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London Taxi Radio Station

I have got this mad and wacky idea that we London Taxi drivers could have our own radio station. It could be used to give drivers up to date traffic information, rank information, work information and the like, it could be used for all sorts of things and maybe after a few months of operating might even be able to attract some advertising to help fund the radio station.

Now I now it sounds an impossible thing to do, but after a little research I have found that it is really quite easy, now we would not be able to have a proper radio station that broadcasts over the air but we could have an internet radio station that broadcasts over the internet. With the advance of mobile broadband this could be a real proposition.

The initial set up cost for the radio station is Free Of Charge, yes thats right we could do it for nothing, but to remain within the law we would need to buy a broadcast license from PRS which costs £226.00 per year.

The problem is that one person cannot make a radio station and I am sure that everyone would soon get fed up of my type of music and from hearing my voice, so is there any other wacky drivers at there that would be interested in joining me to explore the possibility of setting up London Taxi Radio?

The type of people that would be needed to make this work are DJs who could produce music radio shows, either niche shows or general music, presenters who could host talk radio shows, news presenters, drivers who could do voice overs for adverts etc, this need not be a big commitment but if you have ever wanted to have a go at working or DJing on radio then this may be the right chance for you.

If so please get in touch via the contact me page on this site or via Twitter @SuperCabby

Death of Standards

TPH announced some time ago that from next year there will be a change in the testing procedure for London Taxis. No longer will we be required to present our Taxis at SGS for its annual inspection but instead we will be required to have 2 MOTs per year and on the Annual anniversary of its license we will also have to present our taxi to the new TPH contractor for a safety check and issue of plates, this new testing regime is much along the lines of what PH are subjected to now.

We already had a lowering of standards when testing of London Taxis was moved from the old Public Carriage Office to the system that we now have with SGS and this new system will see our standards lowered even further as the standard for an MOT is nowhere near as high as the standard required by SGS to get a Taxi through its annual inspection. I know of a lot of cabs that I have presented to SGS that have failed their Overhaul that would have quite easily passed a DoT MOT test. There is also the problem of “bent MOTs” as we all know someone who can get a “hooky MOT”, I have even been offered MOTs from garages where I have not had to present the vehicle, obviously for a fee over and above the standard MOT test fee.

Some drivers out there will obviously be pleased that they will be able to take their Taxi to any MOT test station to get it inspected and not have to go through what they see as an expensive and over zealous inspection that they feel is unwarranted and unnecessary, these are probably the same drivers who do not bother having their cab serviced throughout the year and then complain that their overhaul has cost them dearly due to their lack of maintenance, or the ones who drive  around with bald tyres, or the ones that protest that they cannot afford to have a repair effected to their cab! Personally I cannot see the argument of not being able to have the cab repaired due to the fact that it is a Taxi drivers means of earning a living so in essence you cant afford not to have the cab repaired.

I think that this new testing procedure is the worst thing that could happen to our trade with regards to vehicle testing, it will see our standards fall to an all time low and the drop in standards will soon become apparent by the state of the taxis plying for hire on the streets of our capital city. I have seen some Taxi that have had no maintenance throughout the year and need a lot of work to get them through the overhaul but yet they may just scrap through an MOT, now with these type of owners it will be nearly 2 years before they are forced to have any work done to their vehicle and that will only happen when the taxi fails its MOT on the second year, so you can imagine what sort of state the taxi will be in by then.

There is also the problem of some of the fleets where the owners are a little unscrupulous to say the least, if they own their own garage and decide to have an MOT inspection area installed will they be inclined to pass their own  cabs no matter what faults they have just to get them back on the road? If they do the cabs could end up in a really bad state of repair and they could keep doing this as long as the cab passes its TPH safety check which if the PH trade check is anything to go by it will be an absolute breeze to get a cab through.

What will happen to our dedicated Taxi garages? will they survive after the demise of the yearly overhaul? Probably not, well not in their current format, we have already seen a few garages close in London one of the more prominent being Coachlines who have been around for years. Taxi Garages will have to change the way in which they work and charge in order to survive, the garage trade will be very quiet for the first year after the system has changed as drivers will probably take it upon themselves to get their cab MOTed and only have the minimal work done to get it through should it fail.

We have worked on and seen many taxis that work in areas other than London and the standard is nowhere near as high as in London, in particular we service a number of Medway plated taxis which are required to have 4 MOTs per year, and I can confirm that not one of them would pass an SGS inspection and the fall a long way short of what I consider to be suitable to carry fare paying passengers, when I first started servicing them they were in a terrible state and yet they were still passing their inspections, they are now up to a reasonable level of maintenance but still at a lot lower standard than that required in London.

Taxi Garages for years have seen servicing as a bit of a loss leader with the overhaul work bringing in the profit, servicing is done at a very low price i n order to keep the customer happy so that they return to the garage for their overhaul work to be done, but with the overhaul work gone what will happen to servicing prices? well your £50 TX1 service earns the garage nothing basically, the actual cost of the parts to if the driver were to buy them retail would equal what he is being charged by the garage to do the work for him. So if the garage earns basically nothing from servicing a taxi and then reaps the benefit from the overhaul work what will happen when the overhaul work comes to an end? The garage will have to start charging realistic prices for any servicing work which would be retail prices for parts plus a decent hourly labour rate, they will have no choice otherwise they will go out of business.

Some drivers may well be happy to see the demise of Taxi garages as I have heard certain drivers refer to garage owners as piss takers and that may well be true in some cases, but in the vast majority of garages are respectable and honest, it would definitely be detrimental to our trade if lots of taxi garages were to close and if you do not believe me try taking your taxi to a normal car garage for a service, 1 it will cost you more, 2 it will definitely be off the road for longer. Also your running repairs and breakdowns would require a longer downtime as car garages obviously do not stock Taxi parts, most order parts in on an “as needed” basis, whereas your average taxi garage carries most of the essential parts in stock.

I personally cannot see how this change is going to benefit our trade in anyway, it is detrimental and possibly damaging to our envious reputation of being the Best Taxi Service in the World. We are at risk of our standards dropping as low as those of PH which just brings us down another level towards them with the difference between us and them becoming less and the distinction between the two trades being eroded which is something that we need to resist where possible.

I might be wrong about all this and only time will tell if my predictions are right, but if I am proved right it will mean our trade is becoming less stringently regulated and our reputation would become tarnished, I hope I am wrong!

Ask a Cabby

Many years ago I was approached by BBC America to do an online question and answer thing via their website. After we had a lengthy discussion I decided that I would give it a try.

The theme was run along the lines of a sort of online forum where people would post questions and I would endeavour to answer them, the questions had to firstly be approved by myself, this was to stop an abuse or foul language being posted online, once I approved the question I would then go on to answer it as best I could.

This run for quite a few years and was very successful with hundreds of questions being posted by the people of America and me trying to answer them, at its height it did become a bit too much for just one person but I used to wade my way through the questions as and when I could and if I did not know the answer to a particular question I would try to find the information and then go back and answer their query.

The Ask a Cabby forum eventually came to an abrupt end and the funny thing is that it was Eastenders that brought about its demise, at the time BBC America were showing Eastenders but then decided to cut the show from their schedule, once they did the Ask a Cabby forum became full of people complaining at the removal of Eastenders so it was decided to end the forum for good.

The thing is I was wondering if Ask a Cabby would be a useful thing to promote our trade within London, obviously it would need more drivers to get involved to answer the customers questions, just wondering what you drivers out there think about the idea and whether you would like to get involved?

Five British Icons Centre Stage at Olympic Closing Ceremony

Five British Icons entered centre stage at the Olympics closing ceremony adorned with the Spice Girls riding atop!

The five Fairway London Taxis appeared on stage sporting the number plates “Spice” for their guest appearance at the Olympic Closing Ceremony.

The Taxi had special platforms built onto their roofs with hand rails so that the spice girls could climb up on top of them and be driven around the stadium to the cheers of the 80,000 strong audience.

Kick in the Bollocks or Fantastic Publicity

Many drivers are calling the appearance of Taxis in the closing ceremony a “Kick in the Bollocks” mainly due to the fact that the Licensed London Taxi trade were excluded from the Olympic Games and the Olympic route network. But was this a kick in the bollocks or was it fantastic publicity for our trade?

The closing ceremony was watched by 26 million people in this Country alone so it must have been viewed by millions Worldwide so surely this must be good publicity for our trade?

And these five were not the only Taxis to appear in the closing ceremony, apparently some 42 other taxis and drivers took part in the extravaganza, in fact one commentator described one section of the ceremony as the “Black Cab Ballet”.

Never look a Gift Horse in the mouth

Companies would have paid millions for the sort of Global exposure that the London Taxi achieved on the night of the closing ceremony which was viewed by millions around the World and yet many within our trade see it as a “kick in the bollocks”. Why is it that in this trade we always look for the negatives within any given issue rather than looking for the positives?

Yes we were excluded from the Olympic Route Network or “ZIl Lanes” but that is now in the past and there is nothing that we can do to change that, yes there has been a dramatic downturn in work, especially for day drivers and once again there is nothing that we can do about it, but surely if there is something positive that we can take away from these games it’s the inclusion of Taxis in the closing ceremony.

Look for the Positives & forget the Negatives

As a trade we need to stop looking at the negative side of anything that happens and try to find something positive no matter how bad things get, we are in real danger of being labelled as moaning, greedy Taxi drivers and not the caring, passionate about our city, professional Taxi drivers that we are, the best in the World as we are always being described.

You will never find a large company moaning about their competitors, of moaning about a downturn in trade, they always try to find something positive to report otherwise it breeds contempt for their brand, we do not want our brand to be tarnished with negative labelling, we should portray a positive, helpful, experienced and knowledgeable public face, a Public Image that looks inviting to potential customers and makes them interested in us and convinces them to use our services.

Olympic Legacy

Since the end of the games all we keep hearing about is the Olympic Legacy, all the London Taxi Trade can hope for is that the Olympic Legacy is that the exposure of our great City to millions of people around the World brings more visitors to London which should in turn bring more customers who would like to travel in the back of our taxis.

The Olympics – The Greatest Show on Earth

Yes we all know that the London Taxi Trade was shafted and left out of the olympics, and yes we were not allowed in the Olympic Games Lanes, and yes there was a decrease in the amount of work and drivers earnings were down, and yes many of us feel that we were excluded from the games as were many other businesses.

But lets be honest, the rest of the World is looking on and commenting on how good the 2012 Olympics were and many are saying they were the best olympics ever!

Team GB did a fantastic job and did us proud, coming 3rd in the medals table for such a small Nation is no small feat, in a medal per thousand population we came top.

The athletes loved the games and the venues and did really well, the crowds who attended the games loved every minute of their experience and 70,000 people volunteered as “Games Makers” thats nearly 3 times the number of London Taxi Drivers!

There is no doubt that the games were spectacular and will go down in World history as being one of the greatest Olympic Games ever and in British History as being one of Great Britian’s best ever achievements.

The games are now over and finished with a spectacular closing ceremony, I know it wasn’t to everyones taste but I thought it was better than most other closing ceremonies that I have seen.

We as a trade now need to put the games behind us and move on, we should not linger on what was forced upon our trade during the games but look to the future.

Looking at some of the tweets on Twitter we are in danger of being labelled miserable, moaning London Taxi Drivers because we seem to be the only ones who are moaning about the games, we need to cheer up, look forward and get back to work.

Heres looking forward to a brighter future for our trade.

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