Taxi Driver Online

News, comment and advice on the UK taxi and private hire trades

Transport for London invite views on Apps, and the way they can be used within the law properly

Posted by admin on April 10th, 2014

TfL invites trades to help shape regulatory framework for taxi and private hire apps

TfL press release. 09/04/2014

Smart phone apps offer significant potential benefits to passengers, drivers and operators

· TfL sets out provisional position and invites trades to help shape regulation of this rapidly developing area

Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed that it welcomes the use of taxi and private hire apps to benefit passengers, subject to those apps meeting the high standards of public safety TfL expects.

TfL is inviting the taxi and private hire trades to provide their views on how the regulatory framework should be applied to this rapidly developing technology, while ensuring that the current highest standards of public safety and customer service in the trades are maintained.

The development of taxi and private hire booking apps offer tremendous potential benefits for customers. This includes enhanced safety and security measures – with many apps providing the passenger with a photo of the driver and their name, the registration of the vehicle and the ability to track both the approach of the vehicle and the remainder of the journey in real time.

However, the rapid pace at which smart phone based technology has been developing 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. TfL is seeking to clarify that position and has asked the taxi and private hire trades for their input to formalise the regulatory framework and ensure there is a level playing field for all operators.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “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. We are asking the trades to embrace these advances in technology, which have the potential to further improve London’s taxi and private hire services, and have asked them to be part of the formal process to help shape the regulatory framework in this rapidly developing area.”

Constructive meetings were held recently with both the private hire and taxi trades on this issue. Discussions focused on the use of apps for private hire vehicle bookings, with TfL presenting its provisional views on the use of apps, which are as follows:

· Apps can put a customer in touch with licensed private hire operators, either by signposting a customer to a choice of licensed operators or by transmitting a customer’s data directly to a specific licensed operator. Apps that deliver this service do not in themselves ‘make provision’ for the invitation or acceptance of private hire bookings. Only a licensed operator can ‘make provision’ for the invitation or acceptance of a booking.

· While it is perfectly legal for an app to put a customer directly in touch with a licensed hackney carriage driver, any app that puts a customer directly in touch with a private hire driver without the booking being accepted by an operator first is illegal. Even if the licensed driver is also a licensed operator, the booking must be accepted at the licensed premises. A booking can not be accepted by a private hire operator in a vehicle or through a mobile phone on the street.

· Certain details, such as the date of the booking, must be recorded by operators before the start of each journey. There is no obligation to record the main destination at the time of booking unless it is specified by the customer.

· There is no obligation to quote a fare when making a booking via a private hire app unless a quote is requested.

· Smart phones used by private hire drivers – which act as GPS tracking devices to measure journey distances and relay information so that fares can be calculated remotely from the vehicle – do not constitute the equipping of a vehicle with a taxi meter.

Further discussion with the taxi and private hire trades will take place in the coming weeks to help clarify the regulatory framework for this rapidly developing technology to ensure that the current highest standards of public safety and customer service in the trades are maintained.

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Posted in Customer service, Operator licensing | No Comments »

‘Deregulation Bill’ – Coalition Government announce removal of Taxi and Private Hire measures from Bill

Posted by admin on April 1st, 2014

DFT Urgent Press Announcement

April 2014

Following an outcry from certain sections of the Taxi and Private Hire trade, and a thorough review of concerns expressed, today the Government can announce the three proposed Taxi and Private Hire measures added late to the ‘Deregulation Bill’ have been removed.

The Government will instead include those measures in the proposed ‘Taxi Bill’ after the next general election.

The Law Commission have been advised.

The delayed proposals consisted of allowing a more flexible taxi booking approach, a less red tape approach to taxi license renewals, and a proposal to allow partners to drive licensed private hire vehicles when they were not being used for ‘hire and reward’.

The coalition government has listened to representations from concerned drivers and operators, and have delayed the three measures until after the May 2015 General Election.

What hadn’t been brought to the coalition Government’s attention, prior to the publication of the new Taxi and Private Hire measures (and investigations as to why are ongoing), was the fact that many partners of private hire vehicles are indeed not men, and the thought of having 1000s of extra women driving private hire vehicles was something the coalition Government couldn’t force on the good people of this country.

Dated 1st April 2014

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Posted in Licence fees, Licensing administration, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Firework thug jailed for five years for attack on taxi driver

Posted by admin on March 26th, 2014

Source: The Bolton News

A TAXI driver feared for his life after a yob threw a lit firework on to his lap while he was behind the wheel, a court has heard.

Stephen Westhead, aged 25, laughed and said “your taxi is on fire. What are you going to do now” as victim Akilbhai Fatakiya fled from the burning car.

Denise Fitzpatrick, prosecuting, said Westhead and two other men approached Mr Fatakiya’s Toyota Avensis while it was stopped at the junction of Union Road and Pole Street at about 10.30pm on November 6, last year.

One of the men asked the victim how he was seconds before Westhead threw a lit Roman candle into his private hire car.

Ms Fitzpatrick said: “Westhead threw the ignited firework into the taxi. It was alight, it landed on the knee of the taxi driver. It fell to the floor and landed in the driver’s foot well. “The driver was scared for his life. He jumped out of the taxi and began to run away.”

Bolton Crown Court heard (MON) that a fire service crew manager, who attended the blaze, said the driver would “surely have died” if he had not fled. The car, which cost £1,700 was completely destroyed.

Mark Friend, defending, said Westhead, of of Union Road, Tonge Moor, was drunk and “did an incredibly foolish” thing. He had been struggling to cope with family issues as his ex-partner had been in a relationship with his brother. His child was also in foster care.

Judge Peter Davies, sentencing, said: “The three of you thought it would be amusing if you lit a firework and threw it into a car. I think it was dangerous and nasty.

“A firework is a bomb with all that petrol and oil. Even without that environment it is lethal. “Spiteful, wicked and nasty is what it was. You excuse yourself with intoxication — I don’t think that’s an excuse I think it’s worse.”

Westhead, who has seven previous convictions, admitted arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered. He was jailed for five years.

Nick Astley, director at Metro Cars, who Mr Fatakiya drives for, said: “I am pleased the judge has seen it as being really serious. This is the first time I have known of a car to be set on fire from a firework.

“It probably started as a bit of a fun and a fame but it’s turned out to be really nasty. Fortunately only the car was damaged. If Mr Fatakiya hadn’t got out of the car he would have died or been seriously injured.”

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TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE MEASURES: DEREGULATION BILL

Posted by admin on March 14th, 2014


JAMES PADDEN
HEAD OF TAXI AND PSV REGULATION BRANCH
BUSES AND TAXIS DIVISION
DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT
2/12 GREAT MINSTER HOUSE
33 HORSEFERRY ROAD
LONDON
SW1P 4DR
DIVISIONAL ENQUIRIES: 020 7944 2278

Web Site: http://www.dft.gov.uk

14 March 2014

TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE MEASURES: DEREGULATION BILL

The purpose of this letter is to draw your attention to several changes to taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) legislation which are being proposed by the Government. The changes affect the legislation which applies in England outside London and Wales.

Please cascade this letter to your membership and others with an interest.

The Government has introduced the Deregulation Bill as part of its drive to reduce the overall burden of regulation on business and individuals and cut ‘red tape’ during this Parliament. Ministers have identified for inclusion in the Bill three measures which are straightforward to make in isolation and which will generate significant benefits for the taxi and private hire trades.

The three measures which have been added to the Deregulation Bill are:

(i) Allowing private hire operators to sub-contract bookings to operators licensed in a different district. This change will improve operators’ ability to meet passengers’ needs. And it will help to make the passenger’s experience so much more convenient.

(ii) Allowing anyone with an ordinary driver’s licence to drive a private hire vehicle when it is “off-duty”. The principal benefit of this measure is that a PHV could be used as a family car, freeing up many families from the need to run a second car and saving them money.

(iii) Making the standard duration for all taxi and PHV driver licences three years; and five years for all PHV operator licences. Shorter durations will only be granted on a case by case basis, where it is justifiable for a particular reason. This will reduce the financial and administrative burden of having to make more frequent licence renewals.

Finally, we want to consider the case for Government involvement in the licence conditions set by local authorities. For the next three weeks, we are asking the taxi and private hire trades outside London to give us examples of conditions attached to their licences which they consider to be overly restrictive or unreasonable. We are often told about burdensome conditions attached to taxi and private hire licences, and we know that appealing against these conditions in the magistrates court can be a costly process.

We want to understand whether these are in fact unreasonable licence conditions.

We will then consider those examples and weigh up the case for changing the law in such a way as to qualify local authorities’ powers to attach conditions to licences.

We have set up a survey facility to enable taxi and PHV licence holders outside London to provide examples of unreasonable licence conditions. Details of, and a link to, the survey are in the Annex.

DfT Annex and Online Licensing Survey

Once we have received information about unreasonable licence conditions we will give licensing authorities the opportunity to explain why they consider the conditions to be important and necessary.

I would stress that whilst the information gathered in this exercise will help Ministers to make a decision about whether Government intervention is justified, we would carry out a consultation exercise before actually making any regulations.

The three measures described above, along with the possible fourth measure, represent the first steps of a longer journey towards a deregulated trade; a journey which will be continued when the Government is ready to take forward the more comprehensive reforms being proposed by the Law Commission.

The Law Commission is due to publish its report and draft Bill at the end of April. The Government will then have a year in which to consider the report and prepare a response.

This timescale for considering the Law Commission’s report means that there will not be time to take forward a dedicated Taxi Bill before the next General Election.

That is why these changes are being introduced using the Deregulation Bill.

The Deregulation Bill itself is being considered by Parliament and progress on the passage of the Bill can be found on the Parliament web-site at: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/deregulation.html

I hope this is a helpful explanation of the latest developments.

Yours sincerely,

James Padden

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Ellesmere Port and Neston taxi drivers raise concerns as limit to be lifted on cab licences

Posted by admin on March 9th, 2014

Source: Chester Chronicle

Taxi drivers in Ellesmere Port pictured last year when they were concerned over plans to restrict the age of cabs to 10 years. Now they face the prospect of restrictions on the number of cabs operating in the town being lifted

The move to life restrictions on the number of cabs operating in Ellesmere Port and Neston this summer, hotly opposed by the trade but welcomed by the public, follows consultations by Cheshire West and Chester Council. At present the town has 51 hackneys which cost £36,000 each new.

Councillors heard that on an interim basis there are three hackney carriage zones across the new borough which correspond to the former district councils – Ellesmere Port and Neston, Chester and Vale Royal.

There are no restrictions on the number of hackney licences in both the Chester and Vale Royal zones.

In Ellesmere Port and Neston, all 51 licences are currently issued. Two options were on the table, to continue to restrict the number of licences, subject to the outcome of an unmet demand survey or to lift the restriction.

During the consultation 60% of the public wanted to remove restrictions and 65% of the trade wanted to keep them. A further consultation with the trade found 70% of drivers in favour of retaining a restriction with 13% backing the removal of any limit on the number of licences issued.

More recently a citizens panel survey resulted in 37% of respondents against continuing the restrictions and 36% in favour of maintaining them. Locally the trade believes there are ‘far to many taxis in Chester’ and Ellesmere Port should not suffer the same.

There is no need to deregulate and it has not worked in Chester with problems of over ranking – too many cabs on the road for the number of rank spaces available. The current number of 51 licences is said to ‘work well’ and the public do not have to wait.

It is argued there is no demand for more hackneys in Ellesmere Port and there are already too many hackneys and private hire vehicles. More vehicles cause more emissions and traffic problems it is pointed out. Drivers say they would be working longer for the same reward and only just make a living now. And some areas which deregulated are returning to limits again.

Comments in favour of lifting the restrictions include a counterclaim that people are having to wait too long for hackneys. It is also suggested that Ellesmere Port is part of the council and if the other two zones are not restricted neither should Ellesmere Port. The view of the Department for Transport that hackney numbers ‘tend to find their own levels’ has been raised.

Asked for the special circumstances which would justify maintaining the restriction in Ellesmere Port and Neston, it was suggested that without a proper survey any increase in vehicles would adversely affect the people in the trade. The town was seeing more and more businesses shutting down resulting in fewer customers and not enough work available.

The change would ‘devastate’ existing owners and drivers and there could not be a worse time to do it. The move would be detrimental to safety and would put drivers out of work. “It has not worked in Chester, look at the chaos it has caused there,” was one comment.

Ellesmere Port was not a city and had no tourism. The town was a small place where people knew the drivers and trusted them. “Why change something that works?” was one comment.

Councillors were told licensing officers had recommended the removal of restrictions for hackney licences in the Ellesmere Port and Neston zone. Reasons given were that guidance from the Department of Transport did not recommend restriction and local authorities should be able to demonstrate that this would be in the public interest.

The two other zones in the borough were currently deregulated and to derestrict in the Ellesmere Port zone would help in the ‘harmonisation’ of the three zones. There was no strong public support to retain restrictions, it was said, although the trade strongly supported their being maintained.

In answer to councillors’ questions, officers explained that if there was an increase in hackney licences there would usually be a decrease in private hire. Potential drivers would need to invest in a vehicle that was up to three and a half years old and complete the Cheshire West and Chester driver qualification.

There was no waiting list and it would be difficult to predict potential demand. A vote to continue the restrictions was defeated and one to lift the limit was approved. It will come into force on July 1st.

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Rapist jailed for sexual assault he committed in Altrincham 10 years ago thanks to DNA match

Posted by admin on February 28th, 2014

Source: The Messenger

A MAN who thought he’d got away with raping a girl in Altrincham 10 years ago has been jailed due to DNA match.

Ibrahim Khan, 45, of St Albans Avenue, Ashton-under-Lyne was found guilty of rape following a trial at Minshull Street Crown Court in December 2013. Today, February 27, he was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

In the early hours of October 31, 2004, a 19-year-old girl had been out in Altrincham town centre and flagged down a private hire taxi to take her home. The taxi driver, Ibrahim Khan, told the young woman to get into the front passenger seat as it was warmer, which she did, and the taxi set off to take her home.

The 19-year-old quickly fell asleep and woke a short time later to find that Khan was on top of her and was raping her. She shouted at him to get off and managed to escape and run home. Following this attack, a full investigation was launched by Trafford Police, appeals were run in the media and a DNA sample of the offender was taken, but the culprit was never identified.

In November 2012, Khan was arrested for an unrelated matter and his DNA sample was obtained – which was quickly matched to the DNA profile taken from the rape in 2004 and he was arrested. Further investigation revealed that in 2004, Khan was working as a taxi driver in Ashton-Under-Lyne and had dropped off passengers in Altrincham that evening, when he spotted the victim.

Det Con Rachel Ostick, from GMP’s Serious Sexual Offences Unit said: “I would firstly like to commend the bravery shown by the victim in this case, who gave evidence at this trial nine years after the attack took place, forcing her to relive her rape ordeal once more in court.

“Finally today, justice has been served. “On that night back in 2004, Khan knowingly accepted the fare when he was out of his area of operating. “He took advantage of a vulnerable young woman who was fast asleep and raped her. “The public rely on taxi drivers to take them home safely, even when they are in vulnerable states and Khan abused this position of trust.

“I hope that today’s sentence will encourage other victims of rape to come forward and tell us about what has happened to them. “We will investigate all reports thoroughly in order to bring justice to those men or women who have been raped, and there is wide-ranging support on offer to victims from both within the police and from other agencies.

“As this case demonstrates, we will also continue to utilise every tool and developing technology available to us to track down those responsible for carrying out these despicable crimes, no matter how long it takes.”

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