Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Chance To Scrap LBHF 20mph Scheme And Stop More Speed Humps.... By Brian Mooney


Briefly. When I 'signed off' last year, I didn't expect there to be an early opportunity to stop the near borough-wide 20mph speed limits that LB Hammersmith & Fulham (LBHF) has been bent on imposing.

There may be doubts in high places on the Council, as interestingly we've found that the 'traffic order' is only 'experimental' and can be reversed.

But we have only until 4 March to lodge objections. LBHF has been very quiet about how you can assert your rights on that!

To keep this note short, this page gives how to do so, with some potted arguments in case the consultation isn't fresh in your mind:
www.fairdealforthemotorist.org.uk/object20mph.htm

Any help in objecting and getting help from like-minded people would be
appreciated, please.

If the scheme is not scrapped, there is solid evidence that LBHF will also be eying 'enforcement measures' (more speed humps? cameras even?) at our expense. 


With my best wishes,
Brian Mooney
'No to 20mph'

Again, we see the Evening Standard can't resist having a pop at London's Licensed Taxi trade. By Gerald Coba


                    Not a word about the local resistance from residents 


The Taxi trade has been greatly affected by the new traffic system which has completely gridlocked the area at certain times of the day, adding to pollution levels never seen before. 


But the reason we are going to see a public inquiry is mainly down to the mass of complaints from local residents and businesses (BRAG), in regards to the impact and inconvenience on their daily lives


What they're saying on Twitter :






Below is their latest statement from the BRAG website.


2017 Update & downloads

 

A small group of permanent residents of WC1 founded BRAG in the summer of 2016 to remind our local politicians that “Residents Matter.”

 

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to our 2016 campaign. This was initiated in order to encourage decision-makers to re-think the controversial ‘experimental’ traffic scheme that was imposed on Tavistock – Torrington Place in November 2016 without prior public consultation.  In particular, there was no advance discussion whatsoever with residents who live at the eastern end of the corridor, who have been most affected by the displaced traffic.

 

We also wanted local people to be aware of the traffic flow proposals being developed by Camden Council, which will inevitably affect the daily life of a very large number of residents who live in the wards of Kings Cross, Bloomsbury and Holborn & Covent Garden.

 

Changes to traffic flow

The very limited and low-key public consultation on these plans led to a public meeting at Camden Offices on 10th March 2016.  This was attended by a large number of angry and distressed local residents and small traders who were shocked that such plans were being foisted on them without proper discussion. Officers seemed to be ignorant of how such proposals would have a major negative impact on residents’ day-to-day lives.

 

As yet, there has been no decision on whether Judd Street will be closed to traffic from the Euston Road (Ref. 3) or whether Lansdowne Terrace / Brunswick Square will be closed to northbound traffic. (Ref 4).  The decision to make Judd Street part of the Cycle-Superhighway 6 (Ref. 2) has been confirmed.

 

The closure of westbound traffic along Tavistock-Torrington Place will continue as a “trial” until a decision has been made by Camden’s Cabinet on whether to make this permanent, to return to what it was before, or to consider an alternative arrangement. 

 

BRAG’s alternative scheme

BRAG believes that a more equitable solution for the Tavistock-Torrington Place corridor should be considered, so that vehicles can continue to have a westbound route, but that cyclists should have a dedicated lane on both sides of the road in the direction of travel.  BRAG’s proposal is being considered by Camden Council, along with other feedback from the public consultation that took place on the trial scheme between 12th September and 21st October 2016.  BRAG’s Formal Response to the consultation 

BRAG’s Community Planning Day

On 8th September 2016 BRAG organised a Community Planning Day at Thenga Café, One KX, Cromer Street, WC1.  This was a participatory event that was set up to harness views from members of the local community through a series of professionally facilitated workshops and smaller discussion groups. The aim was to listen, and record what people said. People who couldn’t stay for long wrote concerns on Comments Sheets.

 

The Report of the Community Planning Day – which includes 31 individually written comments sheets - has been sent to Camden’s Officers and Councillors and we have been assured by Councillor Jones, at a meeting on 18th November, that its contents will be considered as part of the Tavistock Place ‘trial’ scheme consultation process.  The Report is available here

 

BRAG’s Public Meeting

On Tuesday 4th October 2016 BRAG held a public meeting at St Pancras Church, Euston Road in order to be able to represent residents’ views in the Tavistock-Torrington trial consultation process.

 

85 people signed in, the majority being local residents, with some local business owners.  Attendees included a number of taxi drivers who lived outside the local area.  A group of cycle campaigners attended the meeting, a few were also local residents, but many lived outside the immediate area and supported the tracks as a convenient way to get to central London.  Most taxi drivers and cycle campaigners left before the end of the meeting

 

The meeting included a powerpoint presentation by BRAG Committee members. This explained how BRAG started, gave a brief report back of the Community Planning Day, provided details of the impact of the Tavistock-Torrington trial scheme on local residents and commented on Camden’s flawed consultation process. BRAG’s alternative scheme for the Tavistock-Torrington corridor was explained with illustrations.  This proposed returning to two-way traffic, with cycle lanes on either side of the road, in direction of traffic.  A vote was held at the end of the meeting in support for the motion calling for the Council to consider BRAG’s alternative plan: 41 for the motion, 3 against.

 

The well attended meeting included a Q & A session, which enabled a variety of views to be expressed, with contributions from cyclists (local residents) who do NOT support the segregated tracks and from cyclists (commuters) who do.  All comments were recorded and added to the Presentation feedback, which is available here..

 

Local views

Several local residents have written eloquently about traffic management in London (1), the Tavistock – Torrington trial consultation process (2) and the problem of unloading for residents who live on Tavistock Place (3).

1  London is choking to a standstill (Article)

2 Torrington Place _Tavistock Place_consultation document (Article)

3 Torrington-Tavistock - Loading  Unloading (Article)

 

During the summer of 2016 BRAG volunteers distributed a large number of leaflets throughout the WC1 neighbourhood. The flyer introduced residents to the formation of BRAG, alerted people to the Council's plans for the area, and encouraged them to sign the petition.

 

Once the formal consultation process began in September, residents of Tavistock Place itself, eg Tamar House on the south side of the street, were reminded of the impact and inconvenience on their daily lives, despite the reduction in traffic along the east-west corridor.Click to view

Media coverage

 During the past six months the Camden New Journal has published a number of letters from local residents who have concerns about the Tavistock-Torrington Place trial scheme and the consultation process itself. View here

Wider resident concerns

 BRAG’s commitment to the voice of residents being heard has spread to concerns about planning applications in the area.  This has included:

  • Supporting residents from Derby Lodge in Wicklow Street who are threatened with developers building a large office block in their courtyard.

  • Writing in support of resident objections to a proposed new basement restaurant in Marchmont Street

  • Objecting to a proposal to install antennae and associated equipment on the roof of the Generator Hostel, which would cause harm to both the conservation area and occupants of Knollys House in Tavistock Place.  The application by Vodafone / Telefonika has now been withdrawn.

  • Supporting Somers Town Neighbourhood Forum who are trying to save their precious green space from being sold off by the Council for development.

Friday, February 24, 2017

UPDATE ON BANK JUNCTION NOTHING IS EVER A "DONE DEAL." THE I.T.A. WILL ALWAYS FIGHT ON

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ITA

  

After of a series of actions, the ITA met with City of London and Transport for London representatives, concerning the proposed oxymoronic 'Bank on Safety' scheme.

It was evident from CoL and TfL that they were not going to negotiate. Even though CoL and TfL were shown that their data was faulty, to the extent of fraudulent.

The City of London seemed astonished, and Transport for Londonseemed rumbled, when we used their statistics against them.
We proved beyond question that the safest form of transport was Licensed London Taxis.

We showed the City of London our own statistics, proving Buses to be the most dangerous form of public transportation.

Frustratingly the City of Londonrefused point blank, to accept responsibility for its actions. And unsurprisingly, Transport for Londonrefused to accept that its inconsistent statistics were pure conjecture, bordering on make-believe.

The City of London conceded that if its scheme made any part of the City unsafe, it would have to rethink the whole trial period.

Even though the City of London and Transport for London's fraudulent premise of 'Bank on Safety' had been shown to be nothing more than a front for a more baser, mercenary motive, we had to accept that these people only care about their own interests, and democratic negotiations were of no value to them.
So we readied for industrial action.



          Empty, dangerous TfL buses

An all-Org Ranks Committee met with City of London on Tuesday. This allowed the matter of Taxi exclusion from Bank Junction, to be broached again.

All the Org members present played their part in pushing home our trade's astonishment and displeasure at being unjustly excluded from the eighteen month experimental period.

The Orgs gave their own report to CoL, proving the displacement of vehicles will cause carnage to the surrounding areas.

Again the City of London refused to negotiate. But after Org reps disproved CoL's argument for our exclusion, the Orgs were able to get assurances that although the experiment will go ahead, we will get two weeks at the end of March, when Cannon Street is finished, to let the LTDA do ANPR analysis on Taxi fares.

If there is an alarming rise in congestion, the City of Londonassured the Orgs it will suspend the experimental scheme. The City of London claims it will not tolerate mass congestion on its roads.

The CoL is adamant it will take the advice of its own commissioned traffic modelling.

However if the traffic modelling proves to be wrong, CoL has promised to suspend its experimental scheme.
If there is an increase in RTA's or congestion, there is an option to allow Taxis into the scheme, to relieve the surrounding area.
The Orgs will be going back to the City of London with their own findings. If, as predicted, the congestion worsens, the Orgs will ask the City of London to suspend its trial.

The Orgs have left the City of London know, in no uncertain terms, that if the City does not suspend the experimental scheme, as promised, the Orgs will take industrial action.
A line in the sand has been drawn.



Chris Hayward - Planning and Transportation Chairman for City of London

In light of these recent meetings, and the unifying agreement of the Orgs, the ITA believes it would be detrimental to this cause, to protest in March.

We drivers expect all the Orgs to keep close tabs on this ludicrous Bank Junction scheme, and to act swiftly if the City of London reneges on any of its promises.




The ITA would like to thank everyone involved; organisers, researchers, negotiators, all the Orgs, and especially all those who gave up their time and money to protest.
There is no such thing as a "Done deal."

Footnote:
"Protests have only been put on hold.

If, as we suspect, the City of London do not keep to their agreement, we will commence daily protests, for the whole of the eighteen month trial period, if need be.

We refuse to bow down to Machiavellian bullies!"

Source, ITA : 24/02/17

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Rules As Airport Authority Levels Out Taxi Permits As Demand For Uber Escalates.


Denver International Airport has reached a decision that will ease taxi congestion and level the playing field for Denver cabbies vying for airport fares.

Starting April 1, each of the seven licensed cab companies in Denver will receive 36 airport permits, regardless of fleet size. The new rule will reduce the number of total taxi permits from 321 to 252 — a change made because of the dwindling demand for taxis thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft. 

To accommodate the growing passenger demand for ride-share cars, their current lot, located within the Commercial Vehicle Holding Lot, will be moved to a corner of the Mt. Elbert Shuttle Lot, roughly doubling the number of available spaces to 320. The new lot will open on Tuesday, February 21, says DIA spokesman Heath Montgomery. 

The move will also ease inbound traffic on Peña Boulevard, as the surge of ride-share drivers trying to get into the current lot has created major backups and raised safety concerns. 

“That lot that we've established out there — it gets overwhelmed really fast," Montgomery says. "By moving them out by Mt. Elbert, we're going to solve that traffic issue and that safety issue, and we're going to provide more space for them to operate, because again, their number of operations has gone up dramatically while taxis' has gone down."

The decision regarding taxi permits is a win for Abdi Buni, the president of Green Taxis, whose company previously had only twenty permits


But it could be considered a loss for companies like Metro Taxis, which previously had 97 airport permits. 

The more permits each company has, the more chances drivers have to get airport fares. The massive cultural shift from taxis to ride-share cars makes these rides even more important for cab drivers hoping to make a decent wage. 

Montgomery says it's become difficult to gauge each company's market presence since the Public Utilities Commission's recent decision to remove fleet-sized limits entirely. Permits used to be issued according to each company's capped fleet size

“You're back to the challenges that we had with the PUC change in model, because we used to have a solution to that," he says. "We would give 5 percent of the permits to the company that had 5 percent of the market share. We can't do that anymore, so really, there's no good solution there. The most equitable thing we can think of is to just give everybody who's licensed by the PUC and wants to operate [at the] airport an equal number of permits, and that's what we're going to do.” 

Montgomery says the new taxi rules were decided upon after analyzing passenger demand and soliciting ideas from taxi companies. 

“We've gone back and forth and had conversations with these operators about what they think would be a fair way to do this. One of the things that we heard from multiple people was, why don't you just make it even among everybody?," he continues. “My perspective on this is that our ultimate goal is to make sure that we're providing a high level of reliable taxi service to the passengers who want to use taxis. It does nobody any good to have a hundred or 200 or 300 extra taxis sitting in our lot for hours on end, because they're not making any money, our passengers aren't using them, [and] our infrastructure becomes strained from all the people waiting. It just really doesn't help anybody.” 

Despite the lessening demand for cabs, new taxi companies hoping to break into the market will be able to work the airport. Montgomery says that twice a year — once in January and once in July — the permits will be evenly redistributed if there are new cab companies licensed by the PUC. Even without new companies being formed, the permits could shift at any time; if it turns out that a company doesn't want 36 permits or can't put them to use with their current fleet, the excess permits will be evenly distributed among the other companies. 

The new system is temporary, Montgomery says, but it won't be changed anytime soon. In the future, the airport may consider a longer-term contract with one or more companies, something that is likely to give DIA the regulatory power to tailor and fine-tune airport taxi service to its liking. 

For now, Green Taxi president Buni is happy with the outcome. He no longer has to ease his driver's concerns about getting to the airport, because the days of them being outnumbered by the bigger companies will be over April 1. 

“I think now it is fair," he says. "The little one was not left behind and the bigger guy was not left behind. It is all fair."



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

London Councils Looking To Give Most Taxi Card Work To Private Hire?


Taxi Leaks has been informed that London councils are looking to change the Taxi card system. In a recent consultation sent to all card users, they are asking a series of loaded questions seeking to include in the service app based private hire....and we all know what that means. It certainly looks to us that they want to change the ratio of Taxi service and private hire jobs giving Taxis just the street hails.


The consultation states :

The contracts for both the Taxicard and Dial-a-Ride services are due for renewal and, as part of the renewal process, we may make changes to the contracts that mean you see changes in the service you receive. Currently, the contracts are separate, but provided by a single company. One option under consideration is for TfL and London Councils to merge similar elements of the Dial-a-Ride and Taxicard services (advanced and as soon as possible (ASAP) bookings) in one contract and have a separate contract for street hailing.

To get the benefits from a merged contract, it might be necessary to align both how the service is delivered and the performance indicators used to measure success. This could mean that Taxicard users would see changes to the way in which the services are delivered.

Splitting off street hailing from the rest of the contract could also mean that this element of the service is provided by a different company to the advanced and ASAP bookings. Such a move might mean that more private hire vehicles are used to deliver the service, but it could also mean the opposite. Currently for Taxicard, 85-90 per cent of journeys are delivered by licensed black taxis, with 10-15 per cent provided by private hire vehicles.

Changes to the service may also impact upon the cost to you (or the number of trips available) availability of vehicles, waiting times and the nature of the service e.g. upgrading from a ‘kerb-to-kerb’ to a ‘door-to-door’ service.


The survey allows anyone to fill in the survey as their is no need for a name, address or email address. 


Do you have a view on Taxi Cards.

If so, have a look here >Taxi Card consultation <

As we all take credit cards, why not suggest they issue a card similar to an Oyster card, that can be used in the same way allowing wheelchair users to make use of all Black Taxis not just ComCab.

The consultation runs till Wednesday 5th April.

 

Below are the yearly figures for the number of Taxi Card trips please share, if we lose this contract we lose over a million Taxi fares


TECH WATCH: KNOW YOUR ENEMY


To be clear, ‘Tech’ isn’t the problem, even though the slag dogs would have the public believe we’re vehemently against it. it's the ultra viral way in which ‘Tech’ is being used that's the problem. 

There are three main perpetrators involved, the Government, TfL and Uber. 

In short, TfL with the Governments bidding, is facilitating Uber’s use of technology to shift a State regulated trade over to a corporate controlled service. As far as the policy makers are concerned, Uber were -and still are- the solution.

One of the biggest bugbears of those in control -especially TfL-  is the taxi trades economic ability to hold on to their position of autonomy. Financial independence is problematic for governments and their arbiters, as it allows the independent trader some degree of political sway.  

In the past, London taxi drivers have been able to command a degree of reverence which provided the template for relational equality between driver/ passenger and driver/regulator. As far as the regulator was concerned this was unacceptable. Uber was able to  provide those in power the means to accumulate an entire workforce, enough to fracture the earning capability of a taxi driver with steep business costs. And all without conducting any risk assessment whatsoever. 

The government would also have access to a phenomenal amount of data, and in today's climate, data is currency.  

Much of this data can be used to process and share information that can- theoretically at least- prevent vehicle collisions, keep traffic moving and reduce environmental impacts. It can also be used for their own ends to add weight to their own political decisions. 

Indirectly, you could say, the established apps that use licensed Taxis, whilst much further down the logistical line, are not all that different to Uber. The difference is, the Taxi apps, namely Gett and Hailo (now My Taxi)  do not represent what has become known as the GIG Economy. Instead of extolling the so called virtues of the shared economy, they use established services, mainly locally licensed taxis, in an attempt to compete with the new humongous hybrid that's swamped around towns. 

However, things have changed a lot since Gett and Hailo descended on London claiming to be the solution to the attempted takeover of our industry, and by the time Hailo had shifted over the dark side, the writing was on the wall for any such reverence that might remain.  

They had realised, in order to compete at a global level, they would have to de-shackle themselves from the grip of tight regulatory parameters, and, minimise the cornerstone of our working model -the free- associated 'street hail'  

Make no mistake, in order to  jostle for a competing position in the global market, the street hail has to go.  

Believe me, the term ‘an equal playing field’ -a saying the trade has bought into to some degree- is firmly meant for their benefit, not ours. The commission based apps consider the street hail as an impediment to fair competition. Ever wondered why the big players have never lobbied to support the defining aspects of what differentiates taxis from Private Hire? 
Well now you know.  

Uber are a monstrous inefficient pita in London, sold on the basis of streamlining working practices with less down time and fewer people using private cars, when the reality is, the total opposite is true. There are 40,000+ of them -10 cars for every one person requiring a ride-  crawling and stalling  around, hanging it up in dense urban areas hoping to snatch a fare. 

Likewise, the exploitation of taxi,  either now or in the future, is the only way the Corporate owned apps can survive.  So what's new? 

The money men would always take their opportunity is if there was an opening to do so, and believe me, that opportunity has been handed to them on a plate. 

TfL have gone to great pains to filter the modus operandi of taxi drivers out of public consciousness to the point where we are not considered an option to an entire generation. This would've been fine if, at the same time assisted Uber by stripping away regulations that govern legitimate PH, even to the point of blatant state assistance in the high court. 

Gett responded by disregarding any importance of tariff structuring has for the service provider by setting up its own haddock pricing system based on its own data amassing. It has also gone to  war on the street hail, offering incentives to drivers to convert the work across to the app. 

What we as taxi drivers are experiencing,  is not a straight forward taxi war that the media would have you believe, but a corporate battle for market domination in a bid to take control of logistical services, and we  are one side of the cannon fodder they are using to do battle with. In and of ourselves we do not pose a threat to the financiers war and when the time is ripe, the corporate ‘taxi’ apps will drill us down to a one tier system quicker than you can tell Gett to Get lost. 

The  policy makers are on this course of believe that data and technology will save hundreds of millions, interesting then that the Government this year CUT TfL's budget dramatically. History however tells us money merely shifts to different pockets. One thing is for certain, they don't want, surplus money- or any money- sitting in the service providers pockets, be it the pockets of taxi drivers or those that go the way of the  SatNav swamp (You see why they see them as the same as us).    

The real solicitude of the matter is, if  we accuse Uber drivers as being slaves and eulogists of their own demise, then so are we, just because the trades not so demoralised that the established apps stay constrained to using a certain product, doesn't mean their ultimate goal to transfer labour over to the money men isn't in the cards. 


Now I could write aplenty extolling the virtues of TAXIAPP UK and  I totally understand that drivers need to earn money. I am, after all,  a driver myself with no other means of income, but I cannot stress this enough, we have a finite period of time to ring fence ourselves from the rapacious take over of our livelihoods, and I firmly believe it can be done. 

We can carry on pretty much as we are but we need our own technological solution. To dismiss it leaves us all hyper vulnerable. The truth be told, the trade knows not what to do now anymore than it did four years ago. Sure we might be a little better connected politically, but only as a result of almost losing everything.

The black cab trade is like no other, in that it has never aspired to emulate any other taxi service. It has been held in such high esteem by far surpassing any other taxi service in the world, but it has been hijacked on its one major weakness. As sole traders we have never needed to be interconnected in the way that we do now. And that is what the fat corporate money men are rubbing their chubby little hands together to control. 

So here's the deal,  if you're going to work the established apps then at least fight fire with fire and help transfer  passengers over  to TAXIAPP UK. The app is a non profit venture, neither can it be sold for profit. Any surplus money the app does make will be used for marketing and PR. In just four months TAXIAPP UK has produced more advertising than the established apps have ever done. Us Drivers are the product, the sales team, and the the solution. We are what the slag-dogs are willing to haemorrhage money to possess and we  are everything that's needed to be a formidable force. 

If we must fight a guerrilla fight then so be it. But know this, if we want to continue working as we do now then it's not as simple as merely evolving to accommodate  technology, but to fully recognise the way technology is being used to destroy us. This time we can't go it alone, this time it really is a numbers game.
Let’s step up the way we see business.

See you out there on the mean streets

Sean Paul Day- TAXIAPP UK
 

Assembly Member David Kurten Asks The Mayor Questions About TfL Ubers Operating All Over UK



London UKIP Assembly Member David Kurten, has been listening to the London Taxi trades complaints on the way TfL has been dishing out Private Hire licenses like confetti.  

In a post on Twitter he said 
Reports of TfL licensed #Uber vehicles operating all over Britain Abound.
 
"I have put several questions to the Mayor this month about private hire vehicles and cross-border hiring.

"This month's answers should be given by next Monday and published here: > https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/london-assembly/questions-mayor < "

Below is a list of the questions David has put to Mayor Khan.
 

Conservative Assembly Member Keith Prince, will be putting forward searching questions to the Mayor.

In particular, Keith also asks what measures TfL will be putting in place to stop drivers licensed by TfL, solely working outside their licensed area. 


His second question is in response to reports of drivers (whose council licences had been revoked due to criminal activities) subsequently found to be working in Southend and Liegh on Sea, using the Uber Platform and licensed by TfL as London Private Hire drivers.

His third question appertains to loop holes in the operators planning application regulation.  

See Keith's questions below. 

EXTRA COMMENT :
Whispers from Addison Lee, that the big American tech company has put pressure on TFL. 

Saying the English language tests are not fair on their drivers. 

So TFL have suspended the requirements for six months!

As Steve Mc says, "you couldn't make this up...."