So, Heidi Alexander (allegedly the least informed member of the GLA) who has been conspicuous by her absence since being made deputy mayor for transport, announces she will be meeting with the LTDA to discuss the recent demos on Tottenham Court Road.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
So, Heidi Alexander (allegedly the least informed member of the GLA) who has been conspicuous by her absence since being made deputy mayor for transport, announces she will be meeting with the LTDA to discuss the recent demos on Tottenham Court Road.
Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Any Crazier....Along Comes Camden's Looney Council.
The highly controversial plan to ban cars and cabs from Tottenham Court Road has led to a major protest from taxi drivers this week. But, just when you thought it couldn't get any crazier along come the Lycra clad planners from Camden who have now announced that not only will Tottenham Court Road be Buses and cycles only....they are also going to put a new cycle lanes along the two way Gower street where all the other traffic will be squeezed into.....a sort of Victoria Embankment, part two.
The plans – due to be introduced in March – are part of a radical revamp that will see Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street turned into two-way routes with vehicles banned between 8am and 7pm.
This week, cabbies formed a complete blockade of the road each day and have vowed to continue their protests against Camden Council indefinitely
The protests, organised by the Independent Taxi Alliance (ITA), saw drivers parked their black cabs on the road, blocking traffic heading north to Euston Road, leaving a third lane free and clear for emergency vehicles.
The drivers, along with residents and business owners, are calling on the Town Hall to lift the restriction on cabs, adding: "They could reasonably include taxi access to bus lanes which would enhance the efficiency of the system and relieve congestion in surrounding streets ."
The radical cab drivers group, whose rush-hour protest caused gridlock in surrounding streets, has warned that it will not back down and that demonstrations will continue indefinitely. They said they would be "back every day, same time, same place... we refuse to be destroyed by you!".
Relatives and patients at University College Hospital’s Macmillan Cancer Centre were worried they would be stranded after treatment, but volunteer Taxi drivers were reported to be leaving the blockade and driving cancer patients home for free.
Town Hall environment chief and avid cyclist, Adam Harrison said "the changes would improve traffic flow and air quality." Isn't that what they said about the CSH along the embankment.....and we all know how that turned out!
The Labour councillor added: "Central London is afflicted by high levels of congestion and air pollution (mainly caused by Camden's unbelievably stupid traffic systems and the proliferation of empty buses) this is not a situation any of us should have to put up with any longer."
Camden should consider doing something about the heavily polluting and congestion causing buses. We mustn't forget that this private bus companies are subsidised and often flood the streets with empty buses.
He went on to say "Camden Council has agreed to the West End Project because of our strong belief that an urban environment doesn't have to be an unhealthy one." Funny, he never once mentioned the £37m bribe from the mayor and almost bankrupt TfL to pay for the project (allegedly, only on the terms that Taxis were excluded).
Camden did carry out a consultation a few years back where residents and businesses voted that Taxis should also have access to the whole of Tottenham Court Road. More recently residents of Fitzrovia voted for the one way scheme on Tavistock Place to be returned to the previous two way system.
The Town Hall added that research showed the vast majority of people using University College Hospital travelled by public transport and would not be affected by the changes (and yet the Hospital itself lobbied for a taxi rank), with bus journey times and reliability improving. -It is our belief that Camden's research is biased and flawed, as access to shops, businesses, residential properties and the Hospital will be severely restricted for vulnerable and disabled people.
The scheme was introduced to coincide with the opening of a Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road (which has now been delayed), which is hoped to be bringing thousands of extra visitors to the area.
Camden haven't taken into account the type of shops on Tottenham Court Road, Habitats, Ikea and electrical outlets. Can't see too many shoppers with flat-packs, items of furniture, TVs and HiFi systems getting home on a bike or bus!
Also, can't see people coming from stations and airports with luggage being dropped in Euston road and told they have to walk the rest of the way to the Grafton Hotel on foot.
The recent article in the Camden New Journal "Cabbies launch ‘war of attrition’ against Town Hall", right at the end gives the game away. It says:
Developer Derwent London is building offices on the western stretch of the road. A new "pocket park" in what is now Alfred Place will close the back street to all traffic.
So, that’s what this is all about, same as Chris Hayward’s building projects at the Bank Junction ...Follow the money!!!!!
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : from actress Samantha Renke
I travel at least 6 times a week by black cabs it’s the only way to maintain my independence but with pedestrian zones and low emission zones being enforced my independence is suffering ! This must stop & we need to support the disabled community & the black cab trade!
Letter From Daniel Howard, Campaign Director Stop CS11
• FOLLOWING this week’s black taxi demonstrations against Camden Council’s ill-thought-out plan to ban all vehicles (including licensed black taxis) from Tottenham Court Road from Monday to Saturday, 8am to 7pm, have the council considered the impact of significant amounts of displaced congestion and therefore increased pollution, on the surrounding residential roads?
Many people now have very serious concerns about the accountability and scrutiny of Camden’s highways management department given that the results from the public consultation showed almost 60 per cent of respondents were strongly opposed to their proposed plan to ban black taxis from Tottenham Court Road and we are calling for an immediate investigation into what is going on there.
Furthermore, many disabled and vulnerable road-users including members of the Royal National Institute for the Blind as well as hospital patients (some of whom will arrive in emergency ambulances) who need to access University College Hospital at the top of Tottenham Court Road have expressed their worries about how this scheme will impact on them.
We are calling on Camden Council to immediately halt this disproportionate, ill-considered and illogical scheme, to consult with all stakeholder groups including the emergency services, disabled road users and London’s Licensed Black Taxis and to undertake all the necessary legal considerations. Only then will Londoners have faith in Camden Council’s ability to manage their road network.
Friday, January 25, 2019
We are hoping to launch Dynamo early this year, although we cannot confirm exactly when. The issue has been that the demand for the new 40Kw battery worldwide, which is also in the Leaf as well as the e-NV 200 has far exceeded the expectation level and of course the UK is just one of the markets that Nissan sell in.
Our 1st 40Kw vehicle has just arrived, then it will be converted and type approved, also TFL approved for London, after which we will be taking orders. We currently have outstanding orders to fulfil, as we thought we would have had the launch earlier. As I say nobody factored in the worldwide popularity of the new 40Kw battery. We anticipate existing orders to be delivered in the spring of this year, new orders will be later during 2019. We are currently working on the supply chain in order to ensure that’s stable. Many different companies contribute to the supply of components for Dynamo, not least Nissan with the donor vehicle, it's important for obvious reasons that we have the supply stable and reliable.
It is not only a Taxi for London, but nationally also; we expect to be selling Dynamo in many cities around the UK, including Liverpool, later in 2019/early 2020
Whilst we know and fully acknowledge that it’s not the Taxi for everyone, those who do adopt slightly different working practices and make it work for them will see that it will be, and without question the most cost-effective Taxi ever to ply its trade.
It is the only 100% electric, side wheel chair accessible Taxi on the market, it emits zero tailpipe emissions, 100% of the time.
The Dynamo comes with Nissan proven worldwide reliability and fuel running costs as low as 3pence per mile., compared to Diesels at 24pence per mile. Annual servicing at circa £220 is a fraction of the current Petrol/Diesel versions. The tested range is 174 miles, in a daily operating city environment, I would assume a range of around 130/140 miles to be real, and this will cover most shifts. If more miles are required it may need to be put onto a rapid charger for 15/20 minutes once on a shift, although I doubt many drivers will need to do this.
This is the slightly different working practice that in some cases will need to be adopted, but by doing this there will be a big financial and environmental benefit.
In most cases the driver will charge at home, do their shift and go home again. Reading everything I have in relation to the Nissan Leaf and e-NV 200 the worst-case scenario the consumption is 3.7 miles per Kw/h, bearing in mind it’s a 40Kw battery - 3.7 x 40 = 148 miles.
In today’s market of unclean air and fierce competition for fares, Dynamo will deliver many of the solutions, enabling the driver to become more profitable and at the same time no longer contributing to the air pollution issues. It will be permitted to travel on all public highways in London, there will be no restrictions as its 100% electric.
In short it just works.
We are hoping that the launch price will be £45,495 after the Government grant of £7,500 has been removed.
We will be offering bespoke finance packages, tailored as close as we are able to individual needs.
Thank you once again and I look forward to talking to you shortly
Market Development Manager
Meanwhile down in the underground, the air is said to be up to 30 times more toxic than out on the street....but then, they can’t TAX themselves.
Shop owners and store management are in talks today with Camden Council over their Tottenham Court Road fiasco. (We will bring you updates as soon as we hear back)
Protestors have also recurved huge support from residents of Goodge St, Grafton Way, Tavistock Pl, Maple St, Bedford Sq...
Everyone, without exception, expressed how contemptuous Camden Council have been towards their concerns.
So, who’s to blame?
Look at leaflets below who do you see?
We can blame Camden Council and quite rightly so... but Camden are following Sadik Khan‘s transport strategy.
If Camden refuse to follow the Mayors TS, they will lose funding.
Allegedly, this Bus Drivers son hates Taxis.
Whatever happened to "I’m going to be the renaissance of the London taxi trade, I don’t want them to go the same way as the red telephone box".
Like Uber’s 13,000 fake DBS certificates, all swept under the carpet no doubt.
Make no mistake, the Mayors Transport Strategy mirrors that of the government’s. Transport Secretary Grayling and the DFT promote walking, cycling, and buses.
Was it and oversight that they left the door-to-door wheelchair accessible system out of their equations?
Let’s not forget that we are also to blame... This trade should have had protection put in place 10 maybe 15 years ago.
But our trade orgs and unions were guilty of not looking forward. They were on fit for purpose and failed their members on a humongous scale.
There is no doubt about it, we’ve been let down
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : In Our Opinion
The LTDA are the largest trade org and have been for decades
Bob Oddy was a TfL board member for many years. Oddy’s laissez-faire with his position and responsibilities leaves him culpable for the shocking position we are in today. As does Steve McNamara’s apathy
Why do you think I minority group like the cycle lobby achieve so much?
Because they know what they’re doing.
When the DFT or TfL make changes, they look to the trade largest org and what do the largest org do….Apparently nothing, aided and abetted by their subscription paid members.... who like mushrooms have been kept in the dark.
The fight goes on today 4pm till 7, Tottenham Court Road.
If you care about your trade your job your livelihood...be there
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Action for cabbies today donated the very last of the funds collected, to the UTAG action.
We believe this is absolutely the right way to use the remaining funds.
Action for cabbies will now be officially dissolved.
We would like to say a special thanks to Barry Soraff of Raffingers Charted Certified Accountants, who for the last few years compiled and submitted our accounts free of charge.
Thank you to everyone that donated to Action for cabbies, a vast amount of the funds eventually went on the VAT case which we still hope produces a good outcome for the trade.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
The only criticisms levelled at us so far have been from a few cyclist trolls, who were complaining about us blocking emergency services access along Tottenham Court Road.
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
The 26-page memo, prepared by an outside risk management consultant, says that as recently as May last year, Uber's Special Investigations Unit was handling hundreds of cases every week. The team -- which was made up of 60 investigators and 15 team leaders at the time -- was tasked with handling the most severe incidents reported to the company in North America, including verbal threats, physical and sexual assault, rape, theft and serious traffic accidents.
Uber commissioned the memo as part of its "broader efforts to stand up a best-in-class, specialized investigations team," a company spokesperson told CNN.
Although the memo notes that the team members loved "being associated with a 'hot' brand" and its younger employee base, it also said conditions were so bad within the unit that the memo warned of mental health risks to the investigators -- even the potential of suicide.
"A single suicide by an Uber investigator who posts that they could not 'take' the job demands any longer will be fodder for the national if not international news media," the memo said.
Uber sent lengthy responses to CNN detailing the action they say the company has taken since the memo was completed. "We have been putting safety at the heart of everything we do," Uber's head of safety communications Brooke Anderson said in a statement. "Uber will continue to focus on safety in 2019, including through the release of an accurate transparency report."
Investigators experienced 'profound stress'
Uber has repeatedly over the past year said that safety is its number one priority. But the company is still reckoning with the problems that have come along with its aggressive push to scale globally.
The memo notes that, as of May, most of the SIU's investigators were in their 20s and 30s. According to a CNN analysis of former and current employees, one Uber investigator went from being a Starbucks barista to handling calls from victims. Another was a manager at Chipotle before he became an investigator. The memo also says many of the SIU's investigators had "law enforcement, investigations and military backgrounds."
The memo cites a "serious level of stress and anxiety of team members," and notes that six members of the unit were "experiencing profound stress requiring clinical care."
"The issue of untreated depression ... because of a massive caseload and the concern that an investigator must acknowledge that they are not coping well is not only real but increasing," the memo said.
In addition to obtaining the internal memo, CNN spoke with seven former Uber employees familiar with the unit, including investigators and managers. All spoke on the condition of anonymity citing fear of retribution and professional repercussions for speaking out; one cited a non-disclosure agreement.
In an email to CNN, an Uber spokesperson said these types of issues are not uncommon for "fast-paced, crisis-related jobs involving tough issues," such as 911 operators, adding "[w]e are (and have been) very focused on ways to support our safety response agents, including helping them cope with the stress and challenges of this important job and ensuring we have the right people with the necessary skill sets to manage these sensitive, serious issues."
Uber also took issue with the memo's description of the SIU's caseload, noting that some cases might be duplicates or proven fraudulent after further investigation. The memo said the "SIU team manages nearly 1,200 cases per week" and noted "Although some reports shared with the SIU are frivolous and later found to have no merit or constitute fraud, we were told that most of cases reported have some basis of substantiation."
The memo cites the financial and reputational damage that severe incidents can have on the company, which is slated to go public in 2019, noting that trust in Uber "is eroded by periodic, but serious allegations of inappropriate or illegal conduct, notably by drivers and occasionally by hostile passengers."
It was shared with select people at Uber, one former manager told CNN. A separate CNN investigation in April 2018, found evidence of 103 drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse by passengers since 2014, based on publicly available data including police reports.
After CNN began asking questions about sexual assaults, Uber announced increased safety measures including a partnership with RapidSOS, a company that sends a rider's location and relevant information to a local police agency when the rider uses the emergency button in the Uber app. Uber also revamped its background check policy, now conducting annual checks on drivers. Following the airing and publication of CNN's investigation, Uber announced it would do away with a policy that previously forced individuals with sexual assault complaints into arbitration and made them sign non-disclosure agreements.
How Uber tracks complaints
For more than a year, CNN has been pushing Uber to reveal its data on allegations of sexual abuse and assault on its platform, but Uber has said the numbers will not be ready until sometime in 2019.
The former manager said Uber has always had numbers and keeps track of complaints in real time, adding that the consultant's memo was initially "shelved" at Uber.
Another former manager told CNN: "It's a technology company built on data. The numbers are known."
Uber disputed that allegation, saying that its numbers are in the process of being audited. In November, the company announced a new taxonomy for how it categorizes complaints like sexual misconduct, assault and rape. Its next step is to publish the data.
The company classifies complaints based on severity levels. The SIU handles the highest levels: Level 3's, or L3's as they are referred to internally, include physical assaults and crashes. Level 4's, known as L4's internally, include rape, sexual assaults, and any deaths on the platform, according to sources.
The memo also outlines the risks to Uber's bottom line should the SIU's caseload become public.
"We know from the underreporting of incidents by CNN and others as just one example, the cost to the brand and reputation of Uber by a single case can cost the company millions of dollars in lost revenue from riders who hold a lasting impression that we are unsafe and not worthy of their trust," the memo stated.
The memo states that compensation is how employees measure self-worth -- and recommends that Uber raise its hourly rates to "attract and retain superb investigative talent."
Uber, which has raised more than $22 billion in venture capital funding, paid its investigators around $18.50 an hour, according to the memo.
That's low compared to investigators working for airlines and bus companies, for example. The memo cites those investigators earning around $26 an hour and $21.80 an hour, respectively. Both, like Uber, are non-union jobs too, according to the memo.
At Uber, investigators receive some specialized training upon hiring. All agents on the SIU team undergo eight weeks of training, including sensitive investigations, bias and empathy training, an Uber spokesperson said.
Investigators get assigned new cases by a designated staff member, the former manager said. While that staff member tries to assign cases involving sexual assault to seasoned investigators, sometimes there is little information in the original complaint sent to Uber, or the investigators best suited to the case are busy with other work or not staffed during the shift, the former manager said.
Investigators assess the validity of claims from riders or drivers by talking to the person who reported the incident and the alleged perpetrator. They decide the outcome of each case, which can include banning a driver from using the service in the future.
Inside Uber's Phoenix office
The memo says investigators "love working for Uber," but it also points out that members of the team were "experiencing fatigue, sleep deprivation and numerous issues."
The memo noted that "the investigators working for Uber deal, at least dozens of times every workday, with volatile, argumentative persons. They directly interact, sometimes several times a day, with perpetrators and victims- some of whom use vile language, make direct and indirect threats, discuss deeply disturbing sexual and other assaults."
One former employee who spoke with CNN said they felt they were treated fairly at the company, while noting that there was little opportunity for pay increases or promotions. The memo similarly warned, "Uber is not meeting best practice standards with regards to articulating what a career roadmap looks like for an investigator."
In conversations with CNN, several former employees discussed the mental toll of the job, something that ate away at the initial thrill of being hired by the most valuable startup in the US.
The office itself was also a cause of frustration for some SIU investigators.
The company declined suggestions to soundproof the open-floor workspaces used by the SIU team, two individuals told CNN, making it difficult to conduct sensitive conversations on the phone without office chatter seeping into the calls. Both said that people on the other line sometimes questioned the seriousness of investigations due to the background noise.
In one instance, an investigator was on the phone with an alleged sexual assault victim when people on another team began singing "Happy Birthday" to a colleague. The victim hung up on the investigator, a former manager said.
An Uber spokesperson said that following the memo, doors were added to the SIU team's area to provide more privacy and quiet for their work.
The memo suggests a number of other changes, such as career mapping for SIU members as well as trainings including how team leaders can spot and escalate warnings for at-risk investigators. It also includes more simplistic changes, such as adding soft La-Z-Boy chairs and stationary bikes. This is a "modest budget item" that can "make a difference when a person needs a few minutes to decompress after interviewing a victim/perpetrator and considering how they will process next steps," the memo said.
Uber said that it is in the process of implementing "all key recommendations" from the May memo, including counseling, better work schedules and conditions, and additional training. The company is also hiring more experienced investigators.
The company has repeatedly declined to specify when it plans to release its data on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on its platform, other than to say it will be sometime in 2019.
"When it comes to safety, we believe getting the data right is critically important and the foundation of future improvement," Anderson said in a statement. "That's why we are working with experts to audit our safety incident data, so that it can be responsibly released, as we have committed publicly to doing this year."
Monday, January 21, 2019
The road soon began to fill, but marshals from the ITA kept the right hand lane clear for emergency vehicles.
Marshals were also advising the public not to enter TCR as they could be held up in the demo till 7pm. Almost all took evasive action.
The Met Traffic police, on the whole, were very cooperative and helpful at first, but after a while (probably acting on orders from above) started to let a few buses and private vehicles into the free lane.
It was explained to them that this was not the idea and if they persisted letting Buses and cars in, then all lanes would be blocked. Traffic was then diverted into Chenise Street and the outside lane was again reopened for emergency only vehicles.
One good point, a representative from UCH came out and was taking photographs which showed access was being kept open for emergency vehicles and she wished us all the best of luck
A solitary police motorcyclist officer was seen fuming cabs but never issued any form of warning or directive to move. Probably just a scare tactic. Police officers must not make any form of surveillance without an order called a RIPA.
Also, we believe a TfL representative was filming registrations and ID cards, but he ran off when challenged.
The demo went well and was well attended the whole area was at a virtual stand still for 3 hours.
Plans have been made for alternative venues should the police get difficult but it’s unlikely as the demo was extremely peaceful.
Best of all, the public appeared to be in support as was the two bus drivers caught up in the jam.
Back again tomorrow, same time same place. (Until further notice)
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT:
While directing traffic trying to enter TCR from New Oxford Street, I was amazed at drivers with jobs in that we’re expecting me to help them get out of the congestion. Not an option I’m afraid.
Whilst there are going to be a few drivers who really don’t know what’s going on, every effort has been made to advise the trade of the demos (including times/venue etc), including posters in most trade eateries, leaflets, social media announcements and articles in trade papers.... Even the wait and see brigade have mention the demos in their emails to members.
TfL traffic cams, before they switched them off ???