Manchester private hire drivers in bus lane protest

Private hire taxi drivers who claim it is unfair that they are not allowed to use bus lanes in Manchester are holding a go-slow protest through the city.

The drivers say they are discriminated against as they are not allowed to stop in the lanes to pick up or drop off, while Hackney carriage drivers are.

Up to 1,000 taxis plan to drive from the Etihad Stadium to Manchester Town Hall at 11:00 BST.

Manchester City Council said changing the rules would affect bus services.

It said the bus lanes were created to speed up journey times and reduce congestion, and opening them to private hire vehicles would encourage more motorists to use the lanes.

‘Aggravating people’

Councillor Nigel Murphy, the council’s executive member for the environment, said: “[Opening the bus lanes] would affect the reliability of bus services, which huge numbers of people in Manchester depend upon to get access to work, education or healthcare.

“Today’s protest will do nothing but cause more congestion in the city, aggravating people who are trying to go about their business.”

James Parry, a solicitor acting on behalf of the Private Hire Association, said: “We now have something like 2,500 taxi drivers in Manchester and 1,500 Hackney carriage drivers.

“Anybody who can’t get a Hackney carriage, because they don’t happen to have one drive past their door, has to pre-book a vehicle and they are likely to have a private hire vehicle come to their door.

“They charge more because they can’t use the bus lanes so they can’t for example get to Victoria Station easily or as quickly as a Hackney carriage would.

“That is discriminatory, it is unnecessary and it doesn’t serve the city very well in the Private Hire Association’s view.”

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/

Groundhog Day as Private-Hire drivers to stage convoy through Manchester in protest at bus-lane ban

Derek Brocklehurst, secretary of the Manchester Private Hire Association, says the demo is aiming to get drivers a ‘level playing field’ with black cab operators.

A huge convoy of private-hire cars is to bring chaos to the streets of Manchester in protest at being barred from bus lanes.

Private-hire drivers are furious that black cabs can use the lanes but they can not.

Transport bosses say the rules are necessary because private hire vehicles are not always clearly marked, making enforcement difficult. They also say any change would cause more congestion.

But private-hire firms claim that is ‘scaremongering’ and say lifting the ban would help hard-pressed drivers and passengers, too.

Now a group of drivers has decided to hold a protest on May 16. They will drive from the Etihad Stadium to Manchester town hall in a convoy at 11am.

Organisers claim hundreds of drivers are likely to take part.

Derek Brocklehurst, secretary of the Manchester Private Hire Association, said: “What we are trying to do is get a level playing field with black cabs.

“We carry about 40 million people in Greater Manchester each year, which is a phenomenal number.

“With an ageing population, a lot of people use us because they have mobility problems and struggle to get on the bus or drive.

“But we are finding problems because there are 254 miles of bus lanes, running past medical centres, pharmacies, hotels and so on, where we can’t pick them up or drop them off, which is a great disadvantage to us.

“Sometimes we can’t get our customers to health appointments because we are stuck in traffic when bus lanes are empty.”

Bus lane rules vary across the country. Councils such as Liverpool and Warrington allow private-hire cars to use them, while in London they are banned.

Mr Brocklehurst added: “Some 59 councils nationally allow private-hire cars in bus lanes.

“All we get from the transport authorities is that it will clog up the bus lanes but that’s just scaremongering.”

Michael Renshaw, Transport for Greater Manchester’s bus and rail director, said bus lane enforcement was down to local councils and the police.

But he added: “For the bus network to avoid congestion and get passengers from A to B efficiently, bus lanes need to be as clear as possible of general traffic, particularly during peak times.

“Opening up the bus lanes to private-hire vehicles as well as the licensed hackney carriages currently permitted would increase bus lane congestion and could potentially have an impact on the reliability and punctuality of bus services – services which are heavily relied upon by people accessing work, education and healthcare.”

source: http://menmedia.co.uk/

The 2009 Protest;

Private – Hire drivers in bus lane protest 

About 60 private hire cars caused a traffic jam in central Manchester as part of a continuing protest about bus lanes.

The private hire drivers are angry that they are not allowed to stop in the lanes to pick up or drop off, while Hackney carriage drivers are.

Organiser Derek Brocklehurst branded Manchester City Council’s policy of using CCTV to catch drivers who flout the rules as “discrimination”.

But the authority said the rules would not be changed.

Drivers travelled in convoy from the City of Manchester stadium into the city centre, before circling the town hall in a go-slow protest.

Mr Brocklehurst, from Audenshaw, said: “We’ve had to take these measures because they are refusing to let private hire use bus lanes.

“We’re basically a public service vehicle – we do the same job as a black cab – but our customers are being treated as second-rate customers.

“We can’t pick disabled and elderly customers up in bus lanes, which is becoming an increasing problem.

“There are so many bus lanes now in Manchester that run along shops like hairdressers, opticians, doctors, dentists – and basically we just can’t pick them up at the moment.”

There are about 210 miles of bus lanes across Greater Manchester, which can be used by Hackney carriage taxis.

But the council said the rules would not be extended to include private hire vehicles.

Richard Cowell, of Manchester City Council, said: “We are not looking to open up, carte blanche, our bus lanes.

“We feel that would a retrograde step and would have a very severe impact on the thousands and thousands of people who use buses on a day-to-day basis to get to where they need to go.”

source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/8391700.stm

Comment

Manchester City Council advised earlier in the year that they were to review the standards attributed to both hackney carriage and private hire drivers.

The review was suspended during March until the Law Commission consultation was made available; the review will now be considered in June 2012.

TFL 1 – 0 Addison Lee

Barristers at Brick Court Chambers were pitted against each other as Transport for London (TfL) secured an injunction against minicab firm Addison Lee to stop its drivers using bus lanes.

The set’s Martin Chamberlain and Sarah Love were instructed by TfL in-house lawyer Jane Hart to go head-to-head with Mare Demetriou QC from the same set. The latter was instructed by Julian Maitland-Walker, a partner at Maitland Walker, on behalf of Addison Lee, its founder and chairman John Griffin and subsidiary Eventech.

In the High Court Mr Justice Eder awarded TfL an injunction that prevents Addison Lee from instructing the drivers of its 3,500 private hire fleet – the largest in Europe – to use bus lanes.

The legal dispute came on the back of a notice sent out to Addison Lee drivers by Griffin and put on its website claiming that bus lane regulations were illegal.

Griffin claimed the regulations allowing black cabs to use bus lanes but not private hire cars was discriminatory and undermined competition between rival services.

The notice also offered to pay all drivers’ fines if they were caught using the bus lanes.

However, the injunction today ordered Addison Lee to remove the statement from its website and the High Court ruled the indemnity was void and unenforceable.

The court heard that out of 75 recent bus lane contraventions, 60 were Addison Lee vehicles and showed an upwards trend since the notice was issued by Griffin on 14 April.

The proceedings were part of a wider dispute on the use of bus lanes in London and Eder J ordered an expedited hearing for the judicial review, which started last year and has yet to be determined.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said: “Today’s judgment prevents Addison Lee from instructing or encouraging its drivers to drive in bus lanes in London.  The court felt compelled to grant an injunction because of the substantial risk of Addison Lee taking action that could result in the law being broken.

“Bus lanes enable buses to move around the capital efficiently carrying more than 6m passengers a day. We maintain that allowing tens of thousands of private hire vehicles to drive in bus lanes would impact on the reliability of our bus services, and risks inconveniencing our customers.”

The interim injunction will remain in place until judicial review proceedings on the issues of private hire in bus lanes conclude.

source: http://www.thelawyer.com/

Council to meet taxi drivers over Leeds Bradford Airport row

LEEDS council bosses have agreed to meet with the city’s taxi drivers to discuss a long-running dispute concerning the new rank at Leeds-Bradford airport.

The YEP reported on Monday that scores of hackney drivers had voted to take possible strike action unless they could meet council leader Keith Wakefield to discuss the issue.

They gave the council until 2pm yesterday to come back with a commitment to meet them.

And last night, the council confirmed to the YEP that it would “meet up as soon as possible” with the drivers’ representative in a bid to avert strike action.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive board member with responsibility for city development, told the YEP: “This ongoing issue has arisen as a result of the taxi associations in Leeds not being awarded a contract by Leeds Bradford International Airport.

“This followed a competitive tendering exercise carried out by the airport in 2008, after its sale to the private sector.

“We do sympathise with those drivers who feel that this has had a negative effect on their trade at a time when it is suffering considerably from the impact of the recession.

“We have told [Leeds hackney carriage union branch secretary] Mr Landau that we are more than happy to meet with him at a mutually agreeable time, to try and find a workable solution that would be acceptable to all parties involved. We will set a meeting up as soon as possible, which we hope will prevent any protest action being taken by the hackney carriage drivers in the meantime.”

The drivers, all members of the hackney carriage branch of union Unite, had been vowing to plough on with their threatened strike action after claiming they had not had a satisfactory “conciliatory” response from council leader Coun Keith Wakefield in time.

After the deadline passed yesterday, drivers were meeting again to decide the next stage of their campaign.

Debate has been raging for several years about the provision of a black-and-white taxi rank opposite the airport terminal on Whitehouse Lane. The airport was sold off by Leeds and its partner councils in 2007 and its new bosses re-tendered the provision of taxi services to a private-hire company in 2008.

The hackney operators have always insisted this was unfair and senior councillors have also thrown their weight behind the rank, however drivers accused decision-makers of dragging their feet on pressing ahead with the plan.

source: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/

Addison Leaks? Minicab boss granted meeting with transport minister after Tory donation

Chairman of minicab firm granted interview with Philip Hammond over bus lanes after £250,000 donation to the Conservative Party.

 Minutes of the meeting between the transport secretary and the head of a private minicab firm over the use of bus lanes were released after a Freedom of Information Act request.

The chairman of a minicab company that wants access to London’s restricted bus lanes was granted a private meeting with the transport secretary at which they discussed the matter after his firm donated £250,000 to the Conservative party.

John Griffin, the chairman of Addison Lee, met Philip Hammond last October and raised the question of access to the lanes. He also pushed the idea that the government should outsource chauffeur services for ministers to private companies.

Addison Lee, which has 3,500 vehicles in the capital, gave the Conservatives £100,000 last year, and £50,000 a year in each of the three previous years.

Minutes of the meeting with Hammond, released under the Freedom of Information Act, sparked opposition calls for the government to explain whether the donation and the meeting were linked.

“There are serious questions for ministers to answer about the level of access given to a major donor to the Tory party who at the same time was bidding for lucrative government contracts,” said Maria Eagle, the shadow transport secretary. “The public have a right to know if ministers gave preferential treatment to John Griffin and other ‘premier league’ donors who sought to use access to ministers to advance their own interests.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said neither Hammond nor his successor, Justine Greening, had met the bosses of any other private hire taxi firms but denied that the donation had helped secure the meeting. “It is entirely appropriate for the secretary of state for transport to meet large transport operators from different sectors in order to understand how their industries work,” the spokesman said.

A spokesman for Hammond said: “Mr Hammond does not recall having any information about donations to the Conservative party at the time or when he subsequently met Mr Griffin in October 2011 to discuss issues in the private hire car sector.”

Griffin also denied any suggestion that the meeting with Hammond was secured with the help of his company’s donation. “I honestly think the minister wouldn’t have known I made a donation,” he said. “Why shouldn’t I see him? I am in the transport business and we turn over £250m a year. I see no evidence that people get favours lined up.”

The ban on private taxis using bus lanes is a major issue for Addison Lee. It believes it is prevented from competing on a level playing field with black cabs, which can use the lanes. This week, Griffin ordered his drivers to defy the law and said he would indemnify them against fines.

Transport for London said it was a criminal offence and drivers could have their taxi licences revoked.

Addison Lee used a similar tactic over the M4 bus lane, resulting in more than 200 tickets and 130 court summons against its drivers. These were dropped when the lane was ordered to be closed by Hammond in October 2010.

With a sharp increase in demand expected during the London Olympics, access to bus lanes would be a boost to Addison Lee’s business. Griffin told Hammond “he did not have additional capacity to take additional passengers during the Olympics”.

They also discussed in some detail the possibility of secure ministerial cars being provided by the private sector, with Hammond explaining to Griffin that “the concerns around the provision of cars for ministers related to security clearance of the driver and maintaining the security of the car”. He said no decision had been made on privatising the service, but told Griffin considerations would include making sure there were enough cars on hand to get ministers to the Commons for urgent votes.

source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/

document: Brum 11

Taxi access to railway stations

Taxi access to railway stations

We carried out a research study to find out whether the permits used by railway station operators to control taxi access to their stations were having a detrimental effect upon either passengers or competition.

We looked at both of the main types of station ‘taxis’. The first of these two types are ‘hackney carriages’ which are available for immediate hire at a rank or through being hailed in the street, and can also be pre-booked. The second type are private hire vehicles, also sometimes known as ‘minicabs’, which must be pre-booked (often through driver’s membership of ‘circuits’) and cannot use taxi ranks including those at stations, although private hire booking offices are located at railway stations in some cases.

We had previously received a series of complaints from individual drivers, taxi firms, and the GMB Professional Drivers’ Branch (GMBPDB). These centred upon the price and availability of individual drivers’ permits and tendering for sub-letting rights to concessions.

Our first objective was to assess how passengers were affected by taxis’ access to stations. Our second objective was to assess how competition law might apply to these arrangements.
We based our study on desk research and a series of interviews with Network Rail, train operators, taxi firms, and the GMBPDB.

Our findings

We observed that station operators use a number of methods (referred to below as ‘station permit fees’) to charge taxi drivers for access to stations. Station operators that restrict access to taxis commonly tend to levy fixed annual permit fees. There are many examples of station operators giving access to hackney carriages, private hire circuits, or both.

We found no evidence that station permit fees have an impact on hackney carriage fares, which are usually set by regulation.

Nor did we find any evidence to suggest that station permit fees influence private hire fares, or reasons to believe1 that this would be the case.

We were not made aware of any instances whereby access arrangements had a material negative impact on passenger service, for example waiting times.

It was previously suggested to us that some station permit fees might represent an instance of illegal excessive pricing under Chapter II of the UK’s Competition Act (the Act). But we found no reasons to suggest that we should launch an investigation under the Act. None of the station access regimes that we observed appeared to act against passengers’ interests. Because of this we decided not to commit resources to opening up an investigation.

Recommendations

We do not presently plan to explore this issue further.

Taxi drivers or circuits considering submitting a complaint to us about railway station access should clearly explain how they think station access arrangements are having an adverse impact on passengers, either directly or by harming competition.

Notes

1 Our research suggested that station permit fees are commonly levied on a fixed basis, in other words as a fee that drivers pay on a periodic (such as annual) basis. Permit fees typically do not depend on the number of journeys made, or miles driven, by licence holders. Private hire circuits have an incentive to set fares at a level that maximises their profits. To maximise their profits they have to price so as to find a middle ground between fares set so high that relatively few passengers are prepared to travel with them and fares that are set so low that individual journeys earn drivers relatively little money. This ‘balancing act’ isn’t affected by whether station operators levy fixed permit fees or not or by the level that any charges are levied at.

Last updated: 27 January 2012

source: http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.10816

Edinburgh Waverley Station taxi and car ban delayed

Plans for a permanent ban on taxis and cars inside Edinburgh Waverley Station have been postponed.

The station’s owner Network Rail had proposed to implement the ban from July.

However, it has agreed to delay the plans after Edinburgh City Council asked for more time to move the taxi rank outside the station.

Last month Network Rail announced it wanted to remove all vehicles for security reasons.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Waverley Station is the last major station in the UK to allow vehicles access to the concourse and we remain committed to implementing the proposed changes in the long-term.

“However, we have listened to feedback from station users and have agreed with the Department for Transport and Edinburgh City Council to delay to any action to remove vehicles to give us more time to address passenger concerns and to ensure alternative arrangements for taxis can be put in place.”

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/

NTA members gain Bristol Temple Meads station court order

A court has said black cab drivers can use Bristol Temple Meads railway station while they challenge plans to charge them to pick up fares there.

First Great Western (FGW) wants Hackney carriage drivers to pay £375 a year to use the station’s forecourt.

A court order gained by The National Taxi Association in Bristol (NTA) states those drivers can gain access if they pay the permit fee into the court.

It will be held pending the outcome of any legal action.

NTA Secretary Morad Tighilt said: “We’re not playing here. We’re challenging the legality of this permit scheme.”

The union has until Friday to decide what further legal action to file and a case management hearing has been scheduled to take place on 12 April at Cardiff High Court.

A FGW spokesman said: “We’re quite clear that the permit scheme in Bristol will continue and we’ll await any legal challenge that comes up.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/

 

Taxi drivers seek talks with First Great Western over permits at Bristol Temple Meads

ANGRY cabbies  hope to hold talks with train operator First Great Western over controversial taxi permits being introduced at Bristol Temple Meads railway station.

The permits will cost the cabbies £375 a year for using the rank on the station’s concourse.

  1. Morad Tighilt, centre, with fellow taxi drivers who are angry with First Great Western

    Morad Tighilt, centre, with fellow taxi drivers who are angry with First Great Western

But the cabbies claim the permits have been illegally brought in because the rank is part of the public highway and not private property.

Morad Tighilt, correct secretary of the Bristol Taxi Drivers’ Association, said they feared the permit would soon go up nearly seven fold.

This was because he claimed First Great Western used a formula to calculate permit costs which depended on the annual number of passengers at each station. He said the footfall was about nine million, equating to an annual permit charge of £2,500.

Mr Tighilt said: “Cabbies take about three or four months to earn that kind of money and they need it to pay for running their vehicles and all their overheads as well as looking after their families.

“This year it is £375, but next year they will double it and it will keep going up and up.”

He also criticised First Great Western for introducing the permit which was introduced at midnight on Wednesday without consultation.

A First Great Western spokesperson said: “There are 7.8 million people who go through Temple Meads every year, and the permit scheme will allow us to improve the overall station experience for all of our customers.”

source: http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/

 

Bid to halt Waverley station taxi ban

The taxi rank at Waverley Station

AN emergency bid is being launched at the City Chambers to halt plans to ban taxis and private cars from Waverley  Station.

Labour’s transport spokeswoman on the city council Lesley Hinds lodged a motion at today’s transport committee calling for urgent talks with Network Rail to prevent the closure.

The Evening News revealed last week how the station would be closed to cars and taxis permanently by July in response to terror threats ahead of the  London Olympics.

Network Rail says Waverley is the only major station left where private vehicles are allowed to drive under the roof.

But critics complain the action is out of proportion and that passengers will be left to haul their luggage up a steep ramp on to Waverley Bridge.

Taxi drivers say they will be left to circle and create  traffic chaos.

Councillor Hinds said: “We need to balance the issue of security with accessibility.

“I don’t think any other railway station requires users to take such a steep hill, and for many this will pose an issue.

“This was a decision made without due diligence and care for people with mobility problems, and even people who have to carry large cases.

“There may be new escalators and lifts but there is an issue if you can’t stop on Princes Street to pick up or drop off people.

“The council should be saying to [Network Rail] officials that this is not acceptable.”

She added: “We’re supposed to be encouraging Edinburgh travel by rail and I do not see how this decision helps.

“I would hope the motion will get a lot of support. We do not yet know what the details are, we need to know what alternative they’ve come up with for locals and visitors alike. This whole plan does not give the city a good image.”

Les McVay, City Cabs company secretary, said he would welcome any intervention.

He said: “Edinburgh at peak times has become a theme park. There are tourists who want to get around and locals who want to get around, meaning there will be far too many people in such a small space.

“We are hoping for support that will provide the accessibility we need. At the moment, Waverley Station provides around 24 spaces for taxis, so to make this work the council will have to consider taxi ranks.”

A spokesman for Network Rail previously told the Evening News the ban was necessary and alternative arrangements were being explored.

He said: “Network Rail is required to comply with legislation to remove vehicles prior to the London Olympic Games.”

source: http://www.scotsman.com/