Wednesday, June 21, 2017


The Good....Travis Kalanick has finally resigned after much speculation.

The Bad....He will remain on the board of the company he co-founding back in 2009.

The Ugly....The company is to rebuild under new management.

More Good....Fares will rise by at least 60% as the subsidies will be drying up as investors look to get their money back.
The driver will now have to pay the company 35% of the fare.

More Bad....The customer will have the option to tip with just a tap on the app. But will customers be in the mood to tip after his massive price rise?

More Ugly...Uber have had to make a statement to both passengers and drivers about flirting conversation, plus passengers of ride share trips are advised not to touch or flirt with each other. 
Amazingly the drivers have been warned that "sexual contact" with passengers is not allowed.


MOVING UBER FORWARD....You couldn't make it up!

Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick RESIGNS citing 'difficulties in his personal life' just days after going on indefinite leave in the wake of the company's sexual harassment scandal

The 40-year-old entrepreneur announced he was stepping down at the firm he founded in 2009 deals with a sexual harassment scandal.

Uber's board confirmed the move early on Wednesday, saying in a statement that Kalanick is taking time to heal from the death of his mother in a boating accident 'while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber's history.' 

He will remain on the Uber Technologies Inc. board. 

In a boardroom showdown, five of Uber's major investors, including Bill Gurley from capital firm Benchmark, demanded that the chief executive resign immediately.

They then obtained a letter in which Kalanick announced his resignation, titled: 'Moving Uber Forward.'

In a statement, the 40-year-old co-founder said his resignation would help Uber go back to building 'rather than be distracted with another fight,' an apparent reference to efforts on the board to oust him.

It was unclear who would replace Kalanick.

Kalanick cited his 'personal life' as part of the reason he was stepping down from the company he founded in 2009

After the resignation, Uber investor and board member Bill Gurley (pictured above) took to Twitter saying: 'There will be many pages in the history books devoted to Travis Kalanick - very few entrepreneurs have had such a lasting impact on the world.'

The resignation came after a series of costly missteps under Kalanick that damaged Uber's reputation including revelations of sexual harassment in its offices, allegations of trade secrets theft and a federal investigation into efforts to mislead local government regulators. 

Also, Kalanick lost his temper in an argument with an Uber driver who was complaining about pay. The profanity-laced confrontation was caught on a video that surfaced in February. Afterward, Kalanick said he needed management help and had to grow up. The company began searching for a chief operating officer.

In March, board member Arianna Huffington expressed confidence that Kalanick would evolve into a better leader. But Huffington, a founder of Huffington Post, has now suggested time may have run out.

Kalanick's resignation comes after he took a leave of absence earlier this month in the wake of a report being released into sexual assault claims made against the ride-sharing company.

His decision, though widely anticipated and called for by industry experts, came after former attorney general Eric Holder returned a damning, 13-page report into Uber's flaws.

The ex-attorney general and a team at Covington and Burling LLP created the report after being asked to investigate claims made in February by female former employees who alleged rampant sexual harassment at the company.

The two ex-employees also claimed at the time there were also incidents of homophobia and racism, all of which they said took place inside the environment fostered by Kalanick and his circle of trusted top executives.

Five of Uber's major investors, including Bill Gurley (pictured) from capital firm Benchmark, demanded that the chief executive resign

On Wednesday, Uber announced it would be enabling passengers to tip its U.S. drivers with a tap on its ride-hailing app for the first time, part of a push to recast itself as a company with a conscience and a heart

Uber was having trouble dealing with its success. 
It posted a $708 million first-quarter loss, unable to turn $3.4 billion in revenue into a profit. The loss narrowed from the $991 million it posted in the previous quarter.

Investors have talked about selling stock in Uber to the public. The company was valued at near $70 billion the last time it sought capital.

Holder's report featured a list of 10 recommendations that could help fix its culture, including a ban on booze at work parties and staff members having sex with each other


            UBER.....FIT FOR PURPOSE ???

Source : Mail on line, Bloomberg, Twitter.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Is The Cost Barrier To Switch To Zero-Emission Taxis Too High?

Taxi drivers are keen to use low emission alternatives to diesel vehicles, but barriers including cost may be preventing a switch, research has suggested. 

The ‘Cabbies for Clean Air’ research, which was jointly compiled by the behaviour change charity Global Action Plan, and LPG fuel supplier Calor, saw 19 taxi drivers in London, Southampton and Glasgow interviewed on the issue of air pollution.

Taxi drivers from London, Southampton and Glasgow were interviewed as part of the research. 

According to the research, drivers are concerned about the impact of air pollution on their health while being exposed to vehicle emissions for 8-12 hours during the working day, as well as potential health impacts on the wider population.

The drivers interviewed expressed their desire to tackle the problem, but claimed that the cost of switching to lower emission vehicles is seen as a significant barrier to change, with some cab drivers interviewed describing the move to zero emission electric vehicles as ‘unaffordable’.

The research suggests that the cost for a new diesel back cab is around £45,000 – whilst the latest electric models are claimed to cost significantly more, with one driver in Scotland quoting a £60,000 cost for an electric vehicle.

Support for cabbies to switch to low emission electric vehicles is available, and in March the government announced a £50 million Plug-in Taxi Grant programme, which includes offering taxi drivers up to £7,500 off the price of a new vehicle.

However, the Cabbies for Clean Air report has claimed that subsidy schemes “have not gone nearly far enough” to support the roll out of more electric cabs.

The ‘Cabbies for Clean Air’ report is expected to show that electric taxis will become more price competitive with their diesel counterparts as more vehicles enter the market, with the first new TX5 zero emission taxis from the London Taxi Company’s Coventry plant due to go on sale from September 2017, among new models emerging. London Taxi Company has yet to confirm the market price for the TX5.

Many rank and file drivers feel that the change to electric vehicles is just replacing one health nightmare with another, as very little research has been produced by TfL, manufacturers and representative orgs on the effects of long shift working alongside electro magnetic field radiation.

The availability of charging infrastructure, vehicle range and charge times were also quoted as potential barriers to investment in electric vehicles.


Other low emission options exist for taxi drivers, including liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Calor, which backed the report, supplies LPG as an alternative fuel through Autogas Limited, a joint venture with Shell.

The company claims that LPG presents an ‘affordable solution’ to reducing vehicle emissions as diesel engines can be converted to run on the fuel, which offers reduced emission levels, at a cost of around £10,000.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Rebecca Hart, corporate affairs manager at Calor, said: “It is important that the views of taxi drivers are understood and considered. Policies aimed at improving our air are rightly being prioritised, but taxi drivers need affordable and readily available solutions to bring their emissions down quickly and get older diesel models off the road.

“Calor believes LP-gas retrofit represents this affordable transition solution. At £10,000, retrofit to LPG will drastically reduce emissions on NOx, PM and carbon and is ULEZ compliant. The government’s new Clean Air Strategy consultation points towards funding that would give taxi drivers support for retrofit which should be given serious consideration by politicians as part of an immediate solution to the air quality challenge.”

The research added that taxi drivers, their  unions and representative orgs are keen to engage in ‘open dialogue’ with local and central government to discuss policies which affect them and other road users.

Chris Large, senior partner of National Clean Air Day organiser Global Action Plan, added: “It is incredible to see the passion that cab drivers have for creating cleaner air in their cities, especially for the sake of children. They have some fantastic ideas for solutions and they clearly want to be a central part of the movement that cleans up air pollution.”

Elsewhere in the report, London taxi drivers expressed concern about an increasing numbers of vehicles on the roads, in particular a rising number of private hire vehicles and called for taxis to be considered as part of a ‘holistic’ approach to infrastructure.

Stuart Hope, a London taxi driver surveyed as part of the project, said: “If someone wants to implement an idea then work alongside the taxi trade so we can actually be the solution and not the problem.”

Source : Air Quality News.

Friday, June 16, 2017


This morning, Grime artist Saskilla told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that he had been told personally by one of the firefighters at Grenfell Tower that around two hundred bodies had already been identified at the scene of the terrifying blaze. 
The presenter attempted to pour water on the figure, but the musician insisted it was what he was told in person by the firefighter.
Last night, music star Lily Allen was pulled from an appearance on the BBC’s Newsnightafter making similar comments and accusing the government of trying to ‘micromanage people’s grieving’:
Ms Allen was pilloried in the media. The confirmed death toll has increased incrementally since the fire and today rose to thirty.
At the same time, multiple sources told the SKWAWKBOX that the government has placed a ‘D-notice’ (now properly named a ‘DSMA-notice’ and sometimes called a ‘DA Notice’) on the real number of deaths in the blaze:
In effect, although voluntary, this amounts to a gag on the mainstream media – and note that it is applied for for reasons of national security only.
The SKWAWKBOX telephoned the Home Office press office to ask directly whether this was true. To say that the question caused consternation at the other end of the line would not be an overstatement.
The first comment, in a voice that rose at least half an octave, was ‘Where did you get that information?‘, followed by a request for the question by email, even though the SKWAWKBOX editor emphasised that ‘Have you issued a D-notice’ is a verystraightforward, ‘yes/no’ question.
The question has been submitted by email but no response has been provided yet, in spite of a repeat call to the Home Office to advise that publication was imminent.
Since the first call, further people have contacted this blog with the same assertion. The Home Office’s official response will be published if/when one is received.
Reports have also been received about intimidation of locals to prevent disclosure or speculation about the true known death toll.
If it is true that the government has issued a D-notice – and every instinct is screaming that it is – then the government has placed a national security gag on mainstream news editors to prevent them from disclosing what’s already known about the number of lives lost at Grenfell Tower.
This raises a huge question: WHY?.

Is there a national security aspect to this information that has not yet been hinted at?
Or is the Tory government inflating its own party interests into a national security issue in order to control the flow of information that will damage the Tory government and party, allowing it to ‘drip-feed’ a slow increase in the number of confirmed deaths in order to manage public outrage?
Source: Watch Saskilla's interview click link

 All parties had a hand in this.

Extra Comment from Steve Kenton:
This is very simple maths......If you have 24 floors with 120, 1 and 2 bedroom flats.....if 2 persons occupy 1 single bedroom unit on average but not exclusively (allowing for sofa surfers) then that becomes 240 people.
Add another 2 per 2 bed unit (on average then), you are now looking at just over 400 people potentially. 
Given that it happened at 1 am that figure won't be much lower due to people sleeping. 
Add the dead and injured to those already out and take that away from around 400 and there's your true figure.....right now there are 30 dead,  76 injured and 75 missing.......
Where are the rest, because that building had way more than 181 people residing in it.
Taxi Leaks Extra :
Someone finally stood up and said what everyone's thinking !
Click this link 

This afternoon survivers, family and friends of victims marched from Grenfell Tower to Kensington Town Hall, to demand action from the council. 
Protesters were angry that 3 days on from the tragedy, council officers have not made adequate public commitments to help the residents. They are also angry, not one council employee has offered help to the army of volunteers, for the distribution of supplies that have been freely donated by the public. 
This protester said someone needs to go to jail this is corporate manslaughter.
The Grenfell protesters were joined by residents of other tower blocks in the borough who are now worried about their safety.
Theresa May made a surprise visit back to the area tonight but was hurried away by security after the residents turned on her shouting "Coward". 
Also whisked away, was London Mayor Sadiq Khan, when bottles were thrown at him by an angry crowd.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Blast from the past, from the man tipped by many to overthrow Theresa May.:

Does the arrogance of Tory cuts know no bounds?

Video has emerged of then-London Mayor Boris Johnson defending his cuts to fire services in London before a fire-safety panel of London Assembly Members.


When challenged to explain how cutting fire stations, firefighter positions, fire safety officers could possibly not put the lives of London residents at risk, Johnson at first tries to defend the indefensible by simply asserting that his recklessness works and improvessafety.

Then, when challenged further, he tells a Labour AM,

Oh get stuffed.

Johnson was warned from all sides. The Tories were warned from all sides. They now have the deaths and terrible injuries of innocent people on their hands.

And it seems they don’t care a toss.

Tower Blocks Report' sat on his desk during his whole tenure.

This is the same Mayor who told a London Cabby to "F@@k off and die, but not in that order"


Source Skawkbox:

The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you found this information helpful and can afford to, please do click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. 

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Taxi drivers fined for parking outside One Love Manchester gig have had a response from the council

Scouse taxi drivers who were given parking tickets while giving people lifts to the Manchester bomb tribute gig have been told their fines will be donated to a charity set up for the victims’ families and those hurt in the attack. 

This week the ECHO reported how taxi drivers from our region headed to the One Love Manchester Tribute concert at Old Trafford Cricket Ground on Sunday - transporting people who had been at the terror-hit Ariana Grande gig last month for free.

The drivers - who also rushed to rescue people on the night of the attack - were shocked as they were given fines while parked near to the ground, waiting to take people home again.

Private hire driver Robbie Aden was one of the organisers of the convoys after the bomber struck in Manchester and again last night

A video of Page Moss driver Robbie Aden protesting against one of the traffic wardens has gone viral on Facebook and now Trafford Council has responded with a goodwill gesture. 

The council has said the scouse drivers will still have to pay their fines, but that the money made from them will now go to the We Love Manchester emergency appeal fund, set up for those affected by the bomb attack at the Manchester Arena.

A spokesman for Trafford Council said: “Eleven vehicles were ticketed in the area across the day, of which seven were in the evening.

“Trafford Council has confirmed that these tickets will be upheld, given the vehicles were parked illegally, and for reasons previously set out incorporating the need for controlled movement of traffic, security and availability of residential parking.

“The Council is aware of the extenuating circumstances that applied to events on Sunday evening and therefore if the Liverpool taxi drivers make themselves known when paying the fine by providing their badge numbers, the money from their fine will be donated to the We Love Manchester Emergency Appeal Fund.”

Ariana Grande and Mac Miller perform during the One Love Manchester benefit concert for the victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack at Emirates Old Trafford 

The spokesman added that it had communicated to everyone heading to the concert that they should not have travelled by car because of the lack of local parking.

He said: “Most people arrived by public transport, but unfortunately a number of drivers ignored the travel advice and some, who left their vehicles unattended, received parking penalty notices for parking illegally.”

But gig-goer and witness Adam Winrow contacted the ECHO to say he was still appalled that parking tickets were being given out at all considering the theme of the concert.

He said: “My sister was at the original event and I was waiting for her to come out of the concert when I saw them giving out tickets - I couldn’t believe it.

“One woman who actually lost someone in the attack came back to her car to find it had a ticket and was crying her eyes out - it was very disrespectful.”

The Osaka Experiment :Why Are Beijing's Electric Taxi Passengers Freezing?

Six years ago, in February 2011, the city of Osaka introduced a fleet of fifty Nissan Leaf taxis. The deal was a cooperative arrangement between Nissan, 30 taxi firms, and the government--each was being subsidized to the tune of 1,780,000 Yen--over $21,000 at the time.

The car's would clean up Japan's clogged streets, an improvement on the ubiquitous, square-jawed Toyota Crown taxis used throughout Japanese cities.

Like many countries, the incumbent taxis are often chosen for their reliability and simplicity, rather than their comfort or driving characteristics. That's why New York is full of hardy Crown Vics, London's streets are crowded with rattling diesel black cabs, and Mexico only recently relinquished the ubiquitous VW Bug.

Would an electric Nissan really feel like the future to the average taxi driver?

     It's a bit of a squeeze inside

Turning tide?
However, problems have begun to emerge.
The first came in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, following 2011's earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

As was reported at the time, many people in Japan were worried that electric cars would be giving off the wrong image--conspicuous consumption of electricity at a time when power was in high demand and very short supply. 
Electricity is no longer seen as the clean, safe option it once was.

Apart from a 'conspicuous' lack of information about the dangers of the radiation given off surrounding the battery pack, there are other issues too with the cars themselves.

While reliable, comfortable and smooth as ever, high-mileage drivers are finding degredation of the battery packs to be an issue.

Where a 60 mile range was once common in regular use, some are finding that cut to as low as 30 miles and to save energy as much as possible, some drivers are shunning the car's heater in favor of chemical pocket warmers, and even blankets.

Degredation of the battery pack has also had an effect on the battery's ability to take a quick charge. A 15-minute charge has turned into a 40-minute one for many drivers. They can't travel as far, and they can't spend as much time on the road. Drivers say it's ruining business, for some. Customers requesting longer trips are even being turned down.

There's no get-out for the drivers, either. To qualify for the government's subsidy, the electric cars must be run for a minimum of three years. That's a year too long for some. 
“I’m getting out of this business,” 
said one driver, 
“This is no way to earn a living.”


Osaka's electric taxi drivers aren't facing unheard-of problems, but nor can their experiences be considered the norm, either for electric car owners, or electric taxi drivers.

Climate, driving routes and charging habits all make a difference to how well a car lasts, and the life of a taxi is never an easy one.

The main issue for Leaf batteries is still excessive heat, rather than cold (though cold climates do reduce the car's range). 

What it does suggest is that in some localities, electric vehicles aren't yet ready for heavy-duty tasks like taxi work.

While that's no consolation to the drivers losing business through degrading vehicles, progress can only be made by analysing these kind of trials.

But many believe we are in danger of rolling out this technology that isn't ready yet to take over completely and the danger from radiation seems to be swept under the carpet by manufacturers.

After the abject failure of electric Taxis in Osaka Japan, Ford (Hong Kong) have unveiled a new Transit Connect Taxi, based on a current model, running on petrol/LPG, (CNG) reducing NOx emissions by 80%. 

With the Taxi trade on the brink of financial ruing, why aren't our representative orgs, lobbing on our behalf for a more viable option, such as the Ford Transit Taxi?

Better still, why has no attempt been made to keep the iconic shell, together with a petrol gas engine

Why Are Beijing's Electric Taxi Passengers Freezing?

Hybrid & Electric Cars: Electromagnetic Radiation Risks

Hybrid and electric cars may be cancer-causing as they emit extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic radiation (EMR) or magnetic fields. Recent studies of the levels of EMR emitted by these automobiles have claimed either that they pose a cancer risk for the vehicles' occupants or they are safe. 

Unfortunately, the little research conducted on this issue has been industry-funded by companies with vested interests on one side of the issue or the other which makes it difficult to know which studies are trustworthy

Note that many experts believe the ICNIRP guidelines for maximum general public exposure to magnetic fields do not adequately protect the public from health risks.


An Embarrassed TfL, Says 'Sorry' For Issuing Parking Tickets In Area Of London Bridge Attacks

Motorists forced to abandon their cars in central London during the weekend's terror attack, returned to the cars when given the all clear from the police, only to fined they had been issued with fines from TfL.

While emergency services Police, Ambulance, Medical staff from Guys put their own safety aside and ran to help those that had been attacked, while Taxi drivers turned their meters off to run worried and scared people caught up in the attack, home .... TfL traffic and roads officers patrolled the area and stuck parking fines on cars of the unfortunate souls caught up in the incident. Many were ordered by police to leave their vehicles in situ until scene of crime forensics had been completed

Transport for London (TfL) has said sorry for issuing parking tickets to drivers who had to abandon their cars following the terror attack at London Bridge. 

TfL apologised for its "insensitive mistake" after penalty charge notices were handed out in Borough High Street when the police cordon was scaled back on Wednesday morning

The fines, which can be up to £130, will be cancelled. And so they should, this was a deplorable act by TfL staff. 

A spokesman for TfL said: "We unreservedly apologise for our insensitive mistake. These fines should never have been issued and will all be immediately cancelled."

 He went on to say: "There will be wardens in the area for the rest of the week but no cars that have been parked within the police cordon will be fined".

A top Uber executive, who obtained the medical records of a customer who was a rape victim, has been fired

Sources say Eric Alexander carried around for a year confidential information about a woman who was assaulted during a ride in India in 2014.

A top Uber executive obtained medical records of a woman who had been raped during a ride in India, according to multiple sources.

He is no longer with the company, an Uber spokesperson said. 

The executive in question, Eric Alexander, the president of business in the Asia Pacific, then showed the medical records to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and SVP Emil Michael. In addition, numerous executives at the car-hailing company were either told about the records or shown them by this group. 

Alexander’s handling of the delicate situation was among 215 claims reported to two law firms — Perkins Coie and Covington & Burling — doing deep investigations into both specific and widespread mismanagement issues at the company, including around allegations of pervasive sexism and sexual harassment at Uber. 

As part of the Coie investigation, 20 employees were fired for a range of infractions, from sexual harassment to unprofessional behavior to retaliation. About 100 others are either still being investigated or saw some type of action — such as warnings or mandatory employee trainings. 

Alexander had not been among those fired, Uber said yesterday when asked about his status. Now, after Recode contacted the company about his actions, he is no longer employed there. Uber declined to comment further. 

By way of background, in 2014, a 26-year-old woman in New Delhi, India was raped and assaulted by her Uber driver at the end of a Saturday night in December. The driver — who was already awaiting trial for at least four other criminal charges— was arrested and later sentenced to life in prison. 

It was a decision Uber India president Amit Jain applauded at the time. “Sexual assault is a terrible crime and we’re pleased he has now been brought to justice,” he said in a statement. “Safety is a priority for Uber and we’ve made many improvements — in terms of new technology, enhanced background checks and better 24/7 customer support — as a result of the lessons we learned from this awful case.”

But Uber came under Indian government scrutiny after the incident. Police in New Delhi considered whether to criminally charge the ride-hail company over its lax background checks and questioned the city’s general manager, Gagan Bhatia. Ultimately, Uber was banned from operating in Delhi shortly after the incident, a stricture which wasn’t lifted until June of 2015.

While the company was publicly apologetic, some top executives apparently had trouble believing that the incident was entirely true, sources said, including Alexander. He was already in India and investigated the claims — it’s not clear if he did this of his own volition or was directed to do so. It is also not clear if he obtained these files legally. 

Alexander then brought the files to Kalanick and Michael, who read them, said sources. This is highly unusual since they were records related to a criminal investigation.

Still, soon after, all three began to raise the prospect that Ola — Uber’s prime competitor in India — was behind the incident to sabotage the company, sources said.

Some Uber staffers who were told about the medical report by them were disturbed to hear the executives were considering the scenario, based on their reading of the medical report, that the woman’s story was not true. 

“Travis never should have looked at the report and he should have fired him immediately,” said one executive of Alexander. 

Neither Kalanick, Michael nor Alexander has medical training, even though they questioned the incident based on the medical report, the sources said.

Worse: Alexander carried around the document for about a year before other executives — presumably the legal department — obtained the report and destroyed his copy, according to the sources. It’s not clear if Uber continues to have a copy.

At the time, Kalanick’s public response to the rape seemed to shift some of the blame over the lack of sufficient background checks, which would have caught the drivers’ several infractions, onto the government. 

What happened over the weekend in New Delhi is horrific. Our entire team's hearts go out to the victim of this despicable crime. We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery. 

We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women's safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.

Still, many believed that the rape was a watershed moment for the ride-hailing company. Uber quickly rolled out new safety features in India and elsewhere in the aftermath of the incident. 

However, Uber’s decision to move the lion’s share of their customer support team — the company’s last line of defense against these types of incidents — to contract companies in places like Manila where there were high quotas and language barriers at times caused serious complaints and reports to fall through the cracks, as reported back in February 2016. In April of 2016, the company also agreed to pay up to $25 million to settle a lawsuit in California over the “false sense of security” the language around its background checks gave riders.