SuperCabby Interviews Russell Howarth from Arresting Uber 30
In this episode I interview Russell Howarth from Arresting Uber again in a follow up via Skype.
Russell returned to Australia after his visit to London and has been doing a lot of work with various Taxi Trades around the World to combat the rise of what he calls a Criminal Cartel, Uber.
Russell explains his plans for combating Uber in London and also shared a few ideas that are not in this podcast as he didn’t want Uber to know exactly what his ideas are.
Russell fully intends to return to the UK and he explains how this can happen during the interview, he also says that our trade really needs to come together and unite for a common cause in fighting these tech startups.
Russell is the guy, who in Australia has made citizens arrests on Uber X drivers for operating illegally without the correct licenses or insurance.
Russell states that he has managed, through his actions, to lose Uber over 60% of their business in Australia and he is being commended by both Taxi and Limo drivers across Australia.
Russell has travelled to the UK at his own expense and is here for nearly a month to talk to Taxi Trade Organisations and he also has a meeting scheduled towards the end of the month with Leon Daniels at TFL.
Russell has a lot of ideas as to the way in which the London Taxi trade can combat the phenomenal growth of Uber in London and to thwart their attempts at cornering the market in London and the UK as a whole.
Russell also said that any driver that is any doubts as to the effect that Uber could have on the London Taxi & Private Hire trades in London should speak to any driver in America where Uber operates, he said that Taxi drivers have found that they are now taking 75% less than they were before, so if you think you can sustain running a a London Taxi on a mere 25% or what you currently earn, pay the mortgage and put food on the table then please carry on burying your heads in the sand!
An open letter to London’s Taxi Trade Representatives and Drivers
26th April 2014
The Licensed Taxi & Private Hire Industries will always have fundamental differences, however we have the view that ‘divided we fall’ if we don’t put those differences to one side for ‘common mutual interest’.
When the 1998 PHV Act was being taken from a Bill to Law some private talks were held with what was the old Taxi Board to sensibly discuss what both Taxi & Private Hire could collectively agree on, which in fact actually turned out to be a great deal.
That working relationship was essential as we were able to confirm that the legitimate Private Hire Industry was absolutely committed to having no desire to ply for hire on the streets or seeking the right to ‘rank up’. We also committed to never wanting to be hailed or to ‘meter’ journeys.
All the above was achieved by working together with the Taxi Trade Representatives of the day to get onto the statute legislation that would work for the good of both industries and most importantly our customers, the Travelling Public.
This wasn’t the first instance of working together for ‘common good’ as alongside the Taxi industry and safety groups we also agreed to support an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which made touting a criminal offence.
Right now we have a common foe in form of illegal App Work providers that are ignoring both Taxi and PHV legislation that was put onto the statute to protect the Travelling Public and both our trades under a two-tier system. That system is now being compromised by illegal Apps, some of which are based ‘offshore’ and some of that are clearly operating in breach of legislation. We have dubbed them ‘Cowboy Cab Apps’.
There is nothing wrong with Cab Apps, there are good ones being used by legitimate Taxi & PHV companies and drivers, however some are akin to ‘Hi-Tec Touts’.
Our Member’s view is that TfL TPH has been spineless in both its duty and willingness to enforce Taxi & PHV regulations with regard to some of these Apps. It has also failed to protect the Travelling Public and to ensuring fair and legal competition for both our trades. Our Member’s also state that TfL TPH has been woeful in dealing with touting, licensing management, enforcement & compliance, as well as their poor handling of many other things.
We have had enough! In fact we’d had enough 2 years ago when we sent in a letter of dissatisfaction to the Mayor just before the Olympics. That resulted in a Delloite review, which has proven to be an absolute whitewash.
In December we launched a legal challenge to one particular App work provider, following a letter of complaint to TPH last August; this followed a complaint by the GMB in 2012!
The straw that broke the camel’s back and our patience was a recent TfL News Release issued whilst we were in midst of what we considered to be private dialogue with them regarding our legal challenge.
That News Release and its content crossed the line as far as we are concerned and we have now invoked a vote of no confidence in the TfL TPH Directorate, which we are saying, is simply ‘not fit for purpose’.
As LPHCA Chairman I am now instructed by Members to express their displeasure at years of mismanagement of the licensing system under the TPH regime, which in our view has been steadily deteriorating since it moved from Penton Street. This is a decision that LPHCA Members have not taken lightly.
You may be surprised to learn that TPH now believes PHVs can ‘Meter’ journeys like Taxis and PHV Operating Centres needn’t bother to take destinations when taking bookings, all of which flies in the face of what they have been saying and regulating since the 98 Act was incepted. This co-incidentally as these Cowboy Cab Apps have arrived on the scene!
Some of these App providers have been breaking Laws world-wide and have a very arrogant publicised agenda to ignore regulation, bad mouth existing taxi services as outdated, whilst ignoring regulation with impunity in areas that have weak regulatory authorities. They are banned and enforced against by strong regulators but allowed to break laws by feeble ones.
We therefore appeal to the Taxi Industry Trade Bodies and Drivers in London to put aside differences and work in harmony, not only on Cowboy Cab Apps but also regarding TPH’s woeful performance. We strongly believe that by going forward together we will send a powerful message that we’ve all had enough of being ignored and we want our regulator to do its duty to enforce regulations and protect the travelling public by doing so.
It clearly suits some to have legitimate Taxi and PHV divided in London but we share many common aims like:
• The eradication of touting • A licensing service that is fit for purpose • Separate Taxi & PHV Management at TPH • The banning and strong enforcement of Cowboy Cab Apps • Better use of our licensing fees • The ability to recover parking and other charges at Airports, etc. • Appropriate Parking, Pick-Up, Set-Down and Resting Place provision in London • Sensible signage on PHVs
The current allowing of Apps to breach both Taxi & PHV legislation, alongside the ignoring of the will and intention of Parliament is scandalous, so we have now put these matters to TfL TPH via our Lawyers.
Our view is that Taxi & PHV must work together on as much as possible where we have common ground and the LPHCA would welcome the views of the Licensed Taxi Industry Trade Bodies and drivers.
We have followed with interest the speculation surrounding the bids for DAC, particularly the article dated 7th April in the London Taxi Drivers Forum, which refers to two bidders pulling out. We have kept quiet until now about our numerous discussions and meetings with the DAC Board between July 2013 and our Offer, which was submitted in December 2013 (and remains on the table), to ensure Members had the opportunity to vote, hold their AGM and fully consider the implications of what is a momentous decision about the long-term future of DAC.
The Board intimated throughout the process that our Offer would be made public to Members as part of the initial voting process and we also gave permission for our identity to be revealed to Members at the AGM. From our most recent communication with the Board on 10th April 2014 it is now obvious they have no intention of presenting Members with the details of the cab:app Offer and we have been advised that exclusive discussions are now being pursued with a new third party who are still completing due diligence. Further, the Board confirmed they are not prepared to present Members with information on all three bids, as they feel the 75% vote required to achieve demutualisation will not be reached if Members are given a choice.
As DAC is owned by its Members, we believe this is not a decision that should be taken solely by the Board and that you deserve full transparency on the bidding process and proposals put forward to ensure you have access to all the information on each bid before taking such a major decision, in what could be a turning point in the history of DAC.
cab:app was invented by Peter Schive, an active London driver (badge no. 63768), to help unite independent Hackney drivers through technology by giving them the tools to do their job, increase their earnings and take on private hire. To date, cab:app’s growth has all been through word of mouth as we have steadily built up over 3,600 registered Hackney drivers in over 90 cities across the UK and Ireland. cab:app’s next major phase of technology development and plans for future growth are in progress, with many new features and benefits for drivers including an ongoing revenue share in the success of cab:app. By uniting black cab drivers across the country we will actively promote to passengers the first ever network where they can book and pay for a Hackney in any town or city by phone, website or app. The primary focus will be on building corporate accounts and other business customers to generate quality work for drivers.
Offer to DAC Members
cab:app’s interest in buying into DAC is to help transform a business that has been in decline for several years, before it’s too late, by combining the best of a radio circuit with the latest innovations in technology, media and marketing.
· Our offer proposed that all assets and cash within DAC, totalling approximately £15m or £11,400 per driver, will be ring fenced and distributed 100% in 3 cash payments to drivers over 6-18 months. This assumes a sale of the property for a price indicated by the Board with any additional increase in value accruing to Members
· Members can elect to take 100% cash (£11,400) or for drivers that want to own a share in the business, there is an option to re-invest 25% of the distribution (£2,850) into the new business and still take out£8,550 in cash
· cab:app will invest £2 million of new cash into the company to enhance the technology platform, promote the benefits of the Hackney industry, and launch a comprehensive sales/marketing campaign to win new business for drivers, with a focus on corporate accounts and other high quality customers
· Subscription fees will be frozen for 3 years, DAC drivers will have priority on existing corporate accounts, all driver ideas and feedback will be embraced, and NO private hire drivers will be permitted on the system
In summary, cab:app has a clear long term vision and strategy to transform DAC. We are passionate about helping the Hackney trade to grow, so we would welcome the opportunity to present our plan to Members. We would encourage Members to request full transparency from the Board on all bids so you can consider the merits of each and make an informed decision about YOUR future. The Members own DAC and you collectively have the power to control the final outcome, so we would urge you to exercise your democratic right and NOT let the Board alone decide your fate.
If you have any questions or comments on this letter please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or we’re happy to meet you on the ranks to discuss further.
Regards Peter Schive, Derek Stewart and Jane Van Aken (co-founders of cab:app)
I have always been a keen supporter of CabApp, I use Cab App and have informed a lot of other drivers of the benefits of using Cab App, especially for the credit card facility, via this blog and also telling a lot of drivers about the App in person, but i have a lot of reservations about this proposal to DAC members from CabApp and a lot of questions that do not seem to have been addressed in either this letter or in Cab App’s presentation to Dial a Cab.
What can Cab App do with the £2M that they are suggesting they will invest that DAC cannot do with the reported £15M that they have in the bank?
What do DAC drivers hope to gain by accepting the Cab App offer as from our reading of the proposal DAC will actually be poorer should this go through
By suggesting that Cab App will invest £2M into DAC is the proposed purchase price?
Cab App suggest that they can improve DAC’s business with the use of Technology but Cab App have an app that does not connect the passenger to the closest Taxi but rather just lists jobs and sends out broadcast messages to all drivers!
Cab App state that they “launch a comprehensive sales/marketing campaign to win new business for drivers, with a focus on corporate accounts and other high quality customers” if as they suggest they can do this to improve DAC’s business then why have they not done this for their own business? Most drivers that I have spoken to about Cab App or introduced to Cab App have never heard of the App!
Drivers are expecting to get their share of DAC’s money if a sale such as this goes through but what will they actually get, lets assume that a year passes before the sale is agreed and then Cab App state that drivers can take their share over a period of 6-18 months, so that means the driver has to remain on the circuit for at least another 30 months paying subs of £140 per month? Which is a total of £4200. So assuming that the amount suggested of £11,400 is a reality then drivers will only realise £7200.
Cab App have managed to register up 3200 drivers around the UK but most of these signed up purely to use the credit card facility rather than the app itself.
“cab:app’s next major phase of technology development and plans for future growth are in progress, with many new features and benefits for drivers including an ongoing revenue share in the success of cab:app. By uniting black cab drivers across the country we will actively promote to passengers the first ever network where they can book and pay for a Hackney in any town or city by phone, website or app” Will this be through the existing app? If so will the app cope with such a proposed increase in work in its current form as it merely lists jobs rather than dispatching them to the closest cab. The app works ok with the small amount of work that goes through it at present but can you imagine if the amount of jobs going through Cab App matched that of either Hailo or Get Taxi? A driver would have to trawl through lists of jobs to locate one that was close to them!
As I said, I like Cab App and I use it regularly, mainly for the credit card facility, well to be honest I have only ever used the credit card facility as I have never actually got a job through the App but I am not sure that this proposed take over of DAC is right for either business. I cannot see how the 2 systems, the DAC system and the Cab App system, can be integrated together as Cab App have a very basic booking app with w good credit card facility whereas DAC has a very comprehensive booking system with a recently developed app which attaches to their system, a very good system but one that would be extremely costly to roll out across the UK.
I wish Cab App the best for the future but would urge DAC drivers to carefully consider the demutualising of their society, if the members want a new direction for the company then maybe they should look towards putting a younger and more dynamic board in place whip can take the society forward with the use of new technology rather than succumbing to the lure of a cash payout for the sale of DAC.
An unlicensed minicab driver who earned £11,000 while touting has had his earnings forfeited, following an investigation by the MPS Safer Transport Command (STC).
Mustafa Ahmed, 28 years (dob 25/01/1986) of Saxon Road, E3, was convicted of touting in 2009 and had his Private Hire Vehicle licensed revoked by Transport for London.
In October 2012 he came to the attention of the STC Payback Unit after officers identified that he had continued to operate as an unlicenced minicab driver even though his licence had been revoked in 2009.
On 23 November 2012, following a pro-active operation, officers arrested him on suspicion of money laundering after he was found in possession of £5,000. A further £13,000 was seized after officers searched his home address.
Officers began civil proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act against Ahmed as they believed the money was earned whilst he operated as an illegal minicab driver.
On Wednesday, 23 April 2014 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, police successfully argued that £11,000 of the money seized was the proceeds of touting, which resulted in the court ordering it to be forfeited.