Saturday, January 04, 2020

History Of The London Taxi Driver’s Green Badge Plus Why Do Most Cabbies Have Nicknames

We Start With A Brief History Of London’s Taxi Trade 

The horse-drawn ‘Hackney Carriages’ began providing taxicab service in the early 17th century. They acquired the name from a certain breed of horse used to pull the carriage. 

In 1636 the number of carriages was set to a maximum of 50, an early example of taxicab regulation. 

In the same year, the owner of four hackney carriages established the first ever ‘Taxi Standing’ in The Strand, approximately where the Savoy is located today. 

From 1662 hackneys were regulated by the Commissioner of Scotland Yard. In the early 19th century Cabriolets (cabs for short) replaced the heavier and more cumbersome hackney carriages. 
By the late 19th century he new Hansom Cab was the fastest carriage dominating the London Streets. 

The knowledge of London was introduced into the trade in 1865 and ever since then, London taxicab drivers  have been required to know destinations and be able to decide routes immediately in response to a passenger's request. 

The modern taxicab service As we know it today took off with the appearance of petrol-powered taxis in 1903, when a new uniquely numbered badge was issued. 

In 1907 meters were first introduced to calculate the fare and were set at 8d (8 pence) for the first mile. 

Every one of today’s 21,000 licensed cab drivers is issued with a badge containing a unique number. Today, there are two types of badges: Green which is for drivers who have completed the world famous Knowledge of London... and Yellow, for drivers who have taken the option of training to cover just a certain sector of suburban London. 

When the trade changed from horse drawn carriages to motorised vehicles, it was felt necessary to introduce a new system of badges. 

The very first Motorised Taxi badge...number 1...was issued to James 'Jimmy' Michael Howe a veteran Hanson Cabby for many years, when in 1903, he became the first London Taxi driver to pick up a passenger in a petrol driven vehicle (a French-built Prunel) provided by the Express Motor Company. 

Fares were set to be identical to those of the established horse-drawn cabs.

Although horseless vehicles had travelled through London's streets for decades, they were still something of a rarity in the early 20th century. 

Electric cabs had been trialled a few years earlier, but proved completely impractical. 

Howe's Taxi was the first to be powered by petrol, and the only one in London for several months. Two years later, the number had risen to 19.

His wife, fed up with him working all hours and hardly ever being at home, run off in 1913 with a man who’d advertised in their local paper for a wife. She even took all the furniture with her. 

Howe never saw her again till seven years later, when she appeared in court, charged with committing bigamy. 

James(Jimmy) Howe appeared in court himself three years later where he was sued for damages by a utility company, after his Taxi fell into a hole in Uxbridge Road, damaging their equipment.

Howe died on Christmas day 1933 at his home on Wellesby Avenue, Hammersmith, aged 64. Dozens of fellow cabbies drove to the funeral to pay their respects. "We called him 'Up-Hendon'," one of them told the press, "because if you asked him where he was off to, he'd answer 'just going up Hendon-way'".

Postcard showing the first motorised Prunel cab on the rank out side St Georges Hospital.

Surprisingly there has only been just under 80,000 Taxi drivers registered with a green badge in the 117 years that it’s been in use. Equating to approx 28 new badges issue a week. 

Cab drivers have always given each other nicknames, born out of the fact we get to know so many different drivers, many with the same Christian name, by giving someone a nickname it then becomes easier to pinpoint certain characters without having to know their surnames. 

In my 46 years of driving a London Taxi, I can only remember a few of my colleagues who I’d refer to with their proper name. 

Here is just a few of my favourite nicknames in no particular order: 
Get A Life, Almost Human, Wing-Nuts, The Vicar, Spare Parts, The Haddock, Dizzy, Putty Nose, The Goose, The Judge, Captain Birdseye, Tootles, Lumps and Bumps, The Boston, Dicky the Snail, Storming Norman. And then of course, we have Sponge Bob Square Pants...once seen never forgotten!!!

Myself, I’ve had a few different nicknames over the years.... started off as Young Jim, then Maida Vale Jim, Fish Finger Jim (because of my passion for fish finger sandwiches), to today’s ThomasTheTaxi. Just some of the ones that are publishable 😜 

Friday, January 03, 2020

January, 2020 is the start of a new decade...Is this not an ideal opportunity to realise the dream, or are we in danger of reliving an old nightmare???

With this the start of a brand new decade, we have the perfect opportunity to draw a line in the sand, leaving the past behind, by crossing over into the future and redesigning Cab Trade representation... making us a force, to be reckoned with that would actually strike fear and respect into the heart and minds of TfL, local councils and any future Mayor. 

So, where have we gone wrong over previous decades.... it’s not rocket science... it sticks out like a sore thumb.

In the last ten years our trade spent most of its time fighting amongst itself, rather than fighting against our real enemies. When one org cane up with an idea, the others would belittle it simply because it wasn’t their idea and they begrudged anyone other than themselves getting any kudos. 

But we now have the perfect opportunity we’ve all been waiting for, to stop the infighting, come together and fight as one.... on issues that affect the whole trade. 

You only have to ask yourself why, less than half the trade belong to an org or Union...most drivers look at what’s available and decide they’ve got more chance looking after their own interests, rather than financing a group of drivers who have personal vendettas and agendas (some of which actually go against what’s good for the rank and file driver). 

We now have the chance to put all the bitterness, the bad feelings, the football supporter mentality behind us and start afresh. 

In the last ten/twenty/thirty years, cab trade representation has stagnated, while our competition has escalated like a massive virus. 

Can you imagine the position the trade could have been in today, had an org with 20,000 militant members (who would turn up en masse on a moments notice) put forward OUR proposals for Bank Junction, Fitzrovia, Old Street, Tower Hamlets and Heathrow Airport???
Look at the mess that is Heathrow Airport... we’ve got reps who won’t sit in the same room as other reps.

Can you imagine having  a General secretary with the backing of the whole trade, who could stand up and truly fight for the whole trade.... why wouldn’t you want to join a trade org that ‘did what it said on the tin’???

Guaranteed we wouldn’t be in the position we find ourselves today. 

Ever wondered why actual Unions like the RMT and Unite fight for their members on all fronts and issues except when it comes to the Taxi trade????

They do it because they are fighting for their members...against regulators and employers and not fighting amongst themselves. 

With the Taxi Trade, Unions not only have to fight the regulator, they also have to fight against other unions,  against associations, against representative groups. 
Their representation is reflected in the fact they have so few members.

A message to all Trade Orgs .
Get yourselves together, sort yourselves out. Get rid of the deadwood and the attitude. Form a coalition or better still, scrap the rubbish...we don’t need 5 committees. Use only the very best of what we have now and incorporate UTAG17,  to form a new United Trade Council. One council, one org, one representative group. 
Jettison the waste.  

We now have our very own Taxi Trade PR company, that would only be too pleased to be incorporated into a United front. 

Not your idea....
The drivers don’t care who’s idea this is/was, they just care that there’s a good idea....

It’s what the trade needs and it’s what the drivers want.... Don’t believe me, try asking your members without using loaded question!!!! 

What happened in the last decade was scandalous but it’s now history... And we must learn from history. Those who fail to learn, are in danger of repeating it. 

Thursday, January 02, 2020


Secret Recordings Emerged, Allegedly Connecting Labour Council To £2m Corruption Scandal

Let’s remind ourselves what we are dealing with, when we take on Tower Hamlets Council. 
  • Bought And Paid For Planning Permission. 
  • Voting Fraud In Mayoral Election.
  • Street Crime “out of control”.
  • Met Police Tell Tower Hamlets To investigate Itself. 

Tower Hamlets has long been one of the Labour Party’s most prized strongholds.

The political activism of poorly paid dock workers in London’s East End helped lead to the party’s formation at the beginning of the 20th century and Labour has dominated politics in the borough ever since.

Nine  years ago, however, power over this party heartland was controversially ripped from its grasp with the election of Lutfur Rahman, Britain’s first elected Muslim mayor, who stood as an independent. 

That triggered a bitter political war marred by allegations of racism and vote-rigging as Labour fought tooth and nail to win it back.

Allegations emerged, reportedly made in tapes leaked to the Sunday Time, of a businessman linked to this Labour-led London authority offering to deliver planning permission for certain developments in exchange for a special "premium".

Tower Hamlets Council said it referred the case to the National Crime Agency.

The Labour Party said it was "committed to fighting corruption".

The allegations are said to relate to two proposed skyscrapers with more than 600 homes on Alpha Square, Canary Wharf.

Labour said it would not comment on the case but stated that "corruption steals from the many to line the pockets of the few".

'Open and transparent'
The authority is now led by Labour mayor John Biggs, who said: "Since I was elected I have worked tirelessly to combat corruption and wrongdoing and to make the council more open and transparent. 
(Yet last week, Taxi drivers were block wholesale from two TH active twitter accounts)

Biggs went on to say: "When these allegations were raised with me I immediately made the chief executive and the council's monitoring officer aware and passed over the material I was given for them to act upon.

"The council commissioned an external investigation to look into the allegations and gather evidence which was subsequently referred to the Serious Fraud Office."

A council spokesman added that "sound governance and transparency has been at the heart of Tower Hamlets Council's work since the change of leadership in 2015".

He added: "This has included a new whistle-blowing policy, clear processes for decision-making and the independent investigation of historic complaints of wrongdoing.

"Our planning process was not compromised in any way by the Alpha Square planning application."

The NCA said it "considers carefully allegations of serious bribery and corruption offences".

Source: BBC news online, Sunday Times, Daily Mail 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : via Andy Scott London Taxi PR.

Under Bow click on 1,000 suggestions link. A map will be displayed and click on the icons on map to see what is being proposed/recommended/suggested for each street/road. Scary stuff!!

The transport strategy was sneaked out on 23/24 December just before Christmas. It's all “tell them a little while we plan a lot”, trying to keep us residents in the dark.

I wonder how many know the full extent of these measures?

There must be an election in the air! by Jim Thomas
This morning Khan announces  ‘Companion Passes’ to help disabled. (Although they won’t be acceptable on the four major tube lines) 
Yet through TfL he is financing schemes, (like the ones in Tower Hamlets) that will see disabled Taxi passengers paying higher fares. 

He also announced that the companion pass will assist people with impaired vision, who need help getting around!!!!

Is this because of the amount of Uber drivers who discriminate against people with guide dogs?.... complaints you never hear of with proper taxis. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

You’ve Heard Of Uber And Uber Eats. Now, There’s UberSex, That Lets Sex Come To You.

Uber say they are to  investigate the "unlawful use" of its name and logo, after discovering ads for a sex partner finder service called "UberSex", plastered across one of the world’s largest on-line porn websites.

The ride-hailing app allege they have no link to the X-rated site, promoted on Redtube’s home page to 20 million daily visitors.

The advertised UberSex service purported to give users a list of potential partners who "live in your area and who are ready to have sex right now" the same working model as "Plenty of Fish. 

The adult service appears to be modelled on Uber itself, which matches passengers with nearby drivers.

Like the ride-hailing app, UberSex shows maps, carrying Uber’s logo and a system where users give ratings of up to five stars from previous encounters. Their legal team said they wanted to make it clear, UberSex is not prostitution. If that’s what you want, UberMassage is on the way soon. 

It’s thought that this latest concept is actually based on an app that appeared briefly in Los Angeles, when Uber joined in collaboration with Tinder to launch beta-app UberSex back in 2015. 

A similar app surfaced a few years ago, when in Paris under the name of UberEscort. But was closed down when escorts were found offering prostitution services.

Uber’s PR team have gone into overdrive getting the adds removed and are now saying that it’s all fake and made up by a disgruntled driver. 

NHS employees angry after Uber discount code didn’t work showing services as unavailable. 

In a massive media campaign just before Christmas, Uber proclaimed in nation press and of billboards throughout the capital, that NHS would be given discounts for food and free rides. 

But customers were left hungry and out in the cold, after the discount code that promised the discounts and free rides failed to work.

To add insult to injury, many customers complained that services in their area were shown as "unavailable".

Many NHS staff, said they were unable to get it to work, when the promotional code failed to work. 

All this controversy, one scandal after another...and yet this is the mob that The disabled lobby group ‘Transport for All’ have gone into partnership with.... you couldn’t make it up 😂

Source The Sun, The Times, Twitter,

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Last Year, Taxi Leaks Exposed TfL’s Agenda To Split The Trade With ZEC Only Ranks.

We explained how TfL would use the new LEVC TXe to split the trade even further, (with a little help from their on-side friend).

While previously 'Project Horizon' looked to destroy the two tier system, swallowing the Taxi trade into an ever expanding private hire system, we exposed allegations that TfL were now bent on just obliterating the trade by introducing a new tier into the Taxi trade itself, to divide the drivers even further and make them even more susceptible to divide and conquer. 

At an all trade TOPS meeting, it was announced by TfL, that there were to be certain rewards for "Green Pioneers" who have made the investment in LEVC TXe. 

The subject of TXe only ranks and access to certain bus lanes was bought up at the very end of the meeting, (leaving no time for discussion on the issue).

Taxi Leaks exposed that this would come in the shape of ZEC only ranks and bus lanes, with unique access to certain areas around central London and parts of the City. To back this up we posted images of the new signage and was immediately attacked by our largest org in their Taxi publication, of posting fake news (see below*).

According to images sent to us by the DoT back in 2018, the new ZEC only ranks and bus lanes signs were at the bequest of TfL. 

But then along came the ITA who held 28 weeks of protests which threw TfL onto their back foot. They decided to shelve (not scrap) the plans for a while. 

Protests were held by the ITA at the Bank Junction, London Bridge, Tottenham Court Road, Aldwych, Hyde Park Corner, Victoria Coach Station and Parliament Square. 

As the weeks unfolded support for the protests stayed set with the same band of 3-400 militant drivers, with the majority of drivers ignoring the facts and choosing to work. 


We now believe that because of the trades weak representation, with groups fighting amongst themselves rather than together for the trade, and with the militancy kicked out of the general rank and file, TfL will finally unveil their plans for ZEC only ranks and bus lanes.

With the LTDA and Unite voting against the minuting of meetings with TfL, (obviously embarrassed by their representation of their members) who knows what’s actually being agreed behind our backs. 

Our predictions for 2020...

Using the City of London, Camden and Tower Hamlets as whipping boys, we will now start seeing more routes made impossible, more streets taken away from the Vitos, the TX diesels.... bus lane access will soon start to diminish as it is given over to ZEC and on-line ride share buses. 

Under the banner of cleaner air, diesel Taxis will start to lose access to major Taxi ranks which will be for ZEC Taxis only. The signage is ready and in store.

When this happens, will we see pop up ranks appearing in front, behind and beside the ZEC only ranks as virtual civil war breaks out amongst the trade. 

Also.... look out for the introduction of paid for permits to certain major ranks, plus the introduction of drop off fees at Heathrow and City Airport. 

*Back in October 2018, Taxi Leaks was accused in the Taxi paper, of posting fake news but after contacting the Department of Transport, we were able to ascertain proof that it was actually the Taxi publication and not us, that had posted the fake news by cropping their images and denying the new signs were for London. 

They even said the signs were meant for use in Manchester which as we showed, was untrue. 
We did ask for an apology but we are still waiting! 

Two Tower Hamlet groups have taken to blocking Militant and active Taxi drivers from their Twitter accounts. It seems they have much to hide. 

You might like to have a look at what Tower Hamlets have in store for you over the next few years.

The council is developing a new strategy (they say) to improve the way vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians move or don’t move around the borough.

These plans have just quietly appeared online over Christmas and are a must read !!!

With thanks to London Taxi PR's Andy Scott.