More talks about UBER

York’s licensing committee will again consider the vexed question of UBER private hire vehicles operating in York when they meet next week.

A decision on what, if any, action should be taken is due to be taken by the Councils Executive on 26th September.

The Council has now published a formal legal opinion on whether UBER vehicles, registered with other local authorities can legally accept bookings in York. The council’s position is that, provided the three licences required in relation to a private hire vehicle (operator, driver and vehicle) have all been issued by the same authority, then the private hire vehicle can undertake journeys anywhere in England and Wales. This opinion can be read by clicking here

 An alternative opinion was provided via the local trade association

The meeting report reveals that national legislation is planned which will aim to clear up the confusion about what private hire vehicles can and can’t do and where.

In the meantime, officials are recommending that there is no change to the Councils existing policies.

We have sympathy for both sides in this argument. The local trade may be partly motivated by protectionism. But passenger safety is of paramount importance and standards do appear to vary across the region.

This seems to us like a suitable case on which the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (which includes York) could take a lead.

On the other hand, in a modern world, being able to summon a private hire vehicle using a smartphone app seems like a “no brainer”. If the App tells you what the vehicle will be, when it will arrive, who will be driving it and how much the journey will cost, then all to the good.

The York licencing department does need to crack down on unlawful pick-ups and prevent private hire vehicles (from all companies) from “lurking” near taxi ranks and in busy areas.

That would be the best use of resources and Council officials time.

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 and out

….or not as the case may now be in York!

The council decided last night that – because of data protection issues and complaint  levels – Uber’s York private hire license would not be renewed.

Whether it will make much difference remains to be seen.

The committee heard that the vast majority of Uber drivers in the City do not live in York anyway.

The company has a right to appeal.

Whatever people views might be about this particular company, many customers these days clearly do want to use an “App” to summon private hire vehicles. Knowing in advance the likely cost of a journey, and when the vehicle is likely will arrive, are viewed as advantages. Automatic billing is another plus point as is the opportunity for drivers and passengers to record their views on the quality of their journey experience. .

There seems to be a window of opportunity for an enterprising local company to set up a service using one of the rival IT platforms. Hopefully this would guarantee at least some “tech savvy” local drivers would have the opportunity to benefit from any growth in demand for private hire cars in York.

Currently the City has around 800 licensed private hire and taxi drivers. Of these, 10 locally registered Uber drivers.

 

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

 

Uber taxi driver fined £546 for illegally plying for trade

Following action to enforce taxi regulations by the council, a driver was yesterday (29 March) ordered to pay a total £546 by York Magistrates Court for illegally plying for fares in the city.

Council officers investigated complaints from fellow members of the taxi trade that Mohammed Nawaz, aged 25 of Cark Road, Keighley, had been seen plying for hire in the early hours of 9 October 2016 on George Hudson Street.

Video evidence showed him accept a fare that was not pre-booked and which contravenes the terms of his license.

Following the council investigation with the full co-operation of private hire operator Uber, for whom Nawaz was driving at the time, he pleaded guilty to the offence at York Magistrates Court.

The court sentenced him yesterday to a fine of £79, a court surcharge of £30 and full prosecution costs of £427.

Evidence from the investigation included Uber’s confirmation that as a result of this incident it permanently closed Nawaz’s account with them on 1 November 2016. The conviction will also be reported to Rossendale Borough Council, the driver’s licensing authority.

Cllr Sam Lisle, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said: “While we are lobbying for greater clarity over aspects of private hire legislation, it is very clear that the law does not permit drivers licensed for private hire to pick up passengers on the street who haven’t pre-booked a journey.

“Thanks to the co-operation of the operator, members of the trade and our taxi enforcement team, this verdict sends a clear message to the trade to abide by the law.”

Uber buses?

Interesting idea from TransDev in Harrogate

harrogate-bus-jan-2017TransDev was experiencing capacity issues in the morning peak on its flagship 36 service between Ripon and Harrogate. It was as a result of a large number of young people travelling to school in Harrogate on the 36, creating overcrowding problems. Over a two-week period 70 parents said they would be willing to pay for their children to use a dedicated door-to-door service and committed to buying season tickets that not only include travel on this dedicated school bus, but the rest of the Harrogate bus network too. As more and more parents came onboard the overall cost to all reduced.

The operator’s school bus fleet vehicles are typically parked up outside the traditional travel to school times. A wish to fully utilise these assets has led to the creation of the VAMOOZ app which will be launched in the coming months.

VAMOOZ will see Transdev Blazefield launch trips to destinations that are currently unserved by its conventional bus network. These destinations could include places like shopping centres, such as Meadowhall near Sheffield and the Trafford Centre outside Manchester, and trips to sporting events, concerts and music festivals too, as well as potentially more traditional visits to towns and cities of interest across the north of England.

VAMOOZ app users will browse the range of destinations on offer or, alternatively, make a suggestion for a trip of their own choosing. They will then commit to travel on that trip at the price offered by the app but uniquely this price will reduce as more and more users commit to travel.

Key to helping stimulate that demand is that users making a commitment will be invited to share their travel plans with friends on social media and by email in a bid to encourage them to travel too. As more and more people commit, the lower the price becomes to all.

Read a fuller article on this idea by clicking here

Future of UBER hire cars in York to be considered by Council

The York Council will decide on 21st December whether to extend the license of UBER hire cars to operate in York for 5 years.  The company has been operating with a 12 month temporary license.

uberA report to a Licensing Committee meeting says that only 3 local UBER drivers have been in operation but a significant number of drivers from other City’s have been operating in York.

The main difference between UBER and other private hire companies is that they are summoned by a customer using a smart phone app.

Uber, which is available in 60 countries, charges a base fare of £2.50 as well as 15p per minute and £1.25 per mile. This is without “surge pricing“, which increases the cost at times of high demand – on New Year’s Eve, for example

Typically UBER quote £4-£6 for a lift from the York Hospital to the Railway Station You an check by clicking here.

Strangely the Council report does not include details of local York UBER fares. They are contained in a private annex.

Uber was issued with a private hire operator’s licence on the 24th December 2015, having satisfied the Licensing Authority that the application met the statutory requirements.

Uber did not physically start operating in York until 9 September 2016. At this time Uber had 3 private hire vehicles and drivers licensed by this Council working through their York licensed operators site. There are presently 10 vehicles.

The Licensing Authority therefore has only experienced four months of Uber operating within the City.

Customers are most likely to be concerned that they have a safe journey and that fares are reasonable.

Since the Uber launch 110 complaints have been received relating to hackney carriage and private hire vehicles/drivers. 72 of these complaints relate to Uber vehicles/drivers, only one of which relates to an Uber vehicle/driver licensed by this Council, the other 71 relate to vehicles/drivers licensed by other authorities.

Uber have provided the following information:

  • Applicants who are not already licensed as a private hire/hackney carriage driver were required to provide a basic disclosure, criminal record check, from Disclosure Scotland.
  • appropriate public liability insurance and employer liability insurance, if they have employees, annually.

We suspect that booking taxis and hire cars using mobile apps will be the norm in future.

How quickly the idea will catch on in York remains to be seen.