Taxis at night and safe transport for women.
Dave and others:
After years of observation, careful research and direct hands on consulting work in the sector, including a fair amount with taxis and less conventional transportation arrangements, I would share this thought with you. (If that is you are not already turned off by my, what S. Johnson so notably called the ‘art of high profession’.)
Your problem setting, which I appreciate, is nonetheless absolutely your problem. I realize of course that there is a rich history, tradition, ordinances, laws, union practices, behaviour and preferences and the list goes on . . . all of which one by one narrow your options. But if you take it like that believe me you will never be able to find anything more than a weak palliative. And the odds are not even that.
If you really want to solve your problem, what you have to do is step (way) back, as your team and your mayor did when it was time to bite the bullet and go for road pricing. IN tihis case two, the problem is a lot bigger than it may at first appear to be. We are not talking about dusting the furniture here.
What you need in this case – and bearing in mind that you are looking for near term solutions, say within months or at the most a year or two – is to take a clean piece of paper, step way back, and once you have defined your solution set – which incidentally the people and groups included in this mailing can certainly help you with – take it to your good mayor and explain to him that this is the next part of his great challenge. Every bit as contentious and difficult as congestion charging, -- indeed more – but there is no doubt that we have the technology and entrepreneurial capability – let’s not forget this last, something which all too often gets missed in the old binomial public/private split which is making the transportation sector as stupid and underperforming as it is at present.
The future of transport in cities is going to a good extent to be mediated by technology (including whatever mobile phones of always-there personal communications systems, and their extensions) and small/medium/large vehicles systems with drivers working on an enterprise system modulated by training and social and commercial awareness that good service is not only good business but also a social good. The viewpoint that underlies your letter essentially to my mind refuses to take this challenge on, and asks instead how can we slip along with doing as little as possible.
Or do I have this profoundly wrong? In any event, in addressing this to you I know that I am going to get both your attention and your vigorous response. ;-)
Eric Britton, as always with vigor and respect
PS. I hate it when you use that word “paxs”. Is that the way it is handled in English English the days? In the language that I practice, we have always called them people or passengers. Or, at our best, “us”. But tell me that I have this wrong and I can try to adjust.
We have a problem in London that despite the Mayor increasing taxi night
fares, there are not enough licensed taxis operating at night and giving a
"hail and ride" service.
Most "black cab" drivers are self-employed and we can not force them to
operate at night.
We are experimenting with special ranks for taxi drivers on their final
journeys to match a "fare" who is going broadly in the same direction. (But
this is only a marginal increase in supply for some journeys and as most
taxi drivers live in East London this area gets offered a better service).
This shortage of licensed taxis leads to dangers for paxs (especially women)
who coming out of clubs in the early hours only find illegal "touts"
offering private car rides for cash.
Not only can people be ripped off on the price but by far the most transport
related rapes and assaults take place in these illegal vehicles.
We are licensing "minicabs" and other private hire operators but they can
only respond to telephone bookings or to paxs who attend their office. They
are not licensed for street hailing.
The National Rail suburban services tend to operate their last trains well
before midnight and most Underground lines close at about 1am.
Our Mayor is consulting Londoners on the option of Friday and Saturday
Underground trains running one hour later at night (finishing in the early
hours) but with the knock-on of trains starting one hour later Sat and Sun
mornings to allow for engineering works to have the same time.
We have extended our night bus operation (with CCTV cameras on board) across
London and reduced the premium night bus fares to normal day-time levels
but even these services leave people vulnerable for the final leg of their
journey walking from the bus stop to their home. (This is not a theoretical
risk, this year we have had a number of assaults and two murders).
We are told that Madrid and some other cities do not have these taxi
problems at night.
London is a 24 hour City and we do need to address this problem.
Is there any research or practical experience that could indicate a solution
Please copy Luke Howard e-mail: lukehoward2@... and myself
into any reply.
Tks (and seasonal greetings)
Dave Wetzel; Vice-Chair; Transport for London.