Saturday, September 21, 2019

UTAG Statement : FOI Request To TfL On Uber Complaints



TfL have responded to our recent FOI request about Uber.

There have been 822 complaints since June 26 2018: 30% of which were Inappropriate Behaviour!

Its important to note the questions TfL REFUSED to answer:

Why?

Just what are they hiding?

UTAG will now appeal to the ICO 

See UTAG’s FOI below:

Dear Ms Clarkson

Our Ref: FOI-1513-1920

Thank you for your request received on 20 August 2019 asking for information about Uber London Ltd (ULL).

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require. You asked:

1.    Since June 26th 2018 
(a) how many complaints have Transport for London received about Uber 
(b) what was the nature of those complaints?

With more than 100,000 licensed private hire drivers and more than 23,000 licensed taxi drivers in London, millions of taxi and private hire journeys are made every year. 

The vast majority pass without incident but where a complaint is made we will investigate and take action as appropriate.

We have had 822 complaints logged relating to Uber between 26 June 2018 – 20 August 2019 (date of request). 

Please note that the majority of these complaints relate to Uber drivers, and not the company itself. 

Please see the table below showing the categorisation assigned by our agents when recording the cases.

Contact reason
Complaints
Driver, Inappropriate Behaviour
242
Driver, Knowledge/Information
142
Driver, Overcharge
94
Driver, Dangerous driving
89
Driver, Intimidating/Threatening Behaviour
48
Driver, Devious/Unplanned Route
24
Driver, Fare Refusal
22
Driver, Fail to complete hiring
22
Driver, Touting
18
Lost Property, Left item (Lost Property)
12
Driver, Disability Discrimination (DDA)
11
Driver, Assault
10
Driver, Compliance with TFL Procedures
9
Driver, Offensive Behaviour
9
Driver, Attitude/Rude Behaviour
8
Driver, Racial/Homophobic Abuse
7
Driver, Guide Dog Refusal
5
Driver, Poor/Dangerous Driving
5
Driver, Other
5
Driver, Refuse Pick Up
3
Driver, Illegal parking / parking obstruction
3
Customer Service Centre, Complaint Handling
3
Driver, Plying for Hire Outside Area
3
Other service issues, Compliance with TFL Procedures
2
Driver, Violent Behaviour
2
TfL Policy, Other
2
Driver, Fares Issue
2
Other service issues, Other
2
Customer Service Centre, Knowledge/Information
1
Driver, Sexual Harassment
1
Safety support from TfL, Interventions
1
On-board: Built Environment, Ambience
1
Billing / Charging Issue, Other
1
Driver, Refusal to Admit Wheelchair
1
Revenue Inspector, Other
1
Other service issues, Failure to Arrive
1
TfL Policy, Compliance with TFL Procedures
1
Accidents, Other
1
Customer Service Centre, Offensive Behaviour
1
Driver, Smoking
1
Driver, Passenger behaviour
1
Billing / Charging Issue, Dispute Journey Fare
1
Refunds, Overcharge
1
Driver, Vehicle Compliance
1
Other, Other
1
Penalty Fares, Penalty Fares
1
Grand Total
822

Month
Complaints
Jun 18
22
Jul 18
100
Aug 18
51
Sep 18
50
Oct 18
68
Nov 18
72
Dec 18
89
Jan 19
53
Feb 19
40
Mar 19
48
Apr 19
43
May 19
44
Jun 19
63
Jul 19
54
Aug 19
25
Grand Total
822

2.    What action has Transport for London taken to scrutinise Uber's adherence to the conditions laid down in the granting of a 15-month licence?

3.    How many Breaches of Conditions laid down in the granting of Uber's 15-month licence have been reported, become apparent to, or investigated by Transport for London?

4.    What was the nature of any breach?

5.    What action was taken by TfL (if any) of any breach of the conditions of the probationary licence or the complaints (see question1)?

In accordance with the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply the information requested as it is subject to a statutory exemption to the right of access to information under section 31(1)(g), which relates to information where disclosure would be likely to prejudice the exercise by any public authority of its functions for any of the purposes listed in subsection 31(2) of the FOI Act, specifically, ‘(2)(c)the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise’.

In this instance the exemption has been applied as the information is held only for the purposes of ascertaining whether a Private Hire operator is complying with the regulations, in accordance with our responsibility for regulating the private hire trade in London. 

This information contains details which otherwise would not have been made available to us and the exemption applies to protect our ability to clarify and confirm details on specific issues regarding general licensing concerns. 

The prejudice would be caused by disclosure because it would affect our ability to engage with the taxi and private hire trade and would inhibit the free flow of information, particularly where there is disclosure of information about confidential and commercially sensitive data. 

Effective working between the trade and the regulator relies on a safe space where information can be shared at a sufficiently early stage to avoid the need for formal enforcement action.

This benefits the public as it enables greater oversight of private hire operators and better scrutiny of services by the regulator and our benefit because proactive discussion avoids costly enforcement activity, delayed access to information and increased bureaucracy.

The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned. We recognise that there is a public interest in understanding the scope of regulatory activity, and whether concerns have been sufficiently addressed. However we feel the balance of the public interest supports the exemption in order to enable the effective and timely sharing of information between ourselves and the taxi and private hire trade.

If this is not the information you are looking for please feel free to contact me.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Gemma Jacob
Senior FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
Here again we see TfL protecting Uber and it’s drivers, not only in the questions they’ve refused to answer but also in the questions they have answered. 

In the response above TfL take the trouble to point out that the majority of complaints they’ve reported refer to the drivers and not the company. 

They say: “Please note that the majority of these complaints relate to Uber drivers, and not the company itself”. 

But as we all know, a majority of 822 could still mean that there have been 412 complaints against Uber the company, as TfL haven’t specified who did what ! 

   

Friday, September 20, 2019

TAXI LEAKS UPDATE ON THE CLONED PRIUS PHVs. TfL STATEMENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

TAXI LEAKS UPDATE :


TfL have broken their self-imposed silence to answer drivers on social media, wanting to know what's going on with reports of cloned TfL registered PHV Prius, picking up the public. 

They say they've identified a possible cloned vehicle.....yes they actually said that, even though they are in possession of two identical vehicles including the same registration plates....and that these two vehicles were bought to a vehicle testing centre. They went on to say the matter is now subject to a police investigation. 

But that's not what the Taxi, and Private hire trades and the public want to hear. 
We want to hear that TFL's accredited PCOs -the ones with the power of stop and search, along with Cab Enforcement officers- are setting up road blocks all over London, to catch other cloned vehicles. 

Funny they can identify a vehicle that enters the congestion charge area without paying the congestion charge, they can even identify vehicles that don't comply with the ULEZ conditions.....but the seem to be having trouble identifying cloned vehicles in the area at th same time!


We also want to hear that an investigation has begun of Ubers records to find cars with the same registration, affiliated to different drivers using the Uber app at the same time.....isn't that what technology is all about ? .....or are TfLs stakeholder partners still not keeping full and proper records 

This needs investigating by the GLA ASAP,  to find out how this has been allowed to happen.

Did Sadiq Khan lie to the GLA transport committee when he said he had greatly increased the number of on street Carrage Officers???
Because that's not what we are hearing from TfL employees, who have stated that the number of PCOs have dropped dramatically... as officers have been seconded and reassigned to other duties on the buses and tube, leaving just a few foot soldiers to carry out checks on Licensed Taxi drivers at mainline stations.

This situation is scandalous and needs immediate action from both TfLTPH and Cab Enforcement Unit.   
We need answers not excuses 


Thursday, September 19, 2019

PHVs Are Now Allegedly Cloning Number Plates To Cut Down On Running Costs.


The Photo above was taken at the Canning Town Test Centre. 

So now we know why there are so many PHVs in Central London. Every street, every main road is full of identical Prius PHVs. 

Making them pay the congestion charge hasn’t made a difference and the reason it hasn’t made a difference.....is because groups of them are sharing the cost by sharing the same Number plate. 

They only need to get one Prius passed at NSL and then two, three, four or five Prius, no matter what condition, can all work. Plus are they all working different cars off the one insurance?

But how do they all manage to work the Uber app on different phones.... surely Uber have systems in place to stop this .... ha ha ha!!!!

Once the new cloned plates are fitted, all charges become insignificant when share between two, three, four or even five drivers!!!

TfL along with the CEU, have to clamp down on this by arranging road blocks and checking the VIN plate numbers and any driver found with false plates should immediately have their PHV licence revoked and if the car has false plates, it is uninsured and should immediately be seized by the police. 

Going on TfL passed performance over the last 24 months, I wouldn’t hold your breath. They no longer seem to be concerned with compliance when it comes to Private hire....
But, God forbid a licensed Taxi driver should touch their mobile phone while sitting stationary on the rank at Kings Cross, they have an army of undercover Cab Enforcement officers with video surveillance to nick you. 


We’ve recently witnessed TfL’s biased attitude towards Taxi Drivers when  two COs turned up at a drivers home and demanded his badge and bill because he hadn’t returned his 50 year medical form. 

The driver said he hadn’t received one in the post but they still demanded his B&B.

Lucky for the driver, he was in the LCDC who’s legal team (never lost a case yet) managed to sort it out. She was able to get him his B&B back and the driver is now back on the road, working again. 



Taxi Licences Buyback Would ‘Level The Playing Field’...Would This Work For London ???


Better late than never I suppose, but what about all those who have already committed suicide, gone bankrupt, lost their houses and their life's work has been for nought because Governments didn't honour the contracts with Taxi Licence holders? 

Their is blood on the hands of politicians across the country and for what originally, supporting a US, tax-evading Ponzi scheme called Uber.

Sky News Australia:

Taxi licence buyback would ‘level the playing field’
18/09/2019

The NSW Taxi Council is urging the state government to buy back taxi licences and lease them to the industry "at an appropriate rate for the market that we have" as cabs struggle to compete with ride-share services.

Taxi Council CEO Martin Rogers said his council is having "constructive conversations" with the NSW government about how to fix the problem of taxi drivers having to pay extra costs compared to ride-share drivers and he believes "it can be fixed".

"Let’s look at those costs that operators have to level the playing field and let’s make sure that drivers who want to operate can, and can make a decent living," he said.

TfL Experts Over Estimated Income From T Charge By 30%...Are These The Same Experts Who Calculated Khan's Taxi Emissions Stats ???


Well, you couldn’t make it up !!!
TfL are now complaining that due to the rise in cars complying with the new ULEZ Charge, their expected income is down by £21m. 

A recent report to the TfL board notes that as a result of better than expected compliance, income from the ULEZ for 2019/20 is currently forecast to be £51m, this is in fact down 34% on a previous projection from TfL’s financial experts of  £77m. 

As we are aware, the ULEZ operates 24 hours a day in the existing Congestion Charge area of central London and charges cars, motorcycles and vans that do not comply with set emissions standards £12.50 a day or £100 per day for lorries buses or coaches. 
The ‘T Charge’ was introduced in April.

There were 23,054 non-compliant vehicles and 60,844 compliant vehicles per day in July during Congestion Charge hours, compared with 35,578 and 55,457 respectively in March.

This meant that the overall number of unique vehicles detected per day in the zone fell from 91,035 to 83,899.

City Hall pointed to statistics showing improved compliance since February 2017, when mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed the introduction of the Toxicity Charge (T-Charge). 

Mr Khan said: ‘The figures prove that the ULEZ continues to have a significant impact with 12,500 fewer older, polluting vehicles now coming into the zone compared with March.

With 12,500 fewer cars on central London roads you would expect traffic flow to have improved. Unfortunately with councils like Islington, Camden and Westminster, they’ve done their best with hair brained traffic schemes (Old Street, St Pancras, Tottenham Court Road Baker Street, Gloucester Place etc) to keep up the gridlock.  

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT:
It appears TfL have become victims of their own success as actual money in, has not matched up to their expectations of their financial experts!!

We ask the question:
Are these the same experts Sadiq Khan uses when talking about the percentage of pollution attributed to the Taxi trade, when talking to the transport committee of the GLA? 


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ultra-Low Emission Zone (Ulez), has raked in £51m for TfL in its first four months


The policy, which charges polluting vehicles £12.50 a day for entering into the zone, was launched in April by the London mayor.

TfL claim that the amount of “non-compliant” vehicles has fallen by 12,524 a day from 35,578 in March to 23,054 in July – a reduction of more than a third....so! Just who is paying the £51m then???
Is this just more PR spin from Khans spin doctors ???

What’s the pollution statistics before and after the introduction, has that fallen by a third???
TfL aren’t saying.... there’s a surprise!!!

The zone, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, currently covers the central London congestion charge but is due to be expanded from 2021, when it will cover the North and South Circular roads.

Fines for cars have been set at a maximum of £160, which will be reduced to £80 if it is paid within 14 days. For lorries, fines have been set at £1,000, which will be cut to £500 if paid within two weeks.

It’s alleged the Ulez move is part of a radical plan to tackle London’s air pollution, which is operating at illegally high levels (only illegal because the levels are set too low)and is known to increase health problems such as asthma, and even psychosis. 

More guesstimates from Khans so called experts no doubt. 
Is it really about pollution, or is it merely another cash cow for TfL to try and recoup some of its billion pound budget deficit??

Khan said: “Today’s figures prove that the Ulez continues to have a significant impact with 12,500 fewer older, polluting vehicles now coming into the zone compared with March. More stats from his own “experts” no doubt. 

“These older vehicles  send  harmful emissions into our air and lungs and I will continue to take bold action to protect Londoners from this invisible killer. It is highly encouraging to see that so many motorists and businesses are helping reduce pollution by driving cleaner  vehicles into the zone.”

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : 

Perhaps Khan and TfL should have concentrated on cleaning up their own polluting vehicles first. 

Clouds of exhaust fumes can be seen every day on London’s congested roads. Made worst by segregated cycle lanes, buses that were supposed to be hybrid are running on pure diesel, spewing out clouds of toxic fumes....yet not a word from Khan or TfL about this, just a promise that one day in the future they may buy more electric buses.  




Banning Cars And Taxis, Isolates Disabled People, Writes Samantha Renke


I first heard about the car-free day (this Sunday) earlier this year. It came as no surprise – since moving to London seven years ago I’ve seen more and more ‘eco-initiatives’ being carried out across the city. 

My street was one of the first to implement emissions regulations that saw non-electric vehicles restricted at certain times of the day.

Yet my initial reaction to the event was one trepidation and almost anger. I’m not in denial about climate change – and of course I want London to be the best it can be for all its residents. 

But as a full-time wheelchair user and someone who has a rare condition that causes my bones to break at the slightest knock, I rely solely on black taxis (which by law are all adapted for those with impairments) to maintain my independence and go about my daily activities. On Sunday, taxis and private hire vehicles will not be allowed in the closed road area. 

I will not be able to get a cab in this area, or travel through it in a cab. I fail to see how this would not directly discriminate against me or others in my situation. Transport for London (TfL) has informed me that there will be areas for taxi drop-off and pick-up at the perimeter. 

I do however, question how someone like myself with limited mobility, who needs door-to-door transport, would navigate from the drop-off point on the perimeter to my destination. I – like many in my position – cannot simply be dropped off on a corner and left to get on my way. 

I have also been informed that will be a number of pedal-powered shuttles that can carry passengers from the designated drop off points to the activities, some of which are wheelchair bikes. However, they can only accept ‘most non-electric wheelchairs’. So what about powerchair users? 

And what about if you need to bring a PA with you, can the bikes support a wheelchair and an assistant? I’ve asked but am yet to hear back from TfL on this issue. I would have like to have seen Sadiq Khan publicly reassure the disabled community that our needs are very much at the forefront of any initiative. 

I still cannot help but think that the most ‘vulnerable’ members of society – including the elderly and members of the disabled community – have been very much an afterthought for this particular event. Yes, some provisions have been made but they have not been widely published, nor are they suitable for the variant needs of the disabled community.

I would have like to have seen Sadiq Khan publicly reassure the disabled community that our needs are very much at the forefront of any initiative, and that he acknowledges that anything that impacts our independence can leave us feeling extremely anxious, isolated and like second class citizens. 

The disabled community has fought so hard to maintain our independence and to ensure we have equal access to all parts of society. 

Personally I feel tremendous sadness that the city I moved to over seven years ago to advance my career, have more independence and regain autonomy over my life is becoming less accessible for me as a young disabled professional. 

Whether that be struggling to get on a bus because the disabled bay is being used for luggage or pushchairs, cuts to subsidised taxi cards or an underground infrastructure that cannot accommodate access needs. 

TfL says it has reached out to disabled residents living in the event area to arrange to escort vehicles in or out where necessary, and to access off-road parking. 

However, nothing has been specifically addressed for those who have adapted vehicles as part of the government mobility scheme – or blue badge holders. 

My concern is that many visitors and tourists to London who are blue badge holders may simply decide to stay away due to the uncertainty. 

Uncertainty is very debilitating when you live with an impairment, and I’m still very uncertain about being able to get around during the event. I am basically being forced to go into hibernation and stay at home on the day.

Fighting climate change is going to be a priority going forward and disabled people need to be included in that change. 

We need to all unite, but at the minute we’re being excluded. I’ve personally experienced online attacks when I challenge new eco initiatives like pedestrian zones, low emission zones or cycle lanes that can hinder those with impairments from travelling safely. 

I’ve been told that other people’s right to breathe clean air is more important than a disabled person’s independence. 

But the reality is that all our needs are equal. We need to work together as a society to accommodate all our needs, and to not ostracise anyone in the process.

Source : The Metro.