Saturday, March 19, 2016
Friday, March 18, 2016
As expected, the board of Transport for London yesterday took a soft approved with plans to curb the soaring number of Uber cars and minicabs.
New regs on Operator Fleet Hire and Reward insurance and curbing satellite offices with clipboard johnnies, we're not carried through.
Potential minicab drivers will now have to take basic English language and “Knowledge-lite” style geography tests before driving in the capital. The scandal of taking the test in the language of your choice with the answers to the questions in front of you, will now have to stop.
Although Minicab drivers face a crackdown on insurance requirements to ensure passengers are covered for accidents, TfL fell way short of introducing the requirement of fleet operator Hire and Reward insurance.
TfL have been failing public safety by allowing vehicles to be licensed without the correct insurance being in place. This was recently highlighted by an undercover operation by LBC.
The TfL board approved most of the proposals to crackdown on minicabs at their meeting yesterday afternoon, but plans to scrap “men with clipboards” outside nightclubs who were licensed to provide minicabs have been put on hold.
The Mayor has come under growing pressure to do more to curb London’s 25,000-vehicle strong Uber, which the black cab trade claims is driving it out of business.
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the London Taxi Drivers' Association (LDTA), said the changes didn't go far enough.
He said: "TfL has wasted a huge opportunity to improve standards within the private hire industry for the benefit of drivers, passengers and other road users.
"The review of private hire regulations was aimed at improving passenger safety, and most of the proposals were sensible and endorsed by the LTDA.
"We are pleased TfL has committed to taking some of them forward, but as result of undue influence, TfL has not gone anywhere far enough.
"Introducing Hire and Reward operator insurance is the only way to categorically ensure that all passengers travelling in a private hire vehicle (PHV) in London are covered in the event of an accident.
"The failure to take this proposal forward means uninsured PHVs will continue to operate in the capital, putting Londoners at risk. The next mayor needs to address this issue as a matter of priority.
The number of private hire drivers in London has grown from 59,000 in April 2010 to about 100,000 today, contributing to congestion, pollution and illegal parking.
Boris Johnson has previously failed to persuade the Government to allow him to cap the number of minicabs.
Watch the board meeting :>Click Here<
The video below was recorded in September 2012. He situation here hasn't changed and the open touting is still going on today.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR TIME.
It is unacceptable that the government is doing nothing to stop Uber from destroying the licensed London Taxi trade, a national icon.
It has been reported in the press that Uber despite being a $50bn US headquartered company, in reality are displacing business from elsewhere, i.e. companies that would otherwise be paying tax. In the UK they pay less tax than just 4 individual London taxi drivers. I understand from an interview George Galloway did with Steve McNamara (General Secretary of the LTDA) that Uber has a company in the Netherlands where it benefits from lower tax rates.
Tfl which sets London Taxi fares argue that Uber is encouraging competition and giving consumers choice but this is at the expense of putting at risk the livelihood and eventual employment status of 25,000+ men and women who are licensed London Taxi Drivers. It is not only the drivers who are being affected but the manufacturers of London Taxis, mechanics, call centre staff and 'knowledge' trainers etc.
Tfl set licensed London Taxi fares high. Uber is aggressive with its strategy. It is offering extremely low prices, a 'race to the bottom '. This, unless stopped will leave Licensed Taxi Drivers unable to compete on price. Price is something which Licensed Taxi Drivers are unable to control. Unfortunately, as things stand, there is an obvious outcome- Uber will price so low until it is the only provider on the market. At that stage, it will be almost certain that Uber will increase its prices.
The Licensed London Taxi trade also supports the concept of Social Mobility. It is a qualification which many men and increasingly women from working class backgrounds go into.
The taxi drivers are hard working, have passed the 'knowledge' which requires high levels of skill, memory, dedication and commitment. The Licensed London Taxi trade provides good role models to future generations that perhaps without academic qualifications you can work hard to have a solid and previously secure lifelong profession. This opportunity for Social Mobility for Taxi Drivers and their families is being taken away by completely unfair competition.
The safety of London Uber customers seems to be a low priority of TfL. Firstly, Licensed London Taxi Drivers are required to have an insurance policy (Hire and Reward) which covers passengers in the unlikely event of any accidents. Uber drivers are not currently subject to the same insurance requirements which is unsafe and irresponsible. They are merely required to have Third Party Fire and Theft policies in order to get a vehicle licensed by Tfl. Such insurance only covers the third party and this lack of insurance protection allowed by Tfl is not in the best interests of the public.
Secondly it has been reported that Tfl are not keeping the public informed of the sexual attacks which are purportedly being carried out by mini cab drivers. By not sharing this information it is not allowing the public to make an informed choice about their transport options.
Finally, does it seem right that the head of our government is associated with senior Uber staff, given the involvement of the government in the support of Uber?
What do you propose to do to support the licensed London Taxi drivers?
It hasn't been a smooth ride for London Mayor Boris Johnson's flagship New Bus for London, or as it has been more recently rebranded the New Routemaster.
At the moment there are 700 in service. And putting aesthetics to one side, technically there have been problems and now we can reveal there have been more - this time concerning the power steering.
There were reportedly excessive levels of heat on the top deck and only recently have Transport for London (TfL) bosses given ground to concerns at City Hall and allowed the installation of Windows that can be opened for ventilation.
Driven by diesel or "clean and green".
The 21st Century Routemaster bus is making drivers see red. It's been alleged that at the back of a certain bus depot, there is a large pile of power batteries that no longer work. All have been removed from the new bus for London and are a crucial part of the hybrid system.
Drivers say that many buses across London are operating without them in place.
This means in some cases, what Transport for London (TfL) claims is "the most environmentally friendly bus of its type" is running solely on diesel.
In another embarrassing revelation, we've been told wiring in the power-assisted steering has had to be replaced in 468 of the new buses.
It means a recall notice has been issued by the government's Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), as the "power assisted steering may become non-functional".
The replacements were carried out by the manufacturer Wrightbus at London garages between October 2015 and February 2016.
Critics say the whole New Bus for London scheme is nothing more than a rushed vanity project.
It would have been far more sensible to buy cheaper existing hybrid buses.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
I would like to add a personal message to my earlier tweet of thanks to the Mayfair Mob and the UCG for their support of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans (more traditionally known as the London Benevolent Association for War Disabled).
As most of you will know, numerous drivers give up their time to take our veterans on trips to destinations such as Worthing, Arnhem and Normandy among many others. This is a wonderful way of thanking the ex military for their service to Britain. By the same token, however, we can never overlook the exceptional contribution that the drivers make through volunteering.
You will be aware that I am not a taxi driver myself. Nevertheless I am all too familiar with the problems that have beset the trade over the last couple of years in particular, and the hard time that is being experienced right now. And this is where you and your amazing trade show your outstanding colours.
The charity is taking veterans to Ypres in May. As always drivers have stood up to be counted regardless of the current dearth of work and this in itself is extraordinary. In addition, when I know there are numerous calls on you to make a range of donations, it is marvellous that both the Mayfair Mob and the UCG have each agreed to sponsor a cab for this trip. It is this vein of selflessness that runs through the cab trade, combined with the justifiable pride that you all have in your calling that leaves me with a sense of awe.
To the Mayfair Mob, the UCG and all the drivers I would like to express my personal gratitude.
Frances Luczyc Wyhowska
Private technology equity in Silicon Valley has experienced unprecedented and uncontrolled growth in past years, resulting in a current correction in valuations as growth slows. This issue may lead to a major crash later this year bearing similarity to major technology crashes in the past.
After a run up of stock valuations of technology companies over the past 5 years, Silicon Valley is in the midst of a major correction. However, this should not be a surprise to many because major corrections similar to this seem to occur roughly every seven years — 2001, 2008, 2016.
One of the most significant crashes in technology history was the dot-com crash of 2001. The dot-com bubble grew from 1997 to 1999 when there was a great surge in equity markets fueled by investments. However, during the years between 1999 and 2001, there was a major decrease in the values of these technology companies, which devastated Silicon Valley.
During this bust, many companies completely failed, and those that did not deteriorate entirely lost a large portion of their market capitalization. During the entire crash there was a loss of five trillion dollars in the market values of tech companies.
As the valuations of the public technology companies have skyrocketed over the past few years, so have the valuations of the private companies that have tried to emulate them. During this time, venture capitalists not wanting to miss out on profits have been more than willing to pay their prices.
As a result, 146 unicorns were created. A unicorn is a private technology company that is valued at more than one billion dollars. The only problem was that very few of these unicorns had the money from investments to support their valuations.
So when the public market stopped issuing IPOs this quarter, and the valuations of many public technology companies started dropping, the dominoes started falling.
As a result, the valuations of the unicorns trying to piggyback on the success of the public companies by comparing themselves to the successes of the public companies so investors will view them as more successful. And most of these unicorns reside right here in Silicon Valley. Even the seemingly most successful of the unicorns — Uber, Snapchat, Airbnb — have had huge drops in valuations. Some unicorns valuations have dropped by up to 50%.
Recently, the venture capitalists supporting their portfolios have sounded the call to cut expenses because the many venture capitalists may not be investing in companies anytime soon. The venture capitalists are curtailing their investments to conserve their capital so companies will have a possibility of a future. With the IPO market shut down, there are very few places left to get necessary capital.
The crash will cause many smaller privately-owned companies to fail, and there will be far fewer technology companies in Silicon Valley. Many unicorns will likely die because they are losing money too rapidly, so no one will be willing to give them more money to stay alive. Private companies are more affected by this because they have not secured an IPO at this point, so it is harder for them to support their company financially. Many of the companies that have gone public are not in the same situation because they do not rely on venture capitalists for investments to keep their companies alive. The unicorns with more substantial businesses will be able to stay alive, but they will have to slow their growth rate because they will have less capital to use. This will cause layoffs at many private technology companies, especially the unicorns.
If the companies can get financing, it will be at a much, much lower valuation. So we are starting a period where tech companies will start to cut expenses in a bid to get profitable. It will likely take a few years and lead to layoffs, but once profitable the companies will then gain value and the market for IPO’s will eventually open again. Unfortunately, most of the unicorns will likely die in the process.
People should be more aware of this recurring cycle of crashes in private tech companies so that we can work on a solution to this cycle. If we are slightly more cognizant of the process of reevaluations of tech companies, they can be better informed about factors that can affect their own daily lives.
Breaking News : Action For Cabbies Crowdfunding Page Has Just Been Updated To Show 22 Day extension.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
At the end of yesterday's cabbie talk session on London Taxi Radio, presenter SEAN PAUL DAY made a special announcement about the LTDA in regards to the Action For Cabbies crowdfunding Judicial Reveiw.
It seems that many questions have been left unanswered after a phone call was made to the LTDA's Richard Masset, as Steve McNamara was "Unavailable"
Sean also spoke about the LTDA's alleged connection to LTDA enterprise.
This 16 minute 44 second snippet from the show is a must listen, if you an LTDA member.
Sean also announced yesterday that the crowdfunding appeal has been given an extension, in order to give the LTDA time to release a proper statement.
Tomorrows branch meeting being held in Battersea, looks like being one of the most important branch meetings ever held by the LTDA.
>CLICK HERE TO LISTEN <
Monday, March 14, 2016
Mind the £900m Gap
- TfL spent £85m to get out of a failed signalling contract
- It now has almost £900 million less to spend on transport improvements
- Tube upgrade programme is five years behind schedule
Today the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee releases the report “Transport for London’s Signal Failure” – which examines the circumstances behind the appointment of Bombardier Transport to upgrade signalling on the District, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines.
Transport for London (TfL) ultimately paid £85 million to cancel the contract with Bombardier Transport in 2013, two years after appointment, but the ramifications of the deal are still being felt. The Sub-Surface Upgrade Programme (SSUP) is now five years behind schedule and is forecast to cost nearly £900 million more than originally expected.
A culmination of nearly three years’ work scrutinising TfL’s Sub-Surface Upgrade Programme, the report highlights how poor commercial expertise and a lack of IT procurement skills left TfL ill-prepared to appoint a suitable contractor for the project, and vulnerable enough to be duped into a contract which Bombardier was never able to deliver.
It draws attention to a culture at TfL which meant that management was only interested in presenting good news and was in denial about the progress and effectiveness of the programme, allowing it to continue for much longer than it should have.
Appointing Bombardier and then waiting over two years to end the contract has bigger long term costs for TfL and Londoners. Eleven million fewer journeys than expected will take place on the underground per year between 2017 and 2023: which is estimated will cost TfL another £271 million in lost fares.
John Biggs AM, Chairman of the Budget and Performance Committee, said:
“This is nothing short of a disaster for London. Neither TfL nor Bombardier’s management teams were up to the task of managing the programme, but it is Londoners that will ultimately pay the price in travel delays and inefficiencies.”
What is most remarkable about this affair is that no-one in TfL has been held to account, and the Mayor, who chairs its board, serenely and indifferently acts as if a £900 million increase to the budget isn’t an issue. In government, heads – political or official – would roll after such financial mismanagement. At TfL the key players have been promoted and nobody was to blame. It is a scandal. ”
The Italian taxi drivers are back on the warpath and promise to block Rome on March 18, when they will strike against the government and Uber.
The scheme, now, is repeated identically across Europe from London to Paris where Uber has a license. The American company is always in the news with its controversial online application – via smartphone or iPad – offering users a new way of using cars: You only pay by credit card and drivers receive get to rate you. Giving the impression of a computer game.
Traditional taxi drivers have attempted to replicate, but for the time being continue to denounce as unfair competition from Uber.
In Rome Taxi orgs promise to introduce more than ten thousand drivers from all Italian cities to protest against the deregulation of their sectors, explain the national leaders of the taxi drivers’ unions. Amendments to the law 21/92 (the standard framework of public transport, ed) would favor oligopolies and multinationals, at the expense of the public service “.
The goal is to gridlock the city, which recently happened in London, where over 8000 Black Cab London paralyzed Whitehall.
Also, in Paris, just 1500 cars managed to block access to the airports of Charles de Gaulle and Orly, sparking an urban guerrilla war scenario with burning tires and tear gas.
Taxi groups in Italy, have long been calling for stricter regulation in regards to Uber.
Previously in December last year, the government would had to intervene with the approval of the decree milleproroghe, but then on Christmas Eve, they decided to postpone everything for a year.
In January, then, the senator of the Democratic Party, Linda Lanzillotta, tabled an amendment to the bill in which she asks to make recording of all journeys on platforms required (including Uber) and the identification “of requirements and obligations for drivers in order to ensure road safety and the safety of passengers. Both with reference to the efficiency of the cars and the suitability of drivers, including adequate insurance coverage for the transport of persons. Plus an intervention that would serve to regulate the service by preventing anyone who is simply entitled to drive, but does not have a license for hire and reward.
Simultaneously, the amendment provides for an amendment to the obligations of the car drivers, to have a garage in the municipality which issued the authorisation licence, in short, no cross boarder hirings.
Taxi drivers protests have been strong enough to push the Democratic Party to reflect deeply. It is expected, that the government will back this. This is a trial of intention, as the government and the speakers have not yet fully announced their intentions.
Uber however, is not expecting any intervention says Senator Salvatore Tomaselli, “the amendments are part of the free, autonomous initiative of parliamentarians. As soon as the issue is ripe, we will present, our proposals are the result of the comparison with the associations of the representatives of the taxi drivers.
He went on to say: "No one wants to deregulate or impoverish the sector of public service provided by taxi drivers, which is critical. Another thing is to modernize the entire public transport sector, non-scheduled with the aim of creating a more efficient market and better services to consumers."
Sunday, March 13, 2016
3D came to life through two Licensed London Taxi Driving Grandfathers, who had five daughters. Their concern was for the welfare of their loved ones travelling in cabs.
A fight against a government supported conglomerate 'Uber', brought to light the danger of a poorly regulated system, where rape, sexual assault and physical assaults had gone through the roof, at the behest of those who stand to gain financially from deregulation.
We live on the edge of Greater London, were Private Hire is more prevalent than Black Taxis.
The more we looked into the poorly regulated system, the more we knew we had no choice but to take the fight to the enemy. A powerful enemy, worth billions of dollars, with many governments in their pockets.
It is our opinion that the general public are our strength.
Why would they care about cab law, meters, plying for hire, or even hire and reward insurance?
But like my co conspirator and myself, they do care greatly about the safety and wellbeing of their loved ones.
We are fathers first - taxi drivers second.