Business Insider Article On UBER & The Taxi Trades

Business Insider website have produced and article about UBER entitled “Here Are The Microeconomics Of Uber’s Attempt To Revolutionize Taxi Markets”

uber on phoneTheir comments regarding the knowledge in London and licensing requirements for taxis around the World show that they have very little knowledge of Taxi licensing around the World. Also their claim that all you need to enter the market is a car and drivers license shows a blatant disregard for the vetting of drivers through CRB checks and criminal records checks and also shows a flagrant disregard for the safety of passengers.

They do however criticise UBERs surge pricing and state that it will lead to customers leaving the service. The surge pricing is a crazy concept where the price of the fare can go up quite considerably even after you have started the journey! UBERs surge pricing makes the London Taxi metered fares extremely cheap by comparison.

You can read the full article here

@cabup Work Info for Taxi Drivers

photoCabup is a Twitter account and feed providing work related information for Taxi drivers in London.

Cabup was established 5 years ago and was the brainchild of Richard @cabbiescapital, he had a vision of cab drivers sharing information on traffic, theatre bursts and basically any information that a Taxi driver could benefit from while out working the taxi.

Since those early days Cabup has evolved and grown significantly from those initial days where there were few members into a much larger group of drivers who share information within a closed group that is not accessible by anyone other than members.

Cabup now has 462 members who share information just by easily sending a message to the Cabup group in the form of a DM.

If you are interested in joining the Cabup community then please click here for how to sign up and start sharing information with other like minded Taxi Drivers. Being a member of Cabup can allow you to work smarter using your Smart Phone.

@TfLTPH Blocked

IMG_1266It appears that for some reason TfLTPH have decided to block me from their Twitter feed.

I am not entirely sure as to why they have decided to block me from their feed as I cannot remember tweeting anything too derogatory about LTPH but its does seem that they do not like anyone criticising them in any way whatsoever.

When LTPH originally set up their Twitter account they stated that the account was not monitored so they would not be able to reply to any tweets aimed towards them which appears not to be the case, it would now seem that LTPH are monitoring their account and it would appear that their monitoring is aimed at weeding out drivers who dare to criticise their tweets or actions!

As we have seen in the past few days some drivers have been receiving letters from LTPH regarding the language being used in response to tweets from LTPH and they also state in their letters that should this behaviour continue then they may have to review that drivers fitness to remain licensed.

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Obviously LTPH have little understanding as to how twitter works otherwise the last sentence in their letters would not be there!

If they have blocked a twitter user from their feed then that user will no longer be able to reply to their tweets and LTPH will not get any notification of those replies even if they did go through!

The user will still be able to view the LTPH Twitter feed as the way in which Twitter works was changed a while ago and blocking a user does not mean that they cannot view your tweets, all that it means now is that they will not be able to follow your feed, reply to their tweets, or retweet any of their tweets!

The letter reproduced on the right states that they have sent a Direct Message advising the user to “desist” I have never received any DM or any message come to that from LTPH advising me to “desist” hence I am at a loss as to why I have been blocked from following them?

I found this interesting bit regarding criticism on the net reproduced below:

“The ability to take criticism well depends mostly on how secure we feel about ourselves. Yet it could hardly be said that any of us actually enjoys being criticized. For it’s a challenge to avoid feeling defensive when we experience ourselves as attacked. At such times, it’s more “natural”–or rather, more aligned with our conditioning–to go into self-protective mode. And typically, the way we choose to protect ourselves is through denying the criticism, indignantly turning on the criticiser, or hastening to disengage from the uncomfortable situation entirely.”

The thing about criticism is that all sorts of criticism can be turned around and used in a positive manner. Criticism is essential whether positive or negative to improve the service that you offer to your customers. Without any form or criticism or feedback one can hop along quite merrily thinking what a fantastic job they are doing which may or mayn’t always be the case. LTPH should be taking all criticism and using it to improve their service to the end user, their customers who are in fact us, the taxi drivers and also to improve their communications and the way in which they inform the trade as to what they are doing rather than posting condescending tweets on Twitter.

I think that this is just another indiction that LTPH do not want the trades input into the way in which they administer us but that they would rather dictate to the trade. Also it seems that drivers now need to be careful as to the replies that they send to LTPH on Twitter for fear of recrimination from LTPH.

Below is a little bit of advice for LTPH on how to deal with criticism:

How do you deal with criticism? The first reaction for many of us is to defend ourselves, or worse yet to lash back. And yet, while criticism can be taken as hurtful and demoralizing, it can also be viewed in a positive way: it is honesty, and it can spur us to do better. Show your true talents while revealing your toughness by controlling the immediate challenge: resolving your own internal conflict. Be tough, and don’t whine or howl. Learning to accept criticism with grace and appreciation will not only help you out in academic and professional circumstances, but will help you become a better person overall.

Not Appy

Below is a blog post by John Mason former director of LTPH that he posted on his masoncornerstone.com website.

I find this quite hard to admit but I am finding myself agreeing with some of John’s thoughts on this matter which is quite ironic as I disagreed with most of what he said while he was director of LTPH.

It would be interesting to hear what your thoughts are:

London set to be the next battlefield for Uber and other app based car booking services

I was in the car with my 19 years young son not so long ago driving the DadTaxi to some remote part of the Essex wilderness so he could meet up with his chums for some fun and perhaps a half a pint of lager.
As our journey progressed I noticed Jnr getting increasingly frustrated as he prodded away at his IPhone. His face was contorted and red. He was really losing it.
What was the cause of such aggression and frustration? Had his pals pulled out of the scheduled meet? Had he checked his bank balance to find that he could only afford a lime and soda? Was he angry at Angry Birds or getting into a flap about the Flappy Birds? Apps.jpg
No….he was getting increasingly annoyed that none of his pals had responded to his preferred communication requests. He had posted on Facebook….he had Tweeted….he had Instagrammmed, Whatsapped, Vined, Snapchatted, Poked, Prodded and done “whatevvver” he could to get hold of “the lads”. I even think he had even contemplated joining Google+ to connect with his buddies but decided he just wasn’t that desperate!
So it fell to that weird option you also probably have on your hand held social media device (formally known as mobile phone) in that you can actually dial a special number unique to a persons device and actually speak to them! Fancy that! What will they think of next?
And so it came to pass that Jnr connected with one of the lads and the necessary arrangements were made, he calmed down, got dropped off and we all got on with our lives and the world continued to spin.
I’m 44, reasonably tech savvy and use my hand held social media device for a wide range of things including calls although I have to admit with ever decreasing frequency. It is probably now my main interface and point of contact with my business contacts, my Bank, my emails, news, games and important information such as the time of the next bus or directions to my planned destination. While I use it for a range of other activities including hailing a taxi, normally using Hailo, when it comes to that activity I still sometimes revert to the long standing tradition of standing in the street with my hand held high in competition with others waiting for one of those nice, black cabs with yellow lights on to pull to the side of the road and pick me up.
However I suspect the next generation of cabbie customers like my son are not as willing to participate in this old age ritual. The truly social media and tech savvy generation snapping at our heals may not be so keen to adapt to such laborious and physically draining activities. No because they cannot but, quite simply, why should they? They have never had to resort to such techniques and do not see any reason why they should.
Rise of the app
That is good news for the likes of Hailo and Uber but perhaps not such good news for the old guard in the taxi and private hire trade in London. That is why the rise of taxi and minicab booking services via apps is increasingly important for the future of the taxi and mini cab industry and is one of the reasons London will become a major battleground for Uber in the weeks and months ahead. Hailo.jpg
More and more consumers are turning to these services because, quite simply, they like them, they are easy to use, provide much more information to the end user and remove any need for them to think about the process such as whether they have enough cash in their pocket to pay. Download the app from the Apple or Play stores, register your credit or debit card and some basic details and that’s it. A black cab or a mini cab or a UberX or something similar at your immediate disposal ready to whisk you to your destination.
Compare that to the competition, putting aside the odd taxi booking app like Hailo, the traditional way of hailing a taxi in London is to stick your hand up and pay cash and there are still many in the taxi trade who would rather it stay that way. Just last week I passed a London taxi with a rather large sign on the screen between customer and driver, which made it loud and clear in a large handwritten sign:
“BEFORE YOU ASK: I DO NOT ACCEPT CREDIT CARD, DEBIT CARD, £50 NOTES OR SCOTTISH BANK NOTES”. 
Crystal clear I guess but such an attitude and position is from a bygone age where cash was king , apps, Ipods and Android phones didn’t exist and it isn’t going to cut in in the future and the next generation of customers.
Change for the better?
Of course it is understandable that not everyone is willing to embrace such changes and new technology. Long standing traditions and, indeed charges such as taxi booking fees, waiting charges and “running fees”, that would end up in the pockets of booking companies and/or taxi drivers are being phased out by some of these new apps.  In some cases, like Uber, they are being replaced with perhaps equally unpopular, but more dynamic changes like “surge” pricing where the cost of the journey can be significantly higher if there is a bid demand on the service at the time. Either way I am sure that the ability for passengers to book their ride and pay the way they want will determine the success of the various apps and services in the future.
Following their rapid expansion in the United States and elsewhere the tech / Minicab / Limo / car booking up-start-up-start  company  Uber continues to invest heavily in promotion, innovate, please (customers at least) but also worry, frustrate, annoy and infuriate the taxi trade and established London cab firms the most.
While Hailo was quicker to establish themselves in the London market and does have an excellent product it is a service exclusive to the London taxi market. It does not, and I do not believe has any plans to, offer the luxury car service that Uber does. Some London cabbies are openly hostile to the Hailo app and this hostility has been supported by some of the more traditional taxi “radio circuits” who seemingly are unable to compete due to their mutual status and long standing traditions of fare “add ons” such as those mentioned above. Regardless of internal trade views the fact remains that Hailo has a good hold on the London taxi app market now and is extremely popular with users.
Whether Hailo themselves feel threatened by Uber is unclear but there are now increasing calls in London for Transport for London and the Mayor of London to take action against Uber from both the taxi and long established private hire operators.
There would appear to be great deal of concern at the expansion of Uber in London and one medium sized minicab operator told me last week he has lost over ten owner drivers to them in February alone. Of course this may be down to some attractive initial incentives I hear are being offered to get drivers to sign up to the Uber service and it remains to be seen if they can hold onto these drivers in the longer term.
Uber.jpg
Despite strong supporting campaigns arranged by Uber objections to their expansion elsewhere has gained traction and plenty of press. Just this week Chicago taxi unions took steps to take the licensing authority to court for what they deem to be a failure of the regulator to take appropriate legal action.  In Seattle the Mayor is poised to sign off a rule that will restrict Uber and other 2 other App based booking systems to operate only 150 vehicles when collectively they estimate they have 2,000 drivers on their books: Washington Post
Taxi and Private Hire backlash
The backlash now being felt was pretty predictable. Uber have the newIMG-20140307-WA0018.jpgtechnology that poses such a challenge to the old ways, they have the money and, too be honest, what is a rather robust anti-establishment; “sod your tradition, regulation and rules” attitude and reputation. Something, I am sure, is quite appealing to the new technology savvy generation.
Perhaps understanbly exising London Private Hire trade organs such as the as usually baised towards existing advertisers, PCH Magazine have come out clearly on the side of existing PH trade in thier latest issue  PHCMag March and are openly hostile to Uber. Other negative articles, calls to arms and protests are appearing on a daily basis.
The main bones of contention seem to be the travesty that is the way that Uber charge and the way the jobs are allocated.
So is what Uber doing in London wrong or illegal and what will TfL do?
Unlike their approach in other Cities Uber applied for and were issued with a London Private Hire Operators licence by the licensing authority, TfL, before they started operations. The regulations that outline what they can and cannot do and their obligations as stated in the relevant Act:  Private Hire Vehicles (London) 1998.
Section 11 of these regulations is, I understand, the key area that both the taxi and private hire trades cite as where they feel Uber is acting outside the law in London.
That is:
11. – (1) No vehicle to which a London PHV licence relates shall be equipped with a taximeter.
(2) If such a vehicle is equipped with a taximeter, the owner of that vehicle is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(3) In this section “taximeter” means 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 charge both fixed fares but also fares based on the time and distance using the drivers smartphone GPS signal and thus, in the eyes of many, a device that is a taximeter and so foul play Sir, shut them down!
In my personal opinion this is a weak argument. While it is clear that fares are calculated on time and distance (and other factors such as demand) and uses the drivers smart phone GPS signal to determine the fare is this a taximeter in that is a specific “device for calculating the fare” as the regulations intended?
I was not involved in the drafting of the regulations but I would hazard a guess that it was the taxi trade in London that lobbied for the inclusion of such restrictions fearful of any element they deemed to be sacrosanct to the London taxi being used or passed off by the private hire trade. However a mobile phone is not a taximeter. It is a phone that happens to be able to calculate a fare based on GPS signals rather than a more sophisticated, stand alone system that is an integral part of the vehicle. If a Court was to rule that a mobile phone in itself is, or is capable of being a taximeter does that mean that all existing private hire operators including Addison Lee will have to cease using the devices in their vehicles? Who is to say that there are not already a number of operators calculating fares in this way using the phone to calculate the fair but perhaps not being as open and honest as Uber about it?
The other suggestion being banded around by the likes of  Taxi Leaks​ is that the booking are going direct to the driver but this simply does not, in my view, stand up. The way Uber works and allocates jobs is through a central charging and job allocation engine that takes all the data from vehicles. Personally I cannot see how this differs from any of the other apps out there in terms of processing booking and work allocation to drivers.
So will TfL take action? Well rumours abound that even if they wanted to take action Uber have friends in high places. There is a suggestion that No10 themselves have sent down the message that they should not be touched. If true then interesting times indeed and possibly linked to what is now the surely dead Law Commission Review of taxi and private hire licensing?
One for the lawyers to argue no doubt but regardless of the outcome it is clear that the long established private hire trade and the taxi driver unions are increasingly fearful of the competition presented by Uber and are looking for any way they can to stop their expansion in London.
Expect to see more on this in comings weeks. Let the battle commence!
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