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MINICAB AS DIRECTED SERVICE, NOT POSSIBLE!

30/09/2011

BY PETER J ROSE

TfL/London Taxi and Private Hire recently issued a response to our colleagues over at the London Cab Drivers Club regarding plying for hire which was published in the last issue of the Badge.

I had to read with great interest what they said about private hire booking arrangements. I’ve long had a Bee in my bonnet about the way certain large PH firms have covered major events at places like the Grosvenor House and The Dorchester.

How often has the taxi trade seen lines of minicabs, marshal in attendance directing passengers into the next waiting vehicle. What is apparent in this practice is that all of these waiting vehicles have been massed booked and the driver has no prior knowledge of their passenger or the destination that they are going to. It is in my view patently obvious that this practice breaks the rules that TfL have themselves determined.

You only have to read below what TfL say to see it clearly.

It is a condition of an operator’s license that when taking bookings, all licensed private hire operators, regardless of the premises or type of venue they are in, must record the following information.

• The date on which the booking was made and, if different, the date on which these journeys wills take place.
• The name of the person or other identification for whom the booking is made.
• The agreed time and place of collection.
• The main destination specified at the time of the booking.
• Any fare estimated or quoted.
• The name or other identification of the driver carrying out the booking.
• If applicable the name of any other operator the booking has been sub-contracted to.
• The registered number or other means of identification, of the vehicle to be used.
• Bookings must be taken inside the premises that are licensed.

However much they may wish it, private hire simply cannot legally cover this type of booking. Mass as directed bookings are the preserve of the licensed taxi trade in London and TfL/London Taxi and Private hire should be making that clear to these large operators and punishing those that don’t comply!

London Fashion Week has also grabbed my attention. Have you noticed how many private hire vehicles are carrying adverts for the event? Of course advertising such as this is prohibited under legislation. Apparently the private hire firm or firms (Not clear yet) have been given an exemption on the grounds that the ‘ads’ are for passenger recognition proposes and not for profit.

Two things here: not for profit? If the advertising a condition of the contract is that these ads are displayed. Is that condition not complied with for profit? Not to carry the ads would mean the contract not being awarded, meaning there is indeed a profit motive.

Also, and this brings me back to the top of this article. Just exactly are they doing? I can’t believe that every passengers name is London Fashion Week, so again are the relevant booking procedures being observed, or are we once again seeing an ‘as directed service’ being offered when clearly this is not possible.

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