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Transport for London (TfL), which regulates and licenses the taxi and private hire trades in the Capital in the interests of passengers, submitted its application on Wednesday 25 March to the High Court for a declaration on taximeters.
This follows confirmation that the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) has invited the Magistrates’ Court to withdraw their summonses for breach of the private hire taximeter prohibition.
The application to the High Court has been served on Uber and the main trade bodies – the LTDA and the Licensed Private Hire Car Association – who will be entitled to make representationsin response to the application.
TfL is seeking a High Court declaration on whether smart phones, which use GPS technology to measure the time and distance of a journey and then receive information about fares, comply with the current law on ‘taximeters’, which can only be used in London by taxis.
The rapid pace at which smart phone based technology has developed in recent years has led to a need for clarity about what is required in order for apps to comply with the regulatory framework in London, to ensure there is a level playing field for all operators.
TfL set out its view that on balance smart phones used by private hire drivers do not constitute the equipping of a vehicle with a ‘taximeter’. However, because the legislation in this area is unclear and able to be interpreted in various ways, TfL has applied to the High Court to give a binding determination on this issue.
Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “We are now a step closer to securing a High Court declaration on the issue of taximeters and hope that London’s taxi and private hire drivers and operators will work with us.
“We welcome developments that make life easier for passengers. As in many other areas of transport and retail services, apps can offer passengers the potential of better and more convenient services, but their use must be legal and on the issue of taximeters the law is unclear. A binding High Court declaration will bring clarity on this issue for all parties.”
TfL anticipates that the hearing will be held this summer.
A Transport for London spokesperson said: “We have made clear previously that it is our view that smart phones used by private hire drivers do not constitute the equipping of a vehicle with a taxi meter where they act as GPS tracking devices to measure journey distances and relay information so that fares can be calculated remotely from the vehicle.
“However, we acknowledge that this issue is not straightforward and is open to an alternative interpretation. The most appropriate way forward is to invite the High Court to issue a declaration on this issue.
“Whilst there were ongoing criminal proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court, we could not proceed with an application to the High Court. TheMagistrates’ Court has been invited to withdraw those proceedings and TfL will now proceed with its application to the High Court.”
The LCDC did not attend the trade ULEZ meeting at the LTDA on Monday.
This has caused many rumours to circulate within the Trade.
This is the email which was sent out to both the LTDA & Unite.
21st January 2015
ULEZ, age limits and zero emission capable taxis
Dear Jim and Steve
We have reviewed the notes and comments that have been issued from Monday’s meeting between yourselves and some of the representatives from the other organisations and we would like to clarify our own position on these matters.
Naturally, and because the members of the committee of the LCDC are all working cab drivers, we fully support the need to retain the 15‐year age limit.
As you know from our own response document submitted to TfL we also concur that the economic hardship that a 10‐year age limit would impose on the taxi trade would be impossible to bear.
Frankly the subsidies available from TfL, OLEV or government would in no way come near to covering the cost of £200 million to scrap all over 10 year old cabs. The most has been mentioned in all the ULEZ meetings we have attended has been £40 million.
Fundamentally we believe that the only reason TfL proposed a 10‐year age limit is because they believe there will be zero emission capable cabs in 2018. If they did not believe there would be zero emission capable cabs then they would find it much harder to justify reducing the age limit to 10 years.
It is this link between age limits and zero emission capable taxis which we feel is most critical. Break the link and you break the argument for a 10‐year limit.
Zero emission capable taxis
We at the LCDC do not believe there will be zero emission capable taxis, properly tested and available as working taxis by 2018. You can see our detailed rationale for this in our response document. We also thought that the rest of the taxi trade organisations subscribed to that view as well.
This point was voiced most strongly by Mike Hedges, Peter Bond and Steve McNamara at the ULEZ meeting at 55 Broadway on 10th December 2014. And then again, in front of the GLA Environment Committee on 4th December, Steve also said that he believed that zero emission capable taxis wouldn’t happen when he said “The reality is that we’re probably going to be in a situation on 1st January 2018 when there isn’t a vehicle available.” It is also forcefully argued by Barry Hooper in his last article in TAXI on 9th December and we have quoted his comments extensively in our response to TfL. If we are wrong and zero emission capable taxis are available as proven taxis by 2018 then we are wrong.
But what we believe is that the Mayor should not make policy on a few vehicle manufacturers’ promises and a few prototype vehicles. The manufacturers involved have either no track record or a poor track record of delivering what they say when they say. We’ve already seen one of them, Nissan, drop out and yet they had been promising so much for years.
What the taxi trade should be saying to the Mayor is that he should only bring in this policy of zero emission capable taxis when the manufacturers have demonstrated that they are really capable of doing so. This should be measured by the fact that at least 2 manufacturers should be capable of producing 1,000 taxis each when the policy is approved.
It is also important that these zero emission taxis are really capable of achieving properly the agreed set targets. For example, we have issues with TfL proposing to set a measurement of CO2 emissions (the 50g/km) when it is not the CO2 but the NOx that causes the real respiratory problems for Londoners.
We also firmly subscribe to the view that there should be a separate, independently tested, taxi drive cycle which is used as the measurement for emissions and not the New European Drive Cycle.
This NEDC is still nowhere near reflective of real taxi driving conditions. That’s why Kings College has been able to produce research which could show that older cabs produce fewer NOx emissions.
We note that it was considered to be urgent to understand what the OLEV subsidies will be on the zero emission capable taxis.
This is difficult to justify on two counts. First, OLEV stated at the ULEZ meeting on 10th December that any extra grants would not be available until 2020. Second, even if there was a £10,000 grant, that would still not be relevant until we knew the price of the taxi. What if the price was £70,000?
The lack of availability of super‐fast charging points was a good point made by Jim. What’s the point in having over 22,000 taxis chasing the 150 charging points which Elliot Treharne said would be made available for taxi drivers (Elliot Treharne, GLA Environment Committee on 4/12/14) – that’s just nowhere near enough.
Another significant technical flaw in the argument to introduce zero emission capable taxis is that there is no way that you can determine where a vehicle will undertake its 30‐ miles zero emissions on battery only. You might have a taxi using only its internal combustion engine in the ULEZ, causing more emissions, because its battery power has been exhausted. It has even been admitted by Matthew Pencharz at the Environment Committee meeting that this would require geo‐fencing, something which TfL are not capable of implementing.
Parity with private hire or others
Be careful about what you ask for. Asking for parity plays into the hands of TfL asking for a 10‐year age limit. Let me explain.
On the face of it, it seems sensible that private hire should have parity with taxis for newly licensed vehicles. By this you refer to the fact that although TfL require newly licensed PHV’s to be zero emission capable from January 2018, second hand vehicles (older than 18 months old) to be licensed as PHV’s need only be to Euro 6 standard. You say that all new or second hand PHV’s should be zero emission capable.
I have heard the phrase “ZEC’s for all!” However, what is ignored is the reason why TfL made this proposal: they say it’s because there is a far higher turnover of vehicles in the PHV sector (see TfL Consultation ‐ Supplementary Information, page 19), over 14,500 newly licensed per year.
The average age of PHV’s is only 5 years, which has been reduced by the current policy of a 10 year age limit. Therefore, by arguing for parity with PHV’s you end up strengthening the argument for taxis also having a 10‐year age limit.
By contrast the LCDC argue that taxis should have parity with the rest of the commercial vehicle industry in London.
In our response document (Point 16) we highlight the fact that coaches, HGV’s and LCV’s need only be Euro 6 to enter the ULEZ. Yet HGV’s, coaches and LCV’s contribute 34% to ULEZ emissions whereas taxis and PHV’s contribute only 22%. We believe that taxis should be just the same as commercial vehicles – i.e. Euro 6. The new Euro 6 vehicles have 84% lower emissions that Euro 5’s.
What TfL should be doing is encouraging taxis, PHV’s and commercial vehicles to get into Euro 6’s as soon as possible. That will reducing emissions faster than delaying implementing and unachievable policy of zero emissions for another 5 years.
Darryl Cox Secretary, the LCDC
After the recent GLA report that had vindicated the cab trades actions over the past years and has highlighted TFL woeful management of our Industry, we have decided to show our support for the GLA by attending the first Q&A meeting with the Mayor.
This is not a drive in, nor a demonstration, but a lobby, on foot to attend the public gallery and have a presence outside City Hall.
Make no mistake TFL would love to kick the report into the long grass, we must keep the GLA recommendations in the fore front of our actions.
TfL advice to customers during major Network Rail modernisation work at London Bridge mainline station
· TfL reminds customers that several already busy London Underground and London Overground stations are likely to be busier than usual during the changes to National Rail services that start on Monday 12 January
· Extra station and bus staff and extra bus services being deployed to assist customers
· Customers who have flexibility in their journey times advised to avoid peak times at Canada Water station if they can
· Passengers affected by Thameslink Programme should make sure that they have the latest ticket to travel on the TfL network
Transport for London (TfL) is reminding customers that long term National Rail service changes being undertaken by Network Rail at London Bridge mainline station are likely to result in busier than usual services, on certain parts of the transport network, as some customers who usually travel directly to London Bridge by rail use TfL services instead.
From 12 January 2015 until August 2016, major Network Rail modernisation work will take place at London Bridge station and Southeastern rail services to and from Charing Cross will not call at London Bridge. Southeastern services from New Cross, St. Johns, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park stations will no longer operate to and from London Charing Cross or Waterloo East, and will instead operate to and from London Cannon Street. No Bedford to Brighton Thameslink trains will call at London Bridge station until January 2018.
London Bridge Underground station will operate as normal throughout all the work. The Jubilee line at London Bridge, and other stations including Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Embankment, Elephant and Castle, Southwark, Victoria and Waterloo are likely to be busier than usual due to diverted National Rail passengers. Parts of the London Overground network, especially Canada Water, Brockley and New Cross, the DLR and some bus services are also likely to be busier. Customers who have flexibility in their journey times are advised to avoid peak times at Canada Water if they can.
Extra station and bus staff are being deployed to offer additional customers assistance, and dozens of extra services on the bus network are being provided, including:
Ten additional double deck buses on Route 21 between London Bridge to Lewisham via New Cross during the evening peak;
Ten additional buses on Route 47 between London Bridge (Duke Street Hill) and Lewisham via Bermondsey;
Ten additional Route 381 buses acting as a shuttle between London Bridge and Waterloo stations during the morning and evening peaks.
Cannon Street mainline and Tube station will open seven days a week with extended hours to accommodate additional rail passengers.
Network Rail passengers who have a London Terminals season ticket may need to update their ticket to ensure it is valid for travel on the TfL network. For more information on updating tickets customers are being advised to speak to staff at any National Rail ticket office, or visit: http://www.ThameslinkProgramme.co.uk/key-dates-and-service-changes/january-2015/
Mike Brown MVO, Managing Director of London Underground, said: “During Network Rail’s modernisation work at London Bridge rail station, several London Underground and London Overground stations are likely to be busier than usual. We are accepting tickets at key stations from passengers whose journeys to London Bridge are affected, and deploying extra staff to assist customers and putting on dozens of extra bus services out of London Bridge and Waterloo. We will continue to keep all our customers informed with regular travel information via our staff, website and social media. As always, if you have the flexibility to do so, please think about timing your journey outside the busiest times.”