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Re: [New Mobility/WorldTransport Forum] Taxis at night and safe transport for women.

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  • Michael Yeates
    Hi Dave and all, This should not be viewed (only?) as a gendered issue but rather as a level of service based on access for all ... ie a question of level of
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12, 2004
      Hi Dave and all,

      This should not be viewed (only?) as a gendered issue but rather as a level
      of service based on "access for all" ... ie a question of level of service
      expectations of which security and service continuity and frequency are
      important ... but service provision, essential ...!

      It seems to be yet another story about the futility of relying on
      competition and privatisation ... rather than integrated service provision.

      A rather happier story (hopefully still in existence unless the economists
      and road-funders triumphed over public transport users needs) was the
      so-called night-taxi system in operation in Graz in Austria.

      Given that public transport (in the case of Graz, primarily trams with
      buses mainly serving on extension and link routes) is expensive, it makes
      sense to not run public transport very late at night ... from an economists

      Therefore many low demand services are shut down which is of course a
      logical and rational conclusion.

      But from a public transport users perspective, that is of course completely
      the wrong solution.

      Reduced services and interconnections means that less people use the
      service, less security occurs with less people, the issues of the "wrong
      types of people" emerges, and with reduced patronage, an excuse to further
      cut the services.

      So in Graz, rather than run the public transport at a big loss at night,
      the public transport "progressively" closes down and taxis take over .. it
      is apparently cheaper for the public transport organisation(s) to pay the
      taxis a contracted subsidy than it is to run the public transport ... so
      the taxis know that there will be passengers along the remaining public
      transport routes until they too shut down.

      From then on, the taxis operate as the public transport system .. you
      provide your ticket as you would on the public transport ... the taxi then
      claims a contracted fare from the public transport supplier ... the taxis
      get a much higher fare than the fare already paid to the public transport
      by the passenger of course ... but that "cost" becomes a "saving", it is
      offset as a large saving from not running public transport into the period
      when the losses are simply too big.

      AND most importantly, by providing public transport users with a reliable
      cheap, safe, 24 hour service ... which in some ways is actually IMPROVED
      rather than made worse in the period when most public transport services
      either shut down or run skeleton services, patronage support and loyalty is
      maintained if not increased..

      Effectively this is a very simple conceptual exercise in integration and
      from my very limited experience of it in 1999, it seemed to work well.
      Certainly people said they rarely had need of a car because they could
      always rely on the public transport with the night taxi system.

      The taxi drivers soon know where and how to find passengers ... they
      actually get much more work at night and probably a reduced proportion of
      undesirable passengers (than they otherwise would) so there is an incentive
      to keep the cabs on the road ... and the passengers regard it as equivalent
      or better level of service (ie safer at night, more convenient etc) than
      the "normal" public transport LOS.

      The taxis cluster where they expect to get passengers ... much as a
      bus<>rail integrated system ... so in the normal operations, buses do the
      integration, after hours it is the taxis.

      But it is possible to dramatically improve this system in an example of
      integrated service provision.
      In the case of Graz and its trams (I understand the buses all stop at about
      the same time across the network), imagine if the trams could be fitted
      with taxi call systems such that when the tram arrives at a stop, there is
      a reduced or zero waiting time for the taxi to arrive at the stop to
      complete the passengers journey.

      It is not hard to imagine this working to achieve the aims sought in the
      email below.

      Ideal world .. perhaps.

      But it does show the need to provide an integrated system that values
      customers and of course, Graz has been a leading demonstrator of the need
      to reduce the priority given to cars ... using a very complex but always
      well integrated suite of both carrots and sticks.

      The night taxi was one of the carrots ... I hope it has survived the
      economists ...


      Michael Yeates
      Public Transport Alliance

      At 10:31 PM 10/12/2004, Wetzel Dave wrote:

      >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
      >for us?
      >Please copy Luke Howard e-mail: lukehoward2@... and myself
      >into any reply.
      >Tks (and seasonal greetings)
      >Dave Wetzel; Vice-Chair; Transport for London.
      >Tel: 020 7941 4200
      >Intl Tel: +44 207 941 4200
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