Saturday, September 07, 2019

GLA Councillor David Kurten’s Meeting With The LCDC And Taxi Leaks At City Hall.

 Yesterday afternoon (6th September) along with members representing the London Cab Drivers Club, Mark White and Danny O’Regan, I attended a meeting with Cllr David Kurten at City Hall. 


The meeting was basically a follow up, after Cllr Kurten tabled a motion on Thursday, asking Mayor Sadiq Khan not to implement the new Taxi age limit of 12 years on Euro 4-5 Taxis and to reinstated the availability of the new Vito plus Euro 6 currently being licensed as PH vehicles. 

This statement was put out by the London Assembly Thursday night:

 “Black cabs are a great London institution”.

However, the black cab industry has been affected by a series of measures, including the plan to reduce the maximum age of an older licenced taxi from 15 to 12 years. In addition, there has been no competition in the taxi sales market for nearly two years. It’s clear the Mayor’s approach will force taxi drivers out of work and cause hardship for many.
We want the Mayor to go back to the drawing board and re-think his proposals. 

That’s why we agreed a motion to call upon the Mayor not to reduce the maximum age of a taxi from 15 years as this will hurt taxi drivers. End.


I was personally asked to attend the meeting at City Hall, to relay my views on the damage being inflicted on the older drivers in the trade. As an older driver myself, I had my own plan of exit from the trade. Although I used to regularly change my vehicle every three years, I decided back in January 2012, this time I would see out the 15 years life span of the cab which now has reasonably low mileage, as I’ve cut back on my actual working hours, approximately 16-20 hours a week.

But with the Mayor’s plan to reduce the age limit from 1st of November to 12 years, I've had the last three years of my profession stolen from me. My peers of similar age, who were renting older, cheaper vehicles, have had the cabs taken back from them by greedy garages to decommission through an extremely badly thought out scheme, and have now found it almost impossible to find similar cheap rentals. 

The cafe' I go into at night to socialise with my colleagues (which used to be packed) is now almost  deserted most nights. 

I also took the opportunity to point out to Cllr Kurten, TfL’s secretive agenda to cut the trade down to approx 13,000 drivers (Project Horizon). 
This was uncovered back in 2007, but appeared to be shelved when superseded by the ‘STaN report’, which saw the introduction of ‘Satellite Offices’.

With the advancement of so called progressive technology, the need for satellite offices diminished as customers started to use mobile phone apps instead. But, in many peoples opinion, with recent events, it appears that project Horizon could be firmly back on the table. 

With the increase in decommissioning from the further funding, apparently ‘found’ by the Mayor, we have seen an extension to the ratio between Taxi drivers to vehicles. This has all the hallmarks of being agenda driven. 

Weekly figures put out by TfL don’t truly reflect the extent to which this is actually happening. 
Reason being, many of the Taxi drivers who have retired or found other employment, have kept hold of their Bills (TfL licenses) rather than giving them up completely, just incase next year, we get a more sensible and understanding Mayor, who will return common sense back into the regulation of the trade. 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT:
Also, I took the opportunity to point out to Cllr Kurten, the adverse affect that making PHVs pay the current congestion charge, has had on the night shift. PHV drivers are now coming into town en masse  in the evening and are flooding the centre, causing major congestion most nights. 

The extra PCO’s that Khan boasted he’d trebled, have been dramatically reduced and integrated into bus/tube revenue protection. The nightly fight for rank spaces in the Mayfair area, has become a free for all... with TfL and the Met apparently abandoning any form of compliance.
TfL are also no longer taking complaints of private hire contraventions on Taxi ranks, through their @TfLTPH Twitter account, which now appears to be unmanned. 

I made the suggestion to Cllr Kurten that to revert back to normal, the congestion charge should either be scrapped for PHVs or made payable over the 24 hour period, as is the ULEZ Charge. 

News from the Independent Taxi Alliance today:
Because of the lack of enforcement from TfL or Westminster Council regarding the illegal parking from lorries delivering to the Balfour Beatty site on the Palace Street Taxi rank, the ITA will be calling a series of protests to close all entrances to the site over the coming weeks.
More details on this to follow soon. 


Friday, September 06, 2019

The Dynamo Taxi Is A Game Changer... by Tom Scullion


I visited Dynamo today and was meet by John, Paula and Lee and  a London Cabbie Adam. 

I must admit I was a little apprehensive on the way up Edgware Road due to some of the negative comments I read on social media, but with an open mind I drove into the garage to be welcomed by John and the team. My first impressions were ‘Wow’I didn’t expect this, the Cab really looks amazing, shiny black with some very nice decals promoting this unique Taxi. As I was shown around the Cab I could see that a great deal of thought has gone into this vehicle with the focus being on the driver. 

I couldn’t wait to jump into the drivers seat and to say I was surprised is an understatement at 6”2  I couldn’t believe the head height and leg room I could fully extend my legs and I could easily moved the seat forward and be completely comfortable in the correct during position.


It’s actually a bigger driver cockpit than my Vito, the Dab radio and Sat nav multicolor screen, with reversing camera was top notch I soon realized this is a top spec vehicle not a converted van that I expected to see. 

The digital intercom is as good quality as an iPhone, the vision is as good as it gets, nice size wing mirrors. I knew straight away this is one nice Cab. The luggage compartment was rugged and a very clever partition between the driver and the freight was a clever little enhancement.


The passengers area manual sliding doors with a rapid low step which has sensors which stop the step from hitting your shins very clever.  Beautifully finished interior five seats the rear three seats are hinged to give you a complete floor area perfect for loading wheelchairs or freight and ample storage for sleep bags and out of site security like lap tops hand bags if you were doing a tour to stash your valuables.
The air con is brilliant, sliding opening windows in the doors an absolute must, the biggest gripe in having a Vito is customers moaning HOW DO I OPEN THE WINDOW!

Boot space:

Secured ramps and enough room for a set of golf clubs ✅


The drive:

After a 5 minute crash course with Paula it was time to hit the road I must admit it was very strange no noise, no vibration and no clunking it was if we were being propelled by wind the cab performed like a normal vehicle good acceleration and ridiculously smooth, the first experience of the regenerative braking felt very weird  the cab seemed to slow down by itself only needing my to apply the brakes at the last second I was rewarded immediately by the gauge which measures how much energy put back into the battery on braking.

We then drove through traffic with me transfixed on the regeneration gauge. As we hit the open road the cab drove like a dream, then Paula instructed me to push the green eco button and floor it. OMG it went like shi# off a shovel I couldn’t believe the power and acceleration.


At this point we reluctantly swapped drivers and as a passenger, I loved the fresh air, comfortable seats, beautiful panoramic tinted glass roof and amazing interior lighting. We then had the climate control perfect ambient temperature at the push of the button.

Accessibility

Very clever set up, ramp stored in the boot lift up back seats so a wheelchair could 360 with ease three point locking system for wheelchairs on a smart ratchet system absolutely first class accessibility in every detail full marks.


So would I buy one ?

100% YES for me this Cab is a no brainer

 3p per mile or £5 per day max 120 to 150 miles is a very conservative estimate if you take The braking regeneration IMO 
Servicing at any Nissan main dealer £120 or North West Taxis prices £60 or there abouts
No road Tax 
No down time this Cab has 17 moving parts no gearbox 
No oil
No filters 
No belts
It must run on pixie dust but it does what it says in the tin 100% Electric.


Now before you question this new opportunity for your choice of a working Taxi please don’t let my words influence you, in any way, take the time to go and see and drive this Cab what have you got to loose?

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Is It Time For TfL and Camden Council To Hold Their Hands Up And Admit They Were Wrong Over TCR


Is it time to stop this vanity project from Camden Council and TfL as another collision is reported today by TfL Traffic News on Twitter. 

TfL Posted Today:

COLLISION The A400 Tottenham Court Road (W1T) at the junction of Goodge Street - Road is blocked southbound by a collision. 

Traffic is slow on approach and expect delays.

The collision happened on the southbound lane where only Buses and Cycles to access.
This is the 7th incident recently, involving Buses on this southbound route and the second in three days.

How long must we wait till this awful scheme is returned to how it used to be....traffic northbound reduced to gridlock with pedestrians being mowed down by Buses travelling at excessive speed by tired drivers, just to facilitate councillors with alleged financial interests in cycle hire businesses. 

Will we have to wait until someone is killed?

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
Yesterday saw yet another collision at the Bank Junction, involving a Bus and a pedestrian. 
The CoL banned through traffic on (as they say) safety issues, but the badly panned scheme has caused massive congestion and extra pollution on the periphery....it just doesn't work. 

Over stressed Bus drivers, sudden given a clear road ahead tend to speed up dramatically and can become easily distracted. Instead of keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe, it's actually put them in danger.


These 'Bus and Cycle only' schemes are highly flawed....and the systems currently in place need to be returned to through routes to all traffic. 




    

Cllr David Kurten Calls On Khan To Reverse His Damaging 12 Year Taxi Age Limit


Councillor David Kurten has tweeted today:
This Thursday (today) in the London Assembly, l'll be laying a motion with Cllr Keith Prince, asking the Mayor to reverse his plans to reduce the maximum taxi licence age from 15 to 12 years. 

And to re-instate the Mercedes Vito Euro6 as an approved vehicle for new London Taxis.

This would be a sensible solution to the current lack of affordable vehicles, which has caused great hardship to many drivers in the trade. 

But then as we’ve seen from Khan tone and time again, he doesn’t appear to do sensible. 

Let’s hope this time Khan sees sense, after his disastrous Taxi decommissioning episode, which wasn’t thought out properly by the Mayor and instead of revitalising the trade, has resulted in a shortage of rentable vehicles, with many drivers having their rents put up. 

The new 12 limit will see older drivers, many of whom only work part-time, having to permanently leave the trade prematurely. 

TAXI LEAKS UPDATE:

Keep maximum taxi licence age at 15 years
05 September 2019
The London Assembly has today called for the Mayor to maintain the maximum taxi licence age at 15 years.   

Under current plans, the Mayor wants to gradually introduce taxis that have a maximum age of 12 years.

David Kurten AM, who proposed the motion said:  

"My motion calls upon the Mayor not to reduce the maximum age of a taxi from 15 years as this will hurt taxi drivers. 

"It also calls on him to restore the Mercedes Vito as there has been no competition in the taxi sales market for nearly 2 years. This will also be of great benefit to London's taxi drivers."

Keith Prince AM, who seconded the motion said:

"London’s black cabs are a great national institution which the Mayor should be going to great lengths to protect and preserve.

 "But the sad reality is that the black cab industry is being weakened through a series of measures, including the perverse plan to reduce the maximum age of an older licenced taxi from 15 to 12 years. Make no mistake, the Mayor’s approach will force taxi drivers out of work and cause untold damage.

"It is now incumbent on the Mayor to go back to the drawing board and re-think these illogical and harmful proposals.

The full text of the motion is:

This Assembly notes that the Mayor plans a phased reduction of the maximum age of a licenced taxi from 15 years to 12 years. He also plans to change the criteria for annual registration by mandating the maximum age, meaning that, from November 2019, a taxi will longer be registered unless it has one whole year left before its maximum age, rather than one day as at present.

This will, at a stroke, remove approximately 3,000 taxis from service in the year beginning November 2019, as well as another 1,500 in the year beginning November 2020, and a further 1,500 in the year beginning November 2021.

The Assembly notes that the Mayor currently allows only one model to be licenced new: the LEVC ZEC TX, but production levels of the LEVC ZEC TX are nowhere near high enough to replace the 6,000 taxis which will be removed from service over the next 3 years.

The effect of this will cause real hardship and disruption to many London taxi drivers who simply will not be able to purchase or hire a new taxi due to lack of supply. Thus at least 6,000 taxi drivers will be unable to work which will cause financial, emotional and mental hardship to them and their families.

The Assembly therefore calls upon the Mayor to reconsider his plans and to maintain the maximum taxi licence age at 15 years.

We also call upon the Mayor to restore the Mercedes Vito as an approved vehicle for first time taxi registrations until such time as there is greater supply and competition in the market for new taxis, and more electric charging points are available in Central London which can be accessed easily by taxi drivers.

The motion has been carried 6 votes to 3 

Brexit Alliance/Conservative - for
LibDem/Green - against
Labour - abstained

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Hammersmith Bridge Repairs 'Could Cost £120m' And Take Three Years To Complete


Private vehicles and buses are banned from using the bridge but pedestrians and cyclists can still use it

Hammersmith Bridge could cost £120m to repair, engineers have estimated as the first stage of work begins.

The 132-year-old bridge was closed indefinitely to motorists in April after "critical faults" in the cast iron casing were found.
Transport for London (TfL) has financed the first £25m of the project but the main funding source has yet to be decided.
The work is expected to take three years to complete.

The £120m estimate could change due to the "unknowns, complexities and challenges" of the bridge, the authority said.
Council leader Stephen Cowan said there had been "significant failings" in the bridge structure which has seen cracks appear in some of the pedestals.

"We're focused on getting the bridge reopened to cars and buses as quickly as possible", he added.

London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
Cracks appeared in the north west and south west pedestals of Hammersmith Bridge
Hammersmith & Fulham Council is working with TfL to secure funding for the next phase of repairs in spring 2020.


Banned French taxi platform returns to Brussels after remodel



A French taxi platform previously banned from the Belgian capital has re-modelled itself and returned to the Brussels market.

The French taxi company, Heetch, was launched in Brussels in 2016 but was forced to stop its operations in August 2018 when the Brussels commercial court judged that the company was illegally operating without a permit to provide taxi or chauffeur services.

“Today, we have about 400 active drivers in Brussels offering about 10,000 rides a month,” said Teddy Pellerin, one of the three co-founders of Heetch. 

The company returns to Brussels with a renewed business model meaning that the company now only employs drivers with valid VVB (Verhuur Voertuigen met Bestuurder) permit, which allows for drivers of vehicles that are not part of a taxi service, to be paid for transporting people, according to the website vlandereen.be.

The move puts the company in competition with the American multinational transportation network, Uber. The French company has already started operating differently to the competitor by collecting 15% of its drivers’ commissions, while Uber collects 25%.

Uber is facing competition from more and more taxi platforms operating with similar business models in the Belgian capital and across Europe. CarAsap, a Brussels platform that also only employs drivers with valid VVB licenses, is another growing competitor.

Meanwhile, back in the States, Uber has its own troubles as it’s share price appears to be collapsing. One of Uber’s biggest investors Softbank, has already lost over $600m so far. 

Taxi Leaks Exclusive : Dynamo Electric Taxi, On The Road... by David Brown


David Brown manages Brown’s Taxis In Marlborough. 
As promised to the Dynamo owners group on Facebook, below are David's figures from his trip to ‘The Kensington Hotel’ yesterday. 

David started with a full charge, left at 0900 hrs, did a quick local town job, then had to drive 10 miles to pick up his customer.

He arrived at the destination hotel having done 85 miles with 78 miles range and 41% of the battery left.  

Heading home I decided to stop at Slough Tesco podpoint for a rapid charge and a comfort break. 

104 miles done, 43 miles range, 26% battery left. Charged for 33 mins back to 79% battery with 125 miles range. Cost £4.56 for 19 kWh.

Arrived home at 13:45 hrs, 160 miles done, 38 miles range & 28% battery left.  

Plugged into my home charger and left it to fully charge. 28.3 kWh costing £2.98 (approx 5 hours).

So in summary, for the 160 miles travelled in just under 5 hours (with a 30 min break included whilst charging) cost me in total £7.54 electric.

3.6 miles per kWh (around town it's normally 4-5)
4 hr 16 mins driving time
Avg speed 37.4 mph

5.9 kWh battery regenerated (13%)

If I'd done this journey in one of my diesel cars, it would have cost approx £22 in fuel.

TAXI LEAKS COMMENTS:
Technically it’s not the Dynamo taxi, it’s a Nissan e-NV200 being used as a hackney carriage in Wiltshire.

Steve Lodge; 
My only fear with this as a London driver ,has nothing to do with the dynamo but with the lack of rapid chargers in place. 

TfL have not kept there side of the bargain and I’v know a couple of drivers who have TXEs and are saying its getting harder to find one you and when you do, you can get on. If that's already happening with only 2000 cabs on the road can you imagine what it's going to get like over the next couple of years?

Russell Simmons;
I had a bloke in the cab from Islington council and he said the problem we have with chargers which was never thought about by the government, is you will need so many in the end it will become like a car park. 

Now as he emphasised you know what councils policies are on parking ! 
You’ll pay to charge for the hour which won’t be cheap so he said people’s savings will be virtually non existent. 

I believe residents in Westminster have opposed to having them outside their million pound houses.

TAXI LEAKS;
Westminster now have a policy that electric vehicles only pay for the first 10 minutes of parking up to 2 hours. It is believed that other inner London boroughs could follow Westminster lead. 

Trevor Joel;
In that 30 minute break you could have done two £10 jobs so let’s forget about savings we need as little downtime as possible if your investing more money you need to be earning more simple as that

David Brown;
To carry out your job safely you need to be taking adequate breaks in my opinion.

I don't do more than 2-3 hours driving without having at least a 15 min rest stop.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

TfL Throwing Good Money After Bad, Again ... After Two Decades Of Mismanagement


Over the last nigh on two decades, Transport for London have spent many millions of tax payers money on transport systems that have done no more than add to the gridlock and congestion. 

State of the art 'CentreComs' at Palestra, sensors in the roads, sensors on beacons, auto signal re-phasing, forcing traffic from side-streets onto main routes....etc. 

So how are they going to make good, all the damage they've done to the arteries of the capital.....simple, they are going to throw many more millions of rate payers money at he problem. 

Outside, third party consultants, think tanks, along with systems designed by engineers who don't live or commute in Central London, their only experience is with computer modelling. 

Transport for London (TfL) have now announced plans to develop a new control system for road management which will see access to data highlighting potential congestion points. (Didn't we hear all this before in 2012?)

Whatever happened to their state of the art 'CentreComs' control centre at Palestra, that could access rich data highlighting potential congestion?
Many millions were spent on systems that proved to be useless in reality and only added to traffic problems daily.   

In a recent statement, TfL say they bid to reduce the impact of congestion on the roadways in London, with new software, provided by Sopra Steria, which will grant access to data about road traffic, bus performance, weather and roadworks.... which will result in improved response times for TfL. Immediate updates of road incidents, and the actions taking place to resolve them, will be part of the collective shared data scheme.....we won't be holding our breath as we've heard this all before.

Adrian Fieldhouse, Sopra Steria’s Managing Director for Government, said: “Our vision is to empower government to make a difference to everyone, everyday, through the services we design and deliver. The new control room system will make use of rich data to enable TfL to keep citizens and visitors alike safe and on the move through the city’s road network.”

TfL is not only responsible for the management (or mismanagement) of 580km of London’s roads, but also manages (mismanages) London’s 6,000 traffic lights, tunnels and several bridges. (Look at the mess TfL made of the Hammersmith Bridge fiasco)

In June 2018, TfL awarded a contract to Siemens to develop and install new Real Time Optimiser (RTO) technology across London, which was supposed to dramatically improve TfL’s ability to control its traffic lights in response to real life incidents and conditions. We've got news for TfL.....it's not working.

TfL say their partnership with Sopra Steria aims to further the efficiency of detection and response to incidents which, in turn, will reduce road danger. 
We say their partnership is more akin to....the blind leading the blind. 



TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
Some ask why TFL have allowed London pavements to become no go zones or obstacle courses for the partially sighted and the blind.

How long before an elderly partially sighted or blind individual seriously injures themselves, who should they SUE, the council,bike supplier or TFL ?

      

Two Women Received Out-Of-Court Settlements After Allegedly Being Sexually Assaulted' By Uber Driver


Uber buying silence????
The women, who are now in their 20s and 30s, were reportedly assaulted as they returned from nights out in the city centre.

The first woman was returning from her birthday celebrations when she said the driver groped her breasts twice.

She said the incident "turned her life upside down" as she developed anxiety due to the diver knowing her home address.

It also impacted her career as her confidence levels plummeted leaving her unable to work in her customer facing role.
She said: "My whole life has been turned upside down since that night. 

When it first happened, my initial reaction was anger and disbelief, but I very quickly developed anxiety. I was aware that the driver knew where I lived and this made me anxious about being at home.

“I suffered from poor concentration, a lack of enjoyment and poor motivation, and I had this feeling of being dirty all the time.

“Everything that has happened has also had a huge impact on my career as I no longer have the confidence to work in a customer facing role.

“I just hope that by speaking out others who may have found themselves in a similar situation don’t feel that they have to suffer in silence.”

A week later, in December 2015, a second woman reported being assaulted by the same Uber driver after a night out with friends.

The woman, who is now in her 20s, claims the man began rubbing her leg and touching her breasts.

He then tried to kiss her and force her to engage in a sex act.
She said: “I now find it difficult to trust others and this has hugely affected my friendships and relationships. I have had a lot of personal issues since the assault.

“That one night has had such a negative impact on my life, and to hear it had happened to another woman a week earlier was horrible. This could have been prevented. I just hope we can now move on with our lives as best we can.”

Following the reported assaults, the woman hired abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate.
The legal team argued that Uber was liable for the incidents as it had a duty of care to protect passengers as its drivers were employees.

Uber contested the claims, however, has now agreed undisclosed out of court settlements.

Emma Crowther, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell representing the women said: “These are deeply upsetting cases involving two young women who reported being sexually assaulted by someone entrusted to get them home safely.

“It is even more concerning that if Uber had properly investigated the alleged assault suffered by our first client then we believe that the driver would not have been free to go on and pick up the second woman just a week later, during which it is reported he escalated in his abusive behaviour.

“Both women are still deeply affected by what happened to them. While nothing can ever make up for what has happened we are pleased to have secured these settlements which we believe to be the first of their kind in the UK against Uber. We now hope that the specialist support the women require will help them try and move forward with their lives.”

An Uber spokesman has this afternoon spoken out to distance the company from the driver and his alleged offences.
She said: "There is no place for this kind of behaviour in the Uber community.

"We take all reports very seriously and investigate thoroughly.

"We typically 'waitlist' drivers during investigations and if the allegations prove true, an individual would likely face permanent deactivation.

"We work closely with the police to assist with any investigation."
Uber has come under scrutiny in recent years after a series of sexual assaults by drivers on passengers were reported.
I wasn't until 2018 that the company stopped preventing riders filing sexual assault allegations through courts instead of arbitration hearings.

Sue Pearce MBE, CEO of Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland (RCTN) added: “It is always distressing and worrying to hear about sexual assaults and especially those committed by someone who works in a position of trust. The trauma of such assaults can have long lasting effects.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Time To Revert Back To A Safer System As Sixth Pedestrian Is Mowed DownBy TfL Bus ?


Just when you thought it was safe again to venture out, shopping on Tottenham Court Road... along comes another southbound bus, being driven by a tired TfL driver... who runs over a sixth pedestrian. 

This street is not safe two way as the south bound carriageway is mostly void of traffic which is allowing buses to travel at excessive speed. 

TfL and Camden council are again putting peoples lives in danger plus with the carnage of congestion they are causing, they are poisoning the lungs of our children. 

Sadiq Khans catch phrase has never more been so hypocritical. 
He bleats “London is open”, but truth is London is gridlocked to most, London is not a safe place as Khan spends more time and money on PR than he should be spending on dealing with knife crime. 

London’s councils are also to blame, with councillors who have conflicts of interest with business partners causing mayhem on our roads. And if that wasn’t enough, they say they are doing this in the name of safer, cleaner streets.... improving air quality. 

But instead they have caused gridlock with complicated pricing parking schemes that take in more money from fines than actual revenue. 


TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT:
Cars were doing U-turns to get away from the gridlock on Tottenham Court Road

Is it not time to revert this street back to the original and safe one way system, with through passage for all vehicles ???


GMB respond to Loughborough University report into Bus Driver Fatigue.