Saturday, April 23, 2016

Wes Streeting Says "I'll Continue To Fight To Save Taxi Trade".


MP Wes Streeting has vowed to keep up the pressure to save the taxi trade after calling for better regulation of private hire cars in the House of Commons.

The MP for Ilford North, wants stricter laws governing the private hire car trade, which includes minicab drivers working for Uber.

He had tabled a private member’s bill but a second reading scheduled for Yesterday, will not be going ahead.

Mr Streeting said: “Unfortunately, because Parliament has run out of time, my bill will not get a second reading this time, but the campaign goes on.

“Having put the issue on the agenda in Parliament in front of the Chancellor, the focus will now shift onto working with the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), the London Cab Drivers Club and others to keep up the pressure on the government and the next Mayor of London to take real action to save the taxi trade.”

Drivers of London’s black taxis have a long-standing feud with Uber, which allows users to speedily hire a cab through a smartphone app. Many believe the drivers are not being regulated properly over insurance, taxes, plying for trade and driving ability. 

Mr Streeting introduced the Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Operators Regulation bill with a short speech, known as a 10-minute rule, last month. He called for all drivers of private hire vehicles (PHVs) to take additional tests that show they have the necessary skills and knowledge, as well for regulation around taxes and insurance.

Mr Streeting has also raised concerns that Uber drivers often choose not to pick up blind people with guide dogs after a survey said this was “all too common an issue with private hire vehicles”, adding that passengers had faced sexual discrimination from some drivers. 

In response to accusations about drivers not having adequate insurance, an Uber spokesman said: “Every driver that partners with Uber has the correct full commercial insurance and Uber keeps a record of every policy. When a policy expires the driver can’t take trips until a new policy is in place.”

On the guide dog accusations, they added: “Uber celebrates diversity and does not tolerate any form of discrimination whatsoever.”

Also in Parliament this week, Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) said:

"We have regular meetings with the Mayor of London and discuss a range of topics including the Private Hire Vehicle trade.

"The respective standards between taxis and private hire veh"icles are a matter for the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL)".

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, Blasts Uber For Poor Treatment Of Workers


Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak just threw some shade at Uber. 

On Monday, at the Future Transport Summit in Sydney, Australia, Wozniak denounced the ride-hailing company’s disputed labor practices and critiqued what he sees as its monopolistic ambitions

“Like a lot of people, I have some distrust of Uber and how their drivers don’t really realize at first that they aren’t making much money, maybe losing money on the wear and tear of their cars,” Wozniak told reporters at the summit. 

“That’s how I think of Uber: Not very nice thoughts,” Wozniak added. 

David Rohrsheim, general manager of Uber in Australia, responded to Wozniak’s remarks by noting that Uber drivers have a job with rare flexibility. 

“It has to be a good deal for partners or otherwise they won’t use the platform,”. 

Wozniak isn’t alone in criticizing the app. Class-action lawsuits filed by Uber drivers in California and Michigan argue that the company wrongly classifies its workers as independent contractors, allowing it to drive down their wages and withhold benefits. As contractors, drivers are exempt from minimum wage requirements and don’t receive certain state and federal benefits. Both lawsuits contend that Uber drivers are, in fact, employees, a designation that comes with greater labor protections

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest organized by the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance against ridesharing services Uber and Lyft in 2015. 

Wozniak added that he’d prefer to use Lyft from now on. 

Lyft, which is Uber’s main competitor in the U.S., agreed in January to expand benefits for drivers. Lyft drivers can no longer be fired at will and have the right to settle termination and pay disputes through arbitration. Despite those gains, Lyft drivers, like Uber drivers, are still considered independent contractors.

Wozniak told reporters he’d also like to see more competition in the ride-sharing market. “I would rather there be a lot of competitive forces,” Wozniak said. “I’d like there to be four or five choice that are like Uber anywhere you go.”

The Woz might get his wish. Several new ride-sharing services are scheduled to hit roads soon. Chariot fit Women, which launches Tuesday, is an alternative ride-sharing service with all-women drivers, exclusively for women. Another service, Juno, hopes to become Uber’s mirror opposite. It’s drivers will not only have employee status, but will also get equity in the company, in addition to several other perks. 

Despite his concerns about Uber, overall, Wozniak isn’t too worried about the sorts of economic changes Uber represents. 

“You might come up with a new technology and some old jobs disappear and there are robots building cars,” he said. “Well, the jobs pop up somewhere else. The economy just shifts, it moves.”

Source: Huffingtonpost.com

Taxi Drivers, Getting The Message Across, Promoting Safer Travel At Night...by Jim Thomas

Ive posted on many occasions, about the amazing work being carried out, at night, by a small bunch of militant Taxi drivers, involved in taking back the rank work being lost to touts. 


Identifiable by their distinctive lanyards and window stickers, they call themselves the Mayfair Mob. But, their work is not confined to the small area around Mayfair. 
This mysterious group operate right across London from Shoreditch, through the City of London, Soho, Mayfair, Chelsea, Kensington and all the way to Shepherds Bush (the home of British football).

With help from the group's own brilliant ranks and highways agent, they've had new ranks appointed and implemented, plus old ranks extended and repainted. 


But best of all, they've been highly effective in taking back work, lost to touts and bent door staff. We've actually seen a reduction in dodgy firms working the doors of clubs.

The Mayfair Mob are a collection of independent drivers from all orgs and unions. Their Philosophy is, "it's not the lanyard that matters, it's he badge on the end the counts'. Membership requires, a clean cab, no brooming and acceptance of card payments on any journey.

Most nights, and always on specific hits, the mob have been supported by the AdVan, sponsored by the LTDA. 

Over the passed few months, there's been concern over the message displayed on the posters. Although most drivers understood, the message was completely lost on the majority of night revellers. A definite missed opportunity.

It's a unbelievable what we as a trade have to put up with. Clipboard men now stalk custom outside on the pavement and a new phenomenon...the mobile booking office.



But yesterday, the LTDA launched a fantastic new poster (also to be conveyed on flyers and receipt pads, available from the driver of the AdVan and Taxi House) with a hard hitting message that shows the public just how unsafe unrecorded minicab journeys can be.

This message is crystal clear and will not be lost on the public. 

BREAKING NEWS :
First night out and driver reports getting  abuse from Uber drivers 



Friday, April 22, 2016

Buying Off A Ruling That Could Ruin Them ? : Uber faces $100 million bill to end drivers’ dispute


Uber faces $100 million bill to end drivers’ dispute

Uber has agreed to pay up to $100 million (£70 million) to settle a pair of US lawsuits that mean the minicab app gets to keep drivers as contractors rather than employees.

In a case that has gripped Silicon Valley and sparked protests against the controversial tech firm, a lawsuit had claimed drivers are employees and should be entitled to reimbursement of expenses.

The agreement will spare Uber from a jury trial in San Francisco that was set for June.

As part of the settlement, which must be approved by a judge, Uber will stump up $84 million to be distributed to 385,000 drivers in California and Massachusetts. A further $16 million could be paid, subject to conditions.

The firm will also work to create a drivers’ association in both states and revise practices such as deactivating drivers from the app without much warning.

In a blog post titled “growing and growing up”, Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick said: “We haven’t always done a good job working with drivers.”



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Are TfL Dragging Their Feet Over Uninsured Uber And PH Drivers? The Tech Is Available Now.



Below is a press release from Plan Insurance Brokers, who have developed a system which could put a stop to uninsured Private Hire Vehicles fraud overnight. 

PRESS RELEASE:

TfL Ticked off by Minicab Insurance Fraud

TfL consult Tech Savvy Brokerage to tackle uninsured taxi and private hire drivers.

TfL have met with Plan Insurance Brokers to discuss innovative methods of confronting the widespread issue of taxi insurance fraud. Plan came to the regulator’s attention after outlining plans on social media for an online portal with the working title Taxi Insurance Checker (TIC.)  

UBER
Private hire regulation has received greater scrutiny in the last 18 months due the emergence of taxi booking apps such as Uber that have seen driver numbers increase by 62% since 2010. Outdated systems for detection can no longer cope with the volume of drivers.

BLACK CAB DRIVERS
London’s cabbies have staged demonstrations due to what they deem to be a soft touch approach to the enforcement of existing rules on these companies by TFL. The regulator has subsequently issued a raft of new measures aimed at addressing the ongoing problems.

Together with the GMB Union Professional Drivers’ Branch and Plan Insurance Brokers, TfL have begun the process of consulting on a means of using technology to rid the UK’s roads of uninsured Private hire drivers 
Why is action needed? 

There are over 300,000 drivers licensed to carry passengers on the U.K.’s roads. A nationwide audit leaked to the BBC revealed that up to 93% of drivers might have invalid cover. 

MD of TfL Leon Daniels described the current means of detecting drivers without suitable insurance as a “laborious, hopeless manual system.” 
{Let's not forget that Daniels, TfL's Managing Director, defended Uber drivers to the GLA transport committee, saying they had an on-off insurance policy which they could just switch on when they had a passenger. After checking with the Association of British insurers, we found that no such policy was available. Editor's comment}

It’s important for the general public that Taxi and Private hire drivers have appropriate insurance cover due to: 
Public Safety Concerns – as illegal touts target vulnerable passengers

• Delayed Compensation Payments – as the public are driven in uninsured vehicles
• Higher Motor Insurance Costs - as law abiding drivers subsidise premiums
• Licensed Taxi and Private Hire drivers not being “fit and proper” persons

How will TIC Work?
TIC will provide authorities access to live information regarding the validity of taxi and private hire drivers’ insurance and crucially whether their policy provides cover for carrying passengers for the purposes of “Hire & Reward.” The portal is similar in concept to the Motor Insurance Database, which has significantly reduced the number of uninsured drivers on the UK’s roads.
 
All insurers offering taxi and private hire insurance will need to be registered on a database as approved suppliers. The Association of British Insurers have been invited to join the process as have The Insurance Fraud Bureau and the Met Police. 

How are uninsured public & private hire drivers evading existing systems of detection? 

Presenting False Insurance Documents – either doctored or duplicated documentation is supplied when applying for a Taxi or Private Hire licence.

Operating with Expired, Cancelled or Invalid Cover:
To avoid their vehicle showing up on the police’s Automatic Number Plate Recognition checks as unregistered on the Motor Insurance Database drivers take out cheaper private car insurance that does not provide cover to drive passengers for the purposes of “Hire and Reward.” 

Using Identity mirroring” scams – multiple drivers may be operating under one licence using one vehicle 
QUOTES
 “We’ve been lobbying TfL for sometime on the issue of drivers operating with invalid insurance. The response from TfL to Plan’s proposals was positive. I believe they saw real value in the technology particularly for operators. 

This is due to the way the drivers’ personal data is protected by an encrypted code, without this an operator’s access to the vital information regarding a driver’s cover would be restricted.” 


Steve Garelick Head of GMB Union Professional Drivers’ Branch
“TIC is a perfect example of how technology can streamline processes and reduce costs. If implemented TIC will greatly improve safety for passengers by removing uninsured taxi and private hire vehicles from London’s roads.” 
Ryan Georgiades, Managing Director, Plan Insurance Brokers 

KEY STATS 
120,000 licenced taxi and private hire vehicles on London’s roads.

Private hire driver numbers in London have surged from 59,000 to 95,000 since 2010.

In 2011 the Metropolitan Police estimated that in London alone 1,125 incidents of sexual assault had been committed by private hire touts

ABOUT PLAN 

Plan Insurance Brokers are public and private hire insurance specialists with over 25 years experience. 
Based in Purley, Surrey they employ a team of 70 and handle over 14,000 policies a year with a total Gross Written Premium of £17 million. They operate using software developed in-house and are known within the insurance industry for their forward thinking use of technology.
Plan are short-listed in the upcoming Family Business of the Year Awards due to a commitment to innovation, thought leadership and charity.
For further information regarding Plan Insurance Brokers or their TIC proposal contact: Grant Georgiades, 0203 004 5572, grant@planinsurance.co.uk

Need A Good Laugh, Read Camden Councils Plans For Pancras Road.

 

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse with TfL and their strong arm tactics, using the Met Police as muscle, along come the Lycra clad brigade, from Camden Council's planning department. 


If you want to see just how ridiculous these people with degrees can get, have a look at Camden's proposed new system for Pancras Road. 

They've even given themselves a get out clause if (when) it so goes tits up. 


              The RMT, Talking The Talk.

    


Below is Camden's Plan: 

PROPOSED DROP OFF/ PICK UP, PANCRAS ROAD.

As you will be aware the King’s Cross area is developing at a rapid pace.  In 2007 St Pancras Station reopened to passengers.  Since then we have seen the redevelopment of King’s Cross Station and the rejuvenation of former industrial sites both to the north of and between the stations.

As a result of this, Pancras Road has seen a large increase in private car, taxi, coach, cyclist and pedestrian activity.  As the highway authority it is our responsibility to ensure the safety of all modes of transport using our road network. 

There are three areas outside the station which act as pick-up / drop-off points.  Two of these areas are located on either side of the Eurostar entrance (opposite Kings Cross Station) and the third one is located further north along Pancras Road.    

Council Officers have been working with Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police with regards to the issues resulting from the operation of these drop off and pick up bays.  Vehicles mainly use the parking bays nearest the Eurostar entrance, whilst bays further north along Pancras Rd are being under used.  This imbalance is causing unnecessary congestion close to the Eurostar entrance, to the southern section of Pancras Road.

Two minute parking restrictions (5 minutes for disabled bays) are in place to keep bays free and traffic flowing, however vehicles regularly overstay the maximum permissible time. 

Unfortunately additional vehicles often choose to double park instead of using the empty bays further along Pancras Rd, creating a safety hazard for pedestrians crossing the road and for cyclists travelling along Pancras Road, often also resulting in traffic congestion approaching from Euston Road.  In addition, a number of vehicles are performing U-turn manoeuvres exacerbating safety concerns to pedestrian and cyclists’ movements.

To help resolve the issues mentioned in this letter, we are proposing to make the first two areas immediately outside the Eurostar entrance a drop-off area only and make the third area to the north as a pick-up area only.

To ensure that vehicles use the drop off area to simply drop passengers off and then move on, we are proposing to introduce long slender traffic islands alongside the existing parking areas.  We believe that as vehicles enter the area they will be forced to move on quickly as they are likely to be followed by other vehicles either requiring the space to drop-off themselves or needing to exit.  The area will in effect be “self-enforcing” allowing for the efficient use of the available parking spaces.  Given that there will be only one point of entry and exit, the introduction of the traffic island will also make U- turning impossible, improving road safety in the area. 

The proposed changes are shown on the enclosed drawing.  We are also proposing the introduction of signage to direct drivers to designated pick–up and drop–off areas, as well as the short term car park located further north along Pancras Road.  If agreed, we are planning to implement the changes soon and use marshals for the first two weeks to ensure drivers understand and comply with the separate drop off and pick up areas.  

Initially we intend to draw up an experimental traffic management order to help us enforce these changes.  Experimental orders are used to allow the council to monitor the effect and change as necessary.  An experimental order lasts no more than eighteen months before they are abandoned, amended or made permanent.  This allows stakeholders to add further comments whilst the scheme is in place and we will make a decision over permanence at a later date.

We would welcome your views on our proposals, which should be received by no later than 20 March 2016.  Please use the details outlined above for your response or to contact us for any further queries you may have about the proposals.  We look forward to hearing from you.  All responses will be considered and Camden Council will take a decision on the proposals in June 2016. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

AskPOB Credit Card Printer Survey Results.

 

AskPOB has conducted an independent survey to establish driver opinion on credit card payment printers used in licensed London taxis. AskPOB is an impartial third party, working in collaboration with trade organisations and groups, to reach as many drivers as possible and to understand how drivers would like credit card printers to feature in their working environment.

The consultation received 1030 licensed London taxi driver responses between 9pm 15 April 2016 and midnight 18th April 2016.

59 responses were removed due to:

•  duplicate entries

•  unlicensed London taxi driver entries

•  Insufficient or false data submitted

This report is an overview of the data collected.
 
AskPOB can generate a more comprehensive report cross-referencing all driver demographics collected with driver opinions. 

For full results please >CLICK HERE<

We now have to wait and see if TfL take any notice of this independent survey, or just impose what they had in mind anyway. 

Press Release: Day 3 RMT/Dads Defending Daughters : Appeal & Direct Action :


Security Compromise: TFL and Camden Council are failing in their duty of care to the travelling public for not enforcing the ‘set down’ points at St Pancras Station

The World famous London licensed Taxi Trade actively opposes the violent action taken by other taxi services around the globe against those working from off-shore based app platforms. However, there is growing unrest, evidenced by drivers here on a daily basis.


A consequence of corporate influence on central government, combined with a complicit regulator has resulted in public safety being dramatically compromised. My colleagues and I, have on several occasions contacted Camden Council and TFL outlining the severity of the issue

Licensed taxi drivers are seeking assistance from the Metropolitan Police to erase traffic problems caused by Private Hire drivers using the ‘set down’ points as parking bays outside St Pancras International station.




The problem arises due to the obstructiveness caused by an increasing number of mini-cabs parked in the drop off bays situated on Pancras Road. Vehicles are often left unattended for prolonged periods of time. Most are working from app based platforms such as Uber. Parking in the bay's not only causing everyone else to double park, it exacerbates the traffic congestion along Euston Road. The accumulative impact on vehicles legitimately dropping off passengers but having to double park can be incredibly arduous for passengers needing assistance.

More seriously- and this cannot be emphasised enough- the terrorist attacks in Paris leading up to Christmas, highlighted a monumental lapse in security at London’s premier link through to Europe; to dismiss the area as a potential terrorist target would be foolish and potentially catastrophic.


Transport for London compound this risk by demonstrating that they are unable or unwilling to regulate the Private Hire Industry to even minimal standards. LBC’s recent expose highlighting just how easy it was to register a vehicle as a minicab without even the most basic checks, yet TFL continue to sell 700+ private hire licenses every week. Couple that with Uber’s policy of not being liable for the behaviour of the driver leaves passengers using this service (often unknowingly) at great risk. Consequently, we are just beginning to see the repercussions of deregulation, So far this year, there has been four Uber drivers convicted of sexual assault. All were in London

If the purpose of the U.K. government is for corporations to play the market as aggressively as possible, to the extent that not only our own health but the health of the travelling public is put in danger,then taxi drivers must protest against these economic entities (who consider rape victims as merely ‘collateral damage’) from being the eulogist of the rules by which we all live. If Camden Council and TFL continue to absolve themselves of a duty of care , then our appeal is for the Met to issue a Traffic Regulation Order restricting waiting to the usual two minutes?


Amendments made to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (as amended by the Civil Contingencies Act 2004), permitting drivers a grace period of up to ten minutes only applies to pay and display parking where the time printed on the ticket has expired. Further, Section 22C of part II of the Road Traffic Act specifies how the risk of terrorism can be used under various parts of sections 1 and 6 of the act to control parking. The Act should be enacted upon as the risk of terrorism in the area overrides the need for a grace period for drivers.

If the licensing authority and the borough councils are facilitating central Government’s political ‘redirection’ regarding how the private hire industry operates, then both the public and taxi drivers have a right to know. Here-on-in, if drivers believe that certain policies or inactivity present a legitimate threat to security or if a persons safety is blatantly compromised, as it is at Kings Cross, then direct action will, unequivocally, commence.


Public Notice: Critically, and without any imposition from the trade associations, drivers will target effected areas or specific policy makers. Direct action will continue until the authorities decide to address the situation directly or enter in to negotiation. Disingenuous consultations that refuse to address the issues at hand are unacceptable.

Specific to Kings Cross / St. Pancras Station, there has numerous complaints/ reports submitted to Camden Council but no one is willing to take responsibility for the area. Considering, St Pancras Station is the main transport hub into Europe, I am not alone in being appalled by TFL and the local authority's inactivity.

Additional: Although these protests are driver led,and are not affiliated to any one organisation, negotiation is welcome via the RMT taxi division.

Regards
Sean Paul Day 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Waiting For The Government To Save The Taxi Trade...Don't Hold Your Breath..by Jim Thomas

      What's going on in Parliament 


Charles Walker  Andrew Jones   Lyn Brown

Charles Walker Chair, Procedure Committee, asked the Secretary of State for Transport: 
"What steps the Government is taking in conjunction with the Mayor of London to safeguard the licensed taxi trade; and if he will make a statement".

Andrew JonesParliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) replied (written):

'The Government supports choice for consumers, and wants to see both taxis and private hire vehicles prosper.

'The Mayor, Transport for London (TfL), the police and local authorities have a range of tools available to them to seek to address any concerns they may have over the safety or performance of taxi and/or private hire vehicle services. 

'Effective use of these tools allow both licensed taxi and private hire vehicles to operate lawfully and meet the demands of London’s travelling public'.

In other words the Government will do what they do now....nothing.

And so the protests will roll on.


                      Blurring The Lines:

As we suspected, ministers and shadow ministers are now blurring the lines between Taxi Drivers and Private Hire drivers (when it suits them), as can can see by Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Home Office) statement:

"As my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea Eastsaid, the new clause would place local authorities under a duty to consider child protection when they issue licences for drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles. We support it because we think it could lead to important safeguarding measures.

"Taxi drivers do a fantastic job up and down the country. I could not happily live my life without them. More than 242,000 licensed vehicles in England provide transport for millions of people every day. Outside of rural areas, interestingly, there is a high satisfaction level—about 68%—with taxi and private hire services. 

"The review of child exploitation in Oxford made it clear that taxi drivers can and do play a very positive role in tackling grooming and child exploitation. 

"The report noted that taxi drivers had driven young girls to the police station when they were worried that the girls were being sexually exploited, and that they were well regarded across the city because of the role that they had played".

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Gloves Are Off : A Call To Arms...by Marc Turner.

And so beginith a week of Taxi trade disobedience, initiated by 'Dads Defending Daughters' with RMT backing. 


All drivers out there, it's time to get down and dirty. And for those more reticent to join the fray, lets now start the fight for our own and our chidrens futures. 

Let's show with pride and vigour, we will not be trodden on by this contemptible corrupt rabble of a Tory party, we're misfortune enough to be governed by!

By their total disregad to regulate and their refusal to enforce, TfL are complicit and must bear responsibility for the recent unprecedented surge in minicab related rapes and sexual attacks on passengers. Their officers have harassed hardworking rank and file Taxi drivers while refusing to acknowledge the constant lawbreaking of the vastly over subscribed private hire sector. 

A Call To Arms....Posted on social media by Dads Defending Daughters:


The trade needs to take off the gloves
We need to step forward and be counted
We need to get down and fight dirty.

Dads Defending Daughters have announce week long action to take place every evening.


Read more on the Dads Defending Daughters website: >Click Here<