Friday, December 20, 2019

Selling Off The Family Silver And Pushing The Travelling Public Towards The Tube

Plans to transform the former offices of Transport for London (TfL) headquarters above the St James’s Park station into a 526-bedroom hotel have been now revealed.

TfL sold the 150-year lease of the Grade I-listed 55 Broadway building to Integrity International Group earlier this year for a reported £120m. 

Integrity International Group is owned by hotelier Tony Matharu’s Blue Orchid (St James) company. 

Matharu, along with his brothers Harpal and Tony, founded Grange Hotels and is still managing director of the group.

Transport for London has also unveiled audacious plans to debut in the rental flats market with 3000 homes that could allow tenants to live above tube stations.

The capital’s transport authority said :
It has identified 10 sites where it wants to create properties above existing and future stations and car parks, or on vacant land.

It has hired property agent Savills to find a joint-venture partner, likely to be a property developer or an investment fund, for the project. As part of any deal, the transport body would take a 49% stake and the investor 51%. So, TfL would not have the final word over any proposed project!

The move is set to create a long-term rental income stream for TfL, which has a near-£1 billion debt pile and has faced a catalogue of headwinds that have put its finances under pressure...

Ever wondered why TfL support transport systems that cause gridlock and pollution, forcing the travelling public to abandon Taxis and head for the nearest tube station????

TfL are said to be struggling after a government grant worth £700 million a year has been axed, passenger numbers fell and a partial fares freeze was introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan.

On top of that, Crossrail’s delay will mean TfL has to wait another year until it gets revenues from the new Elizabeth Line.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Taxi Trade’s Weak Representation, Held In Complete Contempt By Both TfL And The City of London.

After hearing from our largest representative group, that Taxis will be allowed to use the Bus Gates at Shorter Street and Bywater Street into Great Tower Street...we are then told we will have to wait three months for Shorter Street to actually be implemented and that Bywater into Great Tower hasn’t yet been confirmed. 
Taxi Leaks asks the question:
How is it that TfL and the City of London, can carry out a NO left turn over one weekend including the Kerb work.

Yet we are being told that it’s going to take three months to put in two Taxi stickers on signs at Shorter st and get confirmation for Great Tower Street ?? 
No kerb work needed as buses are already using  this route!!

Is this CoL’s way of hoping not to receive any protest over the restriction of trade with Beech Street???

Again this shows the contempt the London Taxi trade (the best taxi service in the world) is held in by our regulator and the Corporation of the City of London. It also shows just how weak our representation actually is ... and is a major part of the reason that over half the Taxi trade do not subscribe to any organisation or Union. 
Why would you pay someone to continually wait and see and do nothing????

A Restriction Of Trade...Or Just Held In Contempt???

We saw earlier this week the ridiculous route suggested by the City of London pertaining to a journey from the Thames Link Station Ludgate Hill to Blackfriars Station on New Bridge Street.  Forward Fleet Street, right Fetter Lane Forward New Fetter Lane, comply with Holborn Circus and Forward Charterhouse Street, right  Farrendon Street... can you imagine the stick drivers will get from their passengers. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, TfL in their infinite wisdom have come up and contributed an alternative route. 
Forward Fleet Street, forward the Strand, left Waterloo Bridge, left Stanford Street, left Blackfriars Road, Forward Blackfriars Bridge.... comply with a dangerous U-turn to drop at the station entrance !!!!

As professional Taxi drivers we will obviously ignore both these ridiculous round the houses routes and just turn right onto Farringdon Street, U-turn against their flow of traffic and cross the junction on down to the station. 

Drivers and passengers should never have been put in this situation and you can be sure that (out of spite) no U-turn signage will probably appear (overnight) months before the announced new signage in Shorter Street appears....I was going to say you can Bank on it but that word is still a soar point with trade representation. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

London Assembly Environment Committee, Call On Mayor To Instruct TfL To Clean Up Toxic Tube Dust

Mayor of London pledged to tackle pollution and poor air on the London Underground.  

3 years on, little progress has been made in understanding health risks from Toxic Tube Dust. 

A letter from the GLA Environment Committee has now been sent to the Mayor to urgently instruct TfL to make it a bigger priority than it presently is.

The London Assembly Environment Committee has today written to the Mayor with recommendations on how to better understand and protect Londoners from potentially harmful Tube dust.

The Committee’s letter to the Mayor makes a number of recommendations on Tube dust including:
  1. Transport for London (TfL) must keep the Committee informed of progress on the studies it commissioned on Tube dust and confirm the timelines for the publications of the results.
  2. TfL must ensure that the exposure to Tube dust of all station staff is monitored, whether they are contractors or directly employed by TfL.  

Chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, Caroline Russell AM said: 

“When Sadiq Khan became Mayor in 2016 he pledged to tackle pollution and poor air on the London Underground.  However, three years on it is clear from our investigation that little progress has been made in understanding the possible health risks from Tube dust.  

There are very high concentrations of small particles in the underground and worryingly we just don’t know if they are harmful or not. 
“While we know TfL has commissioned studies on the matter, the findings must be publicly available as soon as possible. 

 “We are particularly concerned about contract cleaners working on the Tube. The Committee has been told that no one is monitoring the health of these cleaners simply because they are not directly employed by TfL.  This is unacceptable. 

“We have called on the Mayor to urgently instruct TfL to make Tube dust a bigger priority than it currently is.  We need to see real action being taken to identify any health harm and to tackle Tube dust on all Underground lines.  We have asked the Mayor to respond to our recommendations by 7 February 2020.”

As Taxis have a mandated legal duty to carry wheelchair users, perhaps the GLA can ask the mayor to remind TfL and local councils, they have a legal duty to allow these taxis to get to wherever wheelchair users want to no extra cost of taking diversionary routes.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Taxi Leaks Exposé...Who’s Really Behind The Ludicrous No Left Turn IntoNew Bridge Street?

It’s turns out we’ve been blaming the wrong criminal... it’s not the City of London who have introduced the crazy no left turn from Ludgate Hill on to New Bridge Street, it’s our friends at TfL under the banner of their Vision Zero project that has already bought most of London to a standstill. 

TfL tried to slip this one in under the radar, knowing there would be complaints from many sources such as Road users and local businesses. But the City of London Corporation are not taking the blame and have put Mike Brown's team firmly in the frame.   

The City of London tweeted this yesterday on their Twitter account @SquareHighways... putting TfL firmly in the frame for this ludicrous action!!!

This below from TfL’s Website:
Improving London's roads
At any one time we're running hundreds of projects designed to improve living and travelling conditions in London's public spaces.

Major works and events
Upcoming works and events that could affect your journey, and advice to help you plan

Ludgate Circus
We've been working closely with the City of London Corporation to address safety concerns around people walking at Ludgate Circus. 

By banning some turns made by a small number of vehicles we can give people more time to cross at the junction - thousands cross each day.

This work will be monitored and reviewed into 2020.

What we've done
* Banned left turns for all vehicles from Ludgate Hill into New Bridge Street
* Banned buses from turning right from Fleet Street into New Bridge Street (except for night buses)
* Increased the length of time that people have to cross the southern arm of the junction (New Bridge Street) to around half a minute
* Built out the pavement on the southeast corner of the junction to stop vehicles turning left, and to increase space for those waiting.

These changes aim to improve safety and support our Vision Zero strategy to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries on London's transport network by 2041.

Be vigilant and aware of other road users when crossing, cycling or driving through Ludgate Circus junction.

Just a quick note, although there are no cameras at this junction, it is advisable not to disregard the signage and turn left onto New Bridge Street as yesterday, a City of London Police constable was seen to be hiding by the scaffolding in New Bridge Street, nicking drivers turning left.... so be warned.

Apparently, according to the Gazette, this no left turn has only been allowed under the road traffic act for an experimental period. 

Road Traffic Acts
City of London
1. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Common Council of the City of London on 25 November 2019 made the above experimental Order under section 9 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

2. The effect of the Order will be in:-
(a) Fleet Street to restrict the exemption for buses to the no right turn restriction into New Bridge Street to operating between 11 pm and 6.30 am and to limit it to local buses only; and

(b) Ludgate Hill to introduce a ban on all vehicles from turning left into New Bridge Street.

Chairman of the London Cab Drivers Club told Taxi Leaks, he intends to bring this up at a meeting with TfL commissioner Mike Brown this coming Thursday. 

Let’s hope that all concerned can see the futility of this no left turn and come to their senses as soon as possible

Monday, December 16, 2019

City of London’s Beech Street set to become UK’s first 24/7 zero emission street

The City of London Corporation has today [16 December] backed plans to launch the UK’s first 24/7 zero emission street in a bid to improve air quality in the Square Mile.
Beech Street, much of which runs under the Barbican Estate, is now expected to be restricted to zero emission vehicles*, cyclists and pedestrians by Spring 2020, pending final approval by Transport for London (TfL).

Exceptions will be provided for emergency vehicles, access to the car parks off Beech Street and for refuse collection and deliveries. Bus route 153, which is fully electric and runs down Beech Street, is unaffected by the changes. CoL have not mentioned if Taxis are to be  exempt.

The experimental traffic order will run for a maximum of 18 months, during which time the impact on air quality and traffic will be monitored.

Beech Street experiences high levels of air pollution as it is a busy, enclosed thoroughfare. A significant improvement in air quality is expected, resulting in health benefits for the many pedestrians and cyclists that use the street.

The scheme aims to bring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels within air quality guidelines set out by the European Union and World Health Organisation.

The City Corporation also hopes to improve air quality in the vicinity of the street, particularly around the entrances to Richard Cloudesley School and Prior Weston Primary School. If deemed successful, the trial may be made permanent.

The City Corporation is encouraging the uptake of fully electric and compliant hybrid vehicles to improve air quality in the Square Mile in line with its Transport Strategy and Air Quality Strategy.
It will use the trial to consider whether similar measures are suitable for other streets in the City of London.
“This is a groundbreaking scheme by the City of London Corporation.

“It will bring substantial health benefits to those who live and work in the Barbican area, and will also help reduce noise pollution.

“The experimental scheme will be enforced using the latest in smart camera technology and I hope it will be the first of many other schemes like this.”

Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Environment Committee, Jeremy Simons said:
“These measures are another important step towards cleaner air in the City.

“Drastically reducing air pollution requires radical actions, and these plans will help us eliminate toxic air on our streets.
“Nobody should have to breathe in dirty air, and we will continue to take bold and ambitious steps to ensure that the health of Londoners is protected.”

To improve awareness of the zero-emission restrictions on Beech Street, the City Corporation will provide clear street signage. An information campaign will take place before the restrictions come in, including social media, leafleting and direct discussions with City firms.

The Beech Street scheme is just one part of the City Corporation’s fightback against air pollution. The City Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee has backed proposals to turn parts of the Square Mile into zero-emissions zones by 2022 and cut the speed limit to 15mph as part of its new Transport Strategy.

It has already banned the purchase of diesel vehicles from its own vehicle fleet, where there is a clean market alternative.
As well as working with businesses through its CityAir Programme, the City Corporation is leading a London-wide crackdown on drivers who leave their engines idling - and its new procurement rules have brought in tight restrictions on harmful emissions from bulldozers and generators.

Its CityAir app provides over 27,000 Londoners with low pollution travel routes across the capital, with advice and alerts when air pollution is high.
In 2018 the City Corporation announced new emissions-based charges for on-street parking in the Square Mile, targeting high polluting transport with higher charges while rewarding drivers of low emission vehicles with lower tariffs.

Following approval by the relevant City Corporation committees, the implementation of the scheme is subject to final approval from TfL.

If the major part of the Taxi fleet is banned, it will be the first actual example of TfL and the CoL introducing a two tier system which will discriminate against ordinary and disabled passengers alike.

What are are orgs plans to fight this discrimination?

Don’t believe there is a conspiracy???

This is the genuine reply from the City of London Twitter account:

For Thames Link Station to Blackfriars Rd, you could use Fleet Street, Fetter Lane, New Fetter Lane, Holborn Circus, Charterhouse St and Farringdon St.

I thought the CoL was all about cutting emission and air quality?
How is driving an extra mile around the block helping with air quality in this area?

Lee Sheppard, Director of London Taxi PR said:

“Being forced to drive round in circles, adding another £4/6 on the journey to come back past the point of pick up.

“This is making a mockery of our knowledge basis of quickest most direct route.

“Again what are our orgs doing about this?

“We need a concession on this as a passenger transport provider. Our orgs should be consulting with the businesses this will affect in that area.”

I hear that @IslingtonBC is consulting on the road closure thro’ Highbury Fields. I‘ve not seen the consultation yet but hope it includes the option of a low traffic neighbourhood for this network of streets. Otherwise residents of one street are pitted against those of another...Caroline Russell on Twitter today!

Tottenham Court Road... Taxis To Be Banned From March. Drivers Who Showed Apathy Towards Protest, Have No One To Blame But Themselves... by Jim Thomas

Camden Council has almost bought the area around Fitzrovia to a complete standstill. The lunatics have taken over the asylum. 

In three months time, cars, lorries and taxis will be banned from accessing this major rout north up Tottenham Court Road. 
Camden say that this is to improve safety and air quality under a TfL financed £35million revamp. But both TfL and Camden Council have completely disregarded consultations that have expressed support for Taxis to be included in the scheme.

Only buses and bikes will be allowed between 8am and 7pm, Monday through to Saturday from March. The road has already been converted from one-way to two-way traffic, and has since been in virtual gridlock for most of the day and night, causing major congestion and added pollution to the surrounding area. 

Drivers who breach the restrictions will face a £130 fine, Camden council say, (follow the money). 

Six bus routes will use Tottenham Court Road during the day, meaning up to 114 buses an hour at peak times. Most of these buses are presently empty and the hope is... if other traffic is banned, more people will choose the bus or the tube (follow the money....)

The taxi industry has been proved right over the last year, by restricting road use area, congestion has escalated and there has been a massive increase in pollution in the surrounding streets even though other traffic hasn’t been banned yet!

Tottenham Court Road‘s pavement has also being widened narrowing actual road area and a piazza has been created between the Tube station and Centre Point, ahead of the delayed Crossrail opening. The piazza has been causing massive congestion in Charing across Road and has also seen a number of collisions between cars, cycles and buses.

These current plans are mainly funded by Transport for London.
Controversial  cycling nut Adam Harrison, cabinet member for Camden council, recently showed his aggressive bias against the Taxi trade by stating: "Not having taxis in the daytime will lead to 25 per cent less traffic, with all the benefits for air quality and congestion that go along with it."
In your dreams Adam, the surrounding area will be gridlocked and pollution levels will be through the roof. 
Many drivers are now calling for an independent investigation into the financial conflicts of interests of certain past and present Camden Councillors, in regards to Cycling hire and cargo bike businesses.
(Follow the money)

The move is the latest example of taxis being banned from key routes. 
This is also total discrimination against disabled passengers, yet the disabled lobby group, Transport for All have failed to support the Taxi drivers protests 

Camden’s previous schemes around St Pancras are a disgrace....the first view of London that many tourists and business travellers see, arriving at Europe’s busiest rail terminal.

The extra mileage in the diversions Taxis have to take are causing more pollution and higher fares. TfL have remained silent on the issues as it pushes more travellers to use the tube system.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Taxi trades largest representative org (Licensed Taxi Driver's Association), said Tottenham Court Road was an ‘ill thought-out scheme‘. 

The LTDA has called on TfL commissioner Mike 'on side ' Brown to intervene.
Mr McNamara went on to say: ‘The major arteries of London are just that — they are the main method of London‘s lifeblood moving around.‘

Action speaks louder than words...but apathy reigns throughout the trade.

February this year saw the independent Taxi Alliance (ITA) hold 28 weeks of protest in Tottenham Court Road, The Aldwych, and Parliament Square. Unfortunately although a militant band on 500 brothers turned up week after week, the protests were generally poorly attended by less than 5% of the trade.

Drivers were advised by the LTDA to wait and see...with McNamara referring to the protesting drivers as  'Loonies'.

If 50-60% of the trade had regularly turned out, the protest would have been over in a few weeks, the outcome resulting in Taxis being included in the scheme.

So it’s no good drivers now complaining about the ban as the vast majority chose to see no further than the next pound note, closing their minds to the future.

I recently spoke to Steve McNamara in regards to the ITA protests and he agreed the trade had lost its militancy.... saying that even the LTDA, with its 10,000 members would have trouble getting 500 drivers to turn out.


Sunday, December 15, 2019

If You Thought A Two Tier Taxi Rank System Couldn’t Be Done... Think Again, They’ve Already Done It In Holland

In 2013, Amsterdam introduced a new policy that regulates taxis that are engaged at a licensed taxi rank or hailed on the street. Since then, the number of taxis in the city has grown and there have been rapid technological advancements. 

New regulations are needed to deal with these changes, and in particular the use of app-based private hire services. At present, the regulations governing private hire vehicles are still determined at the national level.
Amsterdam’s taxi policy
Amsterdam’s taxi policy contains the following goals:
  • Higher quality traditional taxi services (rank and hail)
  • Better consumer protection for taxi passengers
  • Cleaner, greener taxis
  • Less traffic disruption and inconvenience caused by taxis
Policy changes
In December 2017, the city council approved a number of measures designed to improve the quality of Amsterdam’s approved taxi organisations (toegelaten taxiorganisaties, or TTOs). The following changes went into effect on 1 February 2018:
  • Stricter regulations concerning the conduct of drivers waiting at taxi ranks.
  • Special agreements between the City of Amsterdam and TTOs concerning:
    • Avoiding disruption and inconvenience at and around taxi ranks
    • Limiting the number of taxis at taxi ranks to a maximum for each location (Central Station, Leidseplein, Nieuwmarkt, Arena, Oudebrugsteeg, and the pop-up taxi rank at Rembrandtplein).
  • Stricter requirements for roof lights, which include displaying Amsterdam’s ‘TaXXXi’ logo in order to clearly distinguish between TTOs and other taxis.
Evaluating Amsterdam’s taxi network
In addition to the policy changes outlined above, Amsterdam’s entire taxi network will be evaluated in 2018. This analysis will include topics such as the growth of the private hire market and the technological advances made in recent years. Based on these conclusions, it may be necessary to make adjustments to the city’s taxi policy.
All taxis emissions-free by 2025
Fresh, clean air is a basic necessity for all Amsterdammers. The City of Amsterdam is currently working with taxi organisations to keep our city healthy and to ensure that the entire taxi sector is emissions-free by 2025. The ‘Clean Taxis for Amsterdam’ agreement (PDF, 681 KB) (in Dutch) contains a number of clear goals. The most important of these is to make all taxis fully emissions-free by 2025. To accomplish this ambitious goal, the city government is taking the following actions:
  • 'Green' taxis will receive priority
  • The taxi ranks at Central Station and Leidseplein are now only open to low-emissions vehicles.
  • Environmental zones for taxis in effect from 2018 onwards
  • Diesel taxis from 2008 or earlier are prohibited from entering the city.
  • More rapid charge points for electric taxisTo allow taxis to recharge quickly in between fares.
  • Free parking at all charging pointsFor electric taxis with a parking permit.
The objectives listed in the city’s taxi policy will be strictly enforced. Most importantly, all taxi customers have a right to:
  • A safe journey
  • Guaranteed service (no refusals)
  • Fair, honest treatment (correct fares)
  • Drivers who are knowledgeable about the city and who obey codes of conduct
City officials, the police, and the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate will also monitor taxis to ensure that they obey traffic laws and avoid causing disturbances, and that the TTOs fulfil their roles effectively. The TTOs themselves are responsible for monitoring the drivers they employ.


According to Nissan, Amsterdam is the electric taxi capital of the world. There are companies, Taxi Electric, Connexxion and TCA who operate more than 170 Nissan LEAF and e-NV200 electric vehicles for all passengers and those with restricted mobility.

The LEVC TXe has been available in Amsterdam since 2017, diesel Taxis older than 2008 are banned.
Just recently, Tesla have made a debut into the ranks of Amsterdams Taxi and Private Hire Trade

I have been informed by my good friend Stanley Roth that in Amsterdam, a number of TX4 taxis have successfully been converted to electric by a Dutch company. 

However a number of these vehicles have caught fire.