Safe Taxi and Private Hire Charter Aims to Increase Hygiene Standards
• On Wednesday it was announced that a nationwide charter (see definition of what a charter is here) has been launched for the UK taxi and private hire industry, initiated by AutoCab, Cordic and iCabbi.
• By signing the “Safe Taxi & Private Hire Charter” thingy, taxi operators including private hire, chauffeur and executive companies pledge to create and maintain a safe and hygienic environment; protecting both passengers and drivers (see here for more details)
• The goal of these lads is to unite the entire industry in promoting taxis and private hire vehicles as a safe mode of transport.
• The heads at iCabbi say that 75 taxi operators have already signed the charter pre-launch.
• Taxi operators that wish to sign-up to the Charter can do so on www.gosafegotaxi.com .
• Anything to get passengers back into taxis / cabs in greater numbers is a good thing.
• In addition to the promotion of cleaning cabs, we as an industry should also be lobbying the government to give companies using private hire firms to get employees to and from work for tax breaks for doing so.
• Using taxis and private hire cars can reduce the spread of Covid-19 and potentially save the government huge sums of money in fighting the virus. It’s a WIN WIN situation.
• If the majority of the 15.5k licenced private hire operators in England lobbied the government, and the operators got this in place, the industry would help the UK people in halting the spread of Covid-19. The icing on the cake would be a recovery in bookings, everything else being equal.
• A true leader of this fragmented industry is now needed to undertake such a quest!
Uber Moves into On-Demand Public Transit in the US
• According to press reports, Uber has done a public transport deal in San Francisco, in an area called Marin County.
• Residents in Marin, which has a population of 250k, will be able to book rides on public minibuses through Uber’s app, which will match riders travelling in the same direction.
• Rides will cost $4 per mile, or $3 for those with disabilities or other mobility issues, with the fee going directly to Marin Transit.
• Uber will not collect a commission, instead charging the authority a flat monthly rate for the next two years, totalling no more than $80,000 over that period.
• The app will allow riders to share the ride if they’re traveling in the same direction and for now, the maximum occupancy is two riders.
• Uber is to the taxi/private hire Industry what Amazon is to the retail industry.
Uber Job Cuts Confirmed in Limerick & Amsterdam
• According to the Irish press, Uber has issued redundancy notices to 137 members of its workforce in Limerick. There are a 500 staff at its European “centre of excellence” in Limerick.
• Meanwhile, Dutch media outlets reported that Uber is cutting 15% of jobs at its European headquarters in Amsterdam following the recent downturn in business.
• Reports claim some 1,500 work at the Amsterdam office, which would mean a reduction of 200. Uber decided not to appeal for Dutch government support to keep paying salaries.
• The company is executing its well-publicised plans to cut 3,700 jobs worldwide. Nothing new to see here folks.
• One other thing… do you know what really grinds our gears!?! It’s when a CEO publicly calls his workforce a “family” and then lets a load of his “family “ go as soon as things get tough…
• If only we too could make family members redundant during times of economic crisis… Maybe our 95 year-old “Grandma Kelly” needs to be let go now too as she just moans about the weather, Brexit and Boris Johnson’s scruffy hair, all day long. Maybe cousin Paul who at 18, could be let go from the family too, as he now just plays his Xbox , surfs dodgy websites, and drinks cans of Special Brew all day since the lockdown began…
• On a serious note, the more the company retrenches the better it could be for incumbent UK private hire firms, as the UBER’s CEO moves to protect his job and stock options by cutting costs, and raising prices at the expense of future growth.
Taxi Drivers Offered Regular Covid-19 Tests
• Last Friday it was announced that Taxi drivers, security guards and shop workers will all be subject to regular coronavirus tests under Government plans to get better at “hunting out” the virus.
• People without symptoms who work in “high risk” professions will soon get checked as part of the NHS Test and Trace programme.
• “High risk” is defined as any job where people spend extended periods of time in an enclosed space with a large number of customers or colleagues.
• This is positive news for the industry as it will reassure the public and drivers that their safety is paramount.
Dept. of Transport Advises on Face Coverings
• The Department of Transport issued advice saying that that you should wear a face covering when using taxis or private hire vehicles and that a taxi driver or private hire vehicle operator may be entitled to refuse to accept you if you do not wear a face covering (see here for details).
• This is good news for the industry as it will reassure the public and drivers that their safety is paramount, and hopefully it will encourage the public to book cabs in larger numbers going forward.
• Also, on the issue of screens, our advice would be to check with your local authority before installing any, as there still appears to be conflicting information from local authorities regarding their proper installation.
Uber Makes Face Coverings Mandatory
• From last Monday Uber made face coverings mandatory for all passengers. It will also require drivers to wear face masks.
• In London, drivers will have to share a selfie showing they are wearing a face covering before they start a shift, a measure that the company is considering rolling out across the UK.
• Uber is using object recognition technology to determine whether drivers are wearing face coverings, those who aren’t will be unable to get online.
• Drivers will be able to cancel a trip without a penalty if a rider isn’t wearing a face covering, and vice versa.
• Uber’s policy is in line with the government’s policy to make face coverings mandatory for public transport users in England from last Monday. The policy should also help encourage passengers back into cabs in greater numbers.
Some Boring Yet Significant Economic Data
• UK retail sales rebounded much more strongly than expected in May against the gradual relaxing of the lockdown.
• Official data released today from the Office for National Statistics showed sales volumes in May jumped by a record 12% after a historic 18% slump in April (see chart below).
• Non-food stores saw the biggest increase in sales last month with DIY sales providing a bright spot.
• While the rise was at the top end of economist forecasts, it still left sales 13.1% down on a year ago. See here for more details.
• May's retail sales were always going to be better than the collapse in April, when the full force of the lockdown was underway.
• The decline is now reversing however it's far from clear when retail sales will return to pre-Covid-19 levels.
"R" Value & Infections Curve
• The Government Office for Science said last Friday that the R value in England is between 0.8 and 1, and across the whole UK it is between 0.7 and 0.9, (see here for more details).
• The R value is the average number of people an infected person passes the disease on to and if that figure exceeds 1, the disease could rapidly spread through the population again.
• It also published regional R values, which revealed the south west of England has the highest R rate range between 0.8 and 1.1.
• The east of England has the lowest R value range between 0.7 and 0.9.
• Meanwhile, the UK’s daily new infections and death rates continues to show a flattening trend (see chart below).
• Finally, today the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the lowering of the Covid-19 alert level from four to three is a "big moment" for the UK and shows the "government's plan is working".
• He said that the "The UK moving to a lower alert level is a big moment for the country, and a real testament to the British people's determination to beat this virus. The government's plan is working. Infection rates are rapidly falling, we have protected the NHS and, thanks to the hard work of millions in our health and social care services, we are getting the country back on her feet."
• The new daily infections curve is still flattening (see above chart) and the estimated "R" value, is still, on average, estimated to be below 1 across the UK, and the alert level has now been lowered to three.
• Let's hope we continue to see improvements going forward despite increased volumes of people circulating again.
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”