Taxis may have crucial role in current health crisis

A Council meeting which was to have taken place next week (now cancelled) would have considered the high costs of home to school transport. The council has a budget for this service of #2.78 million although the meeting would have heard that this is overspent by #525,000.

Free transport is provided for pupils who are attending their catchment school, and who live more than 2 miles (primary pupils) or 3 miles (secondary pupils) from home. Most of these pupils use dedicated bus services. Those in receipt of free school meals may also benefit from the use of a bus pass.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) children also get free transport. This includes those with an Education Health Care Plan. Many of these journeys are provided by taxis companies.

Although it remains unclear how many pupils will be continuing to attend their local school (the children of key workers certainly will), it is likely that some free taxi capacity will be available over the coming weeks.  

Hopefully this capacity might be used to ease the burden of those restricted to their own homes as a result of the current corona virus threat.

The delivery of proscriptions and shopping are important services which might usefully be provided by taxi

NB. On a similar level, local supermarkets are now advertising for temporary staff to supplement their shelf stacking and home delivery teams. Possibly good news for some self employed workers who might need a short term job?

Crackdown on unsafe taxis in York

A series of checks on taxis and private hire vehicles in York has been carried out in a multi-agency operation to ensure the vehicles are providing a safe service to passengers.

Officers from partners including City of York Council, Leeds City Council, North Yorkshire Police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) supported the operations.

The operation ran throughout the evening and into the morning of Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 March. A total of 21 private hire vehicles and hackney carriages which were operating in the city were stopped and checked. Vehicles licensed by York, Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees and Wakefield were inspected.

All vehicles underwent full mechanical examinations for defects by the DVSA at the council’s MOT test centre at Hazel Court or at the roadside. Checks were also made to ensure that the drivers were properly licensed, insured and that the vehicles they were driving were safe to carry customers on the roads.

As a result, three vehicles were ordered off the road by the DVSA and/or suspended by council enforcement officers due to the faults found including:

  • defective tyres 
  • defective or inoperative lights
  • illuminated engine warning lights

A further 14 drivers were advised to repair minor vehicle defects and several others were also warned by licensing enforcement officers about breaches of taxi licensing rules. Two York private hire drivers were issued with formal written warnings for breach of licence condition.

Anyone with concerns about the conduct of drivers or the condition of their vehicles should email public.protection@york.gov.uk so that the council can investigate.

Criminal record checks on York taxi drivers

Council releases latest figures

The York Council is reporting that 917 (93.2%) of York Taxi drivers have successfully completed their Disclosure and Barring (DBS) checks. The checks were introduced to reassure passengers that drivers were “fit and proper” to hold a licence. A committee report goes on to say;

  • “There are 14 (1.4%) drivers with checks in progress with the DBS.
  • There are 22 (2.2%) drivers with whom we are checking ‘positive’ results. Please note that the DBS process flags all previous convictions and other matters which we may already be aware of.
  • Some 18 (1.8%) of drivers have indicated their intention to surrender their licence as they are no longer driving.
  • There are ten (1.0%) drivers who we have been unable to contact or begin the process for good reason (for example because they have a long-term illness) &
  •  three (0.3%) drivers are refusing to co-operate”.

A report to the same meeting – which is taking place tomorrow (Monday) attempts to deal with the issue of UBER drivers operating in York. Last year the Council refused to grant a licence to UBER to operate locally. The issue now concerns UBER drivers, with licences are issued by other authorities,
are still serving the City .

UBER

The report says that the Council is satisfied that having regard to the independent Legal Opinion, the settled legal position remains as follows:

“Provided the three licences required in relation to a private hire vehicle (operator, vehicle and driver) have all been issued by the same authority, then the private hire vehicle (PHV) can undertake journeys anywhere in England and Wales. That is irrespective of where the journey commences, areas through which the journey passes and, ultimately, the area where the journey ends”.

An alternative legal opinion has been provided by local taxi operators.

Pretty much a “BREXIT” style stand off then which only leads to confuse potential customers.

UBER York private hire license up for renewal

A meeting taking place on 12th December will determine whether to renew Ubers operating license in York.

Uber London recently lost a similar license  on the grounds that they are not a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold
a licence.

Over the last year the Authority has received 155 complaints relating to Uber vehicles/drivers. There were also 141 complaints about non Uber vehicles/drivers.

Uber driver complaints

A majority of the complaints about Uber related to matters such as alleged plying for hire,to many out of town vehicles operating in York, dangerous driving, smoking in vehicles and fares charged.

The majority of Uber drivers were from Bradford and Leeds.

Only 4 of the Uber complaints related to York registered vehicles/drivers

If the license application were refused, Uber drivers licensed in other local authority areas would still be able to operate in York.

Council officials say there is no obvious justification for not renewing the Uber York licence

 

Renewed call in York for lower public transport fares

Petrol prices down again August 2016 compared to July 2016:

Fuel proce gra[ph as at Aug 2016According to government figures released today petrol prices reduced by 2.4 pence per litre whilst diesel prices were down 1.6 pence per litre. Click for details

The figures are likely to increase calls for taxi and bus fares in York to be reduced.

Renewable energy use down in UK for the 3 month period April to June 2016, compared to the same period a year earlier

Also according to the governmentEnergy imports August 2016

  • Primary energy consumption in the UK on a fuel input basis fell by 0.3%, on a temperature adjusted basis consumption fell by 1.8% continuing the downward trend. (click for details)
  • Indigenous energy production fell by 3.4%, due to reduced coal output, though both oil and bioenergy production increased. Click for details
  • Electricity generation by Major Power Producers down 0.9%, with coal down 72% but offset by increase in gas up 57%.* click for details
  • Gas provided 50.9% of electricity generation by Major Power Producers, with nuclear at 24.2%, renewables at 18.1% and coal at a record low of 6.8%.* click for details
  • Wind generation by Major Power Producers down 14.5%, with offshore down 9.0% and onshore down 20%, due to lower average wind speeds.* click for details
  • Low carbon share of electricity generation by Major Power Producers down 1.6 percentage points to 42.3%, as rise in bio-energy not enough to offset falls in nuclear and wind generation.* click for details

*Major Power Producers (MPPs) data published monthly, all generating companies data published quarterly.

Crackdown on cross border private hire car operators in York

TaxiPrivateThe York Council is joining forces with neighbouring authorities in West Yorkshire in an attempt to root out rogue private hire vehicle operators.

Licensing standards in different authorities vary. It has been alleged that some companies exploit these differences to operate with minimal standards.

Currently York Council officers have no powers to conduct any enforcement activity on taxis or private hire drivers or vehicles not licensed by the authority. Operators may choose to be licensed by authorities with less rigorous licensing standards and simply transfer bookings from the York district to that operating base. There may be significant difficulties in verifying whether a pre booking was in place, when investigating plying for hire concerns.

A report to a Council committee details the objectives of having a common policy across York and West Yorkshire

  • Safeguarding- child sexual exploitation – human trafficking – a common minimum training standard for the trade.
  • Driver application process – improved common minimum standards
  • English comprehension – common minimum standards for new applicants, it would only apply to existing licence holders where there was an identified need, with the focus being on training and development within an agreeable timeframe.
  • Convictions Policy and Convictions Criteria – standard criteria be adopted.
  • Decision making-scheme of delegation – all local authorities introduce a scheme of delegation to Officers for decision making.
  • Private Hire Operator Conditions – a common standard across the Combined Authority.
  • Private Hire Vehicle Conditions – all West Yorkshire and York licensed vehicles have similar recognisable door livery which deforms when removed.
  • Common Byelaws – Hackney Carriages – a common standard across the Combined Authority.
  • Authorised Officer status – Licensing and Enforcement Officers able to carry out inspection and suspension powers on a vehicle licensed by any Combined Authority, through the scheme of delegation of powers being coordinated across all the authorities to enable more efficient enforcement action.

While steps to safeguard the public interest will be welcomed in the City, the current proposals do not appear address cross border issues concerning vehicles from other parts of North Yorkshire or Teesside.

FOI response confirms that taxi fare reduction is needed in York

20% drop in fuel costs over 2 years.

How taxi fares are calculated. click to enlarge

How taxi fares are calculated. click to enlarge

A freedom of Information response has confirmed that a reduction of taxi fares in York is necessary to reflect falling fuel prices

In 2014 fuel costs fell by 8% while last year the drop was a further 13%.

An overall reduction in taxi fare levels of 0.77% was due from April 2015 (which was never implemented) with an further 0.96% drop now required.

The reductions do not reflect only the drop in fuel prices as other factors including wage increases (+4.5%) and the costs of maintenance and insurance, are included in the fare calculation.

No statements on taxi fares – or indeed bus fare costs on subsidised services – have been made by the York Council.

Public transport users have a legitimate expectation that they will benefit from the lower fuel prices.

 

York Council set to adopt new taxi licensing policies

Users expecting fares to go down in wake of fuel cost reduction

Click to read

Click to read

The York Council is expected to produce a new licensing code for taxi and private hire operations when it meets on 8th February. The proposed regulations include little that is new and will be subject to a consultation period.

Private hire licences will be available for 5 years and some “cross border “working will be allowed.

Compulsory training on child sex exploitation is also being introduced.

Most passengers will be looking with anticipation at the new fares stricture due to be introduced in April.

Fare levels are worked out using an index agreed by the taxi trade several years ago.  A Freedom of information request at this time last year revealed that there should be a small reduction in fare levels, but this was never introduced.

Sustained low fuel cost levels over the last 12 months should mean a more significant reduction is due this year.

NB The same meeting will consider an application to renew a sex establishment license at 53 Micklegate (Mansion club)

Public transport users in York will not benefit from fuel price reductions

The media is reporting that First buses do not intend to reduce fares to reflect the 20% reduction seen in diesel costs.

Fuel price graph Aug 2015

Pump prices have fallen from a high of 150 pence per litre to just 112 ppl in York this week. The downward trend in diesel prices has been significant and sustained since First last increased their prices.

In some cases such as  season tickets prices will actually increase.

The decision mirrors that of the taxi trade which declined to pass on the benefits of lower fuel prices to customers earlier in the year.

Yesterday the government announced that regulated rail fares would increase by 1% in January. A study has suggested that regulated fare prices jumped 25% between 2010 and 2015, while average pay rose 9% over the same period.

Unfortunately there is currently no independent organisation in York lobbying on behalf of public transport users. The Council’s scrutiny committee pointedly ignores the subject of public transport costs and punctuality.

Call for reduction in York bus and taxi fares in wake of 20% fall in fuel prices

Liberal Democrats are calling for public transport users to enjoy the benefits of lower fuel prices.

Bus fares have risen steadily over the last 4 years with park and ride charges increased by 5% in January.

The No 12 bus to Foxwood Lane, York - one of a number of bus routes which could be cut

First buses last increased their single fares in September 2013. Some other fares were restructured in the light of falling customer numbers at the same time.

Since then fuel prices have dropped by 21%.

Taxi fares were last reviewed in April 2014. Another review is due next month. 

Fuel costs have reduced by 17% since last April.

The Council has been asked under Freedom of Information legislation to release details of the cost assumptions made when approving fare increases.

Public transport providers do, of course, face other costs. These include labour and depreciation costs while maintenance and licensing charges also take a toll. But most of these costs have been stable recently, so passengers will be expecting to benefit.

Lower fares may mean a “win win” for operators with increased passenger numbers making up any reduction in income.

Free station bus service is aimed at visitors”

Yesterday’s announcement that car parking charges would increase in order to fund a “fares free” bus service from the station to the hospital is attracting a growing level of criticism.

Bus users have pointed out that they will have already purchased a “through” ticket when boarding the bus on the first leg of their journeys. The majority of bus journeys are made by elderly concessionary pass holders, who get “free” travel anyway (the bill is picked up by the government).

It seems that the only real beneficiaries of the new service will be visitors/tourists arriving by rail at the station.