Friday, September 08, 2017

Going...Going...Going .... But Still Hanging Around Like A Bad Smell.

In a recent Taxi Leaks poll, 97% of drivers taking part agreed that Leon Daniels should be sack over TfLs recent poor and inadequate performance. 

News broke this afternoon that Daniels is at last to go, but unfortunately, not till the end of the year. 
Utter rubbish (as we've come to expect) from Mike Brown. 

Under Daniels directorship we've seen the licensing of an alleged illegal app that he and his colleagues have bent over backwards to protect, while members of the public have been put in grave danger. 

Legislation laid down by parliament has also been relaxed in order to protect a company that pays little to no Tax/VAT in this country.

Under his directorship we've also seen an unprecedented rises in rapes an sexual assaults from one Private Hire operator on passengers. 
Last year, we saw a 50% increase from uber drivers alone.

More recently, it's emerged that under his directorship, 13,000 PHV drivers were allowed to carry on regardless for 7 months after they submitted dodgy DBS certificates.

He will be mostly remembered by our trade, as the TfL director who openly lied twice to the transport committee of the GLA in respect of Uber drivers mythical on/off insurance (doesn't exist) and Uber's Landline, which turned out to be the CEO of Uber's personal phone number.

The word from Londins Gold Standard  Taxi Trade to Leon....
"Why wait till the end of the year....go now".

Uber is under FBI investigation over software it used to track Lyft drivers

The FBI has opened an investigation into Uber over its “Hell” program, which the company allegedly used to track Lyft drivers from 2014 to 2016, according to The Wall Street Journal. The probe is being led by the FBI’s New York office in conjunction with the Manhattan US attorney’s office, the latter of which was already investigating Uber’s “anticompetitive strategies” since 2016, according to the report.

“We are cooperating with the investigation,” an Uber spokesperson said. The company declined to offer any further comment.

One of Hell’s main schemes involved Uber creating fake rider accounts on Lyft, according to a report published in The Information in April. It then used those accounts as a window into its rival service, where it monitored how many Lyft drivers were available in certain areas at certain times. Armed with that information, Uber would fill apparent gaps in Lyft’s coverage in real time. The software got its name because of the way it mirrored Uber’s “God view,” or, later, “Heaven view,” which employees used to track the company’s own drivers and riders.

Another part of the program was used to identify drivers who used both Lyft and Uber. Uber reportedly used that information to target these drivers with incentives to lure them away from Lyft. The company reportedly discontinued the use of Hell in 2016.

Earlier this year, a former Lyft driver filed a class action lawsuit against Uber over its use of the Hell. The suit alleged that Uber’s secretive tracking program violated various privacy and communications acts, but it was ultimately dismissed last month.

The investigation into Hell is not the only one Uber’s newly minted CEO has to worry about. In May it was reported that the US Justice Department opened a criminal probeinto the company for its use of “Greyball,” software that allowed it to evade local regulators in towns where the company wasn’t licensed to operate. The Justice Department is also investigating whether Uber violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Source : The Verge 

After Just Three Days, Taxify Call Halt To Operations Following TfL Investigation

When you're a ride-hailing company, a lot can happen in a week. Just three days after it brought its private hire app to London, Taxify has suspended all rides as it seeks to clarify its standing with the capital's transport authority. Transport for London confirmed yesterday that it was "urgently investigating" the Uber rival because it isn't a "licensed private hire operator" and was performing its services without the necessary clearance.

TfL have today issued the statement that the law requires Private Hire bookings are taken by a licensed Private Hire Operator at at a Licensed premises. 
As this is not the case with Uber (as we are frequently told by them that the driver accepts the booking in vehicle) will TfL be suspending Uber's licence forthwith, pending investigation ? 

While Taxify doesn't hold a licence itself, CEO Markus Villig told media that the company operates as a "technology platform," which sources rides for an existing ride-hailing operator called City Drive Services. Taxify purchased City Drive Services, allowing it to piggyback on the London-based firm's licence (which expires in 2019).

In a statement, Taxify said it had accumulated over 30,000 customers and added 3,000 drivers since it launched, adding: "Taxify is a technological platform for customers to hail rides from City Drive Services, a licensed London based private hire company. This has been raised as a concern by TfL and in full cooperation, Taxify have temporarily stopped operations to clarify its legal position with the regulator and reach a resolution so that services can return to normal."

"TfL have a responsibility to Londoners to make sure there is a competitive ride-hailing market in the capital that strengthens incentives for operators to improve quality and safety while also bringing the overall cost down for customers. Taxify's model does just this having achieved significant breakthroughs in over 19 markets around the world, and we look forward to an open and transparent dialogue with TfL in the coming days to resolve this."

In a letter to Transport for London and London's deputy mayor for transport, GMB union secretary Steve Garelick called Taxify's acquisition tactics into question, noting that the company's decision not to advise TfL of a change to licencing conditions appeared "incompatible with the law."

It's now Transport for London's job to identify whether Taxify's decision to trade under a subsidiary's licence is against the rules, which could see the company keep its drivers off the road indefinitely.

Source : Engadget

TfL Notice 

And Finally, After 8 Months of Waiting...The Trade Meets With Mike Brown .

This from Grant Davis, Chair of the London Taxi Drivers Club:

Yesterday's meeting with Mike Brown started with the 13k PH drivers who have been asked to re take their DBS - I asked Helen Chapman & Mike Brown to suspend them until retested, this fell on deaf ears.
I stated I had members who had suffered and if anything the PH drivers should face the same.

This was refuted.

Today on LBC the Mayor stated they had not supplied an "enhanced CRB" not good. 
Ms Chapman told us she would guarantee that every PH driver retested would pass.
Which I found extraordinary.

We complained about Compliance and the heavy handed approach.
We told them we were being unfairly treated and they needed to come back under TPH.

We spoke about the promised bus lane access... Shorter St, Byward St, Euston underpass and were told we faced opposition within Tfl from the buses.

Steve Mc spoke of Bank Junction traffic and that figures used by CoL were flawed - we also put forward a case for us to us Tottenham Court Road due to flawed figures. 
We also showed we had support from the public, retailers and that the only opposition was Camden.

We spoke about charge points ( or lack of them ) there is only 1 at present and that don't work.

Tfl are promising 75 before Xmas, but I will be very surprised if they achieve half that . 

I brought up that TfL wanted us to have a 10 yr age limit due to the electric cabs and how plentiful the infrastructure world be, total codswallop.

Thank God we got 15 from Boris.

Again, we told Tfl "you cannot make policy on promises".

Not much was mentioned about Uber relicense, or not , but that was expected.

We also debated the lack of "e- hailing" policy by Tfl and I spoke of our efforts in Brighton.

If TfL had a policy in place and they stated all apps were ASAP bookings, we would have no problems.

    Lee Ward On LBC Yesterday 


Thursday, September 07, 2017

Is The Taxi Trade On The Verge Of Extinction ......Again ? Inspired by Stanley Roth.

The London Taxi Trade on the very verge of extinction....shock horror....from the advance of technology and the onslaught of electric, driverless cars....

Now where have we heard all this before? 

The story below was sent to my by Stanley Roth, published in the Taxi Trade newspaper "The Steering Wheel" 49 years ago, predicting a so called new concept of a driverless Taxi, routed by computer....yes this really was 49 years ago. 

At that time, Dr L R Blake, director of Bush Electrical Engineering said the driverless Taxi would be on the road within 4 years....well as Stan says, we are still waiting. 

He also raises a very interesting question? 

The Steering Wheel, May 18th 1968:

Taxi Leaks Extra Comment :
There is of course an upside to driverless Uber Minicabs...
At least the passengers won't get raped by the driver. 

Although if it's a Uberpool driverless Minicab, then rape from another stranger/ passenger is back on the cards as there's no one there to stop it happening. 

Sadiq Khan Linked To Uber ? : Mayor's Night Time Commissioner "Has Conflict Of Interest" Over Uber Case

LBC has discovered that Sadiq Khan's Night Time Commissioner is representing three Uber drivers in a court case.

Pre-eminent barrister Philip Kolvin QC was appointed by the Mayor of London last December and advises on the project to make London a 24-hour city, bringing together pubs, nightclubs, the police and transport - including Uber.

But it now appears there could be a conflict of interest in Mr Kolvin’s role as Night Time Commissioner because he is representing Uber drivers in court, with those drivers are having their legal costs met by Uber.

Conservative MP and former Transport Minister Theresa Villiers says the London Mayor now needs to review the appointment. She told LBC: "I have concerns about what I've heard bout Philip Kolvin's involvement in defending Uber drivers in court.

"He's got a perfect right to do that, but I do worry that this gives him a conflict of interest regarding his role on the Mayor's Night Time Commission.

"I think the Mayor needs to look at the situation. I'm not sure it's really credible for Mr Kolvin to continue with these cases if he's going to continue with his role as Commissioner."

LBC's Political Editor Theo Usherwood explains: "My initial focus was on the Berkshire town of Reading. That's because in March last year, its council refused to grant Uber an operator's licence on the grounds it wouldn't guarantee having an office in the town staffed on a daily basis.

"As a result, Uber launched the Reading Reward Zone - promising the first 150 drivers to cover the town between £15 and £25 per hour. That led in June to council officers catching two men, who pleaded guilty and were fined £500.

"But now another two Uber drivers are being prosecuted by the council. One of the men is due to go to trial in November. Both are represented by Mr Kolvin QC.

"He is described by the Legal 500 as the “standard-bearer” when it comes to licensing, and I’ve been told by other barristers his fees will run into the thousands of pounds for a day’s work. My source at Uber has told me that they’re paying their drivers’ legal fees in this case.

"To be clear - Nobody is calling into question Mr Kolvin’s professionalism as a barrister.

"But the appearance of a conflict of interest centres on his role as chairman of the Night Time Commission."

Keith Prince, the Conservative chairman of the Greater London Authority’s Transport Committee told me that because Uber has more cars on the road than any other minicab company, it would inevitably have an interest in the Night Time Commission’s work.

He said: "Is this the right position to have where you have someone who will, in his role as Night Time Commissioner, be looking at contracts across London and looking at how the night-time economy works.

"No one can deny that Uber has an interest in how the night-time economy work."

Mayor's office insists there is no conflict.

A spokesman for Mr Khan told LBC that Mr Kolvin has declared all of his interests with the GLA and provided advance notice about the impending case between the Uber driver and the LTDA. As a result the GLA's monitoring office has also reviewed the issue and concluded there is no conflict.

The spokesman also said the Commission had no decision making powers. In reference to the Bexleyheath hearing, the spokesman added: "Philip stands by his undertaking not to carry out any work for Uber in the capital and that is not breached by acting for this individual.

"There is no conflict of interest in acting for a London citizen in a taxi licensing prosecution and chairing a Commission advising on the future of the night time economy in London." 

Uber's licence to operate in London is up for renewal at the end of this month. Transport for London will make the decision on allowing them to continue. If it doesn't, Uber faces a lengthy legal battle to stay in business in the capital.

Source LBC. 

Start-up raises £14m to trial driverless taxis on London's streets

A technology company that hopes to put driverless taxis on the roads of London by 2019 has raised £14m, the biggest investment in an autonomous car start-up in Europe.

FiveAI, a Cambridge-based company founded last year, has secured the funds months after winning millions of pounds in government support to fund trials of a driverless taxi service in the capital.

Despite being a minnow compared to the likes of Google and Uber, which are investing billions in their own driverless car programmes, it hopes to gain a foothold in the UK by teaching its cars to navigate the peculiarities of British roads.

“It’s a medieval city, the topography, objects and the behaviour of people in London are different to those of Phoenix, Arizona,” said Stan Boland, FiveAI’s chief executive.

The company is raising the funds from the European venture capital firm Lakestar Capital, as well as Amadeus Capital Partners, run by Acorn Computers founder Hermann Hauser.

It is gradually developing its driverless car technology and plans to run a trial of 10 cars in an outer borough of London in 2019, allowing passengers to order rides in the same way they use Uber and other taxi-hailing apps.

A consortium led by the company that also includes Direct Line, the University of Oxford and Transport for London won £12.8m from the departments for business and transport in April as part of a government push to support driverless cars.

Mr Boland, a serial entrepreneur who founded the tech companies Element14 and Icera before selling them to chip firms Broadcom and Nvidia for $640m (£491m) and $367m respectively, said he hoped to expand across Europe while Silicon Valley companies were focusing on American cities.

On Tuesday, a separate driverless car group led by software group Oxbotica said it planned to test driverless vehicles between London and Oxford in 2019.

It’s the year 2025. Your driverless car has just crashed into a tree at 55mph because its built-in computer valued a pedestrian’s life above your own. Your injuries are the result of a few lines of code that were hacked out by a 26-year-old software programmer in the San Francisco Bay Area back in the heady days of 2019. As you wait for a paramedic drone, bleeding out by the roadside, you ask yourself – where did it all go wrong?

The above scenario might sound fanciful, but death by driverless car seems inevitable. In May this year, semi-autonomous software failed in the most tragic way: Joshua Brown’s Tesla Model S drove under the trailer of an 18-wheel truck on a highway while in Autopilot mode.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

TfL Have Lost Control... Should They Be Replace As Regulatory Body? : Part Lee Ward

Remember this reply from Chelsee at TfL?

Dear Mr Ward

Thank you for your email response of 17 October 2016.

When booking a private hire vehicle, the passenger is deemed to be entering into a contact with the licensed operator who is inviting the booking and then fulfilling it with a licensed driver and vehicle. When accepting a booking, by whatever means, the operator is obliged to make a record of it at their licensed operating centre. The details of contracts between passengers and specific licensed operators are a matter for those two parties.

In accepting the booking and taking the payment, there is, in our view, what amounts to a contractual arrangement between the operator and the passenger. We will not comment on any specific contractual arrangements between the various parties.

As previously advised, Uber London Limited is registered as a private hire operator in London, having met the same pre-licensing requirements as any other applicant for an operator's licence and is subject to all legislation which applies to private hire operators in the Capital.

Yours sincerely

Chelsee Mckinlay

As they agree and admit, the contract is between the customer and the person/company that invited the booking....INVITED the booking....

So, if Uber California or Taxify are the people that own the App which INVITES the booking to be made and then passed on, then THOSE companies require and Operators license as explained above.

The total disregard to this by TfL and any other authority is beyond any comprehension of the trade and requires immediate action. 

TfL Have Lost Control... Should They Be Replace As Regulatory Body....Plus, Taxi Leaks Poll Results

Taxify have now been allowed by TfL to transfer an operators Licence in the face of legislation laid down by parliamentary act. 

They have also been allowed to ply for immediate hire using an app, under a name which also is against the PHV act 1998 and which has seen a number of TfLTPH notifications. 

TfL have shown that they are toothless an as a consequence, technology disrupters will walk all over the Taxi and Private Hire industries. 

If our regulators can't regulate, then they need to be replaced by an appointed body that can.

Transport for London London Taxi and Private Hire

Advertising - Private Hire Services

Despite repeated reminders and clear guidance and advice issued by Transport for London (TfL) we continue to receive a high level of complaints, information and evidence showing that some licensed London private hire operators continue to advertise their services using words ‘taxi’ or ‘cab’.

TfL will always take appropriate action against those licensed operators who commit such an offence but such activity is very time consuming, is not a cost effective use of our resources and has a direct adverse impact on the private hire licence fee.

Operators are therefore reminded that they are not permitted under any circumstances to use the terms ‘cab(s)’, ‘taxi(s)’ or any words closely resembling these terms in advertisements and that they must comply with section 31 of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.

Failure to do so can result in the revocation of your operator license and / or legal action.

I thank you for your co-operation with this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or queries regarding the above.

John Mason

7 September 2010 Director, Taxi and Private Hire

For previous notices visit

Again we would like to inform all operators that the advertising of their services in this manner is clearly not permitted under the conditions set out in section 31 of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.

This section clearly states that no private hire advertising can use the words ‘taxi’, ‘taxis’, ‘cab’ or ‘cabs’, or words closely resembling any of those words, and that any person who contravenes this is guilty of an offence.

Result of Taxi Leaks Twitter Poll

Has Taxify Put TfL Between A Rock And A Hard Place ???

Between Scylla and Charybdis... 
By Lee Ward

That’s where Transport for London find themselves now Taxify has ‘launched’ in the Capital.

You see, Taxify are using the argument against Uber being illegal while promoting their own illegal activity, yes, I know, you couldn’t make this up could you.

This, puts TfL into a place that they were dreading to be put, because now another investor backed company is in the frame and these are putting a different spin on the debate.

Yes, we know the word Taxi cannot be used for Private Hire advertising, but to be honest, that argument is a no brainer and simply detracts from the rest of what is going on.

Let’s take a close look at the advert that Taxify have sent out first;

They are admitting here that they are not an operator, and that each driver must have their own Operators License, or be registered to work under the Operator’s License previously owned by City Drive Services.

Now I say previously owned because an Operator’s License is not transferable and Taxify have stated that they have a shortcut to operate in London by acquiring City Drive Services.

Shortcut, any self-respecting Taxi or Private Hire driver in the UK, if not the world, hates to hear that any company has taken a shortcut. A shortcut is what we drivers do to avoid traffic and assist the public, it’s not what companies should do to avoid legislation and assist illegal activity.
Illegal activity, from a company that has had plenty of money invested in it? 
Surely not!

Well, yes. Look again at the Taxify advert above, it clearly states that in its current form it is a Technology Company that ‘connects’ rider’s, oops, I mean the public with partners…oops again, I mean drivers. But I am sure you can see why I keep making that mistake, can’t you?

To remind Taxify of the regulations that they bypassed while buying City Drive, it states at the introduction of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 that;

(b)“operator” means a person who makes provision for the invitation or acceptance of, or who accepts, private hire bookings[F3; and

(c)operate”, in relation to a private hire vehicle, means to make provision for the invitation or acceptance of, or to accept, private hire bookings in relation to the vehicle.]

Therefore, Mr Villig, unlike the rest of the cities that you operate, London requires you to be a licensed Operator to enable you to ‘invite’ or ‘accept’ a booking. 

And before you say that you are only passing on this information to Taxify, oops, here I go again, City Drive, you must also be a Licensed Operator for them to be able to accept from you, honest, you do, it says so here.

(4)In this Act “private hire booking” means a booking for the hire of a private hire vehicle for the purpose of carrying one or more passengers (including a booking to carry out as sub-contractor a private hire booking accepted by another operator).

I Know it's that pesky legislation, but this is where the Scylla and Charybdis comes in you see, because is this not what Uber do also?

An Uber company, for ease of explanation we will call them Uber California, gives everyone a free App that allows them to request a driver to collect them, but the booking goes through the Licensed Operator which is Uber London Limited. We all know that it is back filled after the driver accepts, let’s be honest here, TfL know this too and do everything but admit it.

So, if they [TfL] allow Taxify to operate then they will be breaking the legislation by a company using the word Taxi in its name, and the fact that the same company is not a licensed Operator to invite bookings.

But that then means that Uber California are doing the same as Taxify and inviting bookings while not licensed to Operate. 

Now they can’t go back on that argument can they, unless new evidence came to light of course, like the evidence that has been there for 5 years but ignored and not acted upon.

Well, what do you guys think, is a company that calls itself a Technology Company breaking the legislation by inviting someone to request a Private Hire Vehicle through an App?

Can an unlicensed Operator give a Licensed Operator a booking request?
Can TfL get out of this one?

Taxi Leaks Extra Comment : 

TaxiFy are now coaching their employees to lie to TfL COs. 

We've seen above in Lee Wards article that according to the PHV act 1998, it's illegal to transfer ownership of an operators licence. This is what Taxify have done. 

Our orgs must demand City Drive Services licence is revoked ASAP when they meet with Mike Brown later today.  

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Brave Builder From Harrow, Tackles Armed Moped Thug.

At Last Some Good News....
These scumbags have been robbing Taxi drivers and causing damage to taxis. They need to be dealt with by old bill.... or even Bob The Builder. 

Brave builder, 24, tackles a moped thug to the ground after bikers armed with crowbars, tried to rob an elderly couple, before handing him to the police.

The builder says he is happy that the couple are OK and that he did what anyone would have done.

Alan Bujar 24, was on site when he saw bikers with crowbars trying to rod a couple in their 80s

He grabbed a shovel and hit one of the helmet-wearing pair twice.

Alan floored the man and clung to him until cops arrived in Mitcham, South West London, on Saturday.

The other rider fled.
Alan said yesterday: “I was doing my job when I saw these guys attacking this Asian couple.

“The two had crowbars and were hitting the man and trying to snatch the jewellery the woman was wearing. She and her husband were screaming and shouting for help, so I just went in. If you see anyone in trouble then you should help out.

“I hit one with a shovel a couple of times and I think he must have been shocked. The guy who was with him escaped on the scooter so I threw myself on the other one.”

The Romanian-born labourer, of Harrow, North West London, added: ''It was only later that I thought they could have had acid or knives and that made me shiver. 

I did what anyone would have done. 
I’m just glad the couple are OK.”

Delon Reason, 30, is due before Camberwell Green JPs Monday accused of attempted robbery, assault by beating and possession of an offensive weapon.

Source : The Sun 

Japan's Degrading Electric Taxis Falling Out Of Favour With Taxi Drivers

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 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.

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

As we reported at the time, many people 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.

There are other issues too--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--and 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). And as a recent survey showed, frequency of quick charging seems to have little bearing on a battery's life or health.

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--and it'll make electric taxis of the future much better suited to the task at hand. 

But at present the technology isn't there for electric vehicle Taxi use and the once thriving Taxi trade in Osaka has been devastated to the point of collapse. 

A question to ask Sadiq Khan:
If electric transport is the answer to cleaner sir quality, why are London's hybrid buses running around on just diesel ?