Saturday, March 03, 2018

Uber May Have Imposed a 12-Hour Limit, but It’s Still Pushing Drivers in Other Troubling Ways

                   Caught Bang To Rights 
This driver works for Network Rail, then off for a shift in his Uber Car.....other benefits -free parking.

In 2015, Uber cut the rates it paid per mile and per minute. “LOWER PRICES = HIGHER EARNINGS,” 
the company announced to incredulous drivers, who already had to foot the bill for fuel, maintenance, car leases, and benefits like health care.

Uber insisted that the cost-per-ride cuts would cause passenger demand to rise, and that the increase would translate to higher earnings for its gig workers. But drivers recoiled at this “Uber math”—the less-than-affectionate term some started using to describe the company’s communications—recognizing that the equation really meant that they’d have to do more trips and work longer hours to see the alleged boost. This certainly wouldn’t be the last time that Uber would push drivers to up their workload either.

For ride-hail drivers, such pressures have become routine. The companies make regular changes to pay and conditions, often with the effect of squeezing more out of their drivers. Uber is known to intervene based on the app’s tracking of driver braking and accelerationride acceptance and cancellation rates, and, of course, passenger-sourced ratings. For years, ride-hail apps have also sent out frequent nudges to incentivize workers to get or keep on the road. For example, when a tired Uber driver working near Penn State University tried to go offline at 4 a.m. one morning in 2015, a playful in-app notification from Uber popped up to say, “YOU’RE $1 AWAY FROM EARNING $40. Don’t stop now, keep driving!” He posted the notification to a driver forum, commenting, “They better cough up $40 or there will be heck to pay!” He continued working until he received another ride request.

So when, two weeks ago, Uber announced a new policy limiting drivers to 12-hour shifts in the name of helping to “keep riders and drivers safe on the road while preserving the flexibility drivers tell us they love,” its stated motivation struck me as only part of the story. Since 2014, I’ve been studying Uber from the perspective of the drivers. I’ve made daily visits to online forums where drivers post updates about their work, traveled to interview local drivers in more than 25 cities in the U.S. and Canada, and kept up with its corporate policies and communications. While Uber may have taken a step to get drowsy drivers off the road in the name of public safety, it obscures the fact that it still pushes its drivers in other concerning ways.

Uber’s official new policy states that drivers who engage in a total of 12 hours of driving time will be shown a prompt requiring them to go offline for a six-hour break. As an Uber executive told the Washington Post, the app will use GPS and telematics to measure an individual’s cumulative driving time. The app won’t count long stops, such as waiting for a ride request in an airport parking lot (a policy that highlights the fact that Uber doesn’t pay workers for all of their time on the clock), but will count short traffic stops and multiple stints in a day—say, three four-hour shifts—taken without a six-hour rest in between. It will also give drivers periodic notifications when a driver is close to hitting the 12-hour max before automatically going offline. It’s similar to restricted hours Uber had already rolled out in New York City and to caps implemented by the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission to prevent driver fatigue.

Drivers have had mixed responses to this change. For example, a driver I recently interviewed who works for Uber and Lyft in Boston said that she thought it was a good policy. She had started driving part time for the ride-hail apps last year to supplement her income working full time at a restaurant, but said she soon found the ride-hail work less exhausting and more flexible than her regular job. She suggested that the new rules might get individuals who start working before the morning rush at 5 or 6 a.m. and drive nonstop late into the night to take a break sooner. “It’s the human body, you get tired, you may doze off a little … and that could be dangerous for everyone involved,” she told me. She said she thought drivers could make up for the lost income by better timing the hours they picked to be on the road.

On an online driver forum, Ethan, a part-time driver who’s been working for Uber and Lyft for a little more than a year in and around Burlington, Vermont, posted, “From a safety standpoint this is important. My honest opinion is that people deep down aren’t really pissed about not being able to work this much. They’re pissed because they HAVE to work this much to make ends meet and can’t now.” Considering that, as independent contractors, drivers aren’t entitled to a minimum wagebenefits, or reimbursements for costs, this squeeze can be very real. A recent study released by MIT of more than 1,100 Uber and Lyft drivers in 2017 seem to bolster this point: The authors determined that 74 percent of those surveyed earned less than the minimum wage in their state. What’s more, the researchers also determined that a startling 30 percent were actually losing money once vehicle expenses were included.

These moves from Uber and Lyft seem to align with their gig-economy model of employment, which structures work as an individual pursuit and individual liability.

In its release about the changes, Uber suggested that the new rule won’t affect the “nearly 60 percent of U.S. drivers [who] use Uber less than 10 hours a week.” But the statement fails to acknowledge that the change will hit Uber’s most invested drivers the hardest. While it’s true that most drivers work part time, a minority of them do work full time or longer—and do so without overtime pay. They’re the individuals most likely to rely on the ride-hailing apps as their primary income, and the most likely to make investments, like buying a new car, to do this work. They’re also the most affected by compensation cuts, hence pushing themselves to work dangerously long hours to make up for the losses. Some part-timers who devote long hours to intense weekend shifts after working at their primary jobs during the week will be hit too. Plus, migratory workers who commute from their homes into a city with more work—some of whom sleep over in supermarket and airport parking lots to make ends meet—will certainly feel the impact when they can’t log in to work but can’t easily go home either.

There’s also the question of whether such policies will even be effective. Some drivers running up against Uber’s 12-hour limit quickly found an easy way around the system: going to competitors. Many Uber drivers had already been working for rival platforms like Lyft, toggling between the apps depending on demand and rates (a fact that also suggests any company’s claim that the majority of their gig workers only drive part time deserves greater scrutiny—many are essentially cobbling together full-time hours from multiple part-time ride-hail jobs). Uber may limit its drivers to 12-hour Uber shifts. But if drivers can simply switch apps in a patchwork job market, the policy may do little to curb drowsy driving—especially if they still feel financial pressures to stay on the clock.

The Boston area driver I interviewed who praised the change, for example, told me she hasn’t used Uber for 12 straight hours in some time. But she said she has definitely worked to the limit for Lyft, which has a policy that requires drivers to take a six-hour break after 14 hours in driver mode. David Aguirre, an Uber driver in Houston who started driving as a side gig but switched to full time after the company he worked for went under, said he also already felt the pull of putting in just a few more hours. He told me that the first time he reached the 12-hour limit under Uber’s new rules, he thought that it was a good policy to help keep drivers and passengers safe. But he admitted, “That day I just wanted to keep going a little longer to get to $500 for the day.” He said one of the first things he did after the automatic timeout was to apply to drive for Lyft.

Karen Levy, an assistant professor in the Department of Information Science at Cornell University (who’s also affiliated with Data & Society, where I work as a researcher) found a similar conundrum in her research with truckers. For years, they have technically been restricted from working too long by law—and, in some cases, are also electronically monitored for enforcement—but found ways to skirt it in practice. “Truckers don’t work without sleep for dangerously long stretches (as many acknowledge having done) because it’s fun,” she wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, “They do it because they have to earn a living. The market demands a pace of work that many drivers say is impossible to meet if they’re ‘driving legal.’ ”

I certainly agree with Uber’s stated goal of making the roads safer for drivers, passengers, and others. But, short of implementing troublingly invasive monitoring of off-app drivers (which, considering Uber’s shady history of secretly tracking drivers working for competitors, may not be a far-fetched scenario) or giving drivers fairer compensation, Uber and Lyft won’t be doing enough to significantly address the safety issues that come with overworked drivers. Instead, the new policies respond to public pressure about the problem by shifting a shared liability for these dangers onto its drivers. The companies now bear less of the responsibility if a driver goes beyond the shift restrictions—the app timed out! The blame falls entirely on the worker, who managed their time poorly, who irresponsibly circumvented the safety feature.

These moves from Uber and Lyft seem to align with their gig-economy model of employment, which structures work as an individual pursuit and individual liability. But even this sell is misleading. While, for many drivers, the idea of being independent at work is very appealing, their ability to make entrepreneurial decisions is consistently constrained by the ride-hail apps’ nudges and other algorithmic management, rules, external costs, and wage cuts.

Perhaps the shortened amount of hours they can get out of a single driver might spur Uber and Lyft, who often compete for workers as well as passengers, to offer more attractive compensation. Or perhaps the poor pay and new limits might tip the scales for some superdrivers to trade the flexibility the ride-hail apps offer for other types of work. They can do the “Uber math.”


Driver Gets Parking Fine Because Permit Covered By Snow

Most of us are aware that we need to clear the snow from our car before we set out on a journey. However, one motorist was left furious after receiving a parking fine because snow had fallen on his car while he was at work and obscured where the permit was located.

Mysterious fine

Ollie Claxton was confused when he received a £70 parking fine through the post. The penalty had been issued by a Derby City Council parking warden and left Ollie puzzled because had a permit for where he had parked. He had been working away in London for a few months before receiving the letter on December 12th containing the fine.

He visited the council’s website where he could view a picture of his car and instantly realised what had happened – it had been snowing while he was in work and the windscreen of the car had a light covering on it. The parking warden had not bothered to dust the snow off to look for the permit and instead continued to issue the penalty.

Derby Council then admitted that snow and ice can cover a permit and revoked the fine after media outrage. It also came to light that the parking warden had accidentally put in the number plate wrong and was therefore not able to cross reference the number plate with a permit. The last digit had been inputted as a zero rather than the letter ‘O’.

Derby City Council said: “Drivers are responsible for ensuring that permits are clearly displayed, but snow and ice can temporarily obscure the visibility of a permit.

“Officers are advised not to touch vehicles to avoid possible complaints that they have caused any damage.”

Uber sparks anger from customers after increasing prices for journeys through snow storms with some charged up to FIVE TIMES the normal fare


Minicab-booking app Uber has faced criticism for increasing their prices as the 90mph Storm Emma and the 'Beast from the East' hit Britain with blizzards, ice and flooding leaving public transport across the country to be cancelled.


The firm has charged customers up to five time the normal fare for journeys as the Met office issues six different weather warnings covering almost the entire country today - two amber for 'be prepared' and four yellow for 'be aware'. 

Angry Uber users took to social media to share their dismay with the app.


Richard Silcock, from Manchester, said his journey was 'an absolute joke' after being charged £13.20 for a three mile journey

He added it was 'ridiculous' to charge a 2.7 times surcharge for 'a bit of snow

Other frustrated users described the business as 'desperate' or 'pretty douchey'.  


One passenger in Birmingham allegedly paid five times the usual fare.

The customer reportedly paid £31 for a three mile journey that usually costs £

Twitter users complained about being asked to pay more than usual with some saying it was 'desperate'  


Another Uber user was charged £16 for a for a two mile journey that usually costs £5. She queried the price and was told 'We understand that you never had to pay this much before' but 'the rates are updated based on the demand and supply in real-time.      

An Uber spokesperson said: 'The last few days have been incredibly challenging for transport services and anyone trying to get around. Bad weather has seen more people looking to book a car with Uber but fewer drivers on the road which caused prices to automatically increase. 

'Our app uses dynamic pricing to encourage more drivers to pick up fares so that more cars are available. Users can always see a fare estimate before they book and can split the fare with others through the app. We'd encourage both riders and drivers to stay safe and follow the latest travel advice. 

Uber trying to get away from the embarrassment of the surge by calling it "Dynamic" pricing, so back to the old 'it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission'.....

Friday, March 02, 2018

Uber Rethinks It’s Antagonistic Relationship' With Licensing Authorities.

After a long history skirting municipal regulations and evading local law enforcement, Uber is ready to make peace with cities.
So said Rachel Holt, Uber’s general manager of U.S. and Washington, D.C. operations, in a Politico podcast this week.

“I think we used to go into cities with probably a more antagonistic relationship,” Holt told Politico.

 “And what we’ve learned, and I think what we’re seeing now, is going in with a lot more partnership.”

Ameliorating its relationship with cities is part of Uber’s broader efforts to repair its reputation. Uber suffered a series of scandals under previous CEO Travis Kalanick, including a federal investigation into software the company developed to avoid law enforcement in cities where the service’s legal status is murky. 

Controversy eventually led Kalanick to resign and former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took over as Uber’s chief executive.

In Seattle, Uber is still at war with the city government over a landmark law that allows drivers to unionize like employees

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Mother Tells Of Nightmare Moment When Uber Driver Took Off With Her Baby On Back Seat.

Driver collected two more jobs, before the second passenger informed him he had a baby on the back seat. 


A mother was left screaming in panic after an Uber driver accidentally drove off with her seven-month-old daughter in the back of his car — and didn’t realise for almost an hour.

Elisabeth Katompa, a nurse, had visited her mother in Enfield with daughter Olivia-Hope before taking a minicab home to Tottenham with her sister. When the car pulled up outside her home just after 11pm, Mrs Katompa and her sister got out.

As they made their way to the other side to unstrap the sleeping baby from her car seat directly behind the driver he set off, oblivious. 

“My sister and I chased him down the road and he didn’t even know that we were chasing him,” said Mrs Katompa, 31. “We couldn’t catch up with him

The pair called 999. Uber has a lost property service brought text that allows drivers to be contacted but it's not a phone number... Mrs Katompa said: “The panic that I was in… I was screaming and shouting and what-not. I called the police because that was the only thing I could think of.”

When officers arrived she showed them her email receipt, which had the driver’s first name but not the numberplate. Without further details, police said they could not immediately track the driver down.

(Funny that, we've been led to believe that all journeys are can be tracked on Uber's system....is that another of their lies???)

“I got so worried because you hear about things like that happening when someone just takes a child and then you never see them again,” Mrs Katompa said.

“I wasn’t thinking straight. I didn’t know if he was aware that she was still there, I didn’t know if he did it on purpose… I didn’t know what to think.”

The driver had meanwhile accepted another fare, a man who did not question the sleeping baby’s presence. “He didn’t say anything,” Mrs Katompa said. “Maybe he assumed she belonged to the driver.” (Well, they are cheap)

Only when a second fare asked the driver if he was aware of the baby did he realise what had happened.

He took her to Bishopsgate police station, about five miles from the home Mrs Katompa shares with her husband Oliver, 31.

“One of the officers on the radio said someone had just dropped a baby off at the police station,” Mrs Katompa said.

“The police blue-lighted us to the station. I was just hoping it was her... I was hoping that she was well. I was worried that it wouldn’t be my baby. I just wanted to see her. It was scary.” 

When Mrs Katompa got to the station she was reunited with Olivia-Hope, who was asleep. “She wasn’t aware of anything that was going on and the officers were taking care of her,” she said.

Uber said it was the first time such an incident had happened. It added: “We normally hear about drivers finding mobile phones or keys in the back seat of their car but never a sleeping baby.

"As soon as the driver and a following passenger realised what had happened they drove to the local police station to safely reunite mum and baby.”

The Met said it was called at about 11pm on Saturday to reports of a missing baby. It said: “Officers responded and made urgent enquiries to trace the vehicle.

"Just after 12.10am, the driver attended a central London police station to report a baby in his car. The baby was reunited with her mother.”

No crime was recorded. Mrs Katompa said: “I’m still shaken up by it. Even when we got home, I didn’t want to let go of her.”

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : 

So there we have it, even with the drivers name and a receipt for the Uber journey, the police had no way of contacting the driver through Uber as Uber still don't have a landline.....remember that little thing that Leon Daniels told the GLA they definitely had. 

We also know that although they advertise the fact that passengers are safe because all journeys are tracked in real time by GPS...this is in fact another Uber lie, as if you are worried about the safety of a friend, you have no way of contacting Uber directly. 

Why Would "Building Business Relations In Informal Setting" Cause Such A Knee-Jerk Reaction From TfL???

We've always wondered why TfL bosses were so upset, being videoed having a meal outside Delfino's restaurant in Mount Street.

In a fit of spiteful revenge, the Taxi driver who made the video had his licensed immediately revoked. Unable to work, he had to fight for 7 months to get it back (Unlike Uber who have just been allowed to carry on regardless of the fact TfL have said their operation is unfit and a danger to the public). 

We believe the reason why there was such a knee-jerk  reaction to the video, has now become more obvious. It would appear that Delfino's is a place where senior directors of TfL accept corporate hospitality, or as they say "build business relationships in an informal setting".

So what was going on 'that night' that made these TfL top dogs so nervous ?

What could they have been discussing/negotiating/building that caused such a poor judgement reaction.

Perhaps the situation will become clearer when you read the article below from the MayorWatch website.

Transport for London has defended senior managers for accepting hospitality from a consultancy firm it has repeatedly re-appointed over a seven year period without going out to tender.

Over the period, an initial £122,000 contract to advise and support senior members of staff, including former Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy and successor Mike Brown, has been regularly extended, netting the supplier a total of almost £2m.

TfL says the contractor, Panthea, provides “advice and support to the TfL leadership team for a number of major organisational change programmes to deliver a range of improvements and significant financial savings.” 

As reported last November, the agency previously justified its decision not to hold a competitive re-tender on the basis that other bidders “would not have the existing knowledge of TfL,” or the same “expertise and familiarity or trusting relationship with the individual Directors in the Leadership team.”

The most recent extension was made in October 2017, when the decision not to seek alternative bids was justified on the grounds that “it would not be appropriate to go to tender as it may result in a loss of continuity in the development of individuals.”

Despite the agency citing existing familiarity with its processes and key staff as grounds not to seek rival bids, two senior executives were guests of the firm in January when they attended a meal described in Brown’s hospitality register as an opportunity to “build business relationships in [an] informal setting”.

The second executive present, communications chief Vernon Everitt, describes the meals as a “networking” event in his register.

The £150 meal at the Delfino restaurant in Mayfair’s Mount Street was Brown’s fifth acceptance of hospitality from the firm over the past four years. 

Last year London Assembly members questioned the decision to repeatedly extend the contract.

Asked whether it was appropriate for executives to accept hospitality from a contractor which wasn’t having to tender against rivals for work, TfL provided a different description of the event to those in its executives’ registers.

A spokesperson for the agency said: “This was a working dinner as part of the services that Panthea provide to TfL, including their continued advice and support to the leadership team.

“This was to plan upcoming work that Panthea will carry out, and was held in an informal setting.

“The topics discussed included our organisational structure and improvement plans, our financial savings programme, and our challenges for the year ahead.”

In response to a Freedom of Information request, TfL recently claimed it had no central record of the number, or value, of contracts being re-let without rival bids being sought.....now there's a surprise!!!

Source MayorWatch 


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Uber driver snared in 'sting' by rival York taxi drivers

    York Magistrates Court.

A PRIVATE hire Uber driver was caught out illegally picking up a fare in a sting set up by two rival York taxi drivers, a court heard.

One driver posed as a customer to flag down the Leeds-based Uber cab - even though private hire cars can only take pre-booked fares.

A second York driver filmed the incident on his dashcam before providing evidence to City of York Council.

Now the Uber driver, Rehan Farooq, has a criminal record and may face losing his private hire licence as a result of what happened on August 20 in Rougier Street, the court heard.

Victoria Waudby, prosecuting at York Magistrates’ Court, said one of the taxi drivers flagged down Farooq and asked him to take him as a fare.

After the Uber driver accepted the first taxi driver as a passenger, the second taxi driver filmed part of the journey.

Both taxi drivers provided evidence to City of York Council, which investigated and prosecuted Farooq for working as a taxi driver when he only had a licence to take pre-booked fares.

Mrs Waudby said of Farooq: “At the end of the journey, he was aware he was being followed and feared what was going to happen, as he didn’t know who was following him.”

Farooq, 29, of Alder Hill Grove, Meanwood, Leeds, who had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to operating as a taxi driver without a hackney carriage licence in Rougier Street and driving without insurance.

He was fined £200 plus a £30 statutory surcharge plus £608.34 prosecution costs and six penalty points were put on his licence.

He told the magistrates: “The guy approached me. I thought I would take him. It was a stupid mistake. I am very sorry.”

Farooq said that he had insurance generally for his car. However, he accepted that because the insurance didn’t cover him working as a taxi driver, his insurance didn’t cover him for the journey he made after he picked up the first taxi driver.

Mrs Waudby said the council received a complaint that an Uber driver had picked up a fare in Rougier Street on August 20 in a Volkswagon Passat.

The car was registered to Farooq, who was licensed to operate as a private hire driver by Leeds City Council.

Uber records showed that there was no booking for Farooq to take a passenger at the time he was carrying the taxi driver.

When he was interviewed on November 28, Farooq told a council officer he was a full-time carer for his mother and worked as a private hire driver in the evening to make ends meet.

The council has contacted Leeds City Council but the West Yorkshire authority has yet to decide if it will take action regarding Farooq’s licence, the court heard.

Comcast Boss Tells Of London Taxi Driver's Role In £22bn Sky Bid


Brian Roberts says he learned a lot about Sky’s features during chat with driver

If Comcast is successful in stealing Sky from under Rupert Murdoch’s nose, it seems a London cab driver can take some of the credit.

The Comcast chief executive, Brian Roberts, said a chat in a taxi in November helped him realise why Sky is worth the £22bn offer he has tabled

Roberts told reporters he and a colleague hailed a taxi to go to a Sky shop. “The cab driver was incredibly knowledgeable about the difference between Virgin [Media] and Sky in every feature,” he said. “We were learning a lot there.

“Then when we got to the Sky store, we spent at least an hour going through every feature and comparing it to our own ... We were really terribly impressed.”

Roberts said that while the chat was not the deciding factor in making the bid, it was “another reminder for me how impressive Sky is”.

The 58-year-old inherited the top spot at Comcast via his father, who founded it as a cable business in the 1960s, but he had to prove himself before reaching the boardroom in 2002. 

His first job involved selling TV subscriptions door to door and putting up power cables. These days he is worth almost $2bn (£1.4bn), taking home about $30m annually. 

Still, the Philadelphian makes time for sport (Comcast owns the Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey team), winning a gold and four silvers for the US in squash at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Sexual Predators Pose As Uber Drivers To Attack Women, Police Say They Don't Know Why Rape Is Increasing In London.


ASSOCIATED PRESS SAID:

Authorities say they are dealing with a string of sexual assault cases in which attackers pretend to be Uber drivers to lure women into their vehicles. But their statistics also includ Uber drivers, who pick up unbooked jobs, then turn off their app. 

The London Taxi trade have been warning the public and our licensing authority about fake minicab drivers for many years. They've always been out there, lined up outside popular night venues, trying to attract intoxicated young females into their cars. This situation was made worse when satellite offices were licensed by TfL, under the guise of the Safer Travel at Night (STaN) campaign. The lines of minicabs touting outside London clubs were suddenly given a cloak of respectability. 

But with the rise in minicab app use, people wanting a car stick out like a soar thumb, standing on the pavement looking at their mobile. Finding fresh victims became a lot easier for persistent predators.

But it's not just fake drivers that members of the public have to worry about. There are over 10,000 Uber drivers with fake criminal background checks who have been allowed to carry on working by TfLTPH. 

In August last year, we were told there were 13,000 Uber drivers that would 'all' have to re-submit DBS checks, TfLTPH manager Helen Chapman even went so far as to say she would vouch for all 13,000 Uber drivers, passing subsequent checks. Yet only 2,600 were rechecked by TfL. 

TfL have shown disregard for public safety and are now denying there ever was a list of 13,000. They have buried the whole episode.

And now we have news that Lyft have been in talks with TfL to bring their ride share app to London.

Just what London needs (not). More untrained, unchecked drivers following satnavs,smashing into each other, choking Londoners with their fumes and adding to congestion. Well done TfL. What ever happened to the phrase ' Duty of Care' ?


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Crawley Private Hire Driver Found Guilty Of Operating Illegally.


A Crawley man has been successfully prosecuted by Mid Sussex District Council after operating illegally in the District as a private hire driver.

Mr Raja Masood from London Road in Crawley, was prosecuted for plying for hire without a Hackney licence, which meant his vehicle was uninsured. Mr Masood was found guilty on 8 January 2018 at Brighton Magistrates Court.


Mr Masood is a Private Hire driver licensed by Wealden District Council. As a private hire driver he can only take passengers that are pre-booked, otherwise he is plying for hire and his vehicle insurance would not be valid for that trip.

A Mid Sussex District Council Licensing Officer witnessed Mr Masood dropping off a customer at East Grinstead Railway Station; he then picked up another member of the public. Enquires by the Licensing Team revealed that this customer was not pre-booked.

Mr Masood was interviewed and admitted that the passenger was not pre-booked. He was prosecuted by Mid Sussex District Council, six penalty points were added to his Driving Licence and the Council was awarded total costs of £1500.

Councillor Norman Webster, Cabinet Member for Community said:

“Mid Sussex Council takes passenger safety very seriously. The laws and licensing standards that we enforce are in place to ensure that passengers are safe.

“People should be aware that if they use private hire vehicles without booking in advance then the vehicle will not be insured if an accident occurs.

Each vehicle is required to have its licence on display and drivers invariably carry identification, which passengers can inspect

"Residents can help by checking the private hire vehicle they are using to make sure it is fully licensed by the District Council".

Uber Driver With Previous Conviction Was Allowed To Commit Four Sexual Offences Before Action Was Taken


It turns out the Uber driver who told a 14-year-old girl she "looked hot and had nice lips" hours after he told another female passenger he could satisfy her needs, had a previous conviction and three previous complaints for improper behaviour...a court heard.

Again we've seen Uber failing to pass on sexual complaints to either TfL or the Police. 

Spyros Ntounis, 35, slowed his car down to 5mph so he could have more time with the teenager after she used the app to book a journey home from a night out at a friend's home.

Allister Walker, prosecuting, said the driver told the girl she "looked hot and had nice lips" while driving her to Kingston-upon-Thames in southwest London.

Ntounis then gave the girl some chewing gum, before giving her his mobile number after she told him she did not have an Uber app.

The next morning Ntounis started sending WhatsApp messages to the schoolgirl asking if she was okay and offered to 'give her lessons' in anything she wanted.

Ntounis sent her messages asking when they could next meet up, then quizzed her on whether he had 'passed the age test', jurors at Kingston Crown Court heard.

The teenager showed her parents, who urged her to block him on Whatsapp and contact the police.

Ntounis, of Drayton Green Road, West Ealing, denied but was convicted of attempting to meet a girl under 16 years of age following grooming.

It came out in court that the driver had faced three complaints from previous female passengers.
• A woman contacted Uber after Ntounis told her he felt 'horny' on October 8, 2016.
• Another complaint was lodged in November 2016 after Ntounis started talking to a passenger about 'inappropriate things'.
• The third complaint was made on April 21 las year, just hours before Ntounis targeted the 14-year-old girl. The passenger said Ntounis asked her if he could "'satisfy her needs".

Three complaints yet Uber took no action and failed to pass on these serious complaints to TfL

Ntounis' private hire licence was only suspended as a result of the forth allegation.

Judge Timothy Lamb QC said: "It's troubling the circumstances of this offence. Particularly considering I heard about his previous behaviour in his Uber car that the jury didn't hear about.

"His service was dispensed with by Uber but again, only after the three complaints by ladies about his conversation in the car."

How was this driver licensed by TfL with a previous conviction?
Was he one of Helen Chapman's 13,000 Uber drivers with fake DBS checks swept under TFL's carpet?

Ntounis previous conviction of dishonesty was from October 2014, for which he was handed a 12 month suspended sentence for 24 months, but was still given a TfL licence???

Judge Lamb bailed Ntounis ahead of sentence on March 19 but said: "You have been convicted by a jury, I need a report from you.

"I will give you your liberty this time but I wouldn't assume that because I let you go today that you have avoided a custodial sentence. Could be prison in four weeks."

Inspector Jas Sandhu, Met's Roads and Transport Policing Command said: "The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will not tolerate any offences committed upon passengers of private hire vehicles and will robustly pursue offenders. Bit late though as this was his second conviction and had three complaints for sexual harassment.  

"Thanks to the actions by the latest victim and her family instigating the Met's investigation, a dangerous individual's actions have been stopped from going any further."

Siwan Hayward, Transport for London's Head of Transport Policing, said: "We take all allegations against licensed Taxi and Private Hire drivers extremely seriously and as soon as we were made aware of this offence we suspended this driver's licence immediately.

Siwan, this driver should have never been licensed in the first place, this was a  result of scandalous inadequate performance by TfL !

"As this case shows, reporting any behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable is very important. It will be taken seriously (eventually) and by working closely with the police we will fully investigate all allegations, bring offenders to justice and push for the toughest penalties possible."

Four complaints were made to Uber yet they took no action against their driver. The action was only taken when a complaint was made to the police.

EXCLUSIVE : Putting To Bed The Rumours About Rotherhithe Tunnel And Albert Bridge Restrictions In Regards To Taxis... By Jim Thomas.


Recent email updates from TfL have been unclear (there's a surprise). People who have signed up for the TfL service, were given the news that any vehicle over the width of two meters (six foot six inches or 78 inches in old money) were not allowed to use the Rotherhithe Tunnel and if you do, you could wind up with a £50 fine or prosecution. 

The TX4 with a width of 80.2 inches, and the new LEVC TX standing at 80.16 inches, puts both vehicles outside the width restriction.



The update does not specify if Taxis (TX4/MetroCab/Vito/TXe) are banned or are exempt!

After tweets were made by drivers last night that Taxis could no longer use the Tunnel, we have been reliably informed by the TfLTPH account that Taxis can use the Tunnel. 

We took the trouble to remind the TfL account that the TX4 is in fact 80.2 inches wide and the new TXe was 80.16 wide, and have since received this Tweet.
 

Taxi Leaks Suggestion :
It would be helpful if TfL amend their webpage and resend another update, confirming this information. 


TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : ALBERT BRIDGE !
After being informed that Taxi garages were told before they can carry out servicing on the new TXe, they have to go to the added expenses of changing their inspection ramps to a 4 ton baseless model.

It was mentioned on Twitter yesterday, that the new TXe from LEVC may in fact be too heavy for the weight limit for vehicles using Albert Bridge.

Some of you may remember the over zealous traffic cop who was writing tickets out to Taxis going over Albert bridge, saying that by having passengers, they were exceeding the weight limit. 

We can now confirm Albert Bridge was strengthened by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in 2011, with the weight limit increased to 3 ton. 

This has also been confirmed on the TfLTPH Twitter account. 

It may be wise to keep a copy of these tweets for future reference, incase we come up against another over zealous traffic cop!