What’s The Biggest Obstacle To Google’s Driverless Cars? Maybe The Taxi Drivers?

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A long running theme of mine is that we can’t have nice new things because the people who supply us with the old ones won’t allow the competition. We’ve left too much regulatory power in the hands of the incumbents in many businesses. My current poster child for this argument is Uber: they’ve had to spend a year just to get permission to offer a smartphone app to hail a cab. Quite seriously part of one court case to refuse them access to the market was that older people are less likely to have a smartphone and therefore this was age discrimination.

Which leads me on to the subject of Google‘s driverless cars. Over at Grist there’s an article about how the world might look if as and when the technology becomes widely deployed:
Now imagine a mash-up of this popular model and Google’s self-driving car technology. The car-sharing fleet could be retrofitted with self-driving navigation systems. (Let’s call the hypothetical startup company “Car2Google.” Of course, other car-sharing services like Zipcar or even traditional rental car companies could jump into the game.) Layering self-driving technology onto this system would allow people to order a car from a fleet and have the car pick them up. It’s a taxi service without the drivers.

Users would summon a car with their phone and wait comfortably indoors. The car would call or text them as it approaches. Users would then hop in, talk on the phone, or nap while the car drives to their destination. Once there, they can just walk away. The service charges their credit card an amount based on the time or length of the trip.

This entirely destroys the taxi business of course. Or at least it entirely destroys the business of driving a taxi. For if the streets are full of cars without drivers that can be hired by the minute or the hour or the trip, then what need is there for anyone to actually be driving such a vehicle?

Actually, I think it’ll be rather fun to see how this goes. From the Uber case we do know that the taxi industry is powerful, even if not all powerful. So I’m absolutely certain that we’ll see attempts to make sure that such driverless cars cannot just be allowed to replace taxis. The interest will come from the arguments that are used to attempt to prevent the adoption of the technology.

I could imagine someone arguing that even though the car can drive itself there must still be a driver. You know, just in case. I can also imagine the taxi companies arguing that all such cars should have to have a taxi shield: but that there should be no increase in the issuance of shields at all. thus the driverless cars would all have to belong to the people who own the taxi shields. Or rather, private owners can have driverless cars but those available for public rental must have a shield.

That would of course be immensely profitable for the current owners of the shields. We can imagine higher demand for such rides, but they’d obviously be paying lower costs (no drivers!). So that’s definitely an argument I expect to see at some point in the next few years. That driverless cars for hire must have a taxi licence.

Anyone think of any other ways the current taxi industry will try to fight back against being wiped out?

Source : Forbes

Processing of Taxi and Private Hire Fares by Credit and Debit Cards – The Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012

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TPH NOTICE

This notice provides the taxi and private hire trades with very important information on the processing of credit and debit cards.

On Saturday 6 April 2013 ‘The Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012’ come into effect. The regulations ban traders from “charging consumers more than the cost borne by them for accepting a given means of payment” which includes processing card payments.
The regulations cover taxi and private hire passengers who pay by card and are being introduced following a consultation by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. A copy of the consultation outcome, the regulations and guidance on the regulations are available on the Inside Government website here.

New businesses and micro-businesses will be exempt from the regulations until 12 June 2014 but from this date the regulations will also apply to them. Broadly speaking a micro-business is one with fewer than 10 employees, this includes all self employed London taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. A new business is one which began trading between 6 April 2013 and 12 June 2014.

If you accept card payments it is vital that you are aware of these changes and ensure that you comply with them. From the appropriate date you must not charge passengers more than it costs to accept and process a card payment.

Taxi services

We currently set the maximum extra charge for card payments for taxi journeys at £1.00 or 12.5% of the metered fare and we have no intention to immediately change this prior to any formal consultation. This “extra” sets a maximum amount that can be charged when a passenger pays by card. However, taxi drivers and taxi booking companies can charge less than £1.00 or 12.5% of the metered fare and many already do so.

Taxi drivers and taxi booking companies that accept card payments should be aware of how much it costs them to accept and process a card payment and from the appropriate date must not charge a passenger more than this amount.

Enforcement
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and trading standards officers have the powers to enforce these regulations. Complaints about being overcharged when paying by card, including for taxi and private hire services, will be considered by the OFT or local council trading standards officers. Where we are made aware that drivers or operators are charging more than the cost for processing the payment we may review their fitness to be license

Lock-in at black cab factory after 156 staff lose jobs

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Workers at the London Taxi Company were understood to be attempting to lock themselves in at their Coventry factory last night after the insolvency accountants now running the business sacked more than half the workforce.
The news of the sackings came hours after workers had read upbeat messages from PwC about the list of potential bidders for the stricken company. Late yesterday it emerged that PwC, the administrators of Manganese Bronze, which makes and markets the black cab through the London Taxi Company, said it would be making 156 workers redundant. It would leave just 96 workers on full pay with others sent home on standby.
On Tuesday, Matthew Hammond, the lead administrator, said: “There has been an enormous amount of interest . . . those expressions of interest — domestic, from Europe and internationally — gave us a fantastic start and puts us in a better position than we might normally have been in at this stage.” Mr Hammond had also paid tribute to Manganese’s engineers, who he said “effectively hand-build” the cabs.
Unite, yesterday expressed outrage at the redundancies. Roger Maddison, the union’s carworkers’ leader said: “Only last night PwC were telling us there were significant interested parties. Now the administrators are ruthlessly sacking over 150 highly-skilled workers. How can PwC treat this company as a going concern with virtually no staff? The black cab is part of Britain’s car manufacturing heritage.”
At the Coventry plant where unrest was being reported last night, 99 workers were made redundant, with just 55 kept on. PwC said the retained staff would focus on finding a solution for the steering fault, which led to the withdrawal of 400 new cabs and the suspension of all sales. Manganese had been plagued this year by plunging sales and an IT-related black hole in its accounts.
The other redundancies came at Manganese’s black cab dealerships in London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Coventry.

Source : The Times

IS THE TIDE ABOUT TO TURN !!

Recently the LCDC sent out a small questionaire to some PH companies and there trade mags, we asked just 2 questions and the response we got from PH & Courier was for them to print a 3 page response in this months mag . These are the 2 question’s the club asked

I am writing to you to ask if you would participate in a short Questionnaire, please answer the entire Questions as honest and best you can within your professional capability.

Please read the follow legislation and answer the following Questions

Chapter 34 of the 1998 Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act) clearly states:

(A) that the vehicle-

(1) is suitable in type, size and design for use as a private hire vehicle-

(2) is safe, comfortable and in a suitable mechanical condition for that use; and

(3) IS NOT OF SUCH A DESIGN AND APPEARANCE AS WOULD LEAD ANY PERSON TO BELIEVE THAT THE VEHICLE IS A LONDON CAB

Do you think the above legislation applies to Mercedes vito six seaters licensed as a private hire vehicle, and the Mercedes Vito Taxi?

1 yes

 2 no

3 don’t know

4 give your own view

Please read the following legislation and answer the following Questions :

Criminal justice and public order act 1994

taxi touts (6) “public place” includes any highway and any other premises or place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted to have access( whether on payment or otherwise);and “public services vehicle” and “PSV operators license” have the same meaning as in part two of the public passenger vehicles ACT 1981.

Do you think the above legislation applies to?

1. A person touting with a clipboard outside a venue

2. A person touting with a clipboard inside a venue

3. A person touting inside and outside a venue with a clipboard

4. No does not apply

5. don’t know

6. give your own view

 

 And the response from PH & Courier is printed below its funny how just 2 questions can get the private hire mob so twitchy.

ARE THE GOOD TIMES OVER?

IT MIGHT not always feel like it but the London private hire trade has enjoyed

an almost unparalleled run of success over the last few years .

The 1998 Private Hire Licensing (London)

Act brought legitimacy and respectability to the old minicab industry and campaigns for congestion charge exemption, signage, red route and royal park access have created an almost level playing field with the capital’s black cabs.

Nothing lasts forever though and there are signs that a season of famine could be on its way for the London private hire trade after the many years of (regulatory) feast

STORM CLOUDS ARE APPROACHING

Transport for London (TfL) has already sent out a warning shot across the bows of the capital’s PHV trade by stating (in TfL Notice 15/10) that “no further applications for private hire operating centres with venues will be processed”. And there is a real fear that the black cabs are also scheming to get existing PHV licences revoked.

PHC was recently sent a slightly strange email questionnaire from the London Cab Drivers Club and the subject matter had us scratching our heads as to what it was about all about. The two questions ) were apparently sent to trade-related companies and ALL OVER? Do the black cab trade want to revoke PHV venue licences?

IS THE TIDE ABOUT TO TURN?

PHC believes, designed to lead the reader into giving a particular response Question One asks for a view on whether or not a private hire licensed Mercedes Vito (and possibly other MPV-style vehicles) are is presented in such a way as to appear to want a ‘Yes’ answer.

Likewise, Question Two asks for an opinion on PHV licence staff at venues and gives the impression that it wants folk to say that clubbers and restaurant-goers are being touted illegally and thus. Now this is all very strange. Why is the London Cab Drivers Club apparently trying to guide people into saying that some private hire vehicles look like taxis and that venue licence operators might be working outside of the law?

WHY THE QUESTIONS?

Why indeed? Are black cab organisations trying to drum up support in favour of their own position in the hope that TfL can be persuaded to ditch operator venue licences and MPV-style phv

It is a possibility and a not very welcome one at that.

 If so, that would truly be outrageous.

It is one thing to stop private hire drivers from using TX4s, or anything that looks like a black cab. But to ban them from using people- carrier style cars simply because the hackney trade now use them is completely unacceptable. The Mercedes Vito has proved popular with the capital’s taxi drivers but that is no reason for TfL to bow to any demand to stop private hire drivers from using them as well. More private hire drivers have a Vito or similar as their choice of vehicle than hackney drivers and more to the point, were using them first.

TfL simply cannot allow itself to be bullied into restricting the choice of vehicles used by the private hire trade just because black cab drivers have gone off the LTI TX4. And where would it all end? If car makers re-jig their vehicles to match the TfL turning circle requirement then the private hire trade could in theory be left with the Ford Fiesta as the only car legally available.

This may be taking the argument to extremes but why on earth should London’s taxi drivers dictate which vehicles can and cannot be used by private hire drivers?

PREPARE FOR BATTLE?

In short there can be little doubt that some sort of confrontation with the taxi industry is on the cards. Years of recession have left the hackney trade desperate to get back the London night-_time work it abandoned to the private hire trade and they appear happy to use whatever tactics it takes to snatch back a larger slice of the hire & reward passenger pie.

The taxi trade’s Trafalgar Square demo in February 2009 was clearly seen to influence the authorities in deciding whether or not to continue with the private hire booking office in Leicester Square and the parking zone in Whitcomb Street. And flush with success, the black cabs now appear to have venue licences and MPVs in their sights.

Transport for London in general and taxi and private hire director John Mason in particular are under extreme pressure to listen and act on the taxi trade demands and their decision may just be a simple, practical, political one.

The choice may well boil down to just this; which cab trade is most likely to cause TfL the most hassle and public embarrassment?

Signage or Liveries ?

So here we go again on whats signage and what’s advertising.
I think that TfL are very confused they have stated in the-editors notes that

No commercial advertising is permitted on PHVs.

– Signs and logos identifying a licensed London PHV operator and contact
telephone number and/or a web-site address are only permitted on one of the
following:
o On the rear window
o Adjacent to the vehicle registration plate
o In a single area of rear-facing bodywork

– Roof signs and markings visible from the ground are not permitted

So could someone please explain to me how Private Hire Companies such as Green Tomato and other P.H companies are getting round this by saying that it is “signage” and not advertising.?

TRANSPORT FOR LONDON PRESS RELEASE

* Full rear window advertising authorised on taxis

* Guidance clarifies signage Private Hire vehicles can display

Transport for London has issued revised guidelines for advertising on licensed London Taxis and signage on licensed London Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs). The key changes outlined in the guidelines are the removal of the existing advertising approval process and the approval of full rear window advertising for taxis. The new guidelines seek to help taxi drivers and advertising agencies to clearly understand what they are allowed to advertise on their vehicles without the unnecessary administrative burden of a formal approval process. The guidelines
also clarify what signage Private Hire drivers are allowed to display. They
include detailed diagrams to illustrate which parts of the vehicle
advertising/signage is permitted including the provisions for full rear window
advertising on taxis.

John Mason, Director of Taxi and Private Hire said: “The revised guidelines seek to implement a common sense, less onerous process when it comes to installing and maintaining advertising on taxis, whilst providing an opportunity for taxi drivers to earn more money from full rear window advertising.

“The guidelines clearly state what owners and operators can and can’t do.The
taxi trade are no longer required to seek our approval for every advert; we have put our faith in the taxi trade to follow these guidelines closely. However, we are on hand to provide additional guidance and assistance should drivers or advertising agencies require it.”

If advertising or signage fails to comply with the guidelines, TfL may request a copy the advertisement or sign and if it is considered appropriate TfL will
request that the advertisement/sign is removed.

– Ends –

Notes to Editor:

London taxi advertising guidelines include:

– The advertising agency name should be carried on the advertisement.

– If TfL considers an advertisement or sign may not comply with the
guidelines TfL may request a copy of the advertisement or sign including the
details of the advertising agency that prepared the advertisement.

– The same advertisement must be displayed on both sides of the cab.

– High level brake lights must not be obscured by any advertisement.

– Rear compartment audio systems are not approved for the purpose of
advertising.

– Taxi advertising must comply with the advertising policy.

Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) signage guidelines include:

– PHVs are only permitted to display external signage that is required to
be displayed by law, e.g. “No Smoking” signs.

– No commercial advertising is permitted on PHVs.

– Signs and logos identifying a licensed London PHV operator and contact
telephone number and/or a web-site address are only permitted on one of the
following:
o On the rear window
o Adjacent to the vehicle registration plate
o In a single area of rear-facing bodywork

– Roof signs and markings visible from the ground are not permitted.

– PHV and taxi signs will not be permitted unless they comply with the
Advertising Policy and the new guidelines.

TfL Press Office

Motorcycle PH Consultation Farce

PH Motorcycle Consultation Farce.!

Whisk Off to the Airport, but Please Hang On

Transport For London (TFL) sent out a Private Hire Motorcycle consultation paper to which The London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC) rejected the Licensing of Private Hire Motorcycles being used in London. After reading the outcome , it seems more like the referendum on the Euro in IRELAND, let’s keep on voting until ( they ) get the outcome ( they ) are after. I think TFL sent out this paper hoping that no one would bother to oppose it and that they could push it though quietly and under everyones radar. The (LCDC) have put a freedom of information request in to find out just how much time and money has been spent on this paper, when we find out we will post it up. Lets hope the Taxi and private hire consultation does not have the same outcome?

Licensing of Motorcycles as Private Hire Vehicles

In 1998 the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 was passed which was intended to improve the safety of passengers who use private hire vehicles (PHVs) by providing for the licensing of PHVs. To facilitate the phased commencement of PHV licensing in London, the Private Hire Vehicles (London) (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2004 (“the Transitional Regulations”) provided that vehicles already operating as PHVs at that time would be issued with temporary permits until licence applications were considered. Under the Transitional Regulations, a small number of temporary permits were issued to two-wheeled motorcycles which were operating at that time.

At the time of introduction of PHV licensing, consideration was given to the type of vehicle which should be licensed as a PHV. It was proposed that PHVs should be constructed and ‘type approved’ to vehicle class M1 which included a requirement for a minimum of four road wheels. Following a public consultation this proposal was adopted and this requirement is now contained in the Private Hire Vehicles (London PHV Licences) Regulations 2004 (“the PHV Licence Regulations”).

Since that time, the temporary permits issued under the Transitional Regulations to existing operators of two-wheeled motorcycles have remained in place. In recent years Transport for London (TfL) has received requests for PHV licences for two-wheeled motorcycles from other operators. PHV licences for these vehicles cannot be issued by TfL under the existing PHV Licence Regulations as the vehicles do not satisfy the requirement that they belong to vehicle class M1 as they do not have a minimum of four road wheels. The PHV Licence Regulations do provide that TfL may exempt a vehicle from any of the licensing requirements specified in the regulations where TfL is satisfied that, having regard to exceptional circumstances, it is reasonable to do so. However TfL does not consider that exceptional circumstances exist which would allow an exemption to be granted in respect of two-wheeled motorcycles. In addition, new operators cannot be issued with temporary permits under the Transitional Regulations as these vehicles were not operating as PHVs at the time PHV licensing was introduced.

However, in light of the ongoing requests which TfL has received, TfL has been further considering whether two-wheeled motorcycles should be licensed as PHVs and whether the PHV Licence Regulations should be amended. As part of this consideration TfL has looked at the experiences of two-wheeled motorcycles operating as PHVs in other parts of the UK and in Europe. TfL notes licensing authorities outside London have considered this issue and have taken different approaches to licensing two-wheeled motorcycles with some licensing authorities granting licences and others refusing to do so. TfL has considered the High Court case of

Licence Regulations”).PHVLicences) Regulations 2004 (“the PHVis now contained in the Private Hire Vehicles (London requirement and this was adopted for a minimum of four road wheels. Following a public consultation this proposal requirement which included a M1constructed and ‘type approved’ to vehicle class should be PHVs that was proposed. It PHV licensed as a should be licensing, consideration was given to the type of vehicle which PHV to two-wheeled motorcycles which were operating at that time.At the time of introduction of were issued. Under the Transitional Regulations, a small number of temporary permits were considered at that time would be issued with temporary permits until licence applications PHVslicensing in London, the Private Hire Vehicles (London) (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2004 (“the Transitional Regulations”) provided that vehicles already operating as PHV the phased commencement of facilitate. To PHVs) by providing for the licensing of PHVs to improve the safety of passengers who use private hire vehicles (was intended which was passed In 1998 the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998

Leeds City Council v Chaffeur Bikes Consultation Statement June 2010Page 2 of 2

and also taken into account the new regulations introduced in Paris in relation to the operation of motorcycle taxis there which contain a number of conditions which must be satisfied before a licence is issued. TfL also undertook a public consultation in February 2009 on whether two-wheeled motorcycles should be licensed as PHVs to which the responses received were broadly supportive of the proposal.

As the question of whether two-wheeled motorcycles should be licensed as PHVs is an issue for both TfL in London and other licensing authorities outside London and given the detailed conditions which must be satisfied for a licence to be granted in the Paris scheme, TfL considers that a national approach to this issue is required. TfL considers that the Government should issue guidance to all licensing authorities in the UK stating whether motorcycles should be licensed as PHVs and the conditions on which licences should be granted. TfL considers that this would ensure that there is an appropriate PHV licensing framework in place for two-wheeled motorcycles which could be applied consistently by licensing authorities throughout the UK. TfL will press the Government to issue such guidance to licensing authorities.

Until such time as guidance is issued by the Government, the existing position in London will not change. Consequently, the existing temporary permits will remain in place. New licences for two-wheeled motorcycles will not be granted as they do not satisfy the requirement in the PHV Licence Regulations and TfL does not consider it is appropriate to grant exemptions from those licensing requirements. As stated above, no further temporary permits may be issued under the PHV Transitional Regulations.

Transport for London