Unite the union Report Back
There were nine items on the Agenda, the majority from the trade. The first was a report back on actions from the previous meeting with the Traffic Commissioner. An update on access to bus lanes was given. Three have now been changed to allow taxi access, and another eleven are scheduled for completion before January out of an original list of twenty schemes.
Mike Brown will also be contacting Camden Council to seek taxi access to the new Tottenham Court Road scheme. Safety audits have been completed at the Blackwall Tunnel and one is currently under-way at the Euston Road overpass. TfL is awaiting modelling results on the former before allowing taxi access.
The trade groups emphasised the need for urgency with many, but especially London Bridge northbound, which has been scheduled for taxi access from January. The issue of the impact of roadworks commencing in January north of Blackfriars Bridge was also highlighted. An assurance was received from Mike Brown that he would urgently look at both.
It was pointed out that the taxi trade needs more input into many of the major road space issues in London, including badly operating junctions. The sheer volume of these schemes has brought the capital to a virtual halt in many areas of central London.
Mike Brown said that separation of statistics between taxis and private hire will be published now that there is a new Police system in place to record these crimes, both for sexual assaults and for traffic accident statistics. These statistics will cover all thirty two London boroughs.
Mike Brown & Helen Chapman – Taxi and Private Hire General Manager – also reported on developments in the Uber appeal. The trade groups argued that TfL should make sure that operator insurance needs to be a key priority for the safety of the travelling public.
Helen Chapman gave an update on private hire topographical testing centres. There are now only four accredited centres in London, after many were struck off. All testing will be undertaken by TfL staff. Additional modules are to be introduced, with a target start date of January.
The trade brought to Mike Brown’s attention a recent advert in York, claiming to help any private hire driver pass their test in London and then to enable these drivers to work anywhere in England. Helen Chapman agreed to check this. The trade groups made the point that London regulations were now lower than many licensing authorities in other parts of England. Mike Brown suggested that TfL was looking at new ways to introduce primary legislation to stop cross border hiring. He was to meet a government spokesman to follow this up.
The issue of congestion charge exemption on private hire vehicles was raised. The large increase in numbers has added to congestion in central London. The trade groups called for the exemption to be taken away as a quick way of easing congestion levels which are now worse than before the Congestion Charge was introduced.
The trade groups repeated their call for private hire vehicles to comply with ULEZ standards from 2018, the same as the taxi trade. At present thirty three percent of private hire vehicles in London are six seater and only three percent are seven seater. There are many zero emission vehicles on the market at present that private hire could use.
The trade also brought up the issue of the credit card mandate, both the way it was implemented, which means drivers must pay almost four percent in charges and the problems with the new credit card stickers, and the general over proliferation of stickers in the cab at present.
The trade groups also demanded that the safety issues around private hire drivers being totally reliant on apps for navigation, especially with Uber Pool, need to be investigated. Other issues around the new compliance officers, pedicabs and TfL branding were also raised.
Meeting was held on Monday 21st November 2016