After attending a  public meeting over TfGM and Manchester council proposals to restrict private hire vehicles in parts of Manchester { Oxford Street, Princess Street and Portland Street} as chair of the city of Salford private hire association and admin support worker for the GMPHA web site I thinks its about time we all,including the millions of satisfied private hire door to door passengers know what Transport for Greater Manchester {TfGM }has in stall for us all, at first sight it appears restricting passengers from choosing there own form of transport across  Greater Manchester to get to where they wish, which I personally feels goes against the DDA / Equality Act.  Many  local businesses  in Manchester have already stated the economy will lose out as more people are forced to use other forms of transport to get where they wish. The question is  will the residents of Greater Manchester use public transport to get into town or will they go elsewhere to shop or dine etc?

After attending several Transport  public meetings over a number of years at Manchester Town Hall, Bridgewater Halls, G-MEX and the Lowry {Quays}  and after reviewing the contents of the information supplied at those meetings, I can  clearly state that not enough emphasis has been  placed upon the millions of passengers that prefer to use  door to door transport namely the Hackney cabs and private hire vehicles, not one  guest speaker has been invited or  spoken on behalf of the  taxi and private hire trades at any of these events but all other transport services have been invited to speak at such public meetings and had sufficient time to address passengers concerns which in our case would allow the Hackney and private hire trades  to enhance the service they give to the general public. Page after page of information is dedicated to all transport providers except the Private hire and Hackney trades and there passengers.

Further more I can state despite reassurances from the chair of TfGM that no preferences are being given over private hire vehicles  that I can state in this story that is certainly not the  case in Greater Manchester from what Ive personally seen in the past 15 years as a private hire driver, especially in Eccles Town Centre and at certain public places in the heart of Manchester City Centre.

Here are a few examples for all Councillors to take into account, We would benefit from  drivers answering a few questions at the end of the story, leaving your comments . If you know of other issues regarding restrictions on private hire vehicles in your area then by all means let us know and we will publish your findings.

Example No 1   – Shudehill Bus and Tram Station

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So lets start at the relatively new tram and bus station at Shudehill,  remembering what TfGM have previously stated Taxis and private hire vehicles play an important part in integrated transport.   This bus and tram station has no taxi rank or  pick up or drop off point for private hire passengers or any family member picking up No waiting and no loading signs show from 4am-10 pm further down the road we can see signs stating No stopping Zone 10pm to 4 am.  I would state – That’s integrated  transport at its worse! and despite informing TfGM they have done nothing to alleviate the problem, except acknowledge there is a problem..

Can someone in Transport for Greater Manchester or any AGMA leader inform  the  private hire, Hackney trade and the family motorist  where we are supposed to drop passengers with luggage  when they wish to travel from this bus and tram station? Simple question!  Did anyone think in the planning and highways departments how passengers got too this station? or did they plan for just public transport and no integrated transport service?

Example no 2-  Chorlton Street Bus Station

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Here we have another bus/coach station at Chorlton Street, we have a taxi rank and now somewhere to  park bicycles and signs stating no loading at any time and no stopping except for taxis across the road we have several bus stops. Again  will someone from AGMA or TfGM inform the private hire trade  and the family motorist where are we suppose to drop off or pick up passengers legally? Again integrated transport  at its worse!

Example no 3- Victoria Train Station Approach – One  bus lane that could ease  congestion around the Print Works between the hours of 10pm-5am especially at week ends.

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Why does this bus lane at Victoria Train Station have restrictions 24 hours a day 7 days a week? Could more be done for these revelers at the Print Works in the early hours of the morning and could changes to who uses the bus lane result in crowds dispersing quicker saving the police and passengers money?  What part has the taxi and private hire trades played in the night time economy project?  Again can any AGMA or TfGM inform us why this bus lane restriction operates 24 hours day when only a few buses if any are running through the night?

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Victoria  Train Station with just Taxi Ranks and Disable bays, where are PHVs and the family motorist suppose to pick up and drop off passengers? A rank that covers the entire entrance , how are passnegers suppoose to get to this station? Is this integrated transport for all transport and passengers?I would state Not!

PrintWorks

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 Black cab ranks at the Print Works and no place nearby to drop off private hire passengers unless PH drivers park on double yellow lines or at the bus stop, both methods bring fines to the driver. Private hire passengers have to go the long way round at extra cost to them.  How much custom is the Printworks losing through poor traffic management?  

Example no 4 – TfGM proposals  Oxford Road

I have to ask do TfGM know enough too close part of Oxford Road off too private hire drivers and there passengers 24 hours a day! These photos below were taken from the same spot on the afternoon of Monday 29/7/13.  Its proposed that Oxford Road will be blocked off to private hire drivers and the family motorist!  but  Hackney cabs and  buses wont! ! Look closely and not one bus or Hackney cab in sight! Although this is the busiest bus route in Manchester why should black cabs be allowed to roam this bus lane empty and private hire vehicles with passengers in not be allowed in the same bus lane or even on the  same road? I`d like to  ask every councilor and every member of the public does it seem to you Transport for Greater Manchester are pushing  passengers into using public transport and black cabs? { remembering  Hackney cabs are no longer  classed as public service vehicles }  Again a simple question that doesn’t need answering because its so obvious with these examples that they are promoting several transport providers over private hire vehicles, the losers will be the shops, local businesses and the millions of passengers that prefer to use private hire vehicles over all other transport providers.

Oxford Road

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The Referendum shows what?

The referendum result shown the views of the people of Greater Manchester, that went against AGMA and TfGM proposals on transport. The last public meeting I attended on Princess Street shown the  views of the local businesses and 99% of them went against restricting private hire vehicles from such places as Oxford Street, Portland Street  and Princess Street etc.

Example No 5 – Eccles Town Centre 

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Since 2002 Warrington Council have allowed private hire vehicles to use bus lanes without any difficulty, initially the bus companies complained but all transport providers in Warrington are now allowed in bus lanes.

Warrington Council applied for a new sign,  {which I have a copy of the original road signage application and drawings}  that included private hire vehicles along side buses and taxis. So that’s one more council that led the way by introducing a new sign which led to passengers  choosing there own form of transport! Stats now show 64 /342 UK councils allow private hire vehicles into bus lanes. 

 For the last 12 years restrictions have been placed upon private hire drivers going through Eccles Town Centre during the day, one officer stating the high way code doesn’t  include  signs that state buses, taxis and private hire vehicles.  Black cab drivers and buses  have been allowed to roam the area with a taxi rank included in the new bus station.  Again I would ask AGMA and TfGM Are they promoting all transport services and the views of the millions of passengers  that use PHV`s or are they excluding private hire vehicles and totally ignoring the views of those millions of passengers that prefer to use PHV`s  A Simple  question!

The city of Salford private hire association gave a presentation on door to door transport along side Ring and Ride and community transport to the elderly and disabled groups in Salford, the council evaluation from that meeting shown that not enough was being done to satisfy the needs of the disabled and the elderly when visiting Eccles Town Centre during the day and something needed to be done.

The outcome of that evaluation was put to the new the Mayor of Salford Ian Stewart  and assistant mayor Councillor Antrobus by the city of Salford private hire association, it was put forward too the Eccles community committee to decide  the fate of transport providers in Eccles.   All 5  Labour Councillors present at that meeting voted in favour of allowing private hire vehicles through Eccles Town Centre during the day, the motion to allow private hire vehicles into Eccles Town Centre was carried  by the Eccles Community committee which comprised elected members of community groups.

Further more Salford Councillors have also put forward what I call the A10 planning policy  which will take into consideration drop off points for both private hire and Hackney cabs in any new build, so why are Manchester councilors and Transport for Greater Manchester  apposed for  people having freedom of choice of transport? after all the Equality Act states freedom of choice for all people and access to all

So with that short look at Integrated Transport in Greater Manchester through the eyes of one  private hire driver .

Are TfGM promoting several transport providers over private hire vehicles and restricting private hire vehicles from certain parts of Greater Manchester?

Are all transport providers in Greater Manchester suppose to be equal?

Are  TfGM and AGMA ignoring the results of the referendum on transport in GM?

Do AGMA and TfGM fully understand what  integrated transport is? and why its so important to fully understand the importance of what door to door transport brings to other transport providers i.e Train, Airport Tram and Bus station passengers ?

Do AGMA and TfGM understand that public transport doesn’t work 24 hours a day and as a result they should plan for private hire vehicles to roam as any other form of transport does.

Does TfGM and AGMA  understand that only  the private hire  trade can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year in all weathers by just picking up a phone anywhere in the country?

Do TfGM or AGMA know how many door to door passengers use private hire vehicles and the reasons why so many use this preferred method of travel ? the answer to both questions  is clearly NO  and that’s the reason why so much emphasis should be placed on learning the ins and outs of both trades before making decisions based from those that don’t understand the transport needs of the general public in its entirety !All statistics shown so far to the general public  give tram, trains, buses, Ring and Ride  information but private hire transport are unknown and left out.

Are TfGM or AGMA doing anything to get the views of the private hire and Hackney trade known or more importantly the passengers views  known ?  NO

So how can Transport for Greater Manchester derive at a decision on Oxford Road or at any other location in Greater Manchester ? My opinion is they are simply ignoring the millions of passengers that use private hire vehicles in Greater Manchester otherwise they would include them in all parts of Greater Manchester.

Next weeks story   Bus Lanes in Salford – 24 hour restrictions on bus lanes and the issues relating to one elderly disabled lady whose front door opens up on a bus lane, not forgetting the findings of a door to door evaluation, ran by Salford Council in 2010.

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