During the IRU’s International Taxi Forum important metropolitan regulators like Moscow’s Dmitry Pronin showed that in their multifaceted and highly regulated mobility approach the taxi is clearly a force to be reckoned with.
Moscow’s cleaned-up taxi fleet is – thanks to replacement subsidies – one of the youngest in the world with an average vehicle age of under 3 years.
Yet, the future is not the same everywhere. Since July this year Finland’s previously highly-regulated taxi trade is dealing with a completely deregulated taxi market – a bit of a challenge. Finland’s example may lead to similar measures in Norway. Timo Koskinen (Finnish taxi-association) stressed that ‘one market should have one set of rules for all’: “The safety of the customer and driver, social responsibility (like all operators paying taxes and VAT) and safeguarding the environment are essential.”
Different speakers outlined the future of the city, the part new mobility approaches play in the city of tomorrow and the necessity for cleaner (electric) vehicles. Despite the fact that in 2050 most of us will live in cities, the EU-programme HiReach also shows that the taxi can provide a necessary mobility link in rural areas, where the provision of classic public transport will get more and more difficult.
Jonna Pöllänen (MaaS Global/Whim) underlined that a system like Mobility as a Service (MaaS) will link taxis to the use of different forms of public transport, plus bike and car rental systems in a form of a monthly app-based subscription. For a fixed monthly fare users get a mix of mobility – including taxis. The higher the fare, the more taxis one gets. Such a system – called Whim – is already operational in Helsinki and the West-Midlands (UK). Various other operators are working on similar models.
“Politics is the word I’ve heard most at this Taxi Forum. And it is scandalous indeed how Uber in 2011 managed to worm its way into London because of its political connections in the highest places. We call that a ‘chumocracy’, because it has nothing to do with democracy or with proper regulation,” LTDA General Secretary Steve McNamara described the situation in London.
In most countries the arrival of Uber put the trade on the defensive. Initial reactions from the taxi trade were pretty inept with mainly mass demos which didn’t always impress local politicians and regulators. The success rate varied starkly from country to country.
McNamara explained how the London taxi trade was also caught on the back foot when Uber came on to the scene: “We were innocent and politically naïve. But we organized ourselves and learnt quickly. That’s why we are sure the tide is turning. Uber’s ridiculous positive claims are now falling on deaf ears. People are beginning to come around, our customer base is returning and we see a resurgence in the trade. Together with the government we are working on a level playing field.”
Referring to the (temporary) cap New York City has recently placed on the mushrooming private hire sector, McNamara added: “Unfortunately, London’s mayor has no powers to cap private hire. But the right to ply for hire should be the sole domain of the taxi trade in London.” (© 2018 TaxiIntelligence).
*** Almost all of the presentations held at the IRU International Taxi Forum can be found here: https://www.iru.org/what-we-do/events/8th-iru-international-taxi-forum
- Steve McNamara (LTDA): “The right to ply for hire should be the sole domain of the taxi trade in London.”