Monday, 11 September 2017

Irma, Virgin Gorda and Sir Richard Branson

What Nester Islabd looked like, before Irma
In news reports about the destruction of Hurricane Irma, you may come across Sir Richard Branson's name in association with recovery efforts on Virgin Gorda.

Unless you have been following the career of the knighted business magnate and chairman of the the Virgin Group of companies, you may find yourself wondering, if only for a moment, why his company's name is associated with the island.

It is strictly coincidental, however you would be forgiven for thinking he owned an island here. He does, but it's not Virgin Gorda.

When Richard Branson learned that some of the British Virgin Islands were for sale in the late 70's, he bought Necker Island, a 30-hectare (74-acre) island, just north of Virgin Gorda. While Necker Island's land is entirely owned by Sir Richard Branson, the island's beaches, up to the high-water mark, are Crown land, and are open to the public.

When Branson bought the island, at age 28, it was uninhabited. As an alien landholder, however, Branson was required to develop a resort within four years or the island would revert to the state.

Three years and $10+ million USD later, Branson's private island retreat opened. Built using local stone, Brazilian hardwoods, Asian antiques, Indian rugs, art pieces and fabrics and bamboo furniture from Bali, the exclusive resort is part of the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio of luxury properties. The whole of Necker Island operates as a resort and can accommodate up to 34 guests.

For a tidy sum, guests at Necker Island have access to private pools, tennis courts, a team of 100 staff (including a personal chef) and a wide array of water sports equipment (Branson also owns nearby Moskito Island, where he operates a sail-in dive resort).

Until this past week, the 10-bedroom Balinese-style villa, perched atop a hill on Necker Island, featured open walls and 360-degree scenic views.

Today it is rubble.

Branson and his team rode out the storm in the resort's sizeable wine cellar.

Since emerging to the surrounding devastation, Branson has been mobilizing resources to assist residents on nearby Virgin Gorda Island.

Yesterday, he posted an update:
"I am writing from Puerto Rico, where I have travelled in order to further mobilise aid efforts and rebuilding plans for the British Virgin Islands and wider Caribbean. Communications remain mostly down in the BVI after Hurricane Irma. After sharing these updates and talking to various governments, aid agencies and media, we will be heading straight back to the BVI to continue helping the recovery effort on the ground... This story is about the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes and their livelihoods. We have spent the past two days visiting team members who live on Virgin Gorda and as many people as possible, distributing aid, water and supplies. We have seen first-hand just how ferocious and unforgiving this storm was... [read more].
Related stories
Richard Branson reveals devastation of hurricane-hit private island, blames ‘man-made climate change’ - CNBC
The Night Before Hurricane Irma Arrives - Virgin blog

More from IHateTaxis
Avoiding Taxi Scams at Rome's Airports
Avoiding Taxi Scams at Costa Rica's Airports
Taxi Credit Card Scam Does Not Stay in Vegas (LAS)
Best and Worst Cities to Take a Taxi
Spot the deadly fake taxi on your international travels!

Friday, 1 September 2017

5 Pages: Trails.com


5 Pages is our way to highlight great travel resources. In a nutshell, we share a resource we recommend and highlight five of the website's most notable sections, tools or articles. Here's our pick this month:

TRAILS.COM


Trails.com is designed for outdoor enthusiasts by outdoor enthusiasts. We are happy to bring you thousands of trail guides, topographic maps, tips and useful information for hiking mountain biking, snowshoeing, mountaineering, trail running and water sports. (from the Trails.com website)

1. Roadtrip Planning

This blockbuster of a section overflows with roadtrip planning resources, including route planning (with or without a GPS), calculating costs, distances and driving times, road maps, how to make your own map of a trip, scenic drives, off-highway drives, RV roadtrip planning and more. Mostly USA, with some UK, Canada and Mexico resources.
Roadtrip Planning

2. Motorcycle Travel

Created for the modern day Easy Rider, this thin section supports a range of options, from motorcycle camping to how to build your very own motorcycle trailer.
Motorcycle Travel

3. How to Plan a Route 66 Roadtrip

You can't pull out a map of the USA and find Route 66, at least not in its entirety: the historic highway began disappearing from maps in 1985. Today, the original 1926 route, stretching cross-country between California and Illinois, carries different names, so if you want to drive it, you're going to need a plan. And here are the tours to help you do just that.
How to Plan a Route 66 Roadtrip

4. International Travel

Roadtrip, camping, hiking trails and more around the globe.
International Travel

5. How to Rent an RV

Just in case you are inspired by all the RV'ing content on the site, and don't have one of your own...
How to Rent an RV

A few bonus pages...
Anatomy of a Hot Spring
How to Catch Garden Worms for Bait
How to Create Travel Kits for Your Kids
Homemade Children's Outdoor Games
Trail Finder

Accolades
Forbes - Best of the Web, (5 years in a row!)
PC Magazine - Top 100 Undiscovered Web Site
Men's Journal - The 100 Best Web Sites (For Guys)

Our Review
Rating: 4.5 stars
Pros: comprehensive, practical, empowering (plan your own trip, your way!)
Cons: no rental car planning tips for all those roadtrips

Handy Links
Website: https://www.trails.com
Instagram: trailsdotcom
Facebook: Trails
Twitter: @Trails

More from IHateTaxis
Death by Selfie
Help! I Left My iPad on the Plane!
What Counts as a Country Visited?
14 Great Cities Where You Can Eat Like a Cabbie
Famous Fare: Nimoy Drives JFK
Baja Mexico's Double Dipper Gas Scam


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Airport Trains on the Move

Tampa Airport was the first to have a "people mover" train (above)
 to move passengers between terminals. Now it's getting a new one.

A few updates on new airport trains around the world:

New announcements for Auckland's airport train plans
Interesting fact: What's better than an airport train? In Auckland, the answer is two!
The government has proposed not one but two light rail lines: a City Line, linking the city centre with the airport, and a northwestern line linking the city centre and Westgate. It’s also signed up to a southeastern bus rapid transit line. How will they actually work?.. [read more].

First train arrives in Jakarta for new airport line
Interesting fact: the rolling stock is supplied by Canada's Bombardier
State railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) on Monday evening welcomed the first train set to operate as an airport train connecting the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten to two stations in Jakarta... [read more]. Or read our earlier story> about this train.

Perth Airport train station work begins, thanks to Grace
Interesting fact: the boring machine being used for the tunnel, "Grace", is named after a local schoolgirl undergoing leukaemia treatment.
WORK has begun on building the train station at Perth Airport as part of the rail tunnel from Forrestfield to Bayswater... [read more].

Phnom Penh airport train on hold
Interesting fact: Story emerges just one month after assurances there would be no evictions
The Cambodian government has suspended work on the airport railway project in Phnom Penh following demonstrations by villages over possible evictions... [read more].

You'll get a charge out of Taipei's new airport train
Interesting fact: the new metro offers in-town airport check-in
Passengers traveling on the new metro line between Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport now have access to a free wireless charging service for their mobile devices. The Taoyuan Metro also offers free Wi-Fi ... [read more].

Tampa Airport is getting a new people mover
Interesting fact: the rolling stock is suppied by Japan's Mitsubishi
Tampa International Airport's $2 Billion upgrade is underway. The first phase includes a 2.6 million sq.-ft. rental car center, a 1.4 mile automated people mover. The SkyConnect trip from the main terminal to the rental car center will include a stop at the economy parking garage. The facility will include kiosks for obtaining boarding passes and checking bags... [read more].

Related resources
Keys to Great Airport Transit - Human Transit
A Reporter Rode Denver’s Airport Light Rail–And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next - New Geography
Lucky Lucknow is Getting an Airport Train - IHateTaxis Blog
New Denver Airport Train - IHateTaxis Blog
New Tehran Mehrabad Airport Metro Link - IHateTaxis Blog
Mashad Airport Gets Metro Link - IHateTaxis Blog
-

More from IHateTaxis
Spot the Deadly Fake Taxi on Your International Travels
14 Great Cities Where You Can Eat Like a Cabbie
Do You URBEX?
Death by Selfie
I Was Scammed by an Uber Driver

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Manila Turns Up The Heat


In late 2014, we wrote about Manila's Latest Colorum Taxi Scam, targeting passengers at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport. 'Colorum' is a Filipino slang term used to refer to illegal vehicles.

Since then, we've reported on numerous Manila transportation developments, including official taxi fare reductions, a new airport bus ( New Manila UBE Express Airport Bus), and the ability for regular taxis to make airport pick-ups (New White Taxi Lanes at NAIA).

It seems are heating up again, with a major crackdown on taxi scams and illegal operators.

In Higher Penalties Await Overcharging Taxis, ‘Colorum’ in NAIA, Page One reports that authorities are imposing higher penalties on illegal “colorum” vehicle operators at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The penalties also extend to taxi drivers of any type - official airport taxis or regular white taxis using designated airport lanes - who scam passengers. Oops, we mean overcharge passengers.

With fines of PHP120,000 to PHP200,000 per violation, up from the previous PHP1,000 fine, it seems they are getting serious.

And it's about time. Manila's main airport has long been plagued with horrendous taxi lines and unacceptable delays at all four of its terminals.

The penalties are even higher for unauthorized bus operators, at PHP1 million per violation. Shady bus operators had been simply absorbing the prior PHP 1,000 as a cost of business, and covering it with passenger fares.


Related resources
Higher Penalties Await Overcharging Taxis, ‘Colorum’ In NAIA -Page One
New White Taxi Lanes at NAIA - IHateTaxis
Taxi Prices Drop in Manila... or Do They? - IHateTaxis
New Manila UBE Express Airport Bus - IHateTaxis
BManila's Latest Colorum Taxi Scam- IHateTaxis


More from IHateTaxis
Avoiding Taxi Scams at Rome's Airports (CIA, FCO)
Avoiding Taxi Scams at Costa Rica's Airports (SJO, SYQ)
Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) transportation guide
Manila Clark International Airport (CRK) transportation guide
Dealing with Taxi Drivers

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Do you URBEX?

Kolmanscop, Namibia - an urban explorer's paradise
creative commons image wikicommons
Urban exploration, or "URBEX", is the exploration of man-made structures, either abandoned ruins or normally unseen components of man-made environments. May also be referred to as dark tourism.

Unauthorized exploration involves all manner of risks associated with climbing derelict structures, entering dark tunnels, crawling into drains, breathing or coming into contact with toxins and so on. People have died pursuing this hobby. Yet the purists follow their own code of conduct of "leave everything as you found it" and "take nothing except pictures".

While exploring these structures may involve trespassing onto private property, this is not always the case. Some sites are open to the public, or are accessible on a tour. Still others have added methods such as mini-railways to take you through the site.

If your layover doesn't provide easy access to an abandoned site, you can easily pass hours exploring incredible photographs online. As many devotees don't even reveal the exact location of their finds, this is the only way you can see them.

In this, our first blog post on urban exploration, we introduce you to a sampling of popular sites... [read more].


Want more layover ideas?
• Read more stories on the LayoverIdeas Blog
• Explore cities worldwide on LayoverIdeas.com

Related resources
Mugging: are you a target? 10 resources
Spot the deadly fake taxi on your international travels!
Dealing with taxi drivers
Dealing with touts
Airport arrival advice

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

5 Pages: RentalCarReviews.com


5 Pages is our way to highlight great travel resources. In a nutshell, we share a resource we recommend and highlight five of the website's most notable sections, tools or articles. Here's our pick this month:

RentalCarReviews.com


Rental Car Reviews is the premier car rental information and review site, helping travelers research, review and plan their car rentals worldwide... Rental Car Reviews offers both verified and unverified reviews. Verified reviews are vetted with the rental companies in an effort to provide authenticated accounts from actual renters. Unverified reviews are monitored using a variety of methods to prevent abuse but overall are left to the honor system. Used together these reviews provide a strong foundation for users to make an informed decision about their car rental options. (edited, from the Rental Car Reviews website)

1. How to Avoid Being Charged for Pre-Existing Damage to Your Rental Car

You may not want the hassle of inspecting your rental car, going back into the office and getting the agent to sign-off on damage not already noted, but it could save your bacon. Or your wallet. Protect yourself against being billed for overlooked damage or, just as likely, a scam.
How to Avoid Being Charged for Pre-Existing Damage to Your Rental Car

2. 4 Easy Steps To Avoid Car Rental Fuel Charges

This page offers a clever way to create an "iron clad paper trail that a car rental company can't argue with", just in case you get a nasty surprise on your credit card bill.
4 Easy Steps To Avoid Car Rental Fuel Charges

3. Renting under the age of 25

It's not impossible to rent a car when you are under 25, but you'll have to do your research. This page gives you the lay of the land.
Renting under the age of 25

4. Child Seats and your Rental Car

You already know that you need a car seat for your little one when you travel. The question is, do you take one with you, or use one from the rental car company? The answers are here.
Child Seats and your Rental Car

5. Rental Car Reviews Community

You have to hunt for it, but once you click the "Login" button, you are at the launchpad for the heat of the site: the community of users who post their reviews. Yes, you have to sign up, but it's fast, easy and spam-free. Once in, you'll find a wealth of reviews for all brands, for locations worldwide.
Rental Car Reviews Community

A few bonus pages...
Hertz Error Inspires New Segment On Conan
Conan Gets Resolution From Hertz For Pricing Error
Which Rental Car To Choose? David Adam's Video Rental Car Reviews
The Cost Of Every Toll Road In Europe And The US
Avis And Budget Car Rental Introduce Portable WiFi Units In 12 European Countries

Our Review
Rating: 4 stars
Pros: nice balance of verified and unverified reviews
Cons: too hard to find specific rental car reviews (there needs to be a "sign up for a free login to easily search, read, save and write reviews" message, plus this page needs a spot on the menu), blog/tip pages are undated

Handy Links
Website: http://rentalcarreviews.com/
Instagram: rentalcarreviews
Facebook: RentalCarReviews
Twitter: @rentalcarreview

Need to rent a car? Check out car rentals from IHateTaxis:
IHateTaxis Car Rentals

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Death by Selfie
Help! I Left My iPad on the Plane!
What Counts as a Country Visited?
14 Great Cities Where You Can Eat Like a Cabbie
Famous Fare: Nimoy Drives JFK
Baja Mexico's Double Dipper Gas Scam


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Rent-a-Wreck is not a wreck

"Rent-A-Wreck Files for Bankruptcy, Cites Litigation Costs"... when we first saw this story on July 27th, we gasped, thinking the headline meant the demise of the overall Rent-a-Wreck brand.

It's the kind of challenge many franchisors have, when operators of master franchise agreements (such as for a province, state, country or region) use the brand's name in their legal name.

Suffice it to say that the demise of "Rent-A-Wreck of America Inc." does not equate to the end of the Rent-a-Wreck brand or its parent company, International Franchise Systems (IFS), which licences franchise locations in the USA, Scandinavia, and Saint Maarten. .

Rent-A-Wreck of America Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in Delaware, had been headed to trouble for awhile. Between lawsuits involving the owner, stalled growth during the economic downturn, other litigation and more, it's a bit of a sad story. You can read the news story here, if you want the sordid details.

We just hope it doesn't hurt the rest of the brand.

In the broader context of the sharing economy (the emergence of carsharing services such as Uber and Lyft), micro-rentals (such as Zipcar), the plethora of online car rental booking engines (like ours) and an increasing demand for green technology, Rent-a-Wreck deserves kudos for staying relevant and upping their game.

Meanwhile, in other Rent-a-Wreck news:

Michael DeLorenzo Wins Auto Rental News Impact Award - Auto Rental News
Michael DeLorenzo received the inaugural Auto Rental News Impact Award for outstanding service to the auto rental industry. DeLorenzo serves as the executive vice president of International Franchise Systems (IFS), which owns the NextCar, Priceless, and Rent-A-Wreck brands. He is also a member of the American Car Rental Association’s (ACRA) Board of Directors... [read more].

So You Think You Want to Become a Franchisee? - Auto Rental News
“I washed cars for Hertz in high school,” says Matthew Allen, a Rent-A-Wreck franchisee in Richmond, Va. “From that experience I had always felt I wanted to have a rental car operation.” Allen started (his Rent-a-Wreck franchise) with seven cars in 2012 and is up to 86 today. Regarding the decision to franchise or operate his own car rental business, “I never thought about going independent,” he says. “I felt I needed the support and expertise of people who had done it before."... [read more].

How One Rent-A-Wreck Franchisee Became a CNBC Star - Auto Rental News
Ernesto “Sonny” Mongillo, Jr. wasn’t even sure what the fuss was about. After filling out a questionnaire sent from International Franchise Systems, the parent company of his Rent-A-Wreck and Priceless car rental business in Southern Conn., he took a follow-up phone call with more questions... When Mongillo finally saw the link online, he realized he had been named one of CNBC’s Star Franchisees for 2016. “Yeah, I was surprised and excited,” Mongillo said. “It was a little overwhelming...” [read more].


FYI, for our Canadian readers:
A separate Canadian Rent-a-Wreck company is not affiliated with the US based firm. The Calgary-based firm offers car and truck rentals in all 10 Canadian provinces and the Yukon.


More from IHateTaxis
Are Cross-Border Car Rentals Possible?
Renting Diesel in North America
Baja Mexico's Double Dipper Gas Scam
Help! I Left My iPad on the Plane!

Need to rent a car? Check out IHateTaxis Car Rentals - we're global and we're competitive... give us a try!



Saturday, 1 July 2017

5 Pages: RailwayGazette.com


5 Pages is our way to highlight great travel resources. In a nutshell, we share a resource we recommend and highlight five of the website's most notable sections, tools or articles. Here's our pick this month:

RailwayGazette.com


The Railway Gazette group brings together a team of experienced professional journalists, whose insight and analysis is highly respected within the railway industry. Travelling extensively each year, the team enjoys top-level access to managers and decision-makers. They are supported by local correspondents in many different markets around the world, helping to keeping the readers of our various publications abreast of the latest news and developments across the globe. (from the Railway Gazette website)

1. Airport Train News

Our favourite search result on Railway Gazette, to read the latest in airport train news around the globe. Vary the search term (eg. people mover) for different results
Airport Train News

2. Passenger Rail News

A roundup of passenger train news. Airport transport stories are often categorized here.
Passenger Rail News

3. High Speed Rail News

A fast way to catch up on fast trains! Not a lot of airport transport stories here, but it's interesting to learn about new high speed train developments (maybe you won't even need to fly!).
High Speed Rail News

4. Urban Rail News

Urban Rail includes subways, metros, bus rapid transit lines, and more. Airport extensions to metro systems are reported here. Maybe you will get to the airport sooner!
Urban Rail News

5. Rail Industry Event Directory

A valuable resource for those in the rail industry, or just for the curious rail-loving public. You'll find more resources on each event's website.
Rail Industry Event Directory

A few bonus pages...
Railway Gazette latest issue highlights (90 second video)
Rail Industry Publications - by subscription
Rail Industry Digital Magazines - by subscription
Rail Industry Newsletters - free

Our Review
We admit that Railway Gazette is a bit of a geeky pick, but we use it regularly to stay up-to-date with airport train news. We chose it to review as we thought there may be some train lovers among our followers who would enjoy it.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Pros: You can confidently assume that the latest news about trains is here. Train lover's will enjoy it.
Cons: It can be a bit hard to track down content (there is a lot!). Being able to download or view a sample copy of the digital magazines before subscribing would help.

Handy Links
Website: http://www.railwaygazette.com
Facebook: RailwayGazette
Twitter: @railwaygazette

More from IHateTaxis
Death by Selfie
Help! I Left My iPad on the Plane!
What Counts as a Country Visited?
14 Great Cities Where You Can Eat Like a Cabbie
Famous Fare: Nimoy Drives JFK
Baja Mexico's Double Dipper Gas Scam


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Is Uber doomed?

Looks more like half a star...
Time Magazine Takes On Uber With
Brutal, One-Star Cover
- SFist

We can imagine that the very thought will make taxi drivers everywhere do a little dance, but we hardly think ridesharing is going to disappear. Uber, though, that's a different story.

We won't bother to detail all the sordid details of what got Uber to this point -- just Google "Uber scandal" or "Uber crisis" to get the lowdown (if you've been living under a rock or something) -- but what has our attention is the kind of headlines we are seeing.

Intrigued? Take a look at the stories that are being generated:

My Uber Boycott Is Finally Paying Off - Gizmodo
I’d like to say that I’ve never given Uber money, but that wouldn’t be true. Not exactly. I did give Uber money once, years ago, when I had no other option. The company promptly ripped me off, and I wasn’t surprised. Why not? I worked in the same office as Uber in its early days. I could sense those fuckers were evil from the start. Now that the bricks of Uber’s multibillion-dollar edifice are officially tumbling down, exposing the company’s noxious and abusive inner workings, my boycott feels like it’s paying off. Obviously, it’s not actually paying off. I’m not making any money by avoiding Uber during the crumbling period of Silicon Valley’s once-beloved house of capitalism. Although I certainly saved a lot of money by boycotting Uber.) Uber’s fall is paying off in the form of what I’d call moral dividends. I spent years arguing with friends, not only pointing out that Uber seemed like a bad company run by bad people but also making the case that giving money to a company like that would only enable those bad people to do more bad things. I was not wrong... [read the rest of the story].

Strike four for Uber: Even with Kalanick’s departure, they may still end as the “Enron of the transportation industry" - Salon
CEO Travis Kalanick’s departure from Uber is not a surprise to those who have been following this company for the last several years. Since February, Uber has been rocked by one scandal after another... But this was hardly the beginning of Uber scandals. Previously, I and others had written about the Uber “parade of horribles” that has dogged this company from its inception. So while there’s no question Travis Kalanick scaled his company to a transportation behemoth, he has done this by promoting a pirate mentality and bro culture that has led to mismanagement in numerous ways. It was only a matter of time before he destroyed what he created. Today, only four out of 10 Americans say they have a favorable impression of the company... [read the rest of the story].

How one lone woman exposed the frat-boy culture at Uber - The Star
Amid the Lewis Carroll-esque madness at Uber Technologies Inc., a narrative that includes a suddenly leave-taking CEO ceding corporate leadership to a non-existent chief operating officer, a non-existent chief financial officer, a non-existent chief marketing officer and a seemingly mute chairman, one story stands out. Susan Fowler started working as an engineer at Uber in November 2015. After a brief period of time getting to know the various engineering work units, she settled on a team that seemed just the right fit. Here’s what she would later write about day one on the job:...[read the rest of the story].

Related stories
As Uber Leaders Step Aside, Arianna Huffington’s Influence Grows - NY Times
This is what Uber needs to do to save itself - Refinery 29
Uber wants its New York City-based passengers to know how sorry it is - Digital Trends
Lyft shares soar as Uber's awful year continues - NY Post
Estonia upstart Taxify wants to take on Uber - Voice of America


Related resources - from the IHateTaxis blog
Up, up and away with Uber in China
The Uber Tip Dilemma
I was scammed by an Uber driver
Why we shelved Uber updates

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The fate of Berlin's Tegel Airport

The power of the petition could turn the tide at Berlin's Tegel Airport.

Berliners demand vote to keep Tegel airport open - Reuters

More than 200,000 Berlin residents have signed a petition to demand a referendum on keeping the city's Tegel airport operating after the German capital's new airport opens. Tegel... was meant to close once a much-delayed new airport opened southeast of Berlin. But critics say the new airport will be too small to meet passenger demand even when it opens, possibly in 2018.
Tegel, in the northwest, and Berlin's other airport, Schoenefeld in the southeast, served 33 million passengers last year. The capacity of the new Brandenberg Airport, whose opening has been pushed back from January 2017, will be 27 million... [read the full story].

Related resources

Berlin’s Airport Debacle: Five Years Late and Counting - Bloomberg
Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) transportation guide - IHateTaxis
Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SXF) transportation guide - IHateTaxis
Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) information - IHateTaxis