Taxi News Roundup September 2017
Uber’s TFL license revoked
During September Transport for London rejected Uber’s application for a new five-year license in the city, deeming the American company not ‘fit and proper’ to operate, essentially barring the company from operating in the city.
However, Uber has twenty-one days to appeal the decision, and can continue to operate until the appeal period ends.
In a press statement, Transport for London said: ‘Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications. These include its approach to reporting serious criminal offences, its approach to how medical certificates are obtained, [and] its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained’.
Sadiq Khan, The Mayor of London, declared his support for TfL’s decision. ‘I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service’ he said.
‘However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect –particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.’
Uber has predictably spoken out on the decision, stating that it, ‘show[s] the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies’ and that it plans to appeal immediately.
Derby drivers protest against new council laws
A leading taxi firm in Derby has appealed for the council to rethink new laws that due to a legal loophole could impact driver earnings and put passengers at risk
The City Council recently chose to expand the criteria that drivers must meet ion order to receive a license, with drivers needing to prove they have qualifications in English, maths and IT, and attend an additional safeguarding course that the council will run.
Compared to the previous licensing test the price of these courses will rise by almost 100%, from £330 to £600. In addition, the courses will require drivers to take a day out of their own time over a thirty-four week period, effectively losing them a day’s wages each time.
In response to the effects of the policy on drivers, local firm Western Cars – who exclusively license through Derby City Council - have considered raising fees by 10% due to increased costs. Many cabbies are also threatening strike action.
Mark Keenan, MD of Western Cars, said: ‘Many of our drivers are coming to me and asking if they will still be able to drive for us if they decide to get a badge from another local authority because it's cheaper and easier for them? This will still allow them to work in the city but with no council control over the driver or the car. Obviously, the more drivers that decide to do this, we will seriously have to think whether our Derby licence-only policy is the best thing but then we have to weigh this up against safety concerns. I feel quite backed into a corner on this.’
A driver who’s worked in Derby for almost twenty years said: ‘I've already taken a written knowledge test an NVQ level 2 and a BTEC level 2, a safeguarding course - all council instigated. Now I'm being told I've got to take maths, English and IT at a cost of £150 and could require a day a week at college for 12 months costing me, on top of that, a loss of the day's takings. These changes aren’t needed and we certainly can't afford to lose thousands while doing it.’
Taxify pulls out of London
Estonian based company Taxify has become the latest rideshare company to cease trading in London, following in the footsteps of Karhoo, Hailo, and soon Uber.
The company lasted only three days before Transport for London decided it was operating unlawfully and without a license. However, Taxify claims that it was offering services under the name of City Drive Services, a licensed company Taxify previously bought, and states that it has been forced to cease trading due to “a technicality”.
The company was first flagged by Labour MP Wes Streeting, current head of the taxi All-Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis. Streeting said: “They are openly advertising but don't appear to have a licence to operate. I don't expect TfL to sit on its hands and wait for complaints to come in.”
Transport for London then placed Taxify under “urgent investigation”, with a formal decision agreeing that the company was indeed operating illegally.
In a statement released online, Taxify said: “Taxify is a technological platform for customers to hail rides from City Drive Services, a licensed London based private hire company. This has been raised as a concern by TfL and in full cooperation, Taxify have temporarily stopped operations to clarify its legal position with the regulator and reach a resolution so that services can return to normal.”
Before launching, the company claimed that it had 3000 partner drivers ready to work in London, and that over 30,000 users had downloaded its app.