I am not sure if anyone else has noticed but when filling up the cab with diesel recently I have never been able to get the pump to stop at exactly £20.00, I have tried on numerous occasions with different tactics and still I cannot get the pump to stop at £20.00 or even £30.00 for that matter, the pump always seems to jump from £19.99 to £20.01.
Now I am not for one moment saying that you are not getting £20.01 worth of diesel when this happens but I personally think that the forecourts are playing a physcological game with people, for instance if the pump stopped at £20.00 you are likely to go into the shop to pay with a £20 note and probably won’t buy anything from within the shop, but as the pumps are stopping at £20.01 you need to produce more than just a single note so physcologically you think that you may as well buy something from within the shop as you need to hand over more than a single note.
So how can we stop these unscrupulous forecourts, personally I would urge everyone to stop the pump at £19.99, this would mean that they would need to keep an awful lot of pennies within their till to give out as change and if enough people do it this practice could soon be stamped out.
Well today most of us cabbies have received a letter from Boris Johnson, obviously a bit of thought went into the letter as it is some 3 pages of A4 long, it also mentions most of the issues that concern most of us cab drivers at the moment!
Although the letter mentions most of the issues that we all have a common concern about it does not really give any assurances as to what TFL are proposing to do to solve these problems, the letter donates roughly one paragraph to each issue, take the issue of age limits where Boris states that he understands drivers concerns at maybe having to change their taxis at a time when it is probably not desirable to do so due to the current economic climate and he mentions some form of sponsorship but fails to give any details.
On the subject of touting he states that the number of enforcement officers has been doubled and offers this as a solution to he problem but as we all know this has so far not made he slightest impression on the touting problem, in fact touting seems to be getting worse and is condoned to a certain extent by TFL by issuing satellite office licenses.
The thing that really surprised me was that he has donated one whole page to the Olympics, he goes to great length to try and convince us that the Olympics will be good for our business and how we should not listen to the so called false claims as to how the Olympic lanes will affect our business, he seems to be trying to convince us all to look at the games as a good thing for our trade, i get the impression that Boris is concerned at the damage that we the taxi trade could do to the games and the disruption that we are capable of causing during the games. It seems that we are finally getting to the people at the top and have got them a little worried, with this in mind we should not allow the dust to settle, we need to keep up the pressure on all concerned sharing every issue that this trade faces.
Today I met up with a Yellow Badge Driver who works Greenwich, Bexley & Lewisham who’s Taxi had broken down, I had a look and quickly diagnosed the problem which was the pivot plate had collapsed and caused the FEAD belt to strip and break. After giving the driver the bad news he told me that he wanted to sell the Taxi after Christmas, I was very surprised as he only has a couple of payments left to make on the cab and then he would be freehold. He continued to explain that he was totally fed up with the job and that working the suburbs during the week had become a total waste of time and the only time it was worth working was of a weekend, he said that LTPH had passed out so many drivers into his sector that making a living was getting harder and harder.
I realise that LTPH at present do not have a policy of limitations on issuing licenses but where does that stop, surely there must come a time when they need to strike a balance between issuing licenses and drivers earning potential, especially taking into consideration the spiralling costs of running a Taxi in London today with the increases in the purchase of a Taxi and the outrageous cost of diesel, also parts prices seems to be increasing on a weekly basis which in turn increases maintenance costs.
Surely LTPH must realise that too many licenses will only result in a decrease in service levels to the customer, for instance if a driver is not earning sufficiently then something has to give, normally the first thing that they cut back on is the maintenance of the Taxi, all garages in London have noticed a drop in scheduled servicing with the driver attitude being that they will drive it till it breaks! With more licenses being issued this situation will only get worse especially with economic predications that we are getting for the forthcoming year.
Maybe now the time has finally come for LTPH to look at licensing restrictions or maybe to slow the process of license issue to new applicants or some form of waiting list for new applicants to suburban sectors, this could in turn also help with the problem of Suburban drivers working outside of their area.
Lord Henley, Minister for Crime Prevention, has announced that the Government will reconsider its view that enhanced criminal records checks are not needed for taxi and minicab drivers. The Criminal Records Bureau informed councils earlier this year that it was ending the 10-year practise of checking drivers through the enhanced check.
Lord Henley made the announcement during the Lords debate of the Protection of Freedoms Bill following a proposed amendment to reintroduce the checks by Baroness Doocey.
Baroness Doocey stated that, in London alone, 10% of all licence applications were refused as a result of discoveries made through an enhanced check, demonstrating the check’s clear contribution to passenger safety.
Both Transport for London and the LGA have been lobbying for Government, along side with an increasing number of local licensing districts, to reconsider its position and welcome the announcement. TFL worked closely with Baroness Doocey over the tabling of the amendment. The amendment was withdrawn, but Government committed to taking this forward through other methods. The changes can be made using an amendment through the 1997 Police Act and could come into force as early as February 2012.
A colleague of mine came up with an interesting idea today, he said that if every Taxi was fitted with a PMR Radio or every driver carried a handheld PMR radio it could make driving a Taxi in London a lot easier which when you think could be quite a good idea. It would mean that drivers could relay information to each other about when taxis are required a certain ranks or any other location and due to the short range of PMR only the drivers in the local vicinity would receive the message. This idea could also help doorman at hotels that are off of the beaten track to locate taxis with ease without even walking out onto the street, this is such a simple idea that I am surprised that no one has thought of it before.