TfL targets illegal private hire activity in Kingston

A multi-agency operation in Kingston, involving Transport for London’s (TfL’s) Taxi and Private Hire (T&PH) Compliance Team, on Friday 11 June, targeted illegal private hire activity and unsafe private hire vehicles.

Officials from TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Cab Enforcement Unit, Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the local authority enforcement teams worked together in a multi-agency enforcement operation. In total 39 TfL licensed private hire vehicles were given immediate stop notices and one unlicensed driver was identified. VOSA issued PG9 certificates to 10 private hire vehicles, resulting in the vehicles being unusable.

TfL will be making several follow-up visits to Operators to check on concerns about driver documentation identified during the operation.

John Mason, TfL Director of London Taxi and Private Hire said:

“We are often criticised for what cabbies see as a lack of enforcement of private hire vehicles and we are working hard to address these issue. We undertake similar types of exercises on a regular basis across London; the multi- agency approach in Kingston on Friday night demonstrates our commitment on cracking down on illegal activity by private hire drivers and unsafe vehicles. Our message is simple, whether you are a licensed private hire driver, operator or licensed taxi driver, act within the law at all times, and you have nothing to fear”.

  • The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Cab Enforcement Unit (CEU), part of the Transport for London (TfL) funded Safer Transport Command (STC), continues to carry out operations as part of their ongoing drive to tackle illegal cabs and touts operating in the Capital.
  • Cab Enforcement operations are carried out on a regular basis in line with current intelligence on touting behaviour.  They also cooperate with clubs to crack down on the touts who operate in the area and ensure compliance with regulations and importantly enhance the safety of the travelling public.
  • During the operations roadside and compliance checks are made and in addition, officers carry out operations and conduct checks on all minicabs within the confines of the operation area.
  • Since 2003 the Safer Transport Command Cab Enforcement Unit (CEU) has made more than 6,000 arrests for touting and cab-related offences.
  • The number of dedicated cab enforcement police officers in the Capital has been doubled to 68. These officers work closely with other policing teams including Safer Transport Teams and local police to maximise enforcement activity across London.
  • The ‘One Strike and You Are Out’ initiative means that from 1 August 2008, licensed drivers convicted of taxi touting lose their licence for a minimum of one year.  Their fitness to hold a licence will be re-assessed by TfL’s Taxi and Private Hire (T&PH) Directorate if and when they reapply.
  • The CEU made 1,449 arrests for touting (including licensed and unlicensed drivers) between 1 August 2008 and 31 May 2010.This has led to 435 Magistrates’ Court convictions involving licensed Private Hire Vehicle drivers to date which have been referred to T&PH for licence revocation.   Furthermore 334 drivers have had their PHV driver’s licences revoked by the T&PH to date with the remaining still being processed.

Mayor and TfL to introduce: New Motorcycles In Bus Lanes Trial.

Motorcyclists in London will be permitted to use the capital’s red rout bus lanes under a new motorcycles in bus lanes trial that has been announced by the Mayor and TfL  16 June.

A report into the current trial, which ends 5 July, examined the 418 Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) bus lanes that the trial covered and looked in detail at 28 of those trial sites, comparing them with 28 control sites on parallel routes where motorcyclists did not have access to bus lanes. It found that:

  • Fears that an increase in cyclist collisions with motorcyclists were unfounded.
  • There was a fall in the cyclist collision rate across trial bus lanes and the control lanes, with a smaller decrease in the trial lanes and there were no increase in fatal accidents over the period of the trial.
  • More than half (51%) of motorcyclists switched from riding on the outside of the road to the bus lanes.

In addition a separate study by TfL that used police traffic officers to study journey times in bus lanes indicated that journeys made by motorcycles using bus lanes, were on average 10% quicker than those not using bus lanes  and 36% quicker than cars.

Road user surveys of more than 2000 Londoners also found that:

  • 93% of motorcyclists and 51% of cyclists and car and van drivers who were aware of the Motorcycles in Bus Lanes Trial supported it.
  • 54% of motorcyclists said they now use TfL’s road network more often following the start of the trial.

However, the independent report found that some questions remain about the way in which motorcycle riders use bus lanes. It identified that there was an increase in the rate of motorcyclist collisions, predominately with cars turning into or out of side roads on routes were motorcyclists had access to bus lanes. At the trial sites there was an increase of 30 to 41 collisions, whereas there was a reduction from 16 to 8 collisions on the control sites.

In the light of these findings, the new trial will run alongside a road safety awareness campaign aimed at improving drivers awareness of motorbikes and cyclists in bus lanes. motorcyclists on Bikesafe training will have their courses updated to include extra training on awareness of vehicles crossing their path at junctions. There will also be stricter enforcement of  speeding of motorcyclists, to improve safety.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Motorcyclists have made a consistent case to be able to use TfL’s bus lanes, and the initial trial has shown some positive results. The chaos that was predicted by some doomsayers was has clearly not materialised and, as I suspected would be the case, we have found substantial support for the measure.

“There is always scope for improvement and a new trial, with a strong focus on safety, will allow motorcyclists to show that they can adhere to the spirit of the trial and ride with respect. The impact of these new measures will help us decide whether motorcyclists can continue to use the bus lanes in future years. One of the ways we can smooth traffic flow is by encouraging more people to get on two wheels, and the prospect of using bus lanes to avoid traffic and having an easier journey should help with that aim.”

Ben Plowden, Director of Better Routes and Place at TfL, said: “As part of this new trial, we’ll be introducing a focussed road safety awareness campaign aimed at making drivers more aware of the need to look out for motorcyclists’ and cyclists’ presence in bus lanes. Motorcyclists undertaking Bikesafe training will also receive additional information on the need to watch out for vehicles turning across their path at junctions.

“Stricter enforcement of speeding by motorcyclists will also be a priority to improve safety. Taken together, these campaigns will be part of our wider effort to reduce the number of motorcycle collisions taking place on London’s major roads.”

The current trial ends on 5 July and a new experimental scheme allowing motorcyclists access to bus lanes will be brought in following the statutory consultation period. During the interim period between the current trial ending on July 5 and the new one beginning on or around 16 July, TfL won’t enforce against motorcyclists who use bus lanes, although they will continue to be expected to respect the speed limit and all other rules of the road.

Blueprint for Victoria: New TV Monitors Replace marshals

New TV monitors are now in operation at the feeder to the Victoria Station rank. They are located at Vauxhall Bridge Rd/ Neathouse Place and in Wilton Road. They will replace the marshals with immediate effect ! There may be some teething problems with the new  TV monitors and the authorities are reviewing the situation daily to ensure the smooth running of the rank.

Illegally Marked Box Junction:

Any driver that has received a PCN at the box junction above located at the junction of Kensington High St/Warwick Rd should contact the issuing office and request a refund.

A challenge was made recently by an LCDC member who received a PCN for a box junction offence at this location. He won his case at court and this box junction was ruled to be incorrectly marked as a rectangle and not a box.

John Mason TfL

As you may have read in this edition of The Badge, in our last formal Taxi and Private Hire Notice we set out TfL’s position in response to some major concerns of the trade. these concerns have been well-voiced since I came in to post, especially by the LCDC, the LTDA and Unite in our formal discussions. “In particular, the notice outlined the action we have already taken and the actions we will be taking to tackle these issues going forward.

I’m not going to bore you with statistics and figures about the number of officers, arrests and convictions for touting, as I know this is of no consolation when many of you are out every night and don’t feel you are seeing an improvement to the situation. I really would like to assure all of you that we are not complacent in any way to the problems that you are faced with each day. I do know the strength of feeling there is in the trade on issues like satellite offices, touting and enforcement as they have been at the top of every agenda of every single meeting and discussion I have had with Grant and the other associations. It’s quite clear that you’ve simply had enough and you want action and that is what my team and I intend to deliver.

“Whatever the reason for the expansion of satellite offices, it is quite clear that the time is right to take stock and fully review the situation and as part of this process will be a consultation in August on various proposals and initiatives on addressing many of the concerns that both the private hire and taxi trade have with the licensing of private hire drivers, vehicles and operators.

” I am afraid will not be solved overnight and regardless of what you may hear we can not simply close down all the satellite offices. Nor can we take legal action, revoke licenses or take court action unless we collect all the required evidence in accordance in accordance with with the relevant criminal evidence acts. This will ensure that we can secure convictions and defend challenges. I can assure that we simply will not rest until we have cracked these issues and we rid our streets of illegal touting.”

John Mason.

Director of Taxi and Private Hire TfL.