Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Shocking Statistics, TFL Don't Want You To Know...by Jim Thomas.


Below, London Taxi Radio's Sean Paul Day, talks about the shocking statistics recently obtained by Freedom of Information request, that show between February 2015 and February 2016, there has been 154 serious sexual assaults (including rape), carried out by Private Hire drivers on their passengers.

Considering that in the Met Police's own 'Problem Orientated Policing' report (Clapham), it states, only 20% of minicab related sexual assaults are ever reported, the true number of attacks is more likely to be around 770.

These latest statistics obtained from the Met police also state, "of these attacks on passengers, 32 were allegedly carried out by Uber drivers". 

This is a second set of statistics tha have had to be obtained under  FOI request this year, as TfL and the Met have tried desperately to keep this information from the public....incase it put people off using Private Hire Vehicles.

This type of media blackout from TfL is unacceptable. These statistics should be made available to every member of the public, as the safety of PH passengers should be paramount. 



    

Urgent, AskPOB Your Help Needed....What Are Your Thoughts On Credit Card Printers?


Dear driver,

Thank you for your continued support. 
AskPOB is a recognised consultation tool used within the trade, and now by our regulator TfL.

Several taxi stakeholders, including LCDC, want to know your thoughts on credit card printers. 

The data collected from this consultation will be presented and discussed on Turesday 19th of April at a TfL trade meeting on the subject of credit card printers.

Your participation is vital and this consultation will close Midnight Monday 18th April 2016.

Please click link below to take part.

AskPOB gives you, the driver, a direct voice on matters that directly affect you. 

Please do not hesitate contacting us if you have any questions and please share with all drivers.
 
Many thanks,
 
Perry Richardson
AskPOB Founder



Friday, April 15, 2016

Uber's Aggressive Tactics, Impacting Private Hire Market Share....by Gerald Coba.


With Uber’s incredibly deep pockets, aggressive tactics and seemingly unstoppable growth, it’s unsurprising that we are now beginning to witness difficult times for other startups playing in the taxi and private hire vehicle booking space.

Case in point is Minicabster, a UK based minicab price comparison and booking app that raised 2 million pounds in funding since being founded in 2011. We understand that the startup entered administration last month, a voluntary process in the UK when a company has incurred debt that it is unlikely to be able to repay.

According to a regulatory filing, administrators were appointed at the end of February, charged with finding a buyer for some or all of Minicabster’s assets. And, in the last day or so, that’s exactly what appears to have happened.

It's been learned that a company called Transport Innovation, which operates a taxi freephone calling service, the type typically found placed in supermarkets which advertise minicabs as Taxis, has purchased some of the startup’s assets. It’s not clear specifically, what these entail and whether or not they include Minicabster’s user base and contracts with cab firms or just its technology.

Confirming the acquisition, Paul Murray, CEO of Transport Innovation, would say only that the company has bought the “technical assets” of Minicabster not the company itself, declining to provide any further financial details or otherwise. 

 “We are considering our strategic options,” he wrote in an email when asked why Transport Innovation has purchased some of the startup’s assets.

Minicabster’s assets sold for around £45,000 — so certainly a fire sale if we are to presume that included the startup’s customer base. I also understand that the administrators talked to just about everybody in the minicab booking space, including Taxicode, who were keen on a purchase, and Karhoo, who declined, according to sources.

Meanwhile, Minicabster company director Irshad Khan confirmed that the troubled company is in administration and that a buyer of sorts has been found. “Minicabster was part of a sale process, which completed recently,” he said in a statement, adding that the minicab market is becoming “exceedingly tough with the increased costs towards customer acquisition” and the challenges faced by minicab operators in retaining quality drivers.

I understand the latter is a direct reference to the extremely aggressive tactics and resulting growth of Uber and specifically the high rates it pays at weekends and other periods of high demand when surge pricing kicks in. I’m told that it’s not uncommon for minicab drivers to work for the types of minicab firms listed on apps like Minicabster Monday to Thursday and then to move over to Uber Friday night to Sunday where they can make a lot more cash. This creates a real problem maintaining service levels on competing taxi apps as demand outstrips supply.

Not the same but related perhaps, black taxi app Gett recently announced its intent to acquire a taxi firm of its own in the form of Radio Taxis, presumably to mitigate any future supply-side problem.

“Going forward, I see minicab operators and other minicab apps facing testing times as Uber spends more to gain market share regardless of the CPA/LTV making economical sense,” adds Khan.

Moving on, Khan has launched coach booking app CoachScanner. The coach market, of course, is one yet to be touched by Uber....give it time!

           Who Will Be Next?

      >Click Here For a Full Article<





Uber Confirm Data Received, 'Most Likely Came From TfL' : Plus AdVan Message Lost On Public.

On Tuesday 12th April, Taxi Leaks posted a letter from Sean Paul Day that accused TfL of assisting private enterprise by sharing your data.

Many people were unconvinced, saying TfL wouldn't stoop so low as to share Taxi drivers personal data with a main competitor such as Uber

In an email received today, we find Uber saying the information they received, most likely came from......TfL

Below is the email sent by help.uber.com Julie Erenst, to one of London's Gold Standard Taxi drivers

        AbVan Message, Lost On Public:

Many drivers are concerned that the message, currently being displayed on the LTDA's AdVan
Is being lost on night revellers outside the Clubs bars and restaurants in Central London 


So we've designed a posters, which we believe drives home a message, the public needs to see.


Appeal : Cyclists Lobby Shutting Down More Of South London's Access.


Don't know if any South London cabbies are aware of this, but there's a proposal to close Dr Johnson Avenue, which runs up the middle of Tooting Common, to traffic, and to ban right turns off Tooting Bec Road on to Elmbourne Road. This will limit the number of routes traffic can use to get from Tooting to Balham. 

This has been presented as a way of "re-greening" the Common (though Dr J Ave has been there for centuries) and making the Tooting Bec Road safer.

In reality, it has been another local cycle lobby initiative: they succeeded in semi-chicaning Bedford Hill, failed to have Fishponds Road SW17 traffic-calmed in favour of pushbikes and are now having a go here. 


Last day to complete the Wandsworth Council opinion poll…

http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/DrJ

Someone has started a 38 degrees petition – useful if only because the bike lobby last year claimed that 2000 people had signed some sort of similar thing voting to close Dr J Ave….

So please click on link below and sign the petition


https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/ResidentsSayNO


Cheers

Ann Oliver
London SW16

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Letter To The Editor : Police Harassing Taxi Drivers Queuing To Join Ranks...by Paul Sweeney.


Another day and another directive from TFL to the Metropolitan Police, to hound and hassle every Cabbie in London. 

As you are all aware, to join the rank at Paddington, you start via Harrow road roundabout junction. However, Met police are issuing tickets to cabbies who are at the process of trying to join the rank. 


Police manpower has been substantially reduced, but it seems the Met can still fine the resources to have permanent officers stationed at upper Tachbrook Street and Victoria Coach station, to stop the heinous crime of over ranking, while private hire drivers are aloud to double park in Pancras Road with impunity


This ongoing harassment of drivers has hit boiling point now. It is believed throughout the trade that TFL are behind this campaign. 

Why haven't we seen trade ranks and highways reps travelling down to the problem areas and looking into this huge problem. I am sure, If just one of them came down and spoke to the Met and started gathering evidence, it could be a huge vote winner. 

Drivers are currently being left, like Lambs to the slaughter. Why are iconic London taxi trade being victimised ?
Are any of the Orgs going to tackle this problem NOW ?

Editorial Comment :
TfL and local councils have been reducing the number of standings for Taxis by stealth over the past few decades.

Just look at the ranks that have disappeared from along Oxford Street, Regent Street, Shaftsbury Avenue.

In the late 50's there was 1 rank space for every Taxi, now it's about 65-70 Taxis to every rank space. 
Where do they expect us to go when it's quiet?

With London's air quality currently worst in Europe, surely it's beneficial to have as many vehicles as possible stationary with the engine turned off, than driving round in circles spewing out diesel fumes, looking for a space on the back of a rank.

Perhaps we should start urinating and defecating in people's gardens around Pimlico and Paddington....and they might give us large feeder parks along Vauxhall bridge Road and North Wharf Road, like they've arranged at Heathrow for Uber.

Why are we suddenly seeing this harassment from the Met, when it's perfectly clear they are turning a blind eye to the increasing amount of illegally parked PH vehicles every evening into the early hours, especially in the Mayfair and Soho areas. 
It's alleged these directives are coming directly from TfLTPH.

But as Paul mentioned in his letter, where are our rank and highways reps? 

They take our money as subs, but when was the last time you saw a rep from any org, arguing the toss with an officer, (PCO or Met) harassing drivers on a rank?

Perhaps we need to see some all trade action, in answer to TfL's unfair harassment.

If the reps can pay themselves to have all trade meetings at Heathrow, then they should also be available to look after the interests of the rank and file members out there on the street.  

If TfL and the Met want to see an amicable solution to this problem, then they need to make available more resources and embark on a program of expansion of rank spaces both new and extending existing locations. Obviously, this should be done in league with local councils and all trade representative bodies.

Please feel free to use the comment section below to suggest new ranks and extensions. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

MP Wes Streeting's Ten Minute Bill Runs Out Of Time.

Many drivers pinned there hopes on the Taxi trades lobby of parliament, which resulted in a 10 minute bill from Wes Streeting, being read in the house.

We've now been informed that it's not going to get the preposed second reading. Apparently the time has run out in this parliamentary session.

The Bill asked for certain changes mainly targeted at Uber which, had it gone all the way, would have improved their image, improved their credibility and greatly expanded their public acceptance. 

But to be honest, I couldn't see the rationale behind the bill in the first place.
 
Making sure they can all speak English, making them pass advanced driving tests, making sure they all have adequate insurance, plus adequate background checks, is not going to put them off the road and it certainly won't get the public flooding back to Taxis.

It will just make them more credible, more accountable and even more acceptable to the general public.

Personally, I prefer them to remain as they are now, an inferior, unreliable and dangerous service.

  

Editorial Comment :
We should be lobbing parliament for primary legislation to be able to cap the number of PH licenses and reduce the over supply, which is currently killing off the licensed Taxi trade and regular Private hire services alike.

We should be lobbying for TfL to be made accountable for woefully failing to uphold current legislation, which its not enforcing.

This multi-billion dollar company is over saturating the market, forcing competition out, aided by a regulatory body which allows them to circumnavigate case law and legislation. 

It would also be nice to see them having to pay their fair share of tax. 

Uber sends private investigator to question former employee suspected of leaking ‘rape’ searches.


The extraordinarily broad reach of Uber across the world and their questionable process for screening and hiring drivers has a lot of people worried about what the next negative PR bomb will be. 

Back in March, we heard allegations of a high number of reports of rape and sexual assault in Uber’s customer service database, with the company quickly rebutted the numbers and attempted to explain why screenshots of searches appeared to show numbers that were not grounded in real complaint cases. 

Uber said the word "Rape" had been the product of misspelling the word "Rate", although they gave no alternative misspelling from the words "Sexual Assault".


The story now takes on an added level of weirdness as reports that one former customer service employee based in Portland received an at-home visit from an “investigator from California” working on behalf of Uber, who allegedly came to her apartment to question and intimidate her and (the woman claims) entered her apartment illegally, even though she told him he was not welcome. 

Morgan Richardson, who used to work for Uber in Portland, says she had already been contacted by Uber’s legal security and law enforcement director just before the original article appeared, on March 4. 

He questioned her about leaking screenshots of rape and sexual assault searches in the company’s Zendesk customer support software, and proceeded to contact her again after the article published on March 6. 

She was informed of the leaked screenshots, from March 3, with Uber demanding she hand over any information she had and disclose to whom she had given it. 

Uber is taking the stance that Richardson, or possibly another employee or employees, were leaking private information about customers (even though the screenshots had all names redacted), saying they are “unsurprisingly concerned that sensitive, personal and confidential data has been shared with people outside Uber.” 

The official Uber statement adds, “We believe that any company in a similar situation would do exactly the same.” 

But would any company really send private investigators around to knock on former employees’ doors at 7:30 a. m. and say things like, “Do I scare you?” and “This is not going to go away you know”?
 
That’s what Richardson is alleging, via an attorney, in a cease and desist letter dated March 29. 

Further, she says, the visit from the strange man on March 25 included him knocking on her door loudly for five minutes, pressing his ear to her door, and looking inside her mailbox before she ultimately opened the door. 

Also she claims the man illegally trespassed in her apartment after she’d already refused to let him in. She says he stepped into her apartment while she was going to look for a pen. A local San Francisco news outlet asked Uber about how many current or former employees they might be similarly investigating, but Uber would not answer that on the record. 

All that the company would say is that the investigator who visited Ms. Richardson is “a seasoned, older gentleman in his 70's and at no time did he enter her home, attempt to intimidate her or even notice a mailbox.” They also say, “The investigator knocked once and the conversation lasted two minutes.” 

So let's just take stock for a moment. An aged security employee in his 70's allegedly travels/drives from California to Portland, Oregon, to have a two minute conversation with a former Uber employee!!! 

This of course is his version of the story versus hers. Uber say the investigation is ongoing, and clarify that Ms. Richardson was only a contract employee. 

“We strongly believe that we have an obligation to look into situations like this, where sensitive information is shared and we always do. Any customer service contractor who shared this type of information publicly violated multiple policies both with Uber and the third party employing them.” the company says. 


Original screenshots show 5,827 support results showing the keyword “rape” between December 2012 and August 2015.” 


Also, there appeared to be 6,160 results for “sexual assault” and 382 results for “sexually assaulted".

This of course follows on from 2014 reports of Uber exec Emil Michael claiming to have spent $1 million on “opposition researchers” to dig up dirt on and discredit a journalist who was similarly making claims regarding sexual assault risks and Uber drivers. 


The Uber Executive bragged about an idea to spend $1 Million, to investigate certain journalists’ private lives.


Source : SFist

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2911 Private Hire Drivers Are Using EU Based Licenses Rather Than UK.


   

It's What The Public Wants: 
2911 Private Hire Drivers Using EU Based Licenses Rather Than UK Licenses


Upon the request of a Private Hire Driver member GMB made an freedom of information request based on intelligence that some drivers are using EU driving Licences to obtain licensing here.

A further allegation based on information by a private hire driver member has been made in relation to these licenses we will update when we are aware of the outcome.

As this has been received and is in the public domain we are releasing information immediately 

2.9% – of Private Hire drivers i.e. 2911 TFL Licensed Private hire Drivers in London do not hold a UK license.

We are not too sure of the insurance ramifications and will check as this may be an issue.

More to follow.

Dear Mr Garelick

TfL Ref: FOI-2464-1516

Thank you for your email which we received on 17 March 2016 asking for information about the driving licences held by licensed private hire drivers. 

Your request has been considered under the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and Transport for London’s (TfL’s) information access policy and I can confirm that we do not hold the information you have requested. You asked for:

Data in relation to Private Hire Driver License’s granted using Non UK driving licenses. I would be appreciative of a country by country breakdown.

All drivers must have a UK or EEA licence. As of 24 March 2016, 97.1 % of private hire drivers are UK licence holders and 2.9% are EEA licence holders. 

Licence Type Active Private Hire Vehicle Drivers % of Total
UK 97,590 97.1%
EEA 2,911 2.9%
100,501

Source: www.gmbdrivers.org

Have you downloaded the new trade app TaxiPoint? Get all the trade news delivered direct to your phone and in one central place. Download for FREE here - www.askpob.com/#!taxipoint

Your Data, Being Sold To Interested Third Parties.



So, I wonder who told Uber, Aygun was a Taxi Driver?

The Question that needs to be answered! 

Established:  Transport for London has an Open Data Policy.  

I am of the understanding that TFL are, where commercially and technically viable, committed to syndicating open data to third parties,  

I am of the opinion that this policy of acquiesce escalates data from public to super-public, which is then used ultra virally by Uber Technologies for recruitment purposes?  

If this is the case, we should instruct TFL to remove all data pertaining to us. Unequivocally, I do not want my public data (or 'open data') being released for developers to use in Uber’s own software. Further,  if it is being sold, considering TFL’s obsession with the cost index, then why am I not getting a cut of the profits.  

TFL’s dire ability to synchronise  all transport options has a lot to do with their proclivity for the stick rather than the carrot which has only exasperated the  malignant relationship  between the taxi trade and transport for London.  

Disingenuously, the Government and Tfl’s adoration of the Corporate market presents the great taxi debate as a question of a monopoly versus competition? Leon Daniels’ assertion that it is not his place to interfere with the market, is the very reason he should not continue in his position on Surface Transport. 

In any metropolis, to discount  a social concept interjects a fallacy in composition. London has an increasingly finite number of roads, and due to the way we shop on line, this  space has to serve many requirements, not least expanding amounts of traffic. It's true that fewer families own cars but delivery services en masse, negate their impact.  

TFL would love us all to work from the Uber platform, but it's not TFL that holds the power of balance. As we have seen, there is increasing competition for a scarce resource, effectively, supply (road space) cannot meet demand (public/private transport, bicycles, an intensifying built environment) 

No doubt about it, where state regulation fails, private enterprise regulation in the form of cartels rise up and ensure they are not impeded by the limits of social concepts.  

TFL and its board of vested interests have demonstrated that they are unable to balance the equitable use of a scarce resource and at the same time made enemies of the only industry that could see flaws in their operation clearer than navigating their way from Manor House to Gibson Square.  

If TFL have shared taxi driver data with Uber, then it's just more of the state assisting  private enterprise.  

To readdress the balance, the big question TFL need to answer is, what are they doing to promote the licensed taxi trade, in and of itself? If the answer is nothing, then I strongly 

believe that we cannot any longer be regulated by a board that has no comprehension of why the transience of a major city cannot be solely reliant on market forces.  

Sean Paul Day 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Illegal Positive Action...Ethnic Knowledge : Tribunal Decision Is Important Trade Win....Gerald Coba.

This decision relates to an information request made way back in July 2014. TfL were asked certain probing questions about their 'positive action' / 'ethnic encouragement' campaign in an FOI request. And as TfL refused to answer, a complaint was made to the Information Commissioner's Office. The ICO backed TfL's refusal to answer. But confident that their decision was legally flawed, the matter was then taken to a tribunal, where under proper judicial scrutiny, the ICO's decision was overturned, and TfL were found guilty of breaking the Freedom of Information Act.

The real significance of this decision, however, arises from the fact that TfL's excuses for not providing the requested information were identical to the excuses that they have used to deny that their 'positive action' campaign was illegal. Thus it can be considered as a backdoor judgement on that campaign - and its illegality.

TfL had argued that that their campaign didn't constitute 'positive action' because it didn't involve any 'direct support' and because it wasn't 100% exclusive in its targetting. These bogus excuses (which appear to have originated from the cover-up team - rather than legal team) were comprehensively dismissed. 

The tribunal's decision has provided a platform from which to advance this important issue. And it will reinvigorate the campaign to bring justice and redress to the victims of TfL's illegal 'positive action'. It's an important step forward, and an important confidence builder - as TfL has been exposed as having no legitimate defence. And we now have something from an authoritive source.

It's obviously not comparable to getting Uber banned, but it's still a legal victory over TfL- and they don't come easy. And by breaking the law, and trying to cover up this problem they have added to the harrassment case against them. 

Realistically, this problem can only be solved by means of financial compensation. And that is unlikely to happen without TfL being brought to court. That is the next step. 

IN THE FIRST-TIER TRIBUNAL Case No. Appeal No. EA/2015/0152 GENERAL REGULATORY CHAMBER INFORMATION RIGHTS
ON APPEAL FROM Information Commissioner’s Decision Notice FS50566301 Dated 29th June 2015

BETWEEN Mr Colin Jackson And

The Information Commissioner

Determined at a paper hearing on 2nd February 2016 Date of Decision 7TH April 2016
Date of Promulgation 8th April 2016

BEFORE Ms Fiona Henderson (Judge) Mr Michael Hake

And
Mr John Randall

Subject: s1 FOIA whether information held

Decision: The Appeal is allowed