What’s been happening lately with London’s on line Taxi Apps, is slowly destroying an industry with 4 centuries of excellent service to the capital.
It’s been likened to the corporate greed that destroyed the Taxi industry in Chicago and New York. (Click On The link below to read the full Chicago and New York story)
• We’ve seen these so called ‘Taxi apps’ charge more than the metered fare (supported by TfL),
• We’ve seen them dispatch jobs to private hire cars, without a private hire operators licence for their Taxi app! (Supported by TfL)
• And now we now have an app that switches the meter off, and then operates in the same way as Uber. (Again, supported by TfL)
But these apps are not only supported by TfL, they are also supported by the drivers who have given up statutory rights to work these third party corporate apps.
Why would TfL support illegal acts from corporate app groups?.... let’s not forget Project Horizon, which aims to see the trade beaten down to half it’s size, and swallowed up within a one-tiered system with Private Hire using certain ranks.
It’s alleged TfL are getting drivers used to paying for their jobs, in the form of commission (in some cases 15% on jobs), so they won’t rebel when the system of permits for mainline stations hit the trade.
How long before we see these in every hotel, restaurant and shopping centre
We now have a situation where Taxi customers leave a restaurant, stand beside a rank full of Taxis (who have been mandated to take all credit cards) and use their phone to book a Taxi from an app on their phone. We’ve seen them stand there in the cold, wind and rain with their dinner dates looking bemused!
The drivers doing the app jobs have no issue picking up beside a rank full of Taxis or with paying for their work. Yet these same drivers shout the place down when they are ranking on a hotel and a Taxi turns up, picks up a job with cases and then bungs the door staff.
TfL have been highly successful so far in splitting the trade (divide and conquer), by using their links to certain working groups and even two of our supposedly representative groups.
There have been drivers who have in the past, stood up and fought back, only to find that their own colleagues didn’t support them.... and in certain cases, these proactive fighters have been excluded from once militant social media groups who have now become infiltrated by persons with financial conflict of interest leaving the group benign.
The main body of trade drivers have been likened to mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed crap by certain representative orgs and their respective Taxi media).
At the start of the year we were looking at exclusion from streets, bus lanes and in certain boroughs, whole areas.
A call went out from the Independent Taxi Alliance to protest. We saw a regular body of approximately 500 proactive drivers answer the call, who turn out regularly for over 6 months.
But, that’s just 3% of the trade, who were willing to fight for their survival. While 97% of their colleagues took the opportunity to carry on working.
The General Secretary of our largest org decided not to support the protests for inclusion into the Mayors Transport Strategy and full inclusion to all bus lanes (Where Buses Go, Taxis Go).
He also refused to support the protests over our exclusion from the Bank Junction, going as far as referring to the demonstrators as LOONIES.
We are looking forward to a future of exclusion from many more bus lanes, replaced in part by a ride share company who have been allowed by TfL and the Mayor to purchase a Euro 6 Mercedes that are banned in our case.
We are also looking at being banned from whole areas in boroughs around London despite the fact that we are the only fully wheelchair accessible service (at our own expense).
Decommissioning has also been handled extremely badly by TfL.
Our older working vehicles have been scrapped at a frightening pace leaving many drivers, without workable vehicles...and in certain cases of older drivers forced to retire.
The London Taxi trade is now liken to the black knight in the Monty Python film ... where his limbs are hacked off one at a time as he tells himself to carry on ‘it’s just a flesh wound’... while waiting for the eventual final blow.
Is this what the future holds for our trade....reduced to no more than electric Tuk-Tuks ?