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Hamburg breaks ranks and bans Uber app

The German city bans Uber because its drivers are not properly licensed but the company vows to continue services

The Uber app in use in Germany

Hamburg is the latest in a series of cities around the world to ban the Uber app because its drivers are not properly licensed Photo: Alamy
The German city of Hamburg has become the latest to break ranks and ban Uber, the popular taxi hailing app that has caused protests across Europe from taxi drivers who claim it threatens their livelihoods.
There was traffic chaos in London, Paris and Berlin in June, as taxis blocked the streets in protest at Uber, which lets users book a nearby cab from their smartphone, and uses GPS technology to calculate the fare.
The hugely successful app has been launched in 100 cities around the world, and the San Francisco-based company behind it has been valued at $18bn (£11bn).
But Hamburg is the latest in a series of cities around the world to ban Uber because its drivers are not properly licensed. Under the ruling, any driver found using the app to transport passengers faces a €1,000 (£790) fine.
Uber immediately appealed against the ruling and said it would continue to offer its service in the city in the meantime, despite the threat of fines.
The ban in Hamburg follows similar moves by the Belgian capital, Brussels, South Korea’s Seoul, and a handful of US cities including Las Vegas and Miami.
Taxi drivers around the world argue Uber amounts to unfair competition, because its drivers do not have to pay for full taxi licenses.
Drivers who sign up with Uber do not work for the company, but are self-employed. The app uses GPS technology to match passengers to nearby cars, and allows drivers to use their smartphones to calculate the fare based on distance travelled.
Moves to have the app banned in other European cities have so far failed. London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, said it would be “difficult” for him to ban Uber “without the risk of a judicial review”, and that it was a matter for the courts.
In Berlin, a taxi driver has already won a court injunction against Uber operating in the city, but has chosen not to enforce it for fear it could expose him to millions of euros in damages.
Berlin and the other cities where Uber is available in Germany are now expected to follow Hamburg with official bans.
Rulings are already being prepared in Berlin and Frankfurt, according to a report in Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, while the authorities in Munich are waiting to see if the Hamburg ban is successful.

UberX drivers slam new low rates aimed at undercutting taxis

Any Uber driver who believes that they are a driver “partner” and that Uber is good for their business should read the article below.
About two dozen Uber drivers honking mad over a cut in fare gathered outside the tech company’s Queens office Wednesday in protest.
Drivers are partners:
The “driver-partners” behind the wheel of the low-cost UberX service spoke with the San Francisco-based company’s management outside its Long Island City Office about the 20% rate cut aimed to undercut yellow taxis’ business. They were upset that the new low prices were sprung on them via email the night before the change went into effect the morning of July 7.
Drivers complained that the price cut being piloted during a slow season is making them work more hours for the same pay.
Shoaib Ashraf, a 29-year-old former yellow taxi driver who joined Uber three months ago, said he saw his take-home pay cut from $150-200 a day to about $100 to $150 a day.
“They shouldn’t, first of all, cut the price without letting us know,” said Ashraf, of South Amboy, New Jersey. If drivers are partners like Uber calls them, he said, “you have to ask them.”
He suggested that Uber take just 10% less of the fare than it does now. Drivers said Uber takes 20% of the payment, but they pay 10% for taxes, leaving 70% of the money for pay and expenses like gas, tolls and cleaning.
Evelyn, a 53-year-old driver from East Harlem who did not want to give her last name, said she noticed an uptake in rides now that UberX undercut yellow taxis.
“I believe it’s drawn more customers,” she said.
Yet the boost in ridership doesn’t mean the new prices were beneficial, she said.
“It’s still drastic,” she said, adding it is unfair to target only UberX drivers.
Drivers to start their own driver base Org:
R.J., an Uber driver who declined to give his full name due to his job security, said he is trying to organize other drivers. He had 1,420 sign up on a website,, last week and estimated that the number of drivers is more than 1,500 drivers now.
“This is a great concept, don’t get me wrong,” he added, but complained that Uber has been operating in a “my-way-or-the-highway mentality.”
Several Uber NYC officials, including its general manager Josh Mohrer, went outside to speak with the drivers to defend the rate cut.
In an interview, Mohrer said that rate cuts in other cities and here are giving drivers more riders per hour, letting them make up the difference, though he understood it can be “unintuitive” that cheaper fares means more money for drivers.
“The vast majority of our driver partners are having that experience, and actually kind of liking it,” Mohrer said, adding that he showed drivers data proving they are not losing any money.
“They were legitimately surprised to see that their gross fare an hour has been the same or more prior to the cut,” he said.
Bharat Lama, a 45-year-old driver from Jackson Heights who saw the data and spoke with amNewYork at Mohrer’s suggestion, said he made the same amount the week of July 8, but drove 70 hours, compared to 40 hours the week before. He said he expects his hours to scale back once business picks back up in September.
“They are not on the road,” Lama said. “When they are on the road, then they will realize.”

No Honour Amongst The Honourable Company…by Jim Thomas

Source: Taxi Leaks
RD2, the favoured minicab operator who were allowed by TfL to breach licensing policy, by not having to perform as a Private Hire Operator for the minimum of 12 months, before being allowed a licence variation, has been given a satellite office licence for the Honorary Artillery Company on City Road.
RD2 were allowed 18 satellite office licence variations at the same time they first registered as a new company. When Taxi Leaks complained directly to the director of LTPH John Mason, we were lied to on several occasions.
In an attempted cover up, we were told this new company were actually the same company as an old company, Rides2.
We were then told the two companies had the same CEO and this was just a cosmetic name change.
Aithough both companies were up and running concurrently, according to the TfL website, we proved Rides2 had actually gone into liquidation.
We then proved that although the directors of both companies had same surname, they had different first names and different dates of birth. They were in fact different people.
We also proved that addresses for the two registered offices for both companies were different.
In fact this was two different companies according to company house registrations.
John Mason then tried to get Taxi Leaks closed down, saying that we were making misleading claims.
We then made a series of posts on Taxi Leaks laying out our evidence fir all to see. We heard no more from John Mason, or his legal team and the threats stopped.
Nearly a year after we first complained, LTPH finally admitted that the rules had been relaxed to accommodate RD2. We were also informed TfL policy regarding PH licensing was in fact just guidelines and not legally binding. In other words, we were told TfL could do what ever they like when it comes to the issuing of licence variations.
Funny, that now a certain trade representative org chairman, is complaining about the latest acquisition to RD2 bank of satellite offices, yet the same chairman along with others in the UTG said nothing when Taxi Leaks first uncovered this controversy.
The UTG have also stood by and done nothing as this company expanded right across London, illegally putting  lines of cars waiting to become hired (ranking) outside a succession of night venues.
And of course, TfL cab enforcement have been conspicuous by their absence.
It is of course disgraceful that after our trade has given so much to charities such as the War disabled fund with drivers given up their time freely, plus the remembrance day shuttle service and like, that this so called Honourable Company does something we would all consider to be dishonourable.
Taxi leaks would urge that this situation should not, repeat should not, sour relations between the trade and veterans with the services we provide. After all this is not the fault of the veterans who have come to rely on the services we freely provide.
This situation has been bought about not by necessity, but by the greed and corruption.
Licence Taxi Marshals provide excellent services and have proved a massive success at locations such as Paddington, Liverpool Street, Waterloo, Euston, Swallow Street, Charing Cross Road, Shoreditch and Clapham High Streets.
It should be standard issue that before any venue recieved a licence variation, for the implementation of a satellite office, a licensed Taxi rank should first be appointed and out in place, to give the public freedom of choice.

Unlicensed Minicab Driver Sentenced To 11 Years For Horrendous Rape… By Jim Thomas.

Yesterday, Paul Causer was jailed for 11 years after a horrendous sexual attack on a woman who believed she was getting in a minicab.
She believed this simply because of the fact she saw him sitting outside a night venue in Shoreditch, along with hundreds of other illegal touts,
Even though we’ve been told by the Met, minicab related sexual attacks are now at an all time high, both the Met and CoL police still turn a blind eye to this practise and see the attacks as no more than collateral damage, in a bid to keep the streets clear of night revellers.
The woman who was raped by unlicensed minicab driver Paul Causer, has spoked about the “horror” of her ordeal that she said will haunt her for the rest of her life.
The 31-year-old victim, who does not want to be named, was picked up by Paul Causer in Shoreditch, east London, during the early hours of August 3 last year.
After locking her in the vehicle, he then unsuccessfully tried to withdraw £600 using her bank card during the 22 mile journey to Godstone, Surrey.
He finally drove her to a secluded spot in Bone Mill Lane, stopped the car, pretending it had a problem and raped her.
Causer, 39, then dumped the woman by the roadside.
Causer was apprehended following extensive enquiries, which including using the ‘Find my iPhone’ application. Officers identified the phone as being at an address in Swanscombe, Kent where he is known to have spent time.
In a statement released by Surrey Police after he was jailed at the Old Bailey yesterday, the woman warned others against the dangers of getting into unbooked minicabs.
She said: “Despite being aware of the warnings, this was never something that I thought would happen to me. The horror of that night will affect me for the rest of my life.”
Causer, of Barfleur Lane, Deptford, denied rape but was convicted. He also admitted three counts of attempted theft, for which he received an eight month sentence to run concurrently with the 11 year rape sentence.
Detective Sergeant Adele Robertson, who led the investigation, said: “Paul Causer targeted and abused a vulnerable woman and will rightly face time in prison for this abhorrent crime. I hope today’s sentence will go some way to giving the victim closure and allow her to move on with her life.”
Appealing to other victims of sexual offences to speak to police, she added: “Offences of this nature are not always reported to us, which is why we are keen to hear from anyone who has been attacked in similar circumstances to come forward. It takes a great deal of courage for victims to talk about what has happened, and they need to feel confident that if they report an offence we can help.”
We have been told by the Met themselves that minicab sexual attacks are running at an all time high, with an estimate of 25 attacks every week. AND ITS GETTING WORSE.
The police, both Met and City of London must be held to account for their blind eye approach to illegally plying for hire. This, in their eyes is a low priority offence, even though this is who most of the 25 attacks are initiated by a series of sexual predators who hide themselves within the lines of cars waiting outside nightclubs and bars illegally touting custom.
TfL must also take responsibility for many of the minicab related sexual assaults and rapes because of the ease in which a predator can acquire a fully licensed, authentic minicab, with having to be a holder of a private hire licence.
It’s true…
First, you do not have to be a licensed PH driver to get a vehicle licensed by TfL to be used as a minicab.
Second, a licensed PHV owner can sell on their vehicle to anyone complete with current TfL roundel in place.
It’s time TfL put a stop to this practise once and for all.
PHV should only be able to pass NSL inspection if the owner is a TfL licensed PH driver.
Also when a vehicle (and this should include Taxis) is sold on, the TfL licence plates/roundels should be required to be surrendered, as in pre TfL days under the met.
This PHV was spotted inLondon’s West End yesterday.
The sign says
Car for Sale
Vauxhall Zafira
1.6 Petrol
Price £……….
PCO Licence, ends
05 2015 Clean
In & out Contact
No 07949973595 or
That’s how easy it is for a predator to acquire a vehicle to pick up victims.

Dear TfL, Save Yourself The Cost Of Going To Court, Just Read The Meter….by Chris Payne.

Taxi Driver Russell, tweeted yesterday that he phoned for a minicab to take him to Walthamstow on Saturday.
Although the minicab that turned up came from a local minicab operator, he noticed that stuck on to the windscreen and attached to the vehicle by a power cable, was a Smart Phone/PDA devise.
On the device were the words.
Meter Not Initiated.
As there is only one PH operator using a Taximeter, it’s fair to assume the driver is obviously moonlighting for this company, in much the same way Licensed Taxi drivers on Dial A Cab or Com Cab also subscribe to Hailo.
Now it’s quite evident from this photo that; 
* Uber call this device a Meter.
* The device refers to itself as a Meter.
* The driver of the minicab refers to the device as a Meter.
So for all intense and purpose, it’s safe to say that this is a Meter.
The device measures both time and distance to give an overhaul cost of the journey.
So it’s not just a Meter, it’s a Taximeter.
Everyone knows it’s a Taxi meter except Leon Dainels, who has gone to the high court to get a definition from someone smarter than himself.
Considering that we as licensees and also tax payers, pay this man annually the enormous sum of £267,768 plus a performance related pay bonus of £72,690, it would be fair to assume the holder of such high position within TfL should be/would be smart enough to make an informed decision on this matter himself.

Managing Director of Surface Transport, Leon Daniels, at £340,458 took home more than double the salary of the Prime Minister in 2013.

Uber court action delayed after Taxi trade issues summonses

taxi_lampA decision by the capital’s taxi trade to start legal action against drivers working for mini cab firm Uber has derailed Transport for London’s efforts to obtain a high court ruling on the legality of the service.

The Google-backed Uber car service uses smartphone apps and GPS technology to calculate the fares passengers must pay.

London’s black cab trade says the use of such technologies breaches laws forbidding minicabs from fitting taximeters in their vehicles.

TfL, which regulates both Taxis and minicabs, says the apps are legal but last month asked the High Court to make a final ruling because some aspects of the law are “unclear”.

However TfL’s board was today told that the issuing of summonses by the London Taxi Drivers Association will prevent the court from considering the issue as it cannot intervention where litigation is underway.

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, told the board that the summonses would be heard by magistrates whose rulings aren’t binding and would almost certainly be appealed.

Although it was likely those appeals would eventually end up in the high court, Daniels said it would take “some considerable time” for this to happen.