Thursday, July 02, 2020

Paris's Deputy Mayor For Transport Introduces Car Free Zones, But Makes Taxis Inclusive

In Paris Christophe Najdovski, the Deputy Mayor in charge of transport (a post filled in London by Heidi ‘I know nothing about transport’ Alexander) is modernising the existing taxi system. He’s not only revamping the old ranks he’s creating new ones. 

Recently re-elected, the deputy Mayor wants less private cars in the centre of Paris, but he also wants more official Taxis. 

Virtually all ‘Car Free Zones’ will be freely open to taxis, but closed to PHVs / Uber

New Paris Taxis application
Paris Taxis is a free phone app, developed by the City of Paris that allows customers to view the taxis available around them and order the taxi of their choice, whether it is in circulation or on a rank. 

Paris Taxis can also be called directly to stations by the app, if the rank is busy.
The customer can, if they wish, filter the display of taxis according to different criteria: 

  • Low-emission vehicles
  • Wheelchair ramp
  • Credit card payment terminal.

Taxi drivers should know that only Taxis are visible on the Paris Taxis app. Taxis subscribed to an operator approved by the national platform. 

Previously the Paris Taxis PRO app only targeted taxis at stations, causing confusion. The old app has now been deactivated.


Taxi call terminals:
Because they had become technologically obsolete and maintenance could no longer be ensured, the City of Paris had to resolve to uninstall the taxi call phone terminals which were no longer repairable.

A new generation of terminals have therefore started to be deployed since the beginning of 2020, and 60 locations have been selected.

Operation Of The New Touch Screen Terminals:
The terminals, will remain in the locations of the current terminals and will be put into service as they are installed. 

Installation and maintenance are provided by SOPACT.


The characteristics of the new terminal models
The functionality remains the same as the previous models, but the design is completely different to be in perfect harmony with the existing street furniture. 

Thus, terminals are “hung” on the furniture already used for taxis and buses. 
40 stations with passenger shelters will be equipped, plus 20 with only the signal mast.


New bright, free or occupied taxis signage
At present there are still Taxis that have white/bright signage located on the roof of the vehicle: Only when the white light is on, is the Taxi free.

To facilitate the new system, Taxis must now equip themselves with a new double-color light: 
  • Green: the taxi is free
  • Red: the taxi is busy

When a sheath is placed over the light, the taxi is on "rest/pause" and cannot carry a fare. 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT: 
It’s all very simple stuff and could be an excellent model for London to cut dramatically congestion and improve air quality. 

Licensed Taxis only inside the current congestion zones, along with buses and cycles. 

A one stop shop app run completely by the regulator (TfL) to dispatch work centrally. 

To do this Paris needed a brave new deputy Mayor for transport. Perhaps that’s what we need in London, a new deputy Mayor for Transport, who actually knows something about transport and can do the job without have private vanity agendas. 

While we’re at it, a new Mayor wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Letter from Addison Lee to all their drivers:

Warning...Groups Operating Trying To Pay With Fake £50 Notes.

WARNING : FAKE £50 NOTES 
We’ve had reports that there are several gangs, currently targeting London Taxi drivers, offering to pay for short journeys with £50 notes.

One of our Facebook members has managed to get fantastic footage on his dash cam of two of these men who tried to tender the counterfeit currency. The actual footage clearly shows these two men, with an envelope stuffed full of the fake notes.

This is a terrible time to be scammed by these people, it’s hard enough trying to find custom without being tricked out of your takings by this scum. 

So, if you are working, please be extra vigilant.



Personally, I wouldn’t be accepting cash for rides at the moment because of the virus transition risk. I would only be acceptI got card payments. 

That way, even if the card was stolen, I would still be paid. 

I use a credit card transaction company that doesn’t claim 'payback' should a dispute arise over the fare. 

Worst company for payback is pay-pal (who also have £1/2bn share  in Uber). 

Although at first glance they appear to be cheap, in the long run, they are acting against the trade and your future. 

See video hear https://youtu.be/OEqyRaArM00

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
It’s well worth the effort to acquire one of these counterfeit note, ultra violet key ring lights. 


There are a number available and they range in price from a whopping £98 plus VAT to a cheap as chips £5:11 inclusive 
Click link below to purchase a more reasonable priced key ring light.   


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Not So Very Local Councillors... Plus Jobs For The Boys (And Girls)


FOI response reveals surprising statistics about where Camden’s Councillors and employees live.

After the popularity of the post *How Can Our Local Politicians Represent Us If They Are Not Local???  revealed that less than half of Bloomsbury’s councillors actually live in Bloomsbury, with one living in Morden, I decided to do some further research into just how local our local authority is.

One problem that those in Bloomsbury often face is that schemes are dreamed up for the area by those living miles away, with no real local knowledge or understanding. To add insult to injury, these individuals are very rarely at all interested in the local knowledge held by residents and businesses.

So where do Camden’s employees live? How many of them live in Camden itself, and how many of them live south of Euston Road?

One Statistic to Rule Them All…
A Freedom of Information request led to some rather unusual but revealing statistics.

I first asked how many of Camden’s employees live in Camden itself. The employees considered did not include contractor employees such as those working for Veolia.

Camden employ the number of 4278 employees directly.
But only 655 of them live in Camden.
Just over 15%.

No information was revealed as to where the employees outside of Camden live. But the whereabouts of employees living in Camden was broken down by ward, as per my request.


So how many live south of Euston Road?
Just 1, apparently.

Only one Camden employee lives in Bloomsbury, out of the total of 4278. Just over 0%.
We are seeking clarification on this surprising statistic, although the numbers provided do ‘add up’. This employee lives in the Bloomsbury ward, while no employees at all live in the King’s Cross or Holborn and Covent Garden wards, apparently.

Along with the conspicuous lack of councillors living in the area, perhaps this statistic goes some way to explaining the short-sightedness of all proposals in the area.

Some Consolation
In the request I also asked for the whereabouts of all councillors to ascertain whether any councillors serving wards outside of Bloomsbury live in Bloomsbury.

Thankfully there are a few. The following councillors do live in the area:
Name
Serves
Lives
Maryam Eslamdoust (Mayor)
Kilburn
King’s Cross
Thomas Gardiner
Kilburn
King’s Cross
Ranjit Singh
Cantelowes
Holborn and Covent Garden

This post was made by a resident of Queen Alexandra Mansions, in Bloomsbury, who is also a committee member of Bloomsbury Residents' Action Group and of the Bloomsbury Conservation Areas Advisory Committee, each working to protect residents and heritage in Bloomsbury. 


TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT: 
It appears that councillors in Camden are willing to cause massive disruption and gridlock in an area which they don’t live in. 

Same with certain consultations, where people from as far away as Durham, Newcastle and Manchester have voted on cycling schemes in London. 

The Mayor and his deputies close there eyes to these scandalous consultations because it fits with their agenda. 

Other aspects of these local council and TfL schemes need to be publicly investigated. 

We’ve seen councillors, push forward segregated cycle schemes, and then reappear as CEO’s of cargo bike companies. 


And now after TfL refused to relicense Uber on safety grounds, TfL’s senior safety manager suddenly gets a job as senior safety manager for Uber. How very convenient as Uber attempt to regain their licence.  


Friday, June 26, 2020

Cycling Proficiency, Social Distancing And Laws On Graffiti, Don’t Apply To Cyclists...Apparently.

A group of self proclaimed ‘Green campaigners’ created an illegal pop-up bike lane, along both sides of Holland Park Avenue, as they called for transport bosses to ensure streets stay safe for cyclists and pedestrians after lockdown.

Then filmed themselves cycling  irresponsibly, weaving from side to side and in a close-knit group completely disregarding social distancing.... but then, in their eyes they are above the law and there’s one rule for us but no rules for them 

You can watch their video below.


The group from Extinction Rebellion Kensington, Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham illegally painted their so called bike lane in different colours along Holland Park Avenue, using stencils and tins of aerosolspray paint... so much for the environment. 


One of the Extinction Rebells a Josh Appignanase, posted this tweet asking why RBKC haven’t followed other boroughs lead on this government funded policy....


Well Josh I can answer that for you. After two consultations and two mass meetings, the residents of Holland Park, voted against the gridlock causing cycle lanes. 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT:
Interview between the Evening Standard and deputy Mayor for transport, Heidi “I know nothing about transport” Alexandra 


They don’t know how many are going to return to Public Transport,  BUT AMAZINGLY, they know they need to CLOSE Roads !! 
Plus, put in as many temporary cycle lanes ( Temporary, up to 18 months???)) as possible and make the pavements wider ?? And in this action remove access to many Taxi and Rest Ranks 

Question HOW COMES YOU KNOW THIS ???

Help Stop Islington Council’s Closure Of Local Roads...



Thursday, June 25, 2020

TfLTPH Operating A Policy Of Silence. Now GLA’s Susan Hall Gets Involved.

On the 18th on May 2018, I personally emailed Graham Robinson at TfLTPH and asked him why they were allowing the Gett Taxi app to dispatch private hire cars without holding a Private Hire operators licence...in breach of the Private Hire Vehicles Act 1998. 
He never replied. 

So after 11 days I repeated the email, again he just ignored. 
He also ignored 7 subsequent requests for this information. 

It wasn’t till I applied for my licence renewal  in November 2018 I later found out that Mr Robinson had taken upon himself to block my email address to TfL’s system. (Without informing me) 

I was lucky that a friendly member of TfL gave me the heads up in March 2019, that I was finally able to renew my licence... I had actually been working for 6 weeks unaware that my licence had expired and TfL hadn’t received my renewal application. 

The policy of failing to respond to questions from the Taxi trade has again reared it’s ugly head. 

This time a query from the Chairman of the London Cab Drivers Club, Grant Davis, appears to have been completely ignored 


Grant asked TfL why Addison Lee were being allowed to fit unregulated, untested, unauthorised partitions in all their vehicles. 


Grant has since repeated his request, this time CC’ing all GLA members. TfLTPH is still refusing to answer why they are allowing this blatant contravention of the conditions of fitness if Addison Lee’s vehicles. 

On Tuesday 23/June/2020, Assembly Member Susan Hall emailed TPH demanding they: “answer  this gentleman and copy me into the reply”. 



We now wait with baited breath, to see if TfL will ignore this request from the GLA. 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT: 
A couple of weeks ago, I asked Grant to find out why Graham Robinson had blanked my question, causing my licence renewal to be delayed... Grant said he would email Robinson. 


Grant still hasn’t had a reply on that issue.

BREAKING NEWS EXTRA: 
Well that didn’t take long, did it

We’ve now been informed that shortly after TfL received Cllr Susan Hall’s email, PCO’s were told to inform Addison Lee drivers that under the conditions of fitness, their newly fitted partition screens should be removed...🤷‍♂️



Wednesday, June 24, 2020

UTAG Statement to members - Proposed Road Closures


Dear Member,
We hope you and your loved ones are keeping well in these strange and uncertain times.
You are likely to be aware that we, as a trade that we are facing an onslaught of proposed road closures across many boroughs, including the City of London and TfL roads.

The speed and extent of these proposals, if not challenged, will have an extremely detrimental effect on our trade and passengers, especially the disabled, affecting our ability to make a sustainable living.

UTAG was formed to preserve the future of the profession we trained so hard to be part of via a series of legal challenges; it is the Directors and Steering Committees unanimous view that the road closures has usurped everything else, and has singularly become the most important issue before us. 

Without a road network, we are unable to ply our trade.


Therefore, we have proactively instructed our QC and Legal Team to prepare a Generic Statement of Claim against our exclusion from roads where buses and permitted vehicles, excluding Taxis, continue to have access.

This would allow us to request a Statutory Hearing in the High Court should it be necessary to do so.

Although no firm exclusions have been enacted yet, and while we wait for final confirmation of which roads/bridges we may or may not use, UTAG along with the LTDA believe that it is prudent to prepare for legal action, therefore, we have agreed to work collaboratively with them and co-fund the legal action(s). 

As these proposals are being brought in under the auspices of Covid-19 social distancing measures, they will be deemed temporary measures (temporary can be 18 months) by which time substantial structural damage can be done to our trade. 


Time pressures are upon us, as the trade shall have only 6 weeks to challenge said closures. 

The 6-week window starts from when the order is made, not the implementation of the restrictions; that is why we believe that we must prepare to act now, as announcements could come at any time.

We trust that you agree that this fight could be vital for our trade and that we must prepare as if it will go ahead. We shall of course keep you updated as matters progress.

Thank you for your unswerving trust and loyal support.
Very best wishes,

Angela Clarkson & Trevor Merralls
Directors
United Trade Action Grou

Great News From The UCG As Access Is Granted To Jamaica Road Bus Gate...We Ask Does This Set A Precedent ???

We’ve just heard from the United Cabbies Group that Taxi drivers are to be allowed full access to the Jamaica Road bus gate at Culling Circus/Lower Road. 

Apparently The UCG chairperson has been fighting for access for quite sometime.

This now makes all other bus gate access questionable. If it is felt necessary to give Taxis access at this bus gate, there should be no reasons why access to Taxis should not be granted at ALL other bus gates 

Well done Karen and well done the United Cabbies Group. 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : 
Word has reached us today that cycle use in Enfield’s flagship £45m faux pas is 70% busier than usual.....two cyclists this morning, as opposed to none. 


Tax payers money well spent?

Also, an open letter has been posted on social media to deputy Mayor Heidi “I know nothing about Transport” Alexander:

Can you tell me where I can See the Costings for this ?? And the cost to remove it ??  Seems a lot of work for a temporary measure. Also how are you going to monitor it to decide when to remove it


Outrageous... disabled people are being asked to travel to Birmingham for treatment, because of road restrictions in central London!



Monday, June 22, 2020

London Cabbie, Daren Parr, member of Cabbies Do Kilimanjaro, talks about their 2020 fundraising challenge for the London Taxi Drivers Charity for Children

Wow! How much the world has changed over 12 weeks with the COVID 19 pandemic. 

The Cabbies Do Kilimanjaro team knew it was going to be a tough year, but not this tough.

We had planned four training weekends for the team of fundraising cabbies. The weekends were scheduled to get progressively harder, with each designed to teach the team some basic techniques, including how important it is to put the right kit in your rucksack and team building. 

Having climbed Kilimanjaro last year, we learnt how important being part of a team is to an expedition like this. We just managed to get the first training trip to the Peak District in before the world went into lockdown but then we had to quickly change our approach to keep the team interested and focused.

We met over Zoom and discussed finding a way to replace our planned training weekends while staying within the social distancing rules.
We decided that the The Box Hill Hike, a tough eight-mile hike with plenty of steep hills and steps would work well to replicate a day on Kili.

The rules were relaxed enough for us to be able to do this recently, so we arranged a date and kept our fingers crossed.

For some reason I was very anxious, worried about how many would turn up and what sort of fitness and amount of training they had done in the 10 weeks or so since we had last seen them. They had all said they had been keeping the training up, but the proof is in the pudding (or the hills) and as they say “in them there hills there isn’t anywhere to hide”.

So, my wife Jackie and I jumped in the car and drove the 45mins to Box Hill Cafe, butterflies in my stomach all the way.

To my absolute delight 10 team members were waiting there, all like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, bouncing and raring to go. Filled with renewed enthusiasm I gave them a team talk, it was great to be back and feel the team spirit again.

The hike was tough, as expected and I took a wrong turn at some point taking the team four miles off the route. But our photographer Tim King, got us back onto the route, thank goodness. After a bit of stick from cabbie Lyndsey Lockhart we remained in good spirits and trudged on.

We managed 13.2 miles of tough terrain and I could not have been more pleased with the team.

The group had listened, learnt, and kept their word. Not only did they complete the task, but all displayed a bit of light-hearted banter and good spirit on the way. I am so pleased and proud of them all.

We have a few members who are currently injured but these things happen when you are a middle-aged taxi driver attempting to get ready to climb the world’s highest freestanding mountain. 

We wish them a speedy recovery and hope to see even more in our new monthly training walks on Box Hill.

With Tanzanian airspace being reopened, the pandemic being kept under control and great safety measures being put into place our trip to Tanzania in October is looking possible. We really can’t wait to revisit this special place and would totally recommend it as a fantastic holiday destination.

Credit should be given to these people who have already overcome real obstacles and barriers to have the positive determination to take this challenge on to raise money for such a deserving cause as The London Taxi Drivers Charity for Children and a Tanzanian Children’s Community Project.

I am so proud of the commitment being shown by my fellow London Taxi drivers
Well done Team CabbiesDoMeru+Kili2
Keep up the good work  

About Cabbies do Kilimanjaro
After successfully raising £18,000 for The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans in 2019 by losing 12 stones in weight, getting fit and climbing Kilimanjaro, two of the original Cabbies Do Kilimanjaro, Daren Parr and John Dillane, have put together a much bigger challenge for 2020.

A group of 30 London Licensed Taxi Drivers, will be attempting to lose 52 stones, get fit, with the support of Be Military Fit and then travel to Tanzania where Daren and John will climb 4,562 metre Mount Meru before being joined by the rest of the cabbies to climb 5,895 metres to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The Cabbies do Kilimanjaro team is hoping to raise £7,500 for the London Taxi Drivers’ Charity for Children and £2,500 for a children’s community project in Tanzania
Follow their progress by visiting www.cabbiesdokilimanjaro.com


About London Taxi Drivers' Charity for Children
The London Taxi Driver’s Charity for Children arranges days out in the UK, for special needs and disadvantaged children and provides funding to support children who need recreational, technology and mobility equipment.

Founded in 1928, the charity is funded totally through donations and supported by an amazing group of volunteer London Taxi Drivers who give up their time to take the children and their carers on day trips.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron.

The Taxi Charity Says Goodbye to WWII Veteran with a Guard of Honour at his Funeral

On Friday 19th June The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans said goodbye to one of its much-loved WWII veterans Frank Pendergast

WWII veteran, Frank Pendergast 94, 7th Battalion The Parachute Regimentwho lived in Eltham, died on 30 May 2020. His funeral was held on 19 June at Eltham crematorium.

Due to social distancing restrictions the Taxi Charity veterans, volunteers and committee were unable to attend the service so they made a Guard of Honour and arranged for two buglers to line the route along Crematorium Drive to the entrance of the crematorium.

Frank was one of the Taxi Charity’s group of bucket collectors and helped to raise thousands for the charity.  He loved joining the charity visits to The Netherlands and France accompanied by his good friend Chris Wilmott and meeting some of the relatives of the   families that he had helped to liberate during WWII. 

Frank joined 7th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment as it advanced through Belgium in October 1944 and took part in the Battle of the Ardennes when the Germans broke through Allied lines in December of that year.

Chris Willmott, Taxi Charity volunteer and Frank’s good friend, said, “While many think of our veterans just as heroes that only come out on special occasions, I knew Frank as a close personal friend. We could discuss anything and see beyond each other’s short comings. It is hard to think that he has gone, and I will never see him again, it feels more like he has just popped out and will be back again soon.”

Dick Goodwin, Vice President, The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, said, “Frank was a very special part of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans family and he was of the first veterans I met over twenty years ago. Frank was committed to the charity and helped raise funds to ensure more veterans could be supported by shaking a bucket at London train stations and charming commuters with tales from the war. Frank’s favourite tipple was a gin and tonic, always in a balloon glass, and we shall all be raising a glass to him. Sleep tight soldier and thank you for your service.”


About Frank Pendergast
Frank Harry Edward Pendergast was born, to Frederick and Mary, on 31st August 1925. He had 8 siblings – unfortunately 2 died before he was born, and his younger brother Charles died aged 5.

To Rose, Alma, Violet, Patricia & George he was always the kid brother.

Frank was too young at the start of WWII so six months later he joined 7th (L.I.) Battalion, 5th Parachute Brigade of the 6th Airborne Division.

His son once asked him why the parachute battalion and he said, “for the extra two bob a week.” 

Parachute battalions did not exist before WWII and you can imagine the top brass deciding how to get men to volunteer to jump out of a plane supported by just a canopy of silk and ropes. ‘Pay them more money’. Well it certainly worked for Frank.

The Battalion he was to join held the canal and river bridges at Ranville & Benouville in Normandy on D-Day which were later named Pegasus and Horsa Bridges as a tribute to the Airborne force that arrived, holding them until relieved by commandos coming up from the beaches.

Christmas eve 1944 saw his battalion taken by boat and road to Belgium where they fought in the Ardennes at what became known as the Battle of the Bulge.
Frank married the great love of his life, Betty Irene Kennell in 1947 and they were married for 66 years until Betty passed in 2014. They had two children and three grandchildren.

In recent years Frank was presented with the Legion d’Honneur by a grateful French government and an equivalent Freedom medal by the Dutch.