Saturday, May 18, 2019

Are Camden's Bus Diversions A Sign Of Calamitous Transport Planning Or The Decline Of TfL



It seems that everyone else can see the calamities happening on in Camden....except for the council planets themselves. There's been a lot on social media, about the conflicts of interest with certain councillors involved with these new hair brain schemes.....some councillors have already been replaced.

Residents are up in arms (again), complaining that original consultations have been discarded. 
Even the local paper 'CamdenNewJournal' is now leading with articles pointing out the incredible insanity of recent traffic schemes. 

But it's not just Camden Council..TfL are also being put on the spot by the local paper.
In their latest online edition, they say 'all the signs point to what can only be described as the decline of Transport for London'.
Fitzrovia, Judd Street, Hampstead Road, Midland Road, Tottenham Court Road....all these crazy, congestion causing schemes have received backing from TfL.

Is TfL up to the momentous job of transforming transport and street usage by vehicles in the face of the threatening climate change?
A revolution in transport is essential. It will, of course, never be achieved unless it is planned centrally by the government.

The introduction of electric cars is a case in point – this will not come about without the full co-operation of manufacturers, the lowering of costs, the changing habits of consumers – as well as sound planning by transport authorities such as TfL.

But TfL appears to fail when it comes to public consultation. While half-baked consultations on the introduction of cycle lanes have been welcomed by many cyclists they have also caused waves of resentment among private drivers and cabbies.


Creating two lanes in Tottenham Court Road has left it as a street of two parts – one, going northwards, choked with traffic; the other, going south, virtually deserted, just a few buses and a few cyclists.

Or take the decision taken this week to allow a crane in Crowndale Road which forces virtually all buses going southwards to miss Camden Town and zigzag their way across th borough, instead of using Camden Street and Crowndale Road. 
Was there any real consultation?
Any prior publicity?

Without warning, thousands of families who will be boarding buses to go shopping in Camden Road and Camden High Street will now find themselves (until May 25) squeezed out of Camden Town. 
It will be even worse for th disabled and young mothers with children.
This may seem of little importance to the bigwigs at TfL, but it means a lot for local families. 
Good local government would avoid such calamitous planning. 
Unfortunately what the residents have in Camden at present, is well below aceptable standards.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

MP Asks For Plying For Hire Definition Legislation To Be Bought Forward. Minister Says No

Tom Brake

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to provide statutory definitions of pre-booked and plying for hire, in order to maintain the two-tier taxi and private hire regulation system, as recommended by the Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Licensing.

Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 14 May 2019, cW)

 Nusrat GhaniNusrat Ghani

Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

Providing a statutory definition of plying for pre-booking and plying for hire was considered as part of the Government response to the report by the Chair of the Task and Finish Group. 

The response issued on 12 February explained that since the Law Commission concluded in 2014 that a statutory definition of plying for hire would not be a practical improvement on the current position and there being no change in the legal situation, the Government would not take forward that recommendation.

Was the Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Licensing a complete waste of time??? 

Sadiq Khan Refuses To Meet Peer Of The Realm, In Regards To The "Where Buses Go, Taxis Go" Campaign.

 
Many drivers are asking the same question :
If the ITA have won their/our objectives, that is Tooley Street/Duke Street Hill access and a year's delay on Tottenham Court Road, then why are drivers still being asked to protest once a week in Parliament Square?
The protests will continue because they haven't achieved everything they were initially set up to deal with. 

We want it in legislation that where buses go, Taxi go. 
But it's not going to be easily achieved under the present Mayor. Lenny Etheridge spoke to Lord Palmer in the Square yesterday, who had this to say:
"I've written to Sadiq Khan three times hoping to meet on behalf of the protesting Taxi drivers and on each occasion the Mayor has refused to reply or even acknowledge my letters.

Sadiq Khan snubbing a peer of the realm not only breeches protocol, it's down right rude.


TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT 
Why We a Will Continue With Protests:
Look at Taxi access from Jamaica Road, westbound onto Tooley Street, via the bus lane which alleviates the stress put on side streets in he surrounding area. 

This is what should be happening on Theobald's Road onto Vernon Place Bloomsbury. Taxis wishing to access Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, would be taken out of the Procter Street High Holborn,  Earnshaw street chaos. Plus Taxis coming down Bloomsbury Street should also be able to make the turn right turn along with Buses onto New Oxford Street. 

Another pinch point could be avoided at the bottom of the Haymarket the 10 foot section bus only access to Cockspur Street, should also be open to Taxis. 
All these options would speed up passenger journeys and  alleviate local traffic in this area. 



 

Yesterday's protest saw an increase in numbers as the police stopped local traffic using the inside lane on Whitehall. But we still need bigger numbers. If Ten thousand cabbies had turned up on a regular basis, we would not be going into a 15th week, we would all be working now using the same road space as buses. 
It's pure apathy that's causing this to drag on. 

So the fight goes on, three hours, one day a week, every week.....come along and join your colleagues fighting for your right to use these streets.

       

TAXI LEAKS PS...
It didn't go unnoticed that yesterday, certain Dial A Cab drivers (now owned by ComCab) tried to scupper the protests by getting messages put out, that the protest had been called off. 
These are our own colleagues, and this behaviour is atrocious. 

In future, if any protest is to be cancelled it will be announced by the ITA, on all social media platforms and not just a radio circuit terminal. 

As French Taxi Unions Give Their President An Ultimatum, Another LTDA/TfLTPH FOI Email Emerges


In a letter to the Prime Minister of France yesterday, French Taxi unions issued an ultimatum: 
"Meet us now and cooperate - or prepare for blockages of airports, train stations, ring roads everywhere in France"

  

Notice that it’s signed by all five presidents of the French Taxi Unions. 


Below is an email gained by FOI request, showing our largest orgs relationship with our Mayor and regulating body. 

It appears that TfL employees, are writing back slapping scripts for LTDA, to be used as comments on press releases. 


Many emails have surfaced through FOI requests between TfL and certain Taxi trade and Private Hire companies/groups in the past. 

Many of these emails have been publicised in trade publications. Some, even showing collusion between certain representative trade groups officials and our very own trade regulators.
But, yesterday’s expose’(I believe) is the most damning and scandalous I’ve seen in all my 45+ years in the London Taxi Trade. 

Well, well...TfLTPH writing suggestive script for the General Secretary of our largest representative trade org to use as a press release, you couldn't make it up!!!

Questions that demand answers:
  • How many more press releases have TfL scripted for the LTDA?
  • Was the LTDA’s wait and see policy for the Bank Junction fiasco scripted by Helen Chapman, Dan Maskell or even Mike “on side” Brown?
  • Was the LTDA’s decision not to protest over Tooley Street and Tottenham Court Road also scripted by TfL Staff?

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
Branch elections cancelled on trumped up charges? 
Branches closed down leaving just one that green badges can’t attend!
Multiple members expelled for speaking out against the old guard!

The members of our largest representative group, should waist no more time and demand an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to form a committee who will look after the best interests of the trade they are elected to represent.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Update From TaxiApp About PayPal's Investment In Uber.


In response to the announcement made by PayPal, Taxiapp views the use of the company as a payment clearance option as toxic and is not currently promoting the PayPal deal to new drivers.
 
However, the situation is more complex for existing members. We cannot negate the fact that we as drivers are mandated to accept credit as a condition of our licence. Boycotting PayPal in the first instance would remove existing drivers from the payment system which could force them into a position of being unable to work legally. It would be irresponsible of Taxiapp to discard its obligation to those drivers and leave them stranded without a payment solution.
 
All Credit Card companies are predatory by nature and Taxiapp cannot allow itself to be pushed around by a parasitical company such as Uber in an increasingly hostile market. The only truly impenetrable way to solve such a conflict of interest is for the trade to own its own app and payment clearance solution; something Taxiapp is working towards. However, this can only be achieved if drivers were willing to get on board and support the trades only Cooperative app. If not, then the industry will continue to give its business away to various corporations.
 
PayPal was chosen in good faith and offered the best deal available to drivers at that time, and the team has worked tirelessly to reduce the rate even further. Certainly the route to securing the deal was a complex one as most have secondary ties elsewhere with various venture capitalists.
 
Our industry is rife with what may constitute a conflict of interest. For example, both Visa & MasterCard have indirect financial interests in Uber. Geely Holding Group (manufacturers of the new Txe) has a 10% stake in Daimler. Geely itself, has multi-million dollar links with Uber, and Daimler is the parent company of both MyTaxi & ViaVan. Daimler also invested in Taxify (remember them?) Russia’s Sberbank, who owns over 30% of the aggregate Russian Banking Market invests heavily in Gett…as well as Uber. Computer Cab plc - who’s brand includes DataCab, Call-A-Cab, and Local minicab Groups - is a subsidiary of ComfortDelGro who owns the second largest public bus company in London- operating under the name of Metroline LTD. Izettle is owned by PayPal and Cabapp processes it’s payments through Barclays- another huge investor in Uber Technologies.
 
Nevertheless, none of the aforementioned companies can lay claim to working solely in the best interest of drivers and it doesn’t absolve Taxiapp of its responsibility it has to the trade. Whilst not promoting PayPal to new drivers, a period of transition will be needed while the team explore alternative clearance options for its existing members. It must be stressed, using PayPal has never been a prerequisite of being on the app so ultimately the choice to continue using PayPal - or seek an alternative clearance model - has to be left up to the drivers themselves. Again, in a narrowing market and until TAXIAPP has the funds to integrate its own payment solution, finding an alternative that is devoid of a conflict of interest will be an increasingly difficult one.
 
It is worth remembering, that Taxiapp’s steering group is not made up of financiers or paid individuals; it is run by a group of drivers who commit a considerable amount of their own time for free to ensure the trade has it’s own technological platform and that it runs smoothly… so your patience and support in this area will be valued
 
I will be in GSS at 10am and again at Camley St Café at 2am Tues-Friday for roughly one hour for anyone who has concerns about the PayPal deal and wishes to discuss the issue further.
 
All the best
 
SPD- TAXIAPP Communications


The Future Is Now ... Wait And See No More...by Sean Paul Day.

TFL's 'Network Management Control Centre'

Our biggest mistake is viewing the trade from a retrospective viewpoint. We cannot change the trade’s future based on the prevailing standard. The longer we spend trying to do that, the more we lose pace with policy and innovation.

Two years ago we highlighted the threat of a secondary wave of technological development and nothing was done about it. 
A year ago we warned about TfLs buses being deemed archaic and were set to be disrupted and nothing was, or is, being done about it . 

Instead of a bunch of independent systems on a local, national or even global level, TfL is looking to further develop a transportation network that works like the internet, where everything is connected. Standards based communication, which will reduce costs and create value for everyone involved in managing traffic in ‘smart’ cities.  It is vital that we are included within this new ‘eco-transport system. This is not an option…this is the future! 

TFL will expand their operational ‘responsibilities’ by integrating advanced, wireless communication technologies into both the Met District and surrounding counties. 

By integrating advanced, wireless communication technologies into both the transport infrastructure and vehicles TfL is able to seamlessly process/share data that will prevent vehicle collisions, keep traffic moving and reduce environmental impacts (hence TfL’s inactivity re: current level of congestion and accidents). 

Coordinating traffic signals, prioritising certain lanes, electronic information boards and variable speed limit signs are all part of the burgeoning ‘eco’ transport industry.  

Also significant is the ability to automatically distribute realistic data -time congestion data to control centres.  It is understood that traffic will enable mobility through “packed to capacity’  infrastructure. We WILL have to be part of this… how much control we have will be down to us (sorry folks, you hate on me for saying this, but we  are currently giving away all control to big money corporations) 

Pursuing the destabilising of  - what was - 20,000  hard working sole traders is nothing short of disgusting political and business practise. Clearing the way for a big money corporations to enter the market has decimated the earning potential of licensed taxi drivers so much so, owning and maintaining a purpose built vehicle will very soon become a non-viable business option. Be prepared for a move to usership- away from ownership (Sherbet is clever than what we give him credit for) 

What provision has the Commissioners team put in place to facilitate a municipal industry’s shift into a predatorily controlled market funded by financial institutes seeking market domination? None! What does that tell you? The permanence of our industry remaining a product of the state is a serious threat, and we need to look closely at what we need to do to ensure our working model survives in this bourgeoning new word. 

The trade desperately needs to find a better system for governance. Many of the irreversible risks that now threaten our trade originate from a rapid pace of industrial development coupled with the monopolisation of emerging technology and a refusal by TfL to enforce existing legislation.

Conveniently for TfL, the system currently in place to represent the trade - and effectively manage many of issues we are facing is done by using yesterday’s tools and by the same people. As a consequence, the necessary action is either not taken or is taken too late, while the problems and risks the industry faces continue to grow and mutate. 

The issue here is that our main representation isn’t weak… it has a totally different agenda, but doesn’t even understand the course it’s perusing. We can carry on as we are but if the political route hasn’t secured a single MP to ask questions on our behalf then a completely different approach is needed …and needed quick. 

There’s only so long we can remain bolted on to tech like a Tonka Toy -designed for a different time and place. 

This is not Doom and Gloom… this is reality and  a shout out to organise and see clearly the wood through the trees. 

We cannot stand still and rely on intransigence to sort out the future… the future is now.

“On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of decision, sat down to wait, and waiting died”. 

The Proactive ITA protests, run from 1 – 4pm every Wednesday afternoon 

Sean Paul Day.

  

Monday, May 13, 2019

Love Them Or Hate Them, Passengers From Paddington Require Them... It’s That Simple


Above is the image used in an the article published on line by MyLondon.news. 
It’s alleged to be a pop up rank that has caused hold ups not only to road users but also emergency services. 
The photo they used was actually a line of Taxis, waiting at the traffic lights on the corner of Praed Street and London Street. (See second photo below)


However, there is a pop up rank in the vicinity, but it’s actually in the other side of the road, outside the Hilton hotel. But the difference is, the pop up rank, isn’t causing an obstruction. This observation has been confirmed by the ambulance service who say they have no problem with the Taxis when accessing St Mary’s Hospital 

Fake news reports in an online propaganda site ‘MyLondon.News’ say that Black Cabs are blocking Praed Street causing a problem with ambulances accessing St Mary’s Hospital. But funny enough when contacted for a statement...the ambulance service say they have reported no such problem. 

The London Ambulance Service who we approached for a comment said no “significant issues” with congestion on Praed Street caused by Taxis ranking existed. 
Has this online publication been fed these obvious lies by TfL in their ongoing anti Black Cab campaign? 

The online article said: Two black cab drivers approached by the BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service on Tuesday (April 30) refused to comment on the issue.
Westminster Council's cabinet member for environment, Tim Mitchell, said: “Vehicles illegally blocking this section of Praed Street is unacceptable– that’s why we’ve stepped up the presence of our traffic marshals (follow the money) in the area to prevent parking offences including idling. We’re continuing to monitor the situation, and working with TfL and others to find a permanent solution. Well the best solution is for an authorised rank to meet the obvious demand from train passengers leaving the station. 
There is no blocking of Praed Street this is a blatant lie from Westminster Council.   
The article went on to say:
“As part of our ongoing Don’t Be Idle campaign, we’re educating all drivers on the effect of idling on air quality, (educating by way of a cash cow in tickets issued) but need Government to give councils greater powers to enforce against idling.“....

Will Westminster’s marshal be insisting that buses along Praed Street switch their engines off while picking up at various bus stops?
Will the buses be sudjected to penalty notices if found stationary with their diesel engines running?

Will Westminster City Council be insisting that all buses stopped in both Eastbourne and Westbourne Terrace switch their engines off, as they can often be found idling. (Yet funny enough, not a peep from residents or the council). 

LTDA chairman Richard Massett said: “The LTDA does not condone drivers parking unsafely and causing congestion in Praed Street.
So why hasn’t Massett who is Chair if the Joint Ranks committee has a Taxi rank put outside the Hilton. There’s plenty of room and by the fact that cabs are using this pop up rank, there’s a definite need for a rank. Perhaps he is just going to initiate the alleged LTDA policy of wait and see if someone else solves the problem and then claim the kudos.

Before drivers formed the pop-up rank, there were lines of Private Hire touts, which can presently be seen actually blocking London Street... which is the actual access point for many ambulances.
The current situation highlights the inadequate design of taxi facilities at the station. 

The policy of the LTDA working with TfL and Westminster City Council should be to establish a rank to serve both the hotel and Station south had years to sort out a solution, so far our regulator and representative orgs have failed.  

The current thinking of all parties involved (including rank and file working Taxi drivers), is that any future authorised ranking facility, would best be sited in Praed Street at the site of the current pop up rank. 

Below, is the real pop up rank. As you can see there is no obstruction. If there was no real call for this rank, with no passengers leaving by the south exit, then obviously, drivers wouldn’t wait there for a job !
Also, surely it’s better to have Taxis on a rank with engines switched off, than driving round aimlessly looking for passengers. After all, isn't that what the mayor and local councils clean air policies are sell about???



Sunday, May 12, 2019

TfL Asks The City Of London To Support Car Free Day Event.


Another questionable scheme from those who plotted to get Taxis banned from the Bank Junction, Tooley Street and Tottenham Court Road. 

They now want to close off parts of the City, for an international ‘car free’ day later this year to show what it would be like without traffic, could cause massive gridlock around the area, according to Councillor Marianne Fredericks. 

But it's not the City Fathers who at behind this incredibly naive and woefully incompetent idea, it appears Sadiq Khan and TfL's Mike Brown are standing in the shadows (again). 
Let's not forget what Mayor Khan said last month when questioned on the delays with CrossRail by the transport committee of the GLA...
He said "The buck stops with me.....but it's not my fault, it's all the fault of the previous CEO of CrossRail". 
(Is this not a first class example of passing the buck?)


Taxi leaks had been informed, it's actually Transport for London (TfL) who have asked the City of London Corporation if they will back the event in September. The event would involve closing both London and Tower Bridge at the same time.

City of London Councillor Fredericks, told colleagues at the Corporation’s 'streets and highways' sub-committee: “Sounds like a good idea...but, if we really want to experiment on how to cause more gridlock on the periphery...removing traffic from the City is a good opportunity?”

The event, planned for 22 September, would coincide with London's Open House weekend, which attracts thousands of tourists and locals, to get a peek behind doors of buildings usually closed to the public.

Officers showed councillors a map, where they propose to  extend the car free area on the day...including streets around Guildhall and Bank. Another option could see roads around Leadenhall Street and St Mary Axe being out of bounds to all traffic.

Cllr Fredericks (Tower ward) went on to say she thought the car free day would be a bad idea, if traffic was bumper to bumper on Mansell Street, and other parts of the Inner London Ring Roads, which carry the “largest area of housing in the Square Mile”.

In response council officers said they believe they could manage that area sensitively. (Where have we heard that before?)

Some of the more militant Lycra clad Councillors, also asked if the restricted area could be extended to Postman’s Park and the St Paul’s area, but were told it could cause problems for essential access to emergency vehicles around St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Cllr Randall Anderson (Aldersgate) added: “The purpose here seems to make sense. In my view car free should be about showing what it could be like...” 
We can actually tell him now what it will mean...disabled people would not be able to get about, and unless visitors were young healthy and fit, the city would not be a place they would want to be in (but perhaps that's the real idea behind the madness?). 
It will also show gridlock chaos ensuing, with traffic not being able to get across London.

City councillors also said they had security concerns about closing the two bridges at the same time for the day. But public security has never stopped the Mayor or TfL before once they've already made their minds up.