Tag Archives: london taxis

The lunatics have taken over the asylum

It’s now been four weeks since London’s Black Cabbies protested about the Public Carriage Office (‘PCO’) allowing an unsuitable person to start the Knowledge.

The gentleman concerned has now been removed from the course but the public have a right to know if there are any other criminals driving London’s Black Cabs.

For their safety and our reputation relies on it.

[A]s reported extensively in London’s media the PCO allowed a paranoid schizophrenic with convictions for manslaughter and assault to study for the Knowledge. Even worst when a spokesman for the PCO was interviewed by James Whale on LBC he could not, or would not give assurances that other criminals with convictions for serious offences were not aspiring cabbies. He even went as far as to state that the whistleblower within the PCO, if discovered, would be subject to a ‘serious reprimand procedure’.

When I did the Knowledge part of the test was putting the student under pressure to see how they would react. For, how can I put this politely? Some of you can be awkward when you have had a drink, or when we have taken an incorrect route. Unlike other occupations these disputes have to be resolved between ourselves in isolation. If a person with mental health issues has to confront that situation there is nobody around to give them support.

By allowing rickshaws and the blatant touting in the West End every night I’m beginning to lose confidence that this regulatory body has the ability to protect the public. It shouldn’t be cabbies who have to draw the public’s attention these dangers and put pressure on the PCO to do its job.

Picture by Dominic Shannon.

Tweet for a Cab

It’s been three months since London cabbie Richard Cudlip set up the first virtual taxi rank on Twitter. It started when 30 London black cab drivers met on the social networking site and decided that instead of sharing information about traffic, busy areas or sending cabbie trivia to each other, it could be used to attract business.

Customers have to ‘follow’ the taxi service on Twitter and send a private message to make a booking, so avoiding revealing their location publicly on the internet. When they receive a reply, they can liaise directly with the driver, rather than through an office.

So the question has to be asked, with hundreds of followers, has the King of Twitter, Stephen Fry signed up to the Tweet a London Cab?

Preaching Heresy

As you read this they are already stacking the kindling wood for me in Smithfield, but I feel it has to be discussed. London is experiencing the worst decline in its core business for a generation and cabbies not renowned for being stoical never stop complaining about the loss of business. With so many cabs available companies have in some cases stopped pre-booking them, telling their employees to hail from the street.

[W]e now have the opportunity to become the first city in the world to have a completely integrated transport system (excluding rickshaws).

By allowing cabs to accept Oyster Cards while at the same time drivers should offer an appropriate discounted rate for the journey (say 20 per cent) for using the card.

At the same time TfL runs a promotional campaign spearheaded by Boris Johnson and offering tokens in the Evening Standard, I believe could be of mutual benefit to all participants.

By promoting the fact that we are helping London’s struggling businesses by keeping down their costs might even help raising London cabbies’ profile, possibly changing the view held by many that we are greedy and self serving.

Sponsorship from a body like the London Chamber of Commerce, could offer prizes for the cabbie who gave the most discounted rides and the most frequent passenger who availed themselves of the service. Corporate sponsorship of the scheme could be extended to a tie in with the London Olympics.

Another idea suggested by the Chairman of the London Taxi Driver’s Association is that with London’s transport bursting at the seams in the morning and evening rush hour, TfL could introduce an online system to marry up empty cabs travelling to and from London with commuters. With again a discounted fare balancing what the passenger would normally pay on the train with the convenience of being picked up locally and having a seat for their entire journey.

While Tweet a London Cab the fledgling (sorry about that) no booking fee service, who allow people to book a cab via Twitter should also have wider coverage, possibly incorporating that morning and evening commute suggestion.

As a footnote; TfL pay some of their staff over £100,000 a year to think up these incentives, and I offer them gratis, so you see we cabbies can be altruistic.

Now boys, do you still want to tie me to a stake and roast me?