As well as saying the Knowledge of London should be scrapped Conservative London Assembly member Richard Tracey’s Saving an Icon report says that, “sponsorship should pay for the rollout of cashless payment technologies”.
RECOMMENDATION #8 – Sponsorship should fund the rollout of cashless technologies in black cabs: Consumers now expect to be able to pay by credit or debit card for their purchases. Yet barely half of taxis currently take card payments. To ensure their uptake, the rental for card machines should be met by TfL on behalf of the consumer, just as they do for ticket machines in tube stations. TfL’s own costs should be met through incomes derived from sponsorship schemes attached to the card payment hardware and software. New York and Las Vegas currently utilise advertising inside their vehicles to pay for cashless technology, TfL could easily emulate this.
The report even suggests how much as minimum could be raised.
Given £43.75m was generated through the sponsorship of the bike-hire scheme, sponsorship displayed within taxis, which would be much more visible than that on hired bikes, should be able to generate at least this”.
To achieve this TfL would probably have to award the contract for the equipment to only a few, or perhaps even a single supplier. The knock on of this will be to limit choice for the individual taxi owner-driver at a time when the trade is trying to achieve universal acceptance of credit cards in taxis. To suggest that Transport for London and by default the Mayor should profit from what is a trade led initiative can only be seen as provocative and insensitive in the extreme.
Taxi drivers are already suffering traffic nightmares from a badly thought out implementation strategy for the controversial Cycle Superhighways, and the regulatory mess that is Uber and the like. Perhaps the ultimate insult a taxi driver is going to have to endure, will be made to sit in traffic and listen to an Uber commercial sounding out from their TfL ‘sponsored’ credit card equipment.
This report so obviously follows the Tory party deregulation mantra. Something they pursued right through the last parliament. Firstly via the Law Commission taxi and private hire review, then latterly the Deregulation Bill. Imagine the mess our trade would be in if the Law Commission review had become law. Nationally licensed private hire (including Uber) operating at minimum standards, the result would have been even greater chaos countrywide.
It’s interesting to note what Mr Tracey said after the Uber taxi meter court case:
The Uber app is not a taxi meter and the High Court has made the right call. But, TfL bosses need to make sure that the proposed measures in their own consultation do not stifle innovation. We need these hugely popular app based services to thrive. The consumer would be best served by light-touch, common sense regulation. I urge the Capital’s businesses and workers to respond to TfL’s consultation to make sure the consumer’s voice is heard.
Mr Tracey’s report along with its Law Commission Commission cousin belongs firmly at the bottom of the history dustbin marked ‘bad ideas’. The report does not address the real problems facing the taxi trade at this time. Instead of focusing on the much needed greater regulation and enforcement of private hire to control numbers. Boris Johnson’s London Tories have followed David Cameron’s national party line and gone down the pro Uber deregulation route.
Peter J Rose, Unite London Cab Section. firstname.lastname@example.org