Suburban Taxi Licensing Consultation

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Following the Mayor’s manifesto commitment to deliver a suburban action plan and to address the concerns of Suburban taxi drivers about the availability of work and the increasing number of taxi drivers in suburban areas, we have undertaken an in-depth review of suburban licensing.

The first stage of the review was two TfL-facilitated workshops attended by working taxi drivers. These workshops let us hear as many views and ideas as possible from the taxi trade, what they saw as the problems and what changes could be made to support them. Through these workshops and subsequent correspondence with attendees and other licensees we have received a wide range of ideas which have helped to form the basis of this consultation.

Our proposals are based on feedback received from the taxi trade and cover key themes including:

Suburban sector structure: Examining the rationale behind the current structure and exploring alternatives
Knowledge of London: Addressing the barriers that the Knowledge creates for suburban drivers who want to add sectors or become an All London driver
Driver numbers: Reviewing recent trends and looking at the arguments for and against restricting driver numbers on either a permanent or temporary basis
Taxi ranks: Explaining the process for appointing ranks, the difficulties surrounding the process and current initiatives
Improving supply of taxis in central London: Addressing suggestions from the trade that would allow suburban drivers to work in central London at specific times or places
Island ranks and licence area extensions: Reviewing existing measures introduced to improve taxi supply on the periphery of central London and exploring a formal structure for extending this strategy
Radio and app bookings: Examining the current restrictions on suburban drivers and exploring options for change

To find out more about our proposals, please download and read our Consultation Document.

Have your say
TfL is keen to hear from drivers and taxi users, especially those in suburban areas, to help form future policy ensuring drivers can continue to match the demand for the world class service

Online Survey Click Here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/tph/suburbantaxis/consultation/subpage.2014-02-06.0007629207/view

You can read TFL’s
Suburban Taxi Licensing Consultation here : https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/tph/suburbantaxis

LONDON must hang on to its TAXIS

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London: the world’s most visited city. Home to the red double-decker bus, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Changing the Guard and the black taxi.

That “most visited city” tag, which caused a recent flurry, is a little dubious. It is based on the International Passenger Survey, which is based on a sample of interviews with passengers coming and going from the UK. The Office for National Statistics candidly describes it as an “estimate”.

Still, London draws millions of tourists and has become a global capital while maintaining its traditional symbols – except for that boxy black taxi, which is now the whatever-colour-you-like whatever-shape-you-can-think-of taxi. No city competing for tourists would throw away something as distinctive – except for London, which has.

This week BYD, the Warren Buffett-backed Chinese carmaker, announced it would introduce “minicabs” into London, with the intention of eventually selling proper London taxis that are available not just for private hire but can ply the capital’s streets for fares.

It is the latest of a slew of potential competitors to the London Taxi Company, builder of the TX4, the classy, roomy traditional-style cab that says “London” to potential visitors from all over the world.

BYD follows Nissan and Metrocab – part of the Frazer-Nash group – which plan to sell taxis in London, and Mercedes-Benz, whose Vito people carriers are already ploughing through the capital as licensed taxis.

The Vito taxis remind me of the Monty Python sketch in which John Cleese claims to have a cat licence and a post office clerk says: “That is a dog licence with the word ‘dog’ crossed out and ‘cat’ written in, in crayon.”

The Vito vehicles are not London taxis. They are vans with yellow lighted “taxi” signs jammed on their roofs. They are infuriating proof that London has lost its way.

There are mitigating factors. While the traditional London taxi is a design beauty, its manufacturer has had one financial prang after another. Once a consortium of manufacturers and dealers, it became a division of engineer Manganese Bronze, which went into administration and was taken over last year by China’s Geely. So the London Taxi Company cannot claim to be a reliable monopoly.

Second, Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, is trying to cut the capital’s air pollution by insisting that its taxis produce zero emissions by 2018.

The offerings of BYD, Nissan and Metrocab will be electric, but then Geely says it plans to produce electric cabs too.

So what is wrong with the new cabs? London has not achieved its international pre-eminence by standing still but its genius, indeed the British genius, is to build on what went before. The London Underground’s logo, trains and map have modernised without losing the look that made them so recognisable.

The same is true of London’s buses. The new Routemaster bus, one of Mr Johnson’s pet projects, updates previous models while, in design terms, quoting from them. Mr Johnson has banished the dreadful single-decker “bendy buses” from London’s streets.

Nissan seems to understand London’s way of doing things. Pictures of its NV200 taxi, which it plans to build in Coventry, home of the London taxi, suggest it will pay homage to the traditional design while giving its cab a modernised, but still recognisable, look.

Metrocab’s design appears to be based on similar principles, but BYD’s e6 looks set to follow the Mercedes “cat licence” route.

This could have been avoided if Transport for London, which licenses taxis, had insisted on a recognisably London design for new entrants. That would not be over-intrusive for an authority that already specifies the distance between seats and the maximum tint of the windows.

Failing that, it could have insisted that all London taxis be black. The traditional cabs have been allowed other colours for years now, but if taxis are permitted to be different shapes, they should all be London’s traditional colour. (Black Mercedes Vitos are marginally less ghastly than the blue or grey ones.)

New York’s taxi rules state that “the exterior of the vehicle must be painted taxi yellow” – and who could imagine the Big Apple agreeing to anything else?

We can still win London’s battle. If you approach a taxi rank or hail a cab in the street and an interloper offers you a ride, say: “Sorry, mate, I want a real London taxi.”

Source: FT

Letter to TFL Re: UBER and our concerns regarding using a taxi meter to calculate fares.

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Mr Steve Burton

Head of Compliance,TFL

Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998

 

Dear Mr Burton,

I write to you concerning the above Act, and in particular section 11, prohibition of taximeters.

I wish to bring to your attention the following points: Section 11 (1) states that “No vehicle to which a London PHV Licence relates shall be equipped with a taximeter” a device for calculating the fare to be charged in respect of any journey by reference to the distance travelled or time elapsed since the start of the journey (or a combination of both)

Uber ( https: www.uber.com/cities/London) advertise their charges as a “base fare” of £3 and then either £0.32p per minute if below 11mph, or £1.75 a mile if above 11mph, the time and distance being calculated via the app on the Uber drivers smartphone.

It is my strong belief that the drivers using the Uber app are indeed in breach of section 11, at a trade meeting on 4th February I discussed Uber with the Mayor and also with Isabel Dedring and also showed them a Uber app receipt on my iPhone.

The Mayor agreed with me that the way Uber charge their passengers is indeed by using a meter, albeit on a smart-phone.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Yours Sincerely

Grant Davis

Chairman