Friday, August 09, 2019

TfL’s Oyster Card In Uber Style Customer Account Hacking Scandal

TfL has temporarily suspended its online Oyster accounts after a breach

Tube travellers have had their online payment accounts hacked, according to Transport for London (TfL).

Some 1,200 customers attempting to access their online Oyster card accounts have reported being denied access since Wednesday.

TfL said while no customer payment details had been breached it had "temporarily suspended" online contactless and Oyster accounts.

The transport body has six million online Oyster account holders.

A spokeswoman said the numbers compromised is believed to be small and an initial investigation indicated the Oyster online service had not been compromised.

"As a precautionary measure and to protect our customers' data, we have temporarily suspended online contactless and Oyster accounts while we put additional security measures in place."

TfL said it believed hackers accessed the accounts of Oyster customers via a third party breach; people who might have recycled their passwords and logins for other websites.

"We encourage all customers not to use the same password for multiple sites," said TfL.

The London transport body said it would be contacting customers affected and had reported the incident to the National Cyber Security Centre and British Transport Police.


The days of cheap ride-hailing may be ending. Uber and Lyft reported quarterly financial results this week and indicated that their cutthroat competition to woo riders with coupons and other gambits is easing.

Lyft officials told investors they had raised prices on routes in some cities in June, and touted the company’s upcoming pricing algorithms, which they hinted might be able to more precisely predict what riders might be willing to pay for a ride. Lyft said those pricing changes would boost revenue per rider by next quarter.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that his company’s rivalry with the other big San Francisco-based ride-hailing company had cooled—for now. 

“We and Lyft are big-time competitors here and have been for some period of time, but for now we’re seeing generally, category positions that are stable,” he told investors Thursday. “We are focused on improving profitability in this market.”

Good thing, too, because the ride-hail companies—which have recently made entrees into bikesscootersself-drivingvehicles, transit agency partnerships, and for Uber, on-demand delivery, in bids to become the app kings of transportation—are still losing plenty of money.

The bleeding was the worst at Uber, which reported a $5.2 billion loss for the quarter amid record low revenue growth. Most of that loss, nearly $3.9 billion, stemmed from stock-based compensation costs related to its IPO this spring. 

But the company spent plenty on recruiting drivers to work for the platform and then keeping them there. For example, driver incentives for its buzzy and growing Uber Eats restaurant-delivery service more than doubled in the second-quarter, compared with a year earlier, while revenue for the service increased 72 percent. 

Uber also took a hit in Latin America, where its revenue fell by 24 percent in the quarter, as Chinese ride-hail company Didi began an aggressive push into that market. Uber shares fell 6 percent in after-hours trading on the report.

The story was a little better at Lyft, which reported its numbers on Wednesday. The company lost $644 million in the quarter, its own stock-related compensation rewards having been paid out earlier in the year. 

But the company revised its guidance, reporting that its “peak spending” days were behind it. “We anticipate 2019 losses to be better than previously expected,” Lyft CEO Logan Green said in a statement. The company reported that its gambits on bikes and scooters had increased its number of monthly active users, but also warned that those numbers would shrink in winter, when fewer are willing to hop on two wheels.

The open question is what investors, observers, and sometimes even riders have asked from the beginning: When will these darlings of Silicon Valley begin to turn a profit? Executives for both declined to put forward a solid timeline.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

More Evidence That The Mayor Of London Is Giving Uber A Free Pass Again

You really couldn’t make it up. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is to fund driver training (through a third party obviously) of delivery van drivers, as part of his ‘Vision Zero’ project. 

The statistics are there, they are available and yet Khan turns a blind eye to the fact that the majority of road traffic collisions in London are caused by private hire drivers who constantly take their eyes off the road to study the Sat/Nav on their phones. 

Yet TfL scrapped the advance driving test for Private hire drivers... his TfLTPH directors turned their backs on the fact that not only are many of the 120,000 private hire drivers working on a foreign driving licence, 13,000 of them submitted fake criminal record DBS checks. A similar figure had medical including eye tests done on line.

Uber Rape is real, with predators protected by TfL and The Mayor!

This below has just appeared on

Now Khan is now fundings third party (Fleet Source) to undertake  delivery driver training while leaving the private hire trade alone...again!

Fleet Source to support TfL’s ‘Vision Zero’ with driver training

As part of the Mayor of London’s long-term Transport Strategy to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from road collisions, Transport for London (TfL) has appointed Fleet Source, as one of two contractors on the Framework to deliver its funded driver training programmes.
Fleet Source will support TfL in delivering driver training for around 3,600 (60% of the annual delivery of 6,000) commercial drivers each year, over the next four years. Fleet Source will train all participants to the highest level of driver accreditation, aligned to FORS standards.

Commenting on its support of ‘Vision Zero’, Fleet Source founder and CEO, Nick Caesari, said: “Winning this place with TfL is strategically important for Fleet Source as it’s fully aligned with our mission to help save lives and improve road safety through professional driver training in every sector of the economy.

“Whilst this new contract represents a continuation of Fleet Source’s partnership with TfL, which began in 2014, our responsibilities as a principal contractor now are much more significant. 

Working in collaboration with TfL and FORS, we look forward to making a major positive contribution to the Mayor’s ‘Vision Zero’ action plan, which we endorse wholeheartedly.”

Commenting on the contract award, TfL’s Principal Delivery Planner, Sam Weller, said: “We are pleased to announce that Fleet Source has been awarded a place on the Framework contract as one of the two contractors awarded the delivery of our driver training programmes, we look forward to working with them on the roll-out of this important initiative.”

Known as ‘Vision Zero’, Mayor Sadiq Khan’s, objective is for no one to be killed in or by a London bus by 2030 and for there to be no deaths or serious injuries on the capital’s TfL-controlled road network by 2041. In the shorter term, the ‘Vision Zero’ action plan aims to cut road deaths by 65% before 2022, compared with 2005-09 levels. 

An important aspect of the ‘Vision Zero’ strategy is training commercial drivers on how to protect vulnerable road users (VRUs) and share the road with them safely.

Dockless Bikes Causing Concerns For Blind And Disabled Pedestrians.

 Registered as blind for 15 years, Deborah Persaud travels around London with guide dog Lewis by her side.

But on recent walks to work, the pair have faced a new challenge on pavements - dockless bikes for hire.

"Lewis has to navigate around them [and] we often end up having to walk onto the road," she said.

"I have bumped into them a few times and that's with Lewis. He is about to retire and I am absolutely terrified of using my white cane."

There has been a rise of tech start-ups offering app-based hire bikes around major cities, enabling customers to book and unlock bikes via an app - which uses GPS to find the nearest one available.

But unlike dock-based models, such as London's Santander Cycles, they can be then be left anywhere within designated parking areas.

Disability activists have said the schemes are causing "dangerous" obstructions for people with visual or mobility impairments in cities.

New to the sector are electric bikes. Lime's E bikes launched in London in December, while ride-hailing firm Uber placed its first fleet of red Jump bikes in Islington in May.

Both firms ask users to park bikes responsibly and out of the way of pedestrians.

But Ms Persaud, 50, from Islington, said pavements in her local area are "littered" with the vehicles.

The civil servant said they often added time to her journey as they blocked routes.

"There were three Jump bikes placed on the pavement in Dalston on 27 July, so we couldn't get on to it," she said.
"On Tuesday morning there were two Lime bikes parked on the pavement in Highbury, so we had to get someone to move them."
"It's frustrating," she added. "They are a hazard."

Dr Amit Patel, who lost his sight suddenly in 2012, said he had incidents where his cane had become trapped in the spokes of the bikes.

But the former University College Hospital doctor - who now relies on guide dog Kika to navigate London - said the worst situation he encountered was when bikes were parked against pedestrian crossings.

This blocks access to the tactile indicator on crossings, which tells visually impaired or blind people when they have right of way.

"It's inconvenient and it's dangerous," he said.
"If you are going to use the schemes, just bear in mind to leave bikes in a safe space."

Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who uses a wheelchair, said companies "have to be more responsible".

"The quality of the pavement is really important for disabled people," she said, adding that bikes parked on pavements had "huge potential to cause harm".

She said: "The companies have to send out a really strong message, but actually people just need to think more about others."

Issues have plagued dockless schemes in cities around the UK, with bikes left strewn across pavements, defaced or stolen.
Operators ofo, oBike and Urbo are all reported to have withdrawn from Britain since 2018.

Major operator Mobike last year withdrew from Manchester, Newcastle and Gateshead following vandalism and theft, and the company also shrank its operational area in London.

Transport for London and the capital's councils are now working to pass a new city-wide by-law to ensure schemes "are safely and responsibly managed", Michael Hurwitz, director of transport innovation at TfL, said.

The by-law is designed to work across borough boundaries and address problems such as pavements being blocked, according to London Councils.

Under current legislation operators do not require consent from the borough or TfL to operate.

But the manager of Disability Action in Islington, Andy Greene, said the bikes do not "dovetail with creating an environment which is inclusive" and wants the companies to go further.

Mr Greene, who uses a wheelchair, urged more schemes to roll out bikes that can be accessed by people with a range of impairments, such as hand bikes or three wheeled bikes.

"We seem to be back to 50 years ago when one size fits all," he said.

'Every effort'
A spokeswoman for Lime said the firm was "disappointed" to hear its bikes had been found obstructing pavements.

"Lime's network of e-bikes is maintained by a local operations team to ensure they are positioned considerately and, since our bikes require battery changes every few days, we are in very regular contact with our fleet," she said.

"Our team also works to ensure that improperly parked bikes flagged through our customer service channels are dealt with in an appropriate and timely manner."

A spokeswoman for Uber said customers should "take the time to park responsibly".

"Anyone found to be riding or parking bicycles irresponsibly may lose access to Jump," she added.

Going back to the statement made by Lime eBikes:
‘Lime's network of e-bikes is maintained by a local operations team to ensure they are positioned considerately’

This wasn’t the case outside Sudbury Hill underground station. Bikes were strewn across the pavement outside the exit often blocking the way to prams, baby-buggies and worst of all Wheelchair users. 

Complaints to TfL and Harrow council fell on deaf ears and so locals decide to move the bikes to inaccessible places and it didn’t take long fro Lime to get the message.

For years seating outside restaurants, fruit and veg shops encroaching onto the pavement, billboards outside pubs and cafes were a no no, but amazingly, when TfL introduced Boris Bikes, no thought was given to disabled and visually impaired residents. In some streets mothers have to push their prams into the road to get by the bank of Boris Bikes. 

One rule for TfL and another for everyone else. 

And now we have dockless bikes which can be left anywhere. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Statement From United Trade Action Group Legal Team

Dear UTAG Member,

Since our Judicial Review ("JR"), we have had many meetings with our legal team to formulate our next steps. We are writing to provide you with a brief but important update.

Our legal team including Robert Griffiths QC has been gathering the evidence to present to Transport for London ("TfL") as to why Uber is not to be relicensed, as it is not a 'Fit and Proper' Operator. In fact, we contend it never was, and via their continued poor behaviour and corporate structure it is clear to all that it has no intention of becoming one.

Crucial evidence has been collated and UTAG is very close to presenting our evidence to TfL.

Uber's temporary licence is up for renewal on September 25th, 2019 but shortly UTAG shall put TfL on notice that they should not relicense Uber, for even the shortest of periods. Enough is enough.

We cannot offer further disclosure in relation to the case at this time but we shall, in due course, make available the letter to TfL for all donators to read via our website.

Uber was fined £29,600 last week at Westminster Magistrates Court for failing to keep proper records and for allowing drivers to work without the required hire and reward insurance.  This fact will be included in both proposed letters to TfL.

Once our evidence is delivered to TfL, if they decide to relicense this law-breaking company once again, we shall consider launching an immediate Judicial Review into that decision once TfL announces their reasons for granting a license.

 Grounds for JR will be disclosed to members once drafted.

It is also our intention to serve a preliminary letter on TfL following the recent decision at Westminster Magistrates Court.  This will put them on notice that they should revoke Ubers’ licence without delay and that letter will be followed up with a much more in-depth document setting out why Uber should never be allowed to work in the capital again.

If you care about the London Taxi trades survival, and are not already donating to the United Taxi Action Group appeal to hold TfL to account through the court, then you need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror. 

Don't wait and see till it's too late, do it now and hold the people to account who have tried to wipe out this profession. 

Also remember, you don't need to be a London Cabby to donate. 

Just click on the link, top right hand column and go directly to the UTAG donation page. 


Are We The London Taxi Trade Gold Standard, Or Willy Wonker’s Chocolate Factory

The London Taxi driver is licensed to ply for hire on London’s streets... while in motion or stationary on a rank (be it outside a hotel, restaurant, shop, underground or mainline station). 

We have also been given the grace and favour to legally pick up from ranks on private property such as Airports (LAP and City) and certain hotel forecourts and main line stations. 

But that’s not enough for some drivers... they’re looking for a Wonka bar golden ticket, to allow them to get an even bigger slice of the action so to speak. 
Many are even willing to sell out long term principles to enable them to jump queues. 

Drivers are now deep in the habit of buying back work that is rightfully there’s anyway. 

It’s not really new, it’s been like this for many years, first with radio circuits and now through smart phone technology. 

Lately it seems we are being smothered by Taxi apps, all vying to sell you jobs, some at knock down prices and others surging just like a certain private hire company that shall remain nameless. 

Drivers used to react violently when asked to work alongside PH, in one case completely boycotting one app who dared to dispatch work to PH from the same app as Taxis, causing them to rethink and issue an apology.  Hailo never really recovered from the boycott and subsequently sold out to a corporate buyer.   

But now times have changed dramatically with street hails few and far between, some drivers driven on by greed are quite willing to work quietly alongside PH.

But now a new boy on the block, I say new but actually they’ve been around for over a year but hadn’t launch till now. 

Tappa, offers to sell you back your own work at the knockdown rate of 8% but there’s a caveat to this... they will be operating a system of private bookings through the phone app and not the meter at 5% more than the going rate. 

What will the passengers say when they see a fare on the meter but are then charged over and above.... it’s simple say Tappa, you work with the meter off. 

Yes you read that correctly, they want you to work through the Uber style meter in the phone app with the meter off. 

Isn’t that illegal you ask, no...allegedly they’ve  explained their modus operandi to TfL and been given a clean bill of health. 

How have they been licensed to operate you may ask, well truth is Licensed Taxi apps don’t need an operators licence because all the drivers are licensed to ply for hire, it’s only when they put PH vehicles on the app they have to apply for an operators licence 

So we now have 
  • One greedy app charging 15% 
  • Another greedy app surge pricing at busy times, openly charging more than the meter.
  • There’s even a semi-secret app for Vitos which pays doorman for airports

And now we have an app that operates its own pricing structure with the meter turned off.
(Are you not insured if you carry passengers without the meter engaged???)

How wonderful TfL must feel, they must be laughing their socks off....drivers signing up to a project horizon style one tiered  service. 

What is it they say, give some one enough rope, and they will hang themselves. 
It’s Turkeys voting for Christmas all over again. 

If TAPPA are intent on running a service outside the confines and protection of the Taxi meter, as laid down in the legislation of the Hackney Carriage Acts, then the service they are operating is a private hire bookings service that should require a Private Hire Licence. 

Surely, by asking drivers to mask the fact from passengers that they are being charged more than the metered rate by not putting on the meter, is deception?

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Veterans To Celebrate Their 100th Birthdays At The Union Jack Club.

Three veterans; will be guests of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans at a lunch on 15 August to celebrate their 100th birthdays
On 15 August, the 74th anniversary of V-J day, three veterans Ray Whitwell, Jeffrey Hayward and Chelsea Pensioner, George Parsons, 
will assemble with a group of heroes for a lunch at the Union Jack Club in London to celebrate their 100th birthdays.

The lunch at 1pm will see a group of veterans celebrate with the birthday boys, who will be joined by 101-year-old, Albert Gardner who served with the Royal Engineers and West African Frontier Force.

Lunch is at 1pm and interviews can be arranged from 12pm
The veterans are mainly resident in London and the South East.

Venue – Union Jack Club, Sandell St, Lambeth, London SE1 8UJ

Ray Whitwell who will be travelling to Arnhem in September with the Taxi Charity lives in North Yorkshire

Jeffrey Haward, recipient of the Military Medal is the subject of the book “Fighting Hitler From Dunkirk to D Day”

Companies Like Uber And Lyft Are Actually Making Traffic Worst In Some Cities

It was a big promise to build an entire business on. But for the last handful of years, both Uber and Lyft have capitalized on the notion that by providing rides to people on demand via an app, traffic and pollution would be mitigated—especially in major urban centers. New research from boththe ride-hailing juggernauts now suggests that’s not the case.

joint analysisled by transportation consultancy Fehr & Peers examined Uber’s and Lyft’s combined mileage in September 2018 in the metro areas of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. New York City wasn’t studied because of its vast public transportation system.

The results (which include city centers and their surrounding suburbs) reveal that, overall, Uber and Lyft make up just 1% to 3% of vehicle miles overall in the six metro areas. 

However, in places like San Francisco county, Uber and Lyft account for as much as 13.4% of all vehicle miles. It’s 8% in Boston, and 7.2% in Washington, D.C. On average, between the six cities, as much as 62% of miles driven had a passenger. 

The rest were drivers on their way to pick up someone or just driving around between getting booked for a ride.

However, both Uber and Lyft are justifiably pointing their fingers toward the biggest cause of traffic and emissions: privately owned and commercial vehicles. Those account for 87% to 99% of total miles in the six areas studied.

Lyft’s chief policy officer, Anthony Foxx (a former U.S. secretary of transportation), says this is a good time to consider congestion pricing to ease traffic, as is being implemented in Manhattan. Foxx is pushing for a democratic approach to this. 

“The most effective congestion pricing model is one that applies to all vehicles on the road, including private automobiles, ridesharing, and commercial vehicles such as trucks, limousines, coach buses and taxis,” he writes

In other words, everyone needs to share the responsibility.

In Just 19 Years, TfL Have Taken The London Taxi Trade From Gold Standard, To The Brink Of Destruction

Three years after the English Civil War, in 1654 Oliver Cromwell set up the Fellowship of Master Hackney Carriages by Act of Parliament, and taxi driving became a profession. 

This makes the licensed taxi trade the oldest regulated public transport system in the world.

The Public Carriage Office took on and ran the Taxi trade seamlessly for 150 years from 1850 till 2000 when we were seconded to TfL. 

In that time, the London Taxi Trade became recognised world wide as the best regulated Taxi service in the world, second to none. 

 On the 3rd of July 2000, Transport for London took command of the capitals transport system which included the administration of Taxis and the newly licensed private hire trade. 

But in just 19 years, TfL have almost destroyed the knowledge and have become a disgrace to public safety. 

Last year, Uber were deemed unfit and proper to be a private hire operator. The licence renewal went to appeal and TfL (who put up virtually no resistance) lost the appeal and Uber were granted a provisional licence (the first time in the history of the trade) by a Judge who had obvious conflicts of interest through her husband. 

Last Wednesday, at Westminster Magistrates Court, Uber London Limited, were fined £29,600 in total, after pleading guilty to two counts of permitting a Private Hire vehicle to be used with no insurance. They also pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to keep records in accordance with the 1998 Private Hire Act. 
It's also alleged that they were ordered to pay £22,000 in court costs, but let's face it....what's £51,600 to a company that can shrug off a £4.5bn loss in just one quarter of a trading year. 

Any other Private Hire operator in this position would have had their proprietors licence revoked the same day.... but TfL appear to be scared of Uber and have set a presidency by letting them them continue to operate in London. 

Our largest Org ( who have just had a windfall of £21.4m with the sale of their property in W9) have informed their members through email, they have written a letter to the Mayor, reminding him of his stance on public safety. That’s it.... a letter to the Mayor?

In light of today’s revelation that Uber has been fined £29600 for Failure to Keep Records, in breach of their probationary licensing conditions, we have been in discussions with our legal team with the view to giving them further instructions to take legal action.

The United Taxi Action Group functions on freely given donations from Taxi drivers and supporting services. 

If you haven’t already, please consider donating to UTAG by using the link below. 

As General Secretary of the UCG Trevor Merrill’s once said, “ it’s not the colour of the lanyard you wear, its the badge that hangs on it that counts”. 

I recently posted about my experience at Stanstead Airport where I observed TfL registered Private hire cars waiting to be hired. After speaking to fellow passengers on my flight, it transpired that Uber cars were available for immediate hire and were picking up within minutes of booking. 

My observation was picked up by my representative org (LCDC)and a email has now been forwarded to TfL on my behalf. 
This is what I pay for, representation... not waiting and seeing. 

Are Uber Above The Law ???
Uber has refused to make any significant changes to its activities in Essex, after being told to withdraw from Brentwood or apply for a fresh licence.

So can we expect future prosecutions for allowing drivers to pick up passengers without adequate hire & reward insurance???