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Taxi Sharing App Bandwagon Announces Itself As The Anti-Uber

29/08/2014

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Amidst the war between Uber and Lyft, ride-sharing app Bandwagon partners with Hailo to create a sharing platform for New York City cab passengers.

BY THORNTON MCENERY AUGUST 28, 2014 1:45 P.M.

Updated: August 28, 2014 5:31 p.m.

While Uber and Lyft continue their car wars, one Silicon Alley-based transportation startup is asking, "Can’t we all just get along?"

Hudson Square-based Bandwagon, an app that allows people going the same way to share a cab, announced Thursday that it is partnering with e-hail app Hailo in order to allow users to legally hail yellow taxis. According to a statement, the alliance between Bandwagon and Hailo will give riders the chance to save up to 65% per ride by sharing the cost of the fare, while providing drivers with the increased revenue of having more than one rider on a longer fare.

"If we can make better use of all those existing empty seats in vehicles that are designed for transportation, we can build a new instant kind of social transit network," Bandwagon CEO David Mahfouda said in the statement.

The social aspect of the partnership will be handled on Bandwagon’s platform. On the app, users will drop a pin of their location and enter their destination. Bandwagon will match them with nearby users headed the same way, provide the mechanism to split the fare digitally and dispatch a cab using Hailo’s platform.

Bandwagon is hoping to benefit from the ongoing, high-profile conflict between Uber and Lyft. Language in the company’s statement makes clear and pointed reference to the two West Coast companies and their public quarrel over the New York cab market.

"While Uber and Lyft fight over taxi customers and drivers, eroding each others’ services," the statement reads, "Bandwagon and Hailo are embracing the spirit of the collaborative economy and sharing resources to improve how we get around."

Correction: Bandwagon is partnering with e-hail app Hailo in order to allow users to legally hail only yellow taxis. That fact was misstated in an earlier version of this article published online Aug. 28, 2014.

Berlin bans Uber app citing passenger safety

14/08/2014

From BBC News: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28788142

The mobile taxi app Uber has been banned in Berlin by the city’s State Department of Civil and Regulatory Affairs.

In a statement, the authority said it had banned the app on passenger safety grounds and threatened the firm with a 25,000 euro (£20,000) fine for ignoring the order.

Uber said it would challenge the ban.

It is the latest setback for Uber, which has faced bans and protests in cities across Europe.

The Berlin authority said passengers may not be covered by insurance because they aren’t traditional cabs.

Uber set up in Berlin in February last year.

Fabien Nestmann, general manager at Uber in Germany, said the company would challenge the ban.

“The decision from the Berlin authorities is not progressive and it’s seeking to limit consumer choice for all the wrong reasons,” he said. “As a new entrant we’re bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn’t changed in years.”

‘Competing unfairly ‘
In June, a protest by thousands of drivers of black cabs in London brought part of the city to a halt. London cabbies say Uber drivers don’t have to follow the same strict rules.

Uber lets smartphone users hail cabs through its software. The company takes a cut of the fare.

Earlier this month, senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge said the app was “competing unfairly” with London’s black cabs.

She has written to Boris Johnson asking why Transport for London allows cars to take bookings through the app without a licence to operate in the capital.

Mrs Hodge claims the firm is “opting out of the UK tax regime” but Uber said it complied with “all applicable tax laws”.

London taxi starts Melbourne trial

13/08/2014

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  • KIRSTAN ROSS
  • AUGUST 13, 2014 10:09AM

THE first London cab has arrived in Melbourne on a trial set to shake up the industry.

The London Taxi Company Australia will be assessing customer feedback before deciding how many iconic taxis – which seat five passengers plus a driver – it will bring to our city on a permanent basis.

“We’d like to trial at least 100 here in Victoria as a sample patch and then work from that,” Evan Simeon, CEO of the London Taxi Company Australia, told radio 3AW.image

“We have just landed a London taxi in Melbourne for evaluation for use in Melbourne. The Taxi Services Commission has just approved the London taxi for use as a conventional taxi in Victoria,” he added.

The trial taxi – which can be spotted driving around Melbourne baring “evaluation” stickers.

“We’ve got a vehicle we need to evaluate and it is very exciting,” he said.

Mr Simeon said the introduction to the purpose built fleet follows a “very encouraging” trial in Perth.

“They fit one driver plus five passengers in the rear in a separate compartment that is separated from the driver with a security barrier,” he said.

Even more encouraging, the cost is “the same price as a normal taxi but a limousine service.”

During the Perth trial the company put nearly 100 cars on the road.

“We’ve already done, quite interestingly, three and a half million kilometres in the trial in Perth and carried over 60,000 passengers,” Mr Simeon said.

Of all the passengers in WA, he said 95 per cent claim they would book a London taxi again.

“Seventy-five per cent are saying the will wait longer for a London taxi over a conventional sedan because it is a purpose built taxi,” he added.

Prudential RideLondon – Saturday 9 August and Sunday 10 August

08/08/2014

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On Saturday 9 August and Sunday 10 August 2014 the Prudential RideLondon event takes place in London and there will be road closures and changes to the road layout to accommodate the events. 

Once again there are four separate events and these are:

- Freecycle – Saturday 9 August 2014 – this is a 10 mile route in central London

- Grand Prix – Saturday 9 August 2014 – this is a series of races in St James’s Park

- London – Surrey 100 – Sunday 10 August 2014 – this is the race for the general public that starts in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, goes out to Surrey and then ends on The Mall

- London – Surrey Classic – Sunday 10 August 2014 – this is the same as the 100 race but for 150 top cyclists only

Routes

Maps showing the routes for the different events can be found here:

- Freecycle route

- Grandprix route

- London – Surrey 100

- London – Surrey Classic

Road closures

To allow the different events to take place some roads will be closed and details of where these will be, the closure times and when the roads are expected to reopen can be found in the leaflets available on our website here. Road closures for the events on Sunday will be in place from 05:00 and roads will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Roads in east London are expected to reopen from 13:30 whilst in central London all roads, apart from The Mall, are expected to reopen by 20:00.

The Mall will be closed from 07:00 on Friday 8 August until 06:00 Monday 11 August.

Bridges 

Southwark Bridge and Westminster Bridge will be closed on Saturday from 05:00 until around 18:00. A number of bridges in central London will be closed until the evening on Sunday 10 August but Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge and London Bridge will remain open all day.

Taxi ranks

There will be some changes to taxi ranks for the duration of the event and this includes suspensions or access restrictions, however these have been kept to a minimum.

The table below provides details of special arrangements in place for specific ranks. The times when rank suspensions finish are dependent upon roads being reopened and this will happen as soon as it is safe to do so.

Location

Arrangements Sunday 10 August 2014

Westfield Avenue (The Cow pub)

- Rank suspended between 05:00 and 10:30 and between  12:30 and 13:30

- The taxi ranks in the Broadway, Meridian Square and Montfichet Road will be operational 

East Smithfield

Rank suspended between 05:00 and 09:30 and between 12:30 and 13:30

Whitehall Place

Rank suspended between 05:00 and 20:00

Whitehall Court

Rank suspended between 05:00 and 20:00

Pall Mall

Rank suspended between 05:00 and 15:00

St James’s Street

Rank suspended between 05:00 and 15:00

Knightsbridge (Mandarin Oriental Hotel)

Rank suspended between 05:00 and 15:00 

Harrods

- Brompton Road

- Hans Road

- Ranks suspended between 05:00 and 15:00

- The taxi rank in Basil Street/Hans Crescent will be operational and the direction of traffic in Hans Road will be reversed

Cromwell Road (V&A Museum)

Rank suspended between 05:00 and 15:00

Thurloe Place

Rank suspended between 05:00 and 15:00

Cromwell Road (Bratts)

- Rank suspended between 05:00 and 06:00 (this rank is only operational between 00:00 and 06:00)

Cromwell Road (Queensbury Place)

Rank suspended between 05:00 and 06:00 (this rank is only operational between 00:00 and 06:00)

Wood Street (Station forecourt)

- Rank suspended between 05:00 and 19:00

- The marshalled taxi rank will operate as normal on Saturday night

- The rank in Eden Street (Primark) will remain operational throughout the day

Clarence Street (John Lewis)

Rank suspended between 07:30 and 19:00

High Street (Putney Station)

- Rank suspended between 07:30 and 19:00

- The hours of the taxi rank in Upper Richmond Road will be extended and this will operate all day on the Sunday

Coombe Lane (Raynes Park Station)

Rank suspended between 07:30 and 19:00

Worple Road

Rank suspended between 07:30 and 19:00

Transport for London – London Taxi and Private Hire 

Heathrow police officer convicted of assaulting suspected taxi tout

06/08/2014

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The court heard that PC Eliot, who was on routine patrol, stopped a vehicle within the grounds of Heathrow Airport on suspicion of taxi touting.   

Aug 05, 2014 17:23 By Alan Hayes

PC William Eliot, 45, a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) based at Heathrow has been convicted of assault at Westminster Magistrates’ Court during an appearance on Monday, August 4.

He had previously been summonsed to appear following an investigation by the Directorate of Professional Standards.

The court heard that during the course of his shift on August 25, 2013, PC Eliot, who was on routine patrol, stopped a vehicle within the grounds of Heathrow Airport on suspicion of taxi touting.

During the vehicle stop PC Eliot grabbed the driver of the vehicle round the neck . PC Eliot alleged that the victim spat at him when he was questioning him about his vehicle.

The victim later made a complaint and the incident was also reported by a colleague. 
Following the stop, the vehicle was seized under lawful powers as it was not roadworthy. 
Following an investigation by the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards, PC Eliot was issued with a summons to appear before the court. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Alaric Bonthron, said: "The evidence put before the court included that of a colleague who reported the incident, this demonstrates that officers are prepared to report wrong doing. Now that the criminal proceedings are complete we will be able to proceed with the misconduct process."

He has been released on bail to appear on Monday, August 18 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for sentencing.

TfL successfully prosecute three bogus minicab drivers

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5 August 2014 TfL Press release

Three more successful TfL prosecutions of bogus minicab drivers

Transport for London’s (TfL) Enforcement and on-street operations Compliance Team, alongside their policing partners, have successfully prosecuted three re-offending minicab touts in an ongoing commitment to crackdown on bogus and unsafe minicab drivers in London.

These latest prosecutions now bring TfL’s total to 25 successful convictions for illegal plying for hire and other related offences in the last 12 months, with many more cases currently awaiting court dates. The three convictions were for a number of offences including; touting, illegal plying for hire, driving without insurance and operating without a valid private hire driver licence.

Olaide Tijani, 50, from north west London, was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 23 July. He was stopped during a routine check by City of London Police and TfL Compliance Officers on 14 December 2013. Mr Tijani had a passenger onboard when his details were checked by Officers and it showed that his private hire driver licence had been revoked in 2011 after a touting conviction.

He later pleaded guilty to all four offences of no private hire driver licence, no operator licence, no insurance and plying for hire. He was ordered to pay £410 in fines and court costs. His driving licence was endorsed with six penalty points for having no insurance and as a result, he was disqualified from driving for six months.

Tahir Zaheer Baig, 46, from east London, was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 16 July. He was first seen on 26 October 2013 by TfL Compliance Officers in east London, touting for business but drove off before he could be questioned. TfL were in the process of addressing this first incident when he was stopped again on 9 November in South Woodford, and found to be working without a private hire vehicle operator’s licence. He was interviewed under caution and charged with breaching the Private Hire Vehicles Act. Mr Baig was later found guilty of touting, having no operator licence and plying for hire. He was ordered to pay £900 in fines and court costs and disqualified from driving for four months.

Rajalingham Paheerathan, 35, from Bromley, was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 16 July. He was seen by TfL Compliance Officers on 24 October 2013 on Uxbridge High Road, having a conversation with a woman before letting her and a friend into his car. Officers approached the vehicle and established the journey was not pre-booked.

Mr Paheerathan was interviewed under caution and charged. He pleaded guilty to plying for hire and having no operator licence and was ordered to pay £370 in fines and court costs. He was also disqualified from driving for three months.

Steve Burton, Director of Enforcement and On Street Operations at TfL, said: "These convictions demonstrate that we take illegal touting and other illegal private hire activities extremely seriously. Thanks to the great work of our Compliance Officers and policing partners, these offenders have been successfully prosecuted.

“An unbooked minicab is just a stranger’s car and these three men posed a real threat to public safety. We will continue to crack down on bogus and unsafe minicabs and encourage people to report illegal activity to us as we do act on this intelligence. Always use a licensed taxi or pre-book a minicab through a licensed operator. Download our Cabwise app to get details of licensed operators.”

TfL’s Enforcement and on-street Compliance Team carry out vehicle and driver licensing checks across London to keep the public safe and stamp out illegal activity. They work closely with the police, delivering over six hundred joint operations every year. They also carry out evening patrols in hotspot locations, plain clothes anti-touting operations and high visibility enforcement activities to detect and deter bogus cab drivers.

For more information about the work being carried out to keep the transport network safe, please visit: http://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/safety-and-security/

To report touting and illegal cabs please visit: https://tfl.gov.uk/forms/12368.aspx

Ends

Uber app ‘competing unfairly’, Margaret Hodge claims

02/08/2014

 From BBC News Business

Margaret Hodge said she was concerned about the impact Uber was having on the "public purse"

The Uber taxi app is "competing unfairly" with London’s black cabs, senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge says.

She has written to Boris Johnson asking why Transport for London allows cars to take bookings through the app without a licence to operate in the capital.

Mrs Hodge claims the firm is "opting out of the UK tax regime" but Uber said it complied with "all applicable tax laws".

Thousands of taxi drivers protested against the app in June.

The smartphone app works out the cost of fares using GPS. Cab drivers say it is similar to using a taxi meter, which only they are legally entitled to do.

‘Impact on livelihoods’

The app’s Dutch operating company, Uber BV, does not pay tax in the UK – but Mrs Hodge said TfL could insist that it does so.

She said: "I am particularly concerned about the tax structure that Uber and others have apparently constructed and the impact this has both on the public purse and on the livelihoods of London cabbies and private hire drivers.

"This structure allows these new entrants to unfairly undercut London operators by opting out of the UK tax regime.

"TfL allows this to happen by failing to apply the appropriate regulations to Uber."

Thousands of taxi drivers went on strike in London on 11 June

In the letter to Mr Johnson, the mayor of London, Mrs Hodge, who chairs the cross-party Commons Public Accounts Committee, added: "Surely TfL has a duty to enforce legislation that will ensure a fair and level playing field for all taxi and private hire operators?

"I would be grateful if you could set out the steps you will take to ensure that TfL does not inadvertently allow tax avoidance in London and that all taxi and private hire drivers receive a fair deal."

She has been backed by the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA), which represents 20,000 cabbies.

‘Corporate greed’

LPHCA chairman Steve Wright said: "London’s taxi and private hire industries are being compromised by inconsistent licensing enforcement by TfL and the apparent ability for app-based operators like Uber to operate through an offshore tax regime.

"As well as the loss in revenue to the country, a whole industry that has a wonderful compliance record – unlike some of these new apps – is being undermined by foreign entities, working the UK tax system for corporate greed."

But an Uber spokesman said: "Uber complies with all applicable tax laws, and pays taxes in all jurisdictions, such as corporate income tax, payroll tax, sales and use tax, and VAT.

"Uber London Limited is a licensed private hire vehicle operator and recently passed the largest inspection of records ever conducted by TfL."

Chief operating officer at TfL Garrett Emmerson said he was "fully satisfied" the app was operating lawfully.bbcnews_logoWeb

He added: "TfL’s role is to licence and regulate the taxi and private hire industry in London. We do not have any powers in relation to an operator’s corporate structure and how or where they pay tax."

Margaret’s letter to Boris Johnson

Letter to Mayor re Uber

TfLTPH Notice 07/14: Taxi and Private Hire smartphone apps in London Letter to all drivers and private hire operators

21/07/2014

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This notice provides an update to all taxi and private hire drivers and private hire
operators regarding the use of smartphone apps in London. The content of this notice
has also been sent directly to all licensed drivers and operators.
The taxi and private hire trades play a vital role in London’s transport system, carrying
over half a million passengers around the Capital every day.
I am conscious that the growth in the use of smart phones is changing the way many
of us organise our lives, with passengers and drivers increasingly using apps that
serve London’s taxi and private hire market. While apps offer tremendous potential
benefits, TfL as the regulator has a duty to ensure that the way in which they operate
complies with the licensing and regulatory framework in London. Over the last few
months you will have seen a lot in the media about this, in particular about the Uber
app, and I this note explains our current position on the use of smart phone
technology.

Taximeters
As you will know, private hire vehicles in London are prohibited from being equipped
with taximeters. However, it is not unlawful for a private hire operator to charge its
customers on the basis of time taken and distance travelled in respect of journeys.
TfL’s view is that smartphones that transmit location information (based on GPS data)
between vehicles and operators, have no operational connection with the vehicles,
and receive information about fares which are calculated remotely from the vehicle,
are not taximeters within the meaning of the legislation (section 11 of the Private Hire
Vehicles (London) Act 1998).
The main taxi and private hire trade organisations fundamentally disagree with how
the law should be applied to the use of smart phones in this way. TfL has no specific
vested interest in which interpretation is correct, other than that we would like clarity
so we can regulate the industry and enforce effectively where necessary and
appropriate.
In order for us to resolve this issue as quickly and fairly as possible, allowing all
interested parties to make representations, we consider the most appropriate way
forward is to invite the High Court to issue a declaration as to how the law should be
applied in this area.
However, we are now aware that the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) has
commenced private prosecutions in the Magistrates’ Court against a number of
individual drivers who use the Uber app. These cases will delay the resolution of this
issue as the High Court cannot be invited to issue a declaration while there are
ongoing criminal proceedings. Nor will the private prosecutions provide a definitive
legal position on this issue, as the decisions of one Magistrates’ Court are not binding
on another.

Rather than resolving this issue quickly and fairly, we believe that the LTDA actions
are prolonging the inherent uncertainty on this issue and are unfairly pursuing a small
number of licensed private hire drivers which we are of the view is not in the public
interest. It would be preferable for the LTDA to withdraw their private prosecutions and
work with us to get the issues before the High Court as soon as possible in order to
get a definitive resolution.

Record keeping and recording of destination
The Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) assert that the regulations
relating to record keeping for private hire operators require a destination to be
recorded before the commencement of a journey on all occasions.
TfL is of the view that the law as it currently stands only requires operators to record a
destination if a passenger specifies one at the time of booking and not otherwise. We
do however agree that these regulations are unclear on this point. The power to make
the regulations is now vested in TfL. We therefore intend to consult on potential
revisions to the regulations to provide clarity and help ensure the highest standards of
public safety and customer service are maintained. More details of this consultation
will be publicised later this year.

Uber’s operating model
Concerns have been raised regarding the nature of Uber’s business operating model
in London. While it is right that TfL takes into account the reasoned views of others as
to how the law should be applied, our role as regulator is to reach an independent
view of the law, without improper influence, taking into account all relevant
considerations. In April we carried out TfL’s largest ever compliance inspection and at
the time of that inspection Uber met all requirements for a private hire operation in
relation to record keeping. We have also been in extensive correspondence with Uber
to understand precisely how their business model operates in London.
Following this review, we have reached the conclusion that the way Uber operates in
London is in accordance with the law as it applies to private hire operators and
specifically in the way bookings are accepted and invited. However, TfL is aware of
one incidence where it appears that a driver may have carried out private hire
bookings for Uber using a vehicle without insurance and that matter is being dealt with
appropriately.
Technology continues to advance quickly and we will continue to monitor
developments in way that the market develops in London to ensure that operators and
drivers remain compliant.
I would like to emphasise that TfL continues to recognise, and defend, the important
distinction between the services provided by taxis and private hire vehicles. TfL is
therefore continuing to defend the right of taxis to utilise bus lanes in the ongoing
litigation including at the European Court of Justice.

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Leon Daniels
Managing Director – Surface Transport
Transport for London
17 July 2014

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