Tuesday 19 September 2017

Fake News: Transport Edition

On these pages, we see a lot of old guff spouted by 'public health' about how big business is disingenuous and trying to con the public. The 'public health' industry which is, of course, funded by taxpayers' cash, so basically part of the public sector.

It regularly strikes me as a bit rich that public sector organisations bleat about private businesses lying when - in my experience - I've never encountered any branch of public sector which doesn't lie massively on a daily basis.

As a keen observer of transport stuff (if you're not into transport geekery, look away now), here is a perfect example of public sector fake news, just to show it's not just the 'public health' lot who like to lie.
Uber licensing costs in London to rise from £3,000 to £3m in next five years
Helen Chapman, TfL general manager of Taxi & Private Hire, said the cost of regulation is rising due to a “huge” growth in the industry. 
She said: “There has been a huge growth in the industry in recent years and it is only fair that the licence fee reflects the costs of regulation and enforcement.” 
TfL said that the costs of enforcement over the next five years will reach £30m, up from a previous estimate of £4m. 
According to the regulator, the number of licensed private hire drivers has grown from 65,000 in 2013-14 to more than 116,000 this year.
The first thing to ask is why an increase of 78% in licences leads to an increase in enforcement costs of 650%. Looks like a cash grab already, doesn't it?

Still, let's take that extra £26m they need to raise as gospel and see what the new fee structure is, shall we? This is from their website.

Now, I've just run this through Excel and used the numbers TfL provide above. Taking as read that the variable cost for Uber and Addison Lee (the two operators at the top of the scale) will be in the region of £3m, it's fairly easy to see that the new income over and above what was gathered before this change is around £41.5m (to cover claimed increased costs of £26m).

That is an increase in fees income to TfL of 460%.

So how did they spin it? Well, apparently, this extra £41.5m will pay for an additional 250 compliance officers, which works out at an average of £33k per annum each. Quite a hefty salary for ticking boxes, don't you think?

But it was reported a bit differently in the Standard print edition.

"Will see larger firms pay higher fees to cover increased costs" isn't strictly true. Operators with only two vehicles will pay more for their licence than before, as will every other operator unless they are in the sweet spot of only owning between three and ten cars. Yet how many would have read that article and nodded about how the big guys are being bashed, eh?

If you are lucky enough to use a cab company in London which is in the three to ten vehicles bracket, they will be saving a princely sum of £838 over five years; if they are altruistic they might knock 10p off your journey. But the other £41.5m has to be paid for by someone and you know it will be the customer who will have to foot the bill, especially since the increased fees are so huge that they will drive many suppliers out of the market (which seems to be the point). And when fares increase across the board, they increase, well, across the board.

It's a simple transfer of funds from the public's wallets into the salaries of box-tickers and rubber band-flickers in the public sector, and it's done by using exaggerated costs, false information, and barefaced lies posing as PR.

Still, at least some highly-paid public sector desk jockeys will have some new - similarly well-remunerated - colleagues. You, however, will be paying more to get home on a night out.

How are those cuts coming along Chancellor? I think a new avenue would be to cull some managers at TfL to save us all a good sum*.

*Who have also banned e-cigs from all taxis, by the way, for no reason whatsoever. 

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