Friday, July 05, 2019

The Taxi Charity To Take Veterans To Explore The Fate Of The Waterloo Wounded


The Taxi Charity will be taking six veterans to Belgium, in six London licensed taxis, on 11 July, to join a team of military veterans and serving personnel, to experience excavating at the site of Wellington’s Field Hospital on the world-famous battlefield of Waterloo.

Waterloo Uncovered 2018

Led by professional archaeologists, the excavation, organised by the charity Waterloo Uncovered, will explore the farm buildings of Mont St Jean, where thousands of wounded soldiers received primitive first aid during the battle of 1815, which ended in the crushing defeat of Napoleon.

Frances Wyhowska, Vice President, The Taxi Charity, comments “This is the second time that The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans will be supporting Waterloo Uncovered by escorting veterans from London to Belgium and involving them in the archaeological dig. It is an amazing experience for both the veterans and the cab drivers, and we are always inundated with cabbies who want to volunteer their time to accompany a veteran to the battlefield excavation and join them on the dig.”

Danny Shelton, London Licensed Taxi Driver, says “I volunteered my time last year for the Taxi Charity to support Waterloo Uncovered and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a proud London cabbie, it makes me realise how lucky I am to be able to give something back to these lads and lasses who do so much for us.”

About Waterloo Uncovered
Waterloo Uncovered combines world-class archaeology with a programme of care and recovery. Many of the military personnel involved have experienced service-related wounds and injuries or suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Taking part on the Dig can help people rebuild health and confidence, learn new skills and interests and give them the chance to mix with people from a variety of backgrounds.

Waterloo Uncovered has been excavating areas of the battlefield since 2015 and have made important new discoveries about the intense and bloody fighting and the men who took part in the battle.

This year’s dig is sponsored by Annington, one of the UK’s largest providers of privately rented property and a specialist in providing property for the Ministry of Defence.

Waterloo Uncovered will be excavating at Waterloo from July 9 -19th.

www.waterloouncovered.com

About the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans
The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was formed in Fulham in 1948, to work for the benefit, comfort and enjoyment of military veterans and arranges many trips every year for veterans from all conflicts.
The charity offers international trips to Holland, Belgium and France, UK day trips to concerts or museums, transport to attend fundraising events, as well as special days out to catch up with friends and comrades.

To fund and facilitate these outings, the charity is wholly reliant on generous donations from members of the public, businesses and trusts and the amazing group of London licensed taxi drivers who offer their time and vehicles free.

To find out more about the charity or to donate visit the website www.taxicharity.org
Twitter @TaxiCharity
Facebook www.facebook.com/TaxiCharityUK

For more information, to arrange interviews or to request images please contact

Christina Bowden
Bowden PR


christina@bowdenpr.co.uk

'A Conspiracy Or A Cock Up?' - Assembly Members Call For An Independent Investigation




'A conspiracy or a cock up?' - Assembly members call for an independent investigation into TfL's reports on the Croydon tram crash

A motion was backed by members of the London Assembly on Thursday, July 4, calling for an independent investigation into the role Transport for London (TFL) played in supplying information to Croydon tram crash investigators have been made.

Assembly member Keith Prince put forward a motion claiming that TfL failed to provide key tram safety evidence following the tragic Croydon tram crash.

The tragic crash in November 2016 left seven people dead and more than 60 others injured, after a tram derailed at Sandilands.

And earlier this year TfL blamed human error for not immediately sharing an audit on driver fatigue with investigators of the crash.

Mr Prince proposed the motion calling on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to open an independent investigation into why TfL failed to hand over vital information which could have assisted the investigators.

Today (Thursday, July 4) he said: "In reality we do not know whether it is cock up or conspiracy and that simply cannot be accepted we need a definitive answer to this and many more questions.

"We need a truly independent inquiry into this matter so it stops all the speculation around it."

The motion was seconded by assembly member for Sutton and Croydon Steve O’Connell.

But Fiona Twycross described the motion as 'political gameplaying'.

She said: "We know that off their own instigation TfL did an internal audit to examine the effectiveness of fatigue management processes at the managers FirstGroup.

"We know that they immediately informed the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and we know that they also made the British Transport Police, who are still carrying out an investigation, aware so family liaison officers could bring this to the attention of family and victims of the Sandilands incident.

"Of course there were always lessons to be learnt and TfL has held their hands up and admitted that this audit should have been immediately sent to investigators. That this didn’t happen was the result of human error."

She added that TfL has since updated its procedures so that audits of a live investigation are automatically sent on.

The motion was backed with 10 votes in favour – Labour members abstained on the vote


Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Shortage Of Taxis Due To Decommissioning. Open Letter To Mike Cash RMT.



From: CHRIS JOHNSON 
To: Mick Cash
Sent: Wednesday, 3 July 2019 13:49:53 BST
Subject: Membership problem

Membership number XXXXXXXX

Dear Mr Cash

I have been told to write to you after telephoning the membership helpline.

As you might be aware Transport for London "TfL" & the Mayor of London have introduced a policy to decommission diesel taxis with and out of date and flawed impact assessment, this assessment was undertaken by Cambridge Economic Partners.

Inherently there has been approximately 12% more licensed drivers than licensed vehicles, however, this has increased to approximately to 19% more licensed drivers than vehicles due to TfL & the Mayor's ill thought out and harmful policy.

Neither TfL nor the Mayor of London have carried out a revised integrated impact assessment to the Cambridge Economic Partners assessment even though there was a significant change to the decommissioning policy that was firstly suggested, TfL claim that 50% are fleet rental vehicles and 50% are owner drivers, TfL also suggest that two thirds of the fleet rental companies have decommissioned taxis and only one third are owner drivers who have decommissioned.

This has caused a significant strain in the fleet rental market, with the failure being that neither TfL nor the Mayor of London carried out a revised impact assessment to understand this data - they simply introduced a policy on an old assessment.    

In short, TfL & the Mayor of London have introduced a policy without any real up to date impact assessment data, and in doing so, have knowingly caused mental anguish, anxiety, stress and other mental health related problems due to the fact that they have reduced the size of the renal taxi fleet to a position where there are not enough available taxis to supply the number of drivers who need a taxi to earn a living. 

The taxi which I rent broke down last week with an engine failure, because there are now a shortage of taxis to rent due to this allegedly unlawful policy, I now cannot work because I don't have a vehicle and unless this changes will be out of work for a considerable time.

This has impacted on my own mental health and is causing me real hardship which is impacting on my relationship with my family.

Therefore, I am asking that the RMT step in here and look at the legal implications of TfL's policy of deliberately putting drivers out of work and knowingly initiating a policies that cause mental health problems, I further suggest there is potentially a conflict with the 2010 equalities act given that mental health is classed as a disability.

I look forward to your reply.

Best wishes

Chris Johnson.

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : 

After 18 months of waiting and seeing, our largest org and our smallest Union (LTDA/Unite) after recently congratulating the Mayor on doing an excellent job in regards to decommissioning, have asked the Mayor for more funding to speed up the decommissioning process, to take into the mix TX4 and Vito Euro 5s. 

You don’t have to be a genius to work out that this is not going to help find a solution to the problem facing rental drivers, but will actually add to the problem as there will be less cabs available for rentals, as fleet owners take the money and run. 

Charlie Croker (@InThePinkTaxi) Tweeted:

After telephoning several garages I couldn't find a cab to rent as the spare I was given had to go back for a repair with a gearbox problem.

I have billed TfLTPH for loss of earnings @ £60 per day.

This has been caused by TfL ill thought out decommissioning policy. 
https://twitter.com/InThePinkTaxi/status/1146099512483766272?s=17


 

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Are MyTaxi About To Drop Taxis From Its Business And Work Closer With Rental Cars?


A meeting took place last week with MyTaxi stakeholders and according to those who participated, it's not a matte of if, but when. 
MyTaxi are looking to offer a cheaper service to customers and say they can only do this by offering cars that at not restricted on price by regulation.


From a Dutch Transport magazine


VIEW ACROSS THE BORDER: HAS THE MYTAXI APP GIVEN UP THE TAXI?

This summer the taxi app myTaxi changes under the influence of the mobility cooperation between Mercedes-Benz and BMW to 'Free Now'. Then myTaxi customers in Germany can also order a rental car with driver (Mietwagen). In the meantime, according to our Taxi Times colleagues, the Daimler daughter makes no secret that the taxi has no future for them. MyTaxi never became active in the Netherlands and Belgium, but in a country like Ireland, for example, this quickly became the dominant partner of the taxi sector. Here myTaxi is also the first to introduce a little customer-friendly payment of € 5 for 'no shows' - customers who do not show up.

Taxi Times noted the myTaxi plans during a business meeting last weekend. About 50 taxi operators, almost all of whom work with myTaxi, came together for the second time for a strategic briefing about whether or not to stop working with myTaxi.

In the beginning, some entrepreneurs told about a meeting with myTaxi two days earlier. myTaxi said there that the app was going to do business with rental car operators (less strict regulations than taxi operators) to perform the journeys offered to them via the Free-Now app. It was striking that myTaxi - which, among other things, our Eastern neighbors seemed to have a very good relationship with the taxi sector - did not support the massive demonstrations against the deregulation plans of Minister Scheuer. Now the taxi sector knows why. The app drops them.

The myTaxi people told taxi operators that the number of orders for taxis was falling and that they fell behind their main competitor Uber, which is only active in five cities in Germany. But adding (also) rental cars to the app could solve that. The myTaxi people acknowledged that this is not good news for the taxi sector. By working with rental cars, myTaxi can offer lower prices than the fixed prices of the taxi sector.

"MyTaxi and therefore Daimler is preparing for a price war with Uber with Free Now," said a Munich-based taxi operator with a large number of taxis. Another taxi company told how he wanted to convince him to work together as rental car partners: “Register a rental car because the return obligation (rental cars must return to their garage in Germany before they can take on a new job - ed.) Will be in government plans anyway to disappear."

After these messages, it was clear to the business meeting participants that the question was not whether the collaboration with myTaxi would be terminated, rather when. Many participants in the meeting immediately wanted to break up with myTaxi and introduce the customers to a real taxi app.

Other participants, on the other hand, expressed the fear that many passengers did not know the alternatives - such as the Taxi Deutschland, Taxi.eu and Cab4me app. At this point the participants agreed to remove the myTaxi advertising on the doors and in the interior and to hand over advertising material about the real taxi apps to the passengers instead. Representatives of the two largest taxi centers in Munich, Isar Funk and Taxi M√ľnchen eG, agreed to keep this advertising material available to taxi operators at different locations in Munich.

Because many of the current taxi operators only offer myTaxi their drivers as a 'delivery center', they are now urgently looking for alternatives. A large number of other taxi companies have already canceled their cooperation with myTaxi. The larger taxi companies are expected to do this collectively for their affiliated taxi companies.

Does myTaxi - soon Free Now - prefer to do business with rental car ('Mietwagen' -) entrepreneurs than with taxi companies?


Monday, July 01, 2019

To Rank, Or Not To Rank......What's the Problem With These Councils?


There seems to be a new bias against Taxi ranks showing up throughout the UK. We’ve had this problem for quite some time in London. Westminster appeared to be the first borough where this issue started to show up. 

Even though the council themselves had done research on behalf of TfL that showed people were more likely to take a taxi if the first thing they saw was an orange light outside the exit of a club, bar or restaurant, ranks started appearing in front of such premises where vacating customers would only see the back of the cabs. 

It’s not hard to implement, the Taxi on point, needs to be just a foot or two back from an exit so the 'for hire' light can clearly be seen by vacating customers/potential riders.

Councils are now stepping up enforcement (not just in London) to punish drivers who ignore signage or poor signage and form what’s become known as pop up ranks which drivers feel are better serving the needs of the public. 

Amazingly, councils seem reluctant to use any enforcement against Private Hire or Private vehicle’s contravene the restrictions on Taxi ranks, stopping drivers from working....cases in point Hakassan, Novikov's and Nobu in Mayfair.

Someone tell me... just what is it that the LTDA led joint ranks committee actually do ?????

But, it's not confined to London....
Article below from Grantham today, also highlighting this issue.   

Taxi drivers in Grantham claim they are losing business after many of them received penalty points for using a loading bay in the Market Place for fares instead of the designated taxi rank.


Since the creation of the taxi rank on Conduit Lane several years ago, drivers claim they have been losing fares due to ‘lack of signage’ and the public not knowing where to go to get a Taxi.

They have now been told that they are creating a safety issue by using a loading bay in Grantham Market Place as an unauthorised rank to wait for fares.
After several drivers received three points on their taxi licence for ‘misusing the loading bay’, the majority of drivers have mutually agreed to start using the designated rank on Conduit Lane only, but fear that it could be to their detriment.

“We understand that we cannot use the loading bay but now it looks like it has been taken over by pizza delivery vans.

“We can see members of the public standing at the Market Place and looking for a taxi. I’ve tried beeping to let them know that I’m there, but they just give up and go to one of the taxi companies instead. We are stuck out in the middle of nowhere.”

Muhammed Yasin has been an independent taxi driver for eight years. He was one of the drivers to receive three points.

He said: “There are 40 cars that travel around Grantham at night and we can fit seven on the rank at a push. If there is not any room, we have to either queue past the rank or just keep driving around town. Friday and Saturday nights are the only times that we can make any sort of reasonable money but now we are losing jobs. We rely 100 per cent on the rank here and the taxi rank at the Guildhall during the day. I am gutted about my points. I always try my best and behave well.

“It is already tough as there just doesn’t seem to be as many people going into town compared to a few years ago, and it seems to be getting worse every year as the way of socialising seems to be changing, and now it’s harder. However, there is still enough work for everyone if everyone worked properly together.”

Henry Marshall has been a taxi driver for 24 years. He is concerned about the safety aspects. He said: “There’s a lot of people around the Market Place, it is very visible and security staff are on the doors, whereas Conduit Lane is out of the way.”

Kashif Hussain has been a taxi driver for less than a year and also received three points. He said: “I am scared to pick up jobs from the Market Place now even if they are booked. I’m nervous that I will receive more points.”

Muhammed handed a letter to South Kesteven District Council on behalf of many of the drivers to raise their concerns, which was signed by at least 30 of the drivers.

They mentioned their confusion as to whether taxi drivers can park in the Market Place as well as requesting CCTV to cover the entire rank on Conduit Lane for the safety of the public and drivers, and signage to direct people to the rank. 

They also raised concerns that some drivers will continue to use the loading bay to the detriment of other drivers using the designated rank.

South Kesteven District Council said ‘Taxi drivers are creating a safety issue by using a loading bay in Grantham Market Place as an unauthorised rank, rather than using the Lincolnshire County Council-designated rank opposite in Conduit Lane.

‘The number of queueing vehicles has, on occasions, taken the unofficial rank beyond the loading bay up towards the High Street and this is causing a safety risk for other road users and pedestrians.”

SKDC’s cabinet member for commercial and operations Cllr Dr Peter Moseley added: “It is the drivers who insist on ranking in the loading bay to wait for fares who are causing the problems.

“To help combat this, we would remind customers to use the Conduit Lane rank which can been seen from the loading bay. We have asked Lincolnshire County Council to improve the signage for the rank and it has agreed to look into this". Unfortunately Dr Moseley didn't go into detail on how he was reminding potential customers.......

“There are no restrictions on Hackney Carriages picking up waiting passengers from the loading bay if they are hailed, or it is pre-booked as a pick-up location.” So never mind about air quality, it's ok if the Taxis keep circulating, wasting diesel/petrol as long as they don't stop and turn off their engines....that's ok?


Drivers are expected to follow SKDC’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire licensing policy. If regulations are breached, penalty points can be issued on their taxi licence – not their driving licence. How long before we see this in London under Project Horizon, Taxi licence points issued by TfL....one more nail in the coffin of the trade

Waiting or stopping in an area where parking is prohibited unless asked to do so by a paying customer in the car is a breach of conditions and carries a three-point penalty. If drivers reach 12 points they can be asked to appear before the licensing committee which considers if they should retain their licence.

Dr Moseley added: “We understand the important role taxis play in a successful night-time economy and work to ensure the service they provide matches expectations.”

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :

What is it that these councillors don't understand. Their attitude towards Taxi drivers who have been doing a fantastic job getting people, who have been out enjoying themselves, safely home in the evening.....is deplorable. 

Every council should employ the services of Taxi drivers on their transport committee. It is long serving Licensed Taxi drivers who know how the transport in most boroughs work best. There are many drivers with years of experience who could be of value to councils all over the country. But are ignored in favour of fresh out of collage students with no more experience than a computer mode program. 

But, just having an impotient committee hasn't don't much to improve the situation in London. A Taxi ranks committee need to have the power itself and a budget to implement changes to taxi ranks to make them more accessible and visible to the public.

Just having a committee that has no real power to invoke change, is a waste of knowledge and experience.  Also, what we don't need, is what we have now, a committee led by someone who hasn't driven a Taxi for a living in many years. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Uber's Real London Threat Is Ola, Not Bolt, Says Morgan Stanley


Daimler AG-backed Bolt, formerly known as Taxify, just re-entered the UK market two years after its operating license was revoked

Even though Bolt has raised around $190 million to $280 million in funding so far, Morgan Stanley analysts say that Ola remains the main potential threat to Uber Technologies Inc.'s dominance in the London ride-sharing market, despite this month's return of the rival Bolt service to the UK capital,

Ola, owned by ANI Technologies Pvt, has said it will take on Uber in London before the end of the year, while Daimler AG-backed Bolt, formerly known as Taxify, just re-entered the UK market two years after its operating license was revoked for not being fit and proper company and operating without a licence. 
Amazing what a company like this can achieve with TfL once they’ve raised a few bob. 

In the two weeks since Bolt resumed London operations, evidence suggests it is not having a material impact on Uber, according to Morgan Stanley analysts led by Brian Nowak. 

Uber's share of app downloads fell a little after Bolt entered, but has since recovered, they wrote in a report.

The greater threat is likely to come from Ola, the analysts say. If reports are accurate, Bolt has only raised around $190 million to $280 million in funding so far, small fry compared with the $3.8 billion Ola is said to have racked up, according to Morgan Stanley. TfL bosses must be frothing at the thought! 

"We believe Ola is arguably a greater threat if media reports of Ola's entry into London at the end of the year prove accurate," the analysts said.

Morgan Stanley remains bullish on Uber as the strong growth rates it continues to achieve demonstrate the potential for faster ride bookings and more revenue growth through the course of 2019.