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Another pretty bird seen on the Strand.

Hello everyone, I  hope you are all well and earning enough. You don’t need me to tell you how tough it is out there at the moment so I was wondering what you all do to pass the time between jobs?
I like to pass the time by looking at unusual things that I  pass every day I’m working but never have the time to fully see when it’s busy.
Now I’m not going to bore you all with a potted history of london,  there are people better qualified than me  out there who can do that properly.
The other thing I have an interest in is photography. Again I’m no professional but I like to point a camera from time to time.
This brings me to the point of my quick visit tonight.
Earlier today I was driving along the Strand and saw a young lady wandering along carrying a box that was about the size of a small suitcase.  This box was black and had holes drilled in the side and was obviously containing an animal of some sort.  I watched the young lady stop on the forcourt of the church,  open the box and take a bird of prey out.

image

This was what was  in the box. Continue Reading »

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Another flying visit.

Hello everybody I hope you are well and earning enough.
Well it was only a year and a bit ago when I said I would be visiting a bit more often, how time flies when your having fun!
As you would expect a lot has happened in that time, some good some bad but not all of it worth sharing with you on here so I’ll just share some of the highlights.
The last time I was here I told you that I’d bought a TX4 and how reliable it had been. Well since then it has had to have the engine rebuilt, after it seized solid going up Prince of Wales rd during the summer.
I had a punter in the cab at the time and was only a couple of hundred yards from his destination when it died and he decided that as I hadn’t got him home he wasn’t going to pay the fare!
The cab was recovered by the AA and they dropped it off to Just Taxis to get it sorted, where they spent the next week replacing most of the internal parts of the engine,apparently it had bent a conrod among other things. Continue Reading »

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Mayor announces that all new London taxis will need to be zero emission capable from 2018

Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) working with five companies in the race to develop the next generation of greener London taxis
·         Manufacturers spurred on by plans for Ultra Low Emission Zone to improve air quality and encourage take up of zero and low emission vehicles

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today (Thursday 16 January) announced plans that would require all new taxis presented for licensing in the capital to be zero emission capable from 1 January 2018, with the expectation that they will automatically operate in zero emission mode while in areas where the capital’s air quality is at its worst such as parts of central London.

The Mayor will confirm his plan at TfL’s ‘New Taxis for London’ event today, where he will meet five manufacturers developing zero emission capable taxis – Frazer-Nash, Nissan, Karsan, London Taxi Company and Mercedes – several of whom are displaying vehicles at the event that will secure the future of the iconic London taxi which is famous around the world.

The news follows a pledge the Mayor made last year to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London by 2020.  Since then TfL has been exploring ways to introduce the scheme in 2020 and have focused on the development of options.  Further engagement on the options for an Ultra Low Emission Zone will be undertaken this year.

To assist taxi drivers and encourage the early adoption of the new greener vehicles before the 2018 deadline, the Mayor and TfL are now exploring a number of supporting measures with the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and are in discussion with the Green Investment Bank around financial options to help the capital’s transition to zero emission capable taxis.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “The London taxi is iconic in so many ways – not least in terms of its eye-catching looks and the way it is piloted by wily experts who know the capital like the back of their hand.  To date its one Achilles heel, particularly of older models, has been the pollution generated by chugging diesel engines.  As part of my mission to improve our air quality and drive innovation, I’m making a firm pledge to Londoners that from 2018 all taxis presented for licensing should be zero emission capable.  The cleaner, greener vehicles I’ve seen today are proof that the evolution of the great London cab is well and truly underway.”

Garrett Emmerson, TfL Surface Transport Chief Operating Officer, said: “We will continue to work closely with taxi manufacturers to get ‘New Taxis for London’ carrying passengers on the streets of the capital as soon as possible.  The manufacturers at this event today are clearly well advanced in delivering the next generation of green taxi.  We believe these vehicles will be available well in advance of the challenging deadline set today by the Mayor.  We are also working with the wider industry and the Green Investment Bank to provide assistance to cab drivers who want to be among the first to get behind the wheel of these cutting edge vehicles that will significantly contribute to improving air quality in the capital as well as delivering benefits to cabbies themselves, in terms of reduced running costs.”

TfL will continue to work with and support all the manufacturers right through to manufacture, to assist them in meeting London’s taxi vehicle requirements, including wheelchair and other accessibility requirements.  Through Source London the capital already has one of the most developed public charging networks in the world with almost 1,400 charge points.  The scheme will be managed by IER from the summer and they have ambitious plans to increase the number of charge points across the capital to 6,000 by 2018, with targeted services for taxi drivers.

Currently road transport is responsible for around 80 per cent of airborne pollution in the parts of central London where air quality is the worst, with black cabs contributing to 30 per cent of particulate matter emissions in those areas.  The new zero emission capable taxis being developed include both plug-in full series hybrid vehicles and full electric models.  These vehicles will have the ability to operate in passenger service without emitting harmful pollutants.

The Mayor has already delivered on a number of measures to address emissions from taxis and to retire the oldest vehicles in the London taxi fleet. In January 2012, a 15 year age limit was introduced for taxis along with a requirement that all newly licensed taxis must meet, as a minimum, the Euro V emissions standard. Around 3,000 of the most polluting taxis have also been removed from the London fleet.  TfL has also undertaken a campaign to educate drivers on the fuel savings and reduced environmental impact that can be achieved by not leaving their engines idling at taxi ranks.

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A flying visit

Hello everybody, I hope you are all well and earning enough.
Well its been a while since my last visit and my promise to Steve that I’d post a bit more often!
A lot has changed since my last ramblings starting with my decision to buy a cab and stop renting.
This came about when my next door neighbour managed to park his van in the side of my rented cab. He came straight round and admitted it and offered to pay for the damage but after going back and forth between Hexagon and my neighbour for a week or so I decided that it if it was my cab I could have just taken it to my local body shop and it would have been repaired in a couple of days.
Now as I have said before I have had no complaints with renting from Hexagon, in fact I would go as far as saying that if I decided to sell my cab and start renting again I would be back with them straight away ( if Jason would have me back ).
My previous cabs were both bought from a now defunct garage in Dunbridge St that was run by a fella called Trevor. Now to say that he was your archetypal car sales man is an understatement, he made Delboy Trotter look like the pope and Boycie the arc angel Gabriel!
So it was with trepidation that I started looking around at cabs. I didn’t want a new one so I started looking around for second hand dealers and decided that it would either be Just Taxis or Ascotts. I looked at the websites for both garages and found the ideal cab in Just Taxis in Hackney.
So the next Monday Lyn and I jumped on a train to St Pancs, grabbed a cab to Richmond Rd and a couple of hours later we were the proud owners of a 57 plate TX4.
The cab is a great improvement on the tx2 and I wish that I had got one earlier. It hasn’t been all plain sailing though and there have been a couple of teething problems but they have been dealt with without any fuss and even a replacement gearbox was fitted, when the old one started to play up. This was all so different to our previous experiences with our last cabs!
Since my last visit here I have changed my working hours (again!) and I now start about 3.30 ish in the afternoon.
The reason for this change is purely selfish. The hours I used to work meant that I didn’t really see much of the daylight and it also meant that I “lost” part of my weekend as I tried to get back into a daytime living pattern.
The change has not improved my earnings, in fact I’m probably working longer hours but at least I did get to enjoy some of the glorious weather this summer. The other thing I have noticed working during the day is that the congestion charge doesn’t work! Some days the traffic is horrendous and is far worse than I remember it from when I last worked days.
I’m glad to say that I survived the Olympics and didn’t lose too much money but it certainly had an effect on my earnings and I for one breathed a sigh of relief when it was all over.
Talking of the Olympics I had an interesting job which involved a member of the judging committee for the tennis.
I was getting ready to go home one morning and decided to grab a cuppa and a bacon roll at the Smithfield café to see me on my way. As I finished my roll a well dressed fella, who had obviously had a drink, came up to the cab and asked me if I took credit cards. When I said I did he got in and asked to go to Putney Bridge. So off we went and as is normal he was asleep not long after we had set off.
When we arrived at Putney I had a bit of a job getting him to wake up but when I eventually did he decided that he was getting out without paying. Obviously I stopped him getting out and explained that he owed me some money and that he wouldn’t be going anywhere until I had it! After a bit of arguing, including him saying that I hadn’t picked him up in Smithfield but in Chelsea and I had ripped him off he eventually calmed down and decided that he was going to pay by card, which is what he wanted when he got in! Unfortunately his card wouldn’t work and no matter how hard we tried it just wouldn’t go so I suggested that we went to a cash point and got cash instead but he decided that as the card wouldn’t work I had to let him have the ride for free! Now that was never going to happen so after even more arguing, during which time he told me that he was supposed to be officiating at the Olympic tennis later that day, I took him to Fulham nick. When we got there he came with me into the station and we both explained what had happened to the desk officer who listened and then told the fella that he would have to go and get some cash from a cash point. So off we went back out of the police station only for the bloke to say that he was not going to get me any cash and was just going back to Putney.
Once again I went back into the police station and told the desk officer what had happened and she got on the radio and called up some troops. A couple of minutes later a car came around the corner containing 3 large policemen and a rather annoyed French tennis judge. They got out of the car and one officer came and asked me what had happened while the other 2 stayed with the fella. After I told him what had occurred he directed the Frenchman to the nearest ATM and said that we would wait for him to return. But the Frenchman decided that he was not going to do as suggested and told the assembled officers that he was going home, he also told them that he was very annoyed with his treatment and that he was going to report them to the Olympic authorities! This didn’t cut much ice with the police and after a short exchange, during which they made it quite clear what would happen to him if he didn’t do as requested, he toddled off to get my cash.
When he returned he wouldn’t give me the money and insisted in handing it over to the officer instead who then had to pass it on to me. While I was waiting for the fella to return with my cash I checked the back of the cab, which is something I do every day when I finish work, and found a wedding ring on the back seat. After a closer inspection I saw that it belonged to the French fella so I returned it via the same policeman who gave me my cash, petty I know but it gave me a smile.
Another thing that has changed in the last few months is my weight. I have lost over 4 stone since the new year and I still have a couple more to go until I reach my goal. This means no more bacon and cheese butties or sticky buns from the Smithfield café and I now try to find healthier places to eat. This has led me and Steve to try different places for refreshment over the last few weeks. So if any of you other cabbies out there can suggest a healthy and tasty place to try let us know.
My weight loss was inspired by an altercation with a motorcyclist and his female passenger last Christmas. I won’t go into the details as it would be boring but as a result of an argument he spat in my face which led to us having a “full and frank discussion” on Kings Cross Rd. Now I have always been able to look after myself and I didn’t let myself down this time, although I did discover that head butting a person wearing a crash helmet isn’t clever and also bloody hurts! but after it all calmed down I was knackered so when I got home I weighed myself for the first time in years and found that I was nearly 20 stone!!!!!!!!! Which is 6 stone more than when I started driving a cab 11 years ago. So then the diet began.
There have been many other strange and interesting jobs over the months since I have been on here, including one which involved an eastern European lady of the night who insisted in showing me that she wasn’t a natural blonde!
And I know that there will be more to come. Hopefully I can keep up the momentum and keep paying flying visits to keep you all up to date with the goings on in my working life.
That’s me done for now and I’ll be back soon with more from the world of Cabby Delboy.

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London’s black cabs get a digital makeover with internet adverts

LONDON’S iconic black cabs have made a push into the internet age with the launch of a service that beams adverts onto their roofs.

Ubiquitous, the UK’s biggest taxi advertising company, yesterday started a trial of 25 cabs fitted with screens broadcasting adverts from the likes of Billy Elliot, MasterCard and Magnum. The firm has teamed up with Brightmove Media, a venture set up by entrepreneur Piers Mummery last year to bring the technology to taxis.

Ubiquitous said it would be able to use the technology to alter what adverts people see, depending on where the cab is and at what time the ads are shown. The company uses the taxi’s GPS chip and a 3G connection to target the adverts more effectively.

Transport for London approved the screens’ use earlier this year, after being assured the adverts would not affect “the general public’s admiration of the iconic shape of the London taxi”.

Brightmove said that by working with Ubiquitous it will have access to a fleet of 4,500 cabs, out of a total of 23,000 on London’s streets.
Source City Am by James Titcomb
July 2, 2013, 1:50am

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Why do London taxis still make us pay in cash?

I think we’ve all been there. You’ve finally managed to grab a cab somewhere in Soho after scrambling to get home for an hour and a half on a Saturday night. Once you get in you realise that you’re out of cash and moreover, as usual, this taxi doesn’t take cards. So instead of getting home quickly, your cabdriver takes a detour to get you past an ATM on the way. You easily end up trying out a few cash points, because the first one was out of money and the second had technical problems. What was supposed to be a fifteen-minute ride home has turned into a 25-minute tour of London, all the while adding to the mounds of pollution in the city air. Lovely.

As a native Dane it has been a rude awakening living in London and realising that an overwhelming majority of taxis do not accept cards. Most other European countries have long since implemented electronic payment systems in taxis on a national level. In Denmark, card swipe machines were replaced for chip and PIN devices last year, after the cabs had enjoyed card payments for more than two decades. According to representatives of the Danish and German taxi industry, the ability to pay by card heightens security for the cab driver in that payment is guaranteed. It has also given the industry a much-needed boost, in that more people are taking longer journeys in taxis, since they can rely on the security and ease of paying by card.

Somehow, this development has eluded London’s taxis. Here it’s common practice for cabs to drive past an ATM if a customer is without cash, making the trip more expensive for the customer. Not to mention, that the cab emanates even more CO2 when it is kept at a standstill for several minutes while the transaction is being made.
But never mind the environment (note the sarcasm). In an automobile and diesel heavy industry, this is not the argument that will win over the taxi industry. Like one card-accepting cabdriver said to me this weekend: “We have some dinosaurs in this industry. I don’t get why they can’t understand that this would be better for all of us?! We would get longer trips, more customers and we’d be far more sure of getting paid.”

Lately, apps like Hailo and GetTaxi have been developed to make electronic payments possible in taxis via tablet or smart-phone. I have personally used both apps regularly, refusing to partake in the cash-chaos. And they’re effective. With a little click you can easily order a nearby cab within seconds and once you’ve put in your details the payment is made securely via your credit or debit card at the end of your journey. In my opinion, it’s pretty brilliant to make the stress of getting home after hours in London, a lot easier. But even these systems have some serious issues for customers and taxis alike.

One app-accepting cabdriver recently informed me that customers using Hailo need to watch out for the amounts deducted on their account. Because the app doesn’t entail end-of-journey approval of the final amount, some London cabdrivers have begun exploiting the app by driving on and debiting the customer for more than the journey itself. Now we aren’t talking about major amounts, but nevertheless, this is payment fraud. Another issue is that not every cab has signed up with these apps, making it sometimes impossible to get a free cab via the app. And in that case, you’re just back to square one.

So if the apps can’t always be relied on for electronic payments and card terminals aren’t being installed in the taxis, then what are we supposed to do? I’m far from the only one frustrated with this situation. Friends and colleagues alike have often complained about the necessity for cash when taking a cab. Not to mention that a massive tourist destination like London, should be considering the amount of foreign customers who are not prepared to pay for their cabs by cash. It’s just not customer-friendly or for that matter, very modern. So why does paying for a cab via card have to be such a hassle?

As far as I can understand, the issue of implementing card payments is an on-going discussion for the taxi industry in London. It seems to me that the benefits regarding security, increased earnings and the environment are great, whereas I don’t quite see the negatives of implementing card payments. People will still pay cash if they can or prefer. Yes card transactions have fees – but these are usually directed at the customers and will therefore have minimum impact on the cab drivers themselves. So what is the problem? I guess only the dinosaurs can answer that.

Source NewStatesman

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Coventry taxi maker considers move from Holyhead Road

The taxi manufacturer is currently based at a site on Holyhead Road.

The company was sold to Chinese firm Geely in February after its previous owners went into administration.

Vehicle production is expected to resume in mid-August. A company spokesman said any move is likely to be to a purpose-built site.

Vice-president, Peter Johansen, said there was a real need to make the move.
‘Poorer cousin’

Mr Johansen said: “This factory was built in 1927 so it’s old and reached the end of its working life.

“We’ve already been in discussion with Geely that as part of their investment in us we’re looking to find new premises to build the next generation of taxis.

“With modern facilities you can improve the quality of the vehicle.

“If you go to any Geely factory in China it’s absolutely state of the art and we’re the poorer cousin of them at the moment.

“It’s most likely to stay in and around Coventry because we’ve got a lot of well trained workforces and we need the skills that those people bring to the business.”

About 99 out of 176 jobs were lost after the move into administration last year although more than 30 new vacancies have recently been offered to former staff.

Source BBC

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Heathrow cab war: Tout ‘threatened to kill licensed taxi driver’

12 February 2013

Police are investigating attacks on black cabs amid tensions between licensed taxi drivers and minicab touts over lucrative routes from Heathrow.

Three men were arrested after taxi drivers were allegedly followed home from the terminal and had their vehicles damaged. About 6,000 licensed London taxis work from Heathrow each day.

They are the only vehicles that airport operator BAA permits to pick up fares.

A BAA “tout squad” works with plain clothes detectives to catch those plying for trade illegally. But confrontations have been reported between legitimate cabbies and unlicensed drivers “trying their luck” at the arrivals gate.

One licensed driver, who asked not to be named, said: “I’ve been targeted several times. It started last year when I caught this guy nicking our work. I challenged him and escorted the passenger back to the rank.

“The next day his brother was waiting for me. He followed me from Terminal 1 to Enfield.

“I called 999 but before the police arrived he boxed me in and was threatening to kill me. He was arrested and given a restraining order and community service.” Cabs have been daubed with graffiti and one driver alleged that his brakes were cut.

A journey from Terminal 1 to Oxford Circus costs between £60 and £80, depending on whether or not the journey is pre-booked with the official airport agent.

Grant Davis, chairman of the London Cab Drivers Club, said an equivalent trip with an unlicensed driver would start at £100, with reports of passengers paying more. He said: “We’ve had marshals assaulted, followed home and run off the road.

“[Touts] are putting not only drivers but passengers at risk.” Police are investigating reports of criminal damage to a cab in Northolt on New Year’s Eve. The Met have linked the attack to another incident on the same day in Walworth. Three men have been arrested and bailed until next month.

BAA said: “We work hard to clamp down on illegal taxi touts. A ‘tout squad’ including taxi marshals patrols the airport looking for known offenders and we work closely with CID. We encourage passengers to use the Heathrow Express, Piccadilly line or black cabs from our ranks.”

Source London Evening Standard

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China’s Geely buys Black Cab maker Manganese Bronz

Chinese car maker Geely has bought Manganese Bronze, the maker of London’s black taxis, for 11 million pounds, safeguarding jobs and production of the vehicles in Britain.

Geely, which already owned about a quarter of Manganese Bronze, on Friday said it had agreed a deal with administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers to buy “the business and principal assets” of the company.

“Geely’s priority will be to re-establish the manufacture, sale and servicing of new and current vehicles on broadly the same basis as existed before the business went into administration,” Geely Chairman Li Shufu said.

“This will include the continued assembly of the TX4 at Manganese Bronze’s existing Coventry plant in the West Midlands.”

Manganese Bronze has failed to turn a profit since 2007.

Late last year the company said its financial position was unclear after the discovery of a safety defect in its new TX4 model that led to a recall of 400 taxis and a halt to sales.

The recall was the latest in a spate of problems to have plagued the taxi maker and coincided with market share gains by rival Eco City Vehicles’ Mercedes Vito taxi. Japan’s Nissan Motor Co Ltd is also due to launch its own taxi in Britain.

Manganese Bronze shares closed at 10 pence on October11, the last day they traded on the London Stock Exchange, valuing the company at about 3 million pounds.

In 2006 Geely paid 53 million pounds for a 23 percent stake in Manganese Bronze and 52 percent of a Shanghai-based joint venture with the company. However, it took a charge of 100 million yuan ($16 million) to write down that investment in 2008.

“I am not sure why Geely would get itself into such a deal … the black cab is too British to win mass appeal anywhere, not even in China,” said John Zeng, Asia Pacific director for consultancy LMC Automotive.

“The best hope for Geely is to move the production line to China, cut costs and sell it back to London.”

As well as technical difficulties, Manganese has been hit by a weak economy and delays in fulfilling key orders. The company sold 1,502 taxis in 2011, 9 percent fewer than in 2010.

Manganese reported a loss of 4.6 million pounds in the six months to the end of June on sales 11 percent lower than the same period a year earlier.

London mayor Boris Johnson said he was “delighted” with Friday’s news and is keen to hear Geely’s proposals for producing a “low-emission taxi to serve London in the near future”.

Source Reuters

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GEELY’S BLACK CAB RESCUE

The Spice Girls on taxis at the London Olympics closing ceremony

CHINESE group Geely is on the verge of snapping up a company that has been making iconic black taxi cabs in the UK for more than half a century.

Geely, which already owns 20 per cent of Manganese Bronze, is understood to be in negotiations with administrator PwC to buy the remaining 80 per cent of the firm by the end of the month.

Coventry–based Manganese Bronze collapsed into administration in October following four years of losses and a steering box fault that forced it to halt sales. The fault has now been rectified.

It is unclear how much Geely is paying for the firm but it is understood that creditors who are owed £54million by Manganese will not receive full payment. PwC did not comment.

Manganese’s taxis have been on British streets since 1948 and featured in the London Olympics closing ceremony, carrying the Spice Girls into the stadium.

It has suffered lately through supply issues and competition from other cab makers.

Source Express

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