car parks around airports and major rail hubs. Drivers defecating in the gardens of residential properties.
PH drivers, licensed by TfL in London, accepting jobs while outside of their licensed area. Drivers from outside TfL's licensing area, openly operating in Central London. 
The list seems endless. 

The preliminary draft of new regs -mostly enforcement of already existing legislation- looked promising.

They have now made it clear, their bottle went big time.
Below, in their own words:

Transport for London (TfL) is carrying out a wide-ranging review of private hire regulations. 

Detailed proposals were published for consultation in September 2015 and that aspect of the consultation closed on 23 December. 

On 20 January 2016 we gave a preliminary indication of which proposals we intend to progress. 

However, decisions on which proposals to be implemented, if any, will be taken by the TfL Board in March. 

Read the report for yourself and perhaps you can add to this list with some of your own descriptive words.    >CICK HERE<

Well, now we know.....and there are only certain words to describe TfLs actions concerning this issue:

Letter To MP : From Lee Ward, Chairman Of The ALPHA

My name is Lee Ward, I am the Chairman of ALPHA, a newly formed association in Sheffield, please read the attached mail I sent to the local MP. 
I am awaiting a reply still, but I think the industry would like to read it.

Dear Sir.
We apologise for this being a generic letter, but we have to gain the attention of many Members of Parliament for this to be taken notice of.
ALPHA represent the Private Hire drivers of the Taxi industry and need to bring the serious issue of the Deregulation Act 2015 to your attention, an act that has desecrated the drivers within this industry.

We, and our members feel that this Act was brought in to enable multi billion pound companies at the expense of the hard working and loyal drivers of this industry, to bypass the previous and working bylaws that previously existed under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 or that Act as amended by the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

One of the first reasons given in the House of Commons is, and yes, every sitting on this Act has been read, and read again, but we will try to keep it to the basics..

New clause 10 allows private hire vehicle operators to subcontract to each other across licensing boundaries. That will allow private hire vehicle operators to work more flexibly and to grow their businesses. Passengers will be able to rely on their local operator, rather than being turned away when the operator cannot directly fulfil the booking. Under the triple licence requirement, private hire operators are licensed within a district and must use only vehicles and drivers licensed by the same local authority as granted their operator licence. It is important that that requirement remains in place for the moment, although we will revisit the whole issue when we consider the Law Commission’s report.

Travel patterns, however, are not neatly aligned with district borders. That is why private hire operators are allowed to accept bookings for journeys which go beyond the district or which are wholly outside the district. It is currently prohibited for a licensed operator to subcontract a booking to an operator in a different district. An operator can only subcontract bookings to an operator licensed in the same district. That is clearly restrictive and the Government consider it ripe for reform. 

The clause will allow a private hire operator licensed outside London—although not based in Plymouth, because of the exception—to subcontract a booking to another operator in a different district or based in London or based in Scotland. That liberalising measure will enable the private hire trade to operate in the way it sees fit, not just in the way that the restrictive legislation dictates. Operators will be able to choose, on a commercial basis, whether to fulfil a particular journey by using their own vehicles and drivers or whether it would be preferable to subcontract the booking to another, more conveniently located operator. There will be positive consequences for the environment, as there will be less dead mileage.

To say that this is the first reason to have to make such a huge change to the laws that govern this industry, we must say the reasons are very, for want of a better word, lame.

Let us take this opportunity to break this down.
New clause 10 allows private hire vehicle operators to subcontract to each other across licensing boundaries. That will allow private hire vehicle operators to work more flexibly and to grow their businesses. Passengers will be able to rely on their local operator, rather than being turned away when the operator cannot directly fulfil the booking.

How does a business grow if it is giving its work away, and how does the passenger rely on their local operator, when the operator who has taken the booking given it to another company ?

Under the triple licence requirement, private hire operators are licensed within a district and must use only vehicles and drivers licensed by the same local authority as granted their operator licence. It is important that that requirement remains in place for the moment, although we will revisit the whole issue when we consider the Law Commission’s report.

If the importance of the vehicle and driver to be licensed by the same Local Authority (LA) as the Operator who took the booking, why has the Deregulation Act 2015 not been halted until the report by the Law Commission is finished, and why change a law to perhaps go back to rethink it dependant on this report by the Law Commission ?

Travel patterns, however, are not neatly aligned with district borders. That is why private hire operators are allowed to accept bookings for journeys which go beyond the district or which are wholly outside the  district. It is currently prohibited for a licensed operator to subcontract a booking to an operator in a different district. An operator can only subcontract bookings to an operator licensed in the same district. That is clearly restrictive and the Government consider it ripe for reform.
So, lets get this bit clear.

It was legal for a Taxi/Private Hire Company to pick up and drop off outside its licensed borders, as it was also legal for the same company to pick up and drop off outside those same borders, but it was illegal for that operator to subcontract a booking to another company. How was this restrictive and ripe for reform, when it was quite clear that the customer could still book with the original company anyway ?

That liberalising measure will enable the private hire trade to operate in the way it sees fit, not just in the way that the restrictive legislation dictates.
Sorry, we cannot see what this argument is to be honest.
Operators will be able to choose, on a commercial basis, whether to fulfil a particular journey by using their own vehicles and drivers or whether it would be preferable to subcontract the booking to another, more conveniently located operator. There will be positive consequences for the environment, as there will be less dead mileage.

Ok, now it gets interesting again, sorry about that.
Operators would not choose on a commercial basis, because the journey is either viable for them or not, pretty much the same as a window fitter based in Cornwall would wish to go to Manchester to fit a bedroom window. Its simply not business savvy.

Now, what it has allowed, although its worded as ‘subcontract the booking to a more conveniently located operator’ is the ability for Uber to cover any and every job that is booked through its app.
The crux of this matter is the initial argument, as stated in the introduction to this Act in the House of Commons, that it would be a ‘more conveniently located operator’ that actually picked up and dropped this customer off, however, in the real world Uber have drivers from all licensed area’s (outside London) parked up waiting for jobs in any Town or City that Uber hold a License in, then take the app booking which the mainframe computer then looks for the nearest vehicle (due to the Deregulation Act 2015) and sends it to that vehicle regardless of whether a Licensed vehicle from the area that the booking was made happens to be sat waiting for that booking to make that driver a living.
Not quite what was made to believe in the argument for this Act to be put through, wouldn’t you agree ?

On top of this, the argument that this would cut the costs to the public for booking with a company that they know and trust has proved to be false also. Uber will surge the charges to the travelling public if they do not have a vehicle in that area, which, I am sure you will agree that this is exactly the same as a ‘pulling charge’ which an Operator would have set should that customer be asking for an out of area pick up that happened to be dropping out of area also (recall that this was a legal booking prior to the argument given for this Act of 12015)

Now, please take into account that this is just the first argument against the first reason given behind the Deregulation Act 2015 I am sure that you can see that this Act is not only unneeded, but unjustifiable. But this Act has however taken a great toll on the drivers of this industry, to a point that they are working longer hours to barely make ends meet, and will therefore rely on benefits to substitute their income. While Uber chose to use an offshore account in the Netherlands to pay the minimum amount into the UK as they can.

Now of course, we would never accuse any person in government to not be ‘playing with a straight bat’ But the following facts are rather interesting after the very brief break down of what the Deregulation Act 2015 should have been, what it was and what it actually is.

In 2012 Uber came to London
In 2012 Steve Hilton left as the Publicity guy for the Conservatives
In 2012 the government decided to start the deregulation of the Taxi and PH industry (to become the Deregulation Act 2015

Steve Hilton is married to Rachel Whetstone, their kids have the godparent that happens to be David Cameron

2015 Rachel Whetstone (who used to work for the conservatives before moving to Google) then becomes the senior vice-president of policy and communications of Uber

What we do wish, is that you as a Member of Parliament, address this issue and request that this Law (the Deregulation Act 2015) is stopped, reversed or put on hold before it cripples this industry and the hundreds of thousands that work long, hard and unsociable hours serving the community and providing for their families.

This Act, as we see it was purely for the benefit of Uber, who, as the world wide media constantly reminds us all, are purely for a profit and have no thoughts for the drivers and the conditions that they work.

We acknowledge what the media are reporting in London, but this Law that was passed in 2015 has such a widespread impact on this industry, it is almost at the point of pure saturation and families are struggling all over the country because of it.

If this was the steel industry which has been hit recently, then the whole country gets to hear about it and thePoliticians act to support it, this time, we ask that the politicians act before the industry and its drivers and families are on its knees.
Many thanks
Lee Ward
ALPHA Chairman

Friday, February 19, 2016

Spanish Taxis Block Central Madrid in Car-sharing Protest

More than a thousand Spanish taxi drivers blocked a central Madrid boulevard on Thursday, beeping horns and setting off firecrackers, to protest plans to open the country to greater competition from ride-hailing and car-sharing services.

Uber and other companies such as Cabify face demonstrations from taxi drivers worldwide for operating services which match private vehicle owners with customers.

Uber cannot currently operate in Spain while authorities decide their legal status, though other collaborative economy services, such as accommodation company Airbnb, are operating.

Spain's regulatory agency CNMC is expected to publish a non-binding recommendation next week which will call for greater freedom for the collaborative economy.

"Who are the CNMC defending? We are a public service and we're independent while they're defending multi-nationals," said taxi driver Marta Fernandez, 42, during the protest which shut off traffic for at least two hours.

Slackening the rules would pitch the heavily-regulated taxi sector, which requires licenses and closely monitored quality and safety controls, against untested drivers which operate with little, or no, restrictions, taxi unions say.

The Spanish regulator says, meanwhile, that the shared economy structure offers freedom of choice to consumers in terms of quality and price with which traditional businesses should be encouraged to compete.

"The CNMC's function within the Spanish society is to defend these freedoms to the benefit of the people," president of the CNMC Jose Maria Marin Quemada said in statement to Reuters.

Mrs Pat Bissett's Letter To Private Eye's Ian Hislop

Dear Mr Hislop,

I am the wife of a Black Taxi driver and I am writing to you because I believe that you are one of the few people left who are not afraid to question the government and opposition in equal measure.

On Wednesday 10 February 2016, 10,000 Black Taxis demonstrated in Central London against the interference of the Government in the regulation of Black Taxis and Private Hire services in London.  This demonstration brought Central London to a standstill, but you would never know it unless you were there! There was a complete news blackout as far as the BBC was concerned; there was nothing on BBC London and nothing on BBC radio, not even the local news. 

Now it is believed that something called a Section D was imposed, something that is only used in times of war and terror attacks!! Now I have no proof of this but it is hard to explain why there was no TV coverage and nothing in any of the national newspapers. The whole of Central London was brought to a halt for 2 hours and that is not even worth a mention, is it bad journalism or is it something else? I might add that the story made the evening news all over Europe and even as far as Thailand!

The 25,000 Black Taxi drivers in London feel they are being unfairly treated. They have to abide by such strict regulations or risk losing their badges and the Government is interfering in decisions that are nothing to do with them. George Osborne lobbied Boris and told him to “leave Uber alone” this is a fact admitted by Boris. Why? 

Is it because Rachel Whetstone (Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Policy for Uber Technologies Inc) is a close personal friend of David Cameron? Boris claims that he had never met any of Uber’s representatives, this is not true, and there is picture evidence to prove this, see attached.

Meetings took place between the deputy leader of TFL, Isobel Dedring and Uber before the consultation with Black Taxi representatives, and other private hire representatives, when Tom Watson contacted TFL and requested a copy of the minutes from the meeting he was told that no minutes were taken.  

If this meeting was above board, I find it very hard to believe that in this day and age when so many public figures are scrutinised by the media, why there were no minutes. Having said that, I also find it hard to believe that Tom Watson has just accepted this. He was so tenacious over the phone hacking!  

TFL are issuing 600 private hire licences a week! TFL have asked the government to change legislation so they can cut the number of licences they issue. The government refuses. Why? If the government can interfere regarding Uber which is nothing to do with them, then why can’t they interfere regarding the change in legislation for private hire licences?

Uber made £866,000 profit  in the UK last year and yet only paid £22,000 Corporation Tax because the are permitted to legally transfer their profits to its sister company in the Netherlands. So it is even harder to understand why the government is backing Uber, the Treasury is not earning anything from them.

Uber trades as a technology company and therefore is not responsible for making sure that every driver has the correct insurance for the vehicle they are driving to be used as a private hire.

Now I come to the background checks for Black Taxi and private hire drivers; Private hire drivers do have background checks but where the system falls down is if a person hasn’t been in the country for more that 3 years all they need is a note of good conduct from whichever country they originated from. 

Some countries are exempt from background checks and if you are a refugee no checks can be run! Now this above all the things that are wrong, is the worst in my opinion. The reason that private hire drivers were licenced and had background checks in the first place was because of the campaign started by Suzy Lamplugh’s mother to ensure that it was safe for young women to use private hire cars. 

Now we find out that the checks are not worth the paper they are printed on and in many cases not done at all. Black Taxi drivers are monitored rigorously every three years and the drivers have to pay for the checks themselves! If they don’t they lose their badges! Ask yourself, would you want a friend or loved one to get into a vehicle that may or may not have incorrect insurance (not hire and reward), that may or may not have a sex pest as a driver! 

The amount of complaints of sexual assault by private hire drivers is on the rise and TFL are keeping the figures hidden because they don’t want to scare the public. 

Offences 2015: 

Total allegations 180, 

Arrests 115 – 68 PHV Licenced 44 Unlicensed.

When I tell people this they are very quick to remind me about John Worboys, and I agree, background checks don’t always keep us safe, but John Worboys is one Black Taxi driver, and that dates back to 2009!

Uber think its all about technology and apps, well Black Taxis had apps for booking long before Uber came on the scene, there is Hailo and Get Taxi, both very well subscribed to by Black Taxi drivers. 

The misconception is that Uber is cheaper, not true; many tests have been done to prove this. Uber have price surges according to any given situation, Christmas, New Year, bank holidays, tube strike, bus strike, snow, rain, R in the month!; a black cab has their meter set by TFL, there are no double or triple fares ever!

Uber want to make the Knowledge easier and use SatNav technology. The reason that the London Black Taxi is the best in the world is because of the high standard set by having to do the Knowledge.

There is something rotten going on, many think its corruption, it’s hard to disagree. I don’t understand why journalists are not asking more questions, every licenced taxi driver in Europe is fighting Uber and is covered on TV news and in print but not in the UK why?

I have requested your help in the past (Sam Hallam) and thankfully you gave it, please help again the Black Taxis, are part of London and have been since 1654, don’t let them disappear.

Thank you for any help you can give us

Mrs Pat Bissett

Info regarding the photo attached: Clockwise: 

Etonian buddies, Cameron and Osborne with very close friend Steven Hilton, who also worked for the PM as Director of Policy Strategy 

Steven Hilton is married to Rachel Whetstone, seen here when she was an advisor to tory MP Michael Howard. David Cameron is so close to the couple he is Godparent to one of their children. Rachel Whetstone is also godparent to one of DC children (Ivan RIP).  Rachel Whetstone is Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Policy for Uber Technologies Inc

Boris Claims he has never met any of Uber’s representatives. Seen here in convivial mood with Rachel Whetstone!

And finally, a picture of Boris with his brother who works for Goldman Sachs, one time, main investor of Uber Tech Inc -reports now are that Goldman are trying to distance themselves from Uber because of the bad publicity world wide!

Thursday, February 18, 2016



"The Knowledge is irrelevant" they cry, "Black cabbies are dinosaurs that refuse to embrace new technology", yawn, yawn, yawn.

As the parties with a vested interest preach to the gullible from the Uber script of inaccuracies.

The black cabbies' factual reply that they have always been the leader in transport despatch technology and were the forerunners in phone app tech years before Uber rode into town, is met by the usual silence from our critics, as if our stereotypical native cockney tongue has been replaced by a softly spoken Chinese accent that they just can't understand.

"The Knowledge is irrelevant now that GPS is here" is their laughable yell, implying that any Uber driver could get into a black taxi, switch on the sat-nav and do an adequate job at impersonating one of London's finest.

As any cabby knows, one of the many reasons people use a London black taxi is because we don't go the 'sat-nav route' and why would we?   
Sat-nav vs black cab challenges have been tried and tested for many years and not once has the GPS come close to beating the brain of the London cabbie, so why would a cabby use something that is inferior to what he already has? 
Remember a sat-nav can do an Uber driver's job but it cannot even come close to doing a black cab driver's job.

Besides, anyone who has researched "The Knowledge" for more than 5 minutes will know, the real aim of the whole process is maintaining the highest standards in public safety. The ridiculous notion that Private Hire drivers go through the exact same background checks as black cabbies is beyond preposterous.

The vigorous scrutiny of Knowledge students throughout the 3 year examination period, in effect, means that by the time he/she has completed it, their character will have been assessed approximately 20 times. Only then are they deemed to be of fit and proper character in order to serve the public. This is just one reason the London black cab trade is unquestionably regarded as not only the world's best taxi service but also one of the safest.

Uber, however, currently need every penny of their eye watering £250,000 per month PR budget to try to portray a safe image of their company to the outside world. This is, and always will be, a never ending challenge for them. As long as they carry on with their "hire anyone" policy they are fighting a losing battle, and the constant media horror stories will continue to pile up day after day.

You only have to look at Goldman Sachs' (one of Uber's major backers) refusal to use them - favouring their main competitor (the black cab) to tell you all you need to know about the standards between London's amateurs and the professionals.

Uber's continual spin and ability to hoodwink the public into believing their rhetoric is remarkable. "We are a poor little ethical start up company facing David and Goliath sized odds in fighting the big nasty taxi monopoly" is their mantra, whilst investor subsidised free rides and unsustainably low fares kill off all competitors creating a monopoly in the true sense of the word.

And Joe Public keeps falling for it hook, line and sinker. 
How many other companies could survive such constant bad press and still come up smelling of roses?

The typical Uber user has a tolerance and acceptance of bad customer service that is astounding, as even the most serious complaints seem to be forgiven by the customer upon receipt of a generic email response that gets "personally" pinged out by the truckload.

Uber's refusal to accept any meaningful responsibility for these complaints is outrageous as is the fact that it is permitted by Transport for London. 

Is it acceptable, that when thousands of user accounts were hacked, Uber deferred all blame by implying that the affected customers had weak passwords?

Is it fair, that Uber only offer refunds in the form of a credit note whilst the customers' hard earned cash sits in $61 billion Uber's bank account accruing them interest. 

And is it genuine, when customers feel compelled to accept dubious surge pricing despite a total lack of proof that there is any real increase in demand. 

Yet what's genuine, fair and acceptable seem to be forgotten by the Uber user, and time after time appalling practices are tolerated once the cringeworthy "Yikes, sorry to hear that" email response is received by the customer.

So why does anyone use them?
Look into the backseat of any Uber car and you will find a perplexed looking passenger staring obsessively at their phone making sure they are not being driven around in circles by an even more confused driver. It's an anxious passenger experience as they try to justify the poor service because they may or may not save £3 at the end of the journey.

But this seems to be the way of the world these days as more and more  people gravitate towards cheap before quality. 

But cheap should never come at the expense of safety. We may all use Easyjet or Ryanair but we are safe in the knowledge that the pilot is a highly trained expert that did not receive their licence in an EU country with vastly inferior standards (as could be the case with any Uber driver's license).
Still the gullible Sloaney Ponies and the Hoxton Hipsters fall for this "groundbreaking" technology, like sheep in a Travis trance unable to grasp the fact that booking a cab through a phone app rather than a phone call is not exactly revolutionary.  
They fail to realise that Uber can make their app as slick and shiny as they like, but the bottom line is the product that they provide (the driver) is still an inadequate and inferior version of a black cab driver and the service provided is nothing new or improved from what we have had here since the 1960's.

But apparently the whole taxi industry must adapt to accommodate the weaknesses of our American friends. The ludicrous Tory proposal that it is "in the trade's best interest to simplify the Knowledge and lower standards" is like asking the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to "dumb it down a bit" so that Rizzle Kicks can compete. 
We can only question a possible  ulterior motive as to why the Government would suggest a lowering of the black cabbies sky high bar to fall more in line with Uber's knee high one.

And as funding continues to flood in from investors worldwide, Uber's valuation increases to laughably unjustifiable amounts that suggests an air of stability to an otherwise turbulent company. However, this is not free money, investors inevitably will require a return and then some. In short, here in the real world l'm pretty sure if I borrow £100 from my bank that figure does not now become my net worth, it simply means that with the added interest I am now a further £110 in debt.

It is one thing to have a sky high valuation but quite another to be able to live up to it.
But with friends in the highest places we cannot expect our Government to assess the validity of this company or even do the decent thing and force them to pay the correct amount of corporation tax in the UK. This would surely come across as hypocritical in the extreme, especially as the family business of our Chancellor and our own business secretary (two of Uber's staunchest allies) have been exposed as being tax avoiders themselves. 

Nor can we trust a Prime Minister with more personal connections to Uber than a conflict of interest inquiry would surely allow. But who knows? After mounting public pressure in the wake of the Google tax debacle and with a Government famous for doing more U turns than a Prius on Tottenham Court Road anything could happen!

Along with facing an endless barrage of court cases and pesky regulation battles worldwide, Uber's business model continually appears to be the most unstable and flimsy in existence today. Couple this with a completely disgruntled and demoralised workforce that were sold a dream of pounds and freedom, and are now living with the reality of minimum wage and endless working hours. 

These factors have resulted in many of their own drivers hoping to see the company fail. If a similar app came along charging drivers slightly less commission Uber could see the "Partners" leave in droves.

Similarly any new entrant to the market that abolished surge pricing and raised standards by the smallest percentage could even see the Shoreditch Sheep and countless other customers desert the app for the new arrival. 

This is just one small example of how  fragile Uber's entire business model is, and many financial analysts continue to reaffirm the theory that this "house of cards" could fall at any time.
But even if the smoke and mirrors facade is exposed and things do go belly up for the San Francisco charlatans, at least the backers are safe in the knowledge that the return on their investment would be guaranteed as Uber could just simply sell off all of their assets.....oh, hang on a minute!

Igot Ormed

Baby Born In The Back Of A Hailo Taxi...Express Delivery

What a great story to wake up to this morning. 
A wonderful new life, a baby boy, bought into this world in the back of Rob Fenlon's Taxi.

Driver Rob Fenlon said:
No soiling charge was taken neither was the fare.. From me anyway... I have asked hailo to reimburse the family.

Latest News:
Mother and baby doing well.
Robert was able to go back today and bring home the family.

This great story made the Evening Standard 

Taxi driver Robert Fenlon, 44, rushed Basak Odemis and husband Ozgur to hospital on Wednesday evening after picking them up in Clapham once her contractions started.

They made it to St Thomas' Hospital just in the nick of time, but medics were still forced to climb into the cab to deliver the boy, after he started to appear during the journey.

Management consultant Mr Odemis said the birth of his son Atlas, the couple's third child, was "not what we planned" but had gone well despite the unusual location.

He said Mr Fenlon refused to take any money - and even returned to the hospital on Thursday to take the family home.

He said: "We made a mess of his car and probably cost him money because he could not take anyone after this. I wanted to compensate him but he refused and he never charged us for either trip.

"I’m really grateful for his support, he made a very tricky situation easier for us to manage. 

"He got us there in time and went into the hospital and brought people out, and was smiling all the way through."

Mr Fenlon said he picked the couple up at about 11.30pm on Wednesday and they "asked me to get them to hospital as quickly as I could".

He told the Standard: "Before I knew it she was screaming and her water had broken. They asked me to go a little bit quicker so I put my foot down.

"They were on the phone to the doctor and the head was poking out."

Mr Fenlon, who lives in Bermondsey, rushed into the hospital to alert medical staff after pulling up outside A&E.

He said about three people got into the cab to help deliver the boy.

"It took seconds, it just flew straight out. It was a lovely little baby boy, a healthy boy," he said.

"I've had some crazy people and heard some crazy stories driving a cab, but never anything like this."

Mr Fenlon added that he was proud of "getting them all to the hospital safely and just in time".

"It was just something I will never forget," he said

Private Hire With No Hire And Reward Gets Passed By Taxi Leak's Undercover Reporter.

NSL test centre this week in Crayford. 

Whilst waiting I got chatting to an Uber driver who was waiting for his Prius to be licensed. 

Amongst other things he started chatting about all of his costs such as rental, fuel and insurance. I asked him if his insurance was expensive and he said it was only £40 a month third party!! 

I said to him that I thought he needed special minicab hire and reward insurance? 
He said oh no that was far too expensive and it was much cheaper to just get third party insurance. He informed me that lots of Uber drivers only use third party insurance. 
(I wish I had my voice recorder switched on). 
So anyway the examiner calls his car out and tells him his vehicle had passed and he was free to go with his new roundel in the front and back window. I thought how could that happen? Surely they check his insurance documents! Well apparently they only check whether insured or not for PH and not what type of insurance.

My Taxi also passed inspection and my voice recorder was ready! Attached you can hear the conversation I had with the vehicle inspector.

I have asked TFLTPH why Taxis Hire and reward insurance was checked at the NSL testing centres but not PH? The answer they gave is attached. If they are proposing that PH have it at all times like Black Cabs then surely that is an admittance that they currently do not have it. We and the Motor Insurance Bureau know that there us no such thing as on/off Hire and reward insurance so Why are NSL testing centres licencing vehicles that may not have H&R insurance. 

This is a scandal.
As stated by


Section 14. Insurance. H&R is required when it is used as a PHV.

Section 1.6   The insurance certificate should be checked by the testing stations

The Big Taxi Credit Card Conspiracy : Why Have TfL Made It Such A Mess

There's quite a bit of misinformation currently floating about the Taxi trade in regards to driver's future responsibilities when taking Credit and Debit card payments and also when certain restrictions and new regulations will be introduced. 

TfL have posted clear instructions as to what is expected and when new regulations will be imposed. 
Below is part of the statement TfL put out in regards to Card Acceptance. 

On 3 Feb the TfL board decided that TfL will not set a maximum charge that the card equipment suppliers can charge taxi drivers and that market forces should dictate.  

There are a number of TfL approved card equipment suppliers offering card payment systems for the taxi industry as can be seen in the TPH notice. 

Currently card transaction costs start from 2.75% and taxi drivers have a range of options to meet the mandatory date for card acceptance of 3 October 2016. The existing card payment surcharge payable by passengers of up to 10% or £1, whichever is greater, will be removed from 2nd April 2016. 

After this date taxi drivers must not charge passengers a surcharge when accepting credit or debit card payments. 

TfL is working with card payment systems suppliers to ensure they are prepared to meet the changes, which include the new requirement that a card payment terminal must be fitted within the passenger compartment.

     Len Martin Chairman United Cabbies Group

Editorial comment:
In Taxi Leaks opinion, these new regulations are completely unreasonable and should never have been agreed or signed off by the trade orgs and Unions.

Why should a driver who has been using a hand held mobile machine for many years with no complaints from passengers be forced by TfL to have the machine taken away and fitted in the rear. At present, the driver has to enter the price on hand held appliances by hand.
So how will the driver do this if the machine is fitted in rear?Will he have to get out of the front, enter the rear of the cab to perform a card payment? 
(Compromising both driver and the passengers safety!)

Of course not, this is just to preempt that connection of the third party supplied appliance to the meter. 
(Which could then be used as an impromptu tachograph)   

Although there is no mention (yet) that the machine should be connected to the meter, this would render machines such as iZettle, PayPal and CabApp totally unusable.

At present over 70% of drivers have the means to clear CC payments, albeit by machine, App or through their radio circuit, but as soon as drivers are required to pay clearance service charges, we could see this situation change dramatically. 

Between April and October, we predict a massive expansion of "Cash Only" signs and machines covered with old socks and plastic bags, this will have a lasting damaging effect on the reputation of the trade. 

Why has this not been thought through...well many it has. Perhaps this is exactly the agenda TfL are following!

The question must be asked, why is it imperative that drivers are expected to pay any CC service charge?

TfL say the customer should not be charged for taking the option of paying on credit. WHY?
TfL also say the driver must not charge more than the metered fare. 

The important word here is "FARE". The surcharge is in fact a service charge, charged not by the driver, but by a third party card company and inasmuch is not the part of the fare paid to the driver.

One of the major card company directors, is also a director of a company selling Taxis to drivers. 
Would this director consider paying the extra charge made by the driver (as a customer) for buying a Taxi on a credit, paying the interest on the loan.....I don't think he would for one minute!

When TfL put out their consultation last year, they carefully left out one important question -Should the driver pay the surcharge- it's just not there.

TfL made much about the fact that nearly 90% of everyone who filled in the consultation voted that all taxis should be forced to accept card payments.

Taxi Point carried out a similar consultation, but included the question "should the driver be made to pay the surcharge on transactions". This came back with a massive 90% saying "NO"

Our question now, will the Orgs and Unions collectively fight these unreasonable edits from TfL.

Many rumours are floating about, alleging conflicts of interest regarding advertising revenue from the major card equipment suppliers. Surely members interests should be paramount. 

The longer this situation goes on, there's more chance it could seriously damage the trade's reputation. 

Worst of all, TfL have already informed the media that drivers will be mandated to accept card payments and that drivers will pay surcharge and not passengers. 
They've actually put this out, even though they haven't changed the cab act and have no legislation to back up their claim.

Also, it should be pointed out that no similar regulations have been announced in regards to a Private Hire mandate of card payment acceptance. 

Will TfL now immediately drop their credit card surcharge when Taxi and Private Hire drivers pay for their licence, the vehicle inspection?
Why is there one rule for us but another rule for TfL?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

LTDA's Pledge of £50,000 Puts New Life Into The #ActionforCabbies Fund.

And now the games back on...

We are running out of time but today's boost from the LTDA has put us back in the game

Now it's totally up to you.

Approx 5,000 Taxi drivers on Twitter. £25 each would be another £125,000

14718 members on the Save The Black Taxi FaceBook Group...£25 each would raise another £367,950

Surely we've all got friends and family willing to help save our jobs, just waiting to be asked. 

Then there are the Taxi garages we use to rent, buy, service our cabs....put pressure on these, after all we would be saving their businesses too.

Let's not forget the third parties who earn a living off our trade, the Credit Card companies who are expecting a windfall from taking part of our takings, insurance companies who have been raising premiums for years. These third parties should all be making sizeable contributions.

The LTDA have pledged £50,000 to the judicial review fund. 

Another £25 from each and every one of you, could secure the future of your job.

Sitting on the fence will just secure splinters in your bum.

Please pledge now and the money won't leave your account till the 14th March.


Apathy is no longer an option we need to act and to act now. Even if you've already pledged, please think about pledging again.

So far TfL have used refusal to enforce the law against us, now it's our turn to use the legal system against them.

Let's get TfL in court once and for all and save our trade.

The Horse Has Bolted.... Someone Now Wants To Close The I'm Spartacus.

It seems one trade org is betting the farm on limiting PH number as the answer to all our issues!!!

So let's have a real look at the possibilities or more likely the impossibilities of a cap on PH numbers:

1. Once someone is licensed, unless they are revoked, you can't take it away. 
There are already three times the number of PH needed for a sustainable Private Hire service.
It would take years to have an effect, just like the over licensed YB sectors.

2. TfL are licensing hundreds a week, any limit will only affect new applicants. No wonder there's a stampede.

3. The draft bill from the Law Commission is looking to bring in National Standards for PH (we can only imagine how stringent they will be!) that will likely mean, any PH operator can take a booking from anywhere as all licensing authorities will have to have the same criteria. 

4. No matter what the law says, certain operators just ignore it and the regulator caves in.

It is also rumoured that there's a backstairs understanding that the strategy is to reduce the Taxi fleet to 10,000 in any event, we have investigators on the case, so keep in touch.

Let's not put all our hopes on this as the cure all, we need to campaign for both Plying For Hire and Pre Booking to be defined.

We also need to lobby the TfL board to reject the PH Regulations consultation outcome as they are flawed.

So plenty of ammo still to fire, punters coming back every day as they realise just how good we are compared with the rest as the million spent on PR can't conceal the truth.

'Service not servitude' someone else wisely said.

I'm Spartacus.