TfL’s Hostile Reception at the LPHCA Roadshow
Peter Blake of TfL received a less than warm welcome at the recent Licenced Private Hire Car Association’s Roadshow. The regulator’s Director of Service Operations attended the event on September 29th to provide an update on the TfL proposals for the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone as well as future licencing requirements for private hire drivers.
This was the 9th year that the annual event had taken place and it was attended by record numbers of private hire operators and drivers. Both appeared keen to vent their anger at what they regard as the imposition of a number of unjust new regulations. The LPHCA’s founder and chairman Steve Wright criticised recent legislation as being based on the results of a consultation that was disproportionately responded to by the black cab trade.
Mayor’s PHV Plans Provoke Angry Response
Blake had been invited by the LPHCA to outline the new Mayor’s vision for future of the industry. His presentation didn’t get off on the best foot when the partisan audience were informed that they would only have 20 minutes of his time. Although TfL had a stand at the event and were available to take questions throughout the day, drivers were keen to make their complaints heard in public.
Questions were raised regarding: the practicality of booking system requirements for smaller operators, what their greater enforcement powers would entail and a request was made by Plan for a time-frame and details relating to operator level private hire insurance.
TfL Proposals Lead to Chanting
Faced with the unenviable task of justifying new rules to a deeply dissatisfied audience Blake coped as best he could and maintained a calm approach. However at one stage the scenes became more reminiscent of a demonstration as drivers joined in chanting against the regulator’s proposals that was more .
Industry representative highlighted the option of industrial action against the introduction of further legislation by the regulator. It was mentioned that this is a real possibility should congestion charging for private hire drivers be introduced. Attendees were urged to join the LPHCA and help fund the fight to prevent TfL’s proposals becoming law.
Also in attendance were representatives of Heathrow Airport to report on their Authorised Vehicle Area trial. Staff of the UK’s busiest airport were keen to promote the fact that, much to the relief of local residents, user numbers have spiked with over 3,000 private vehicle drivers now utilising the parking facility every day. Perhaps still caught up in the hostile atmosphere that followed Blake’s exit drivers were quick to criticise the sign posting and naming of the facility. Black Cab representatives who attended the presentations also raised doubts about the user numbers being presented.
Other noteworthy presentations included tech company Yoti ‘s update on their progress with developing digital identification software for drivers and price comparison app Karhoo’s premier of their lighthearted driving training video.
No fixed time frames for the measures being introduced were included in Peter Blake’s presentation. So we await further information with baited breath. Judging by the reaction of the LPHCA audience its highly likely that the next update on TfL proposals will be in writing.