“The close-knit nature of the Taxi.eu family remains important and could and should be strengthened further so that we can benefit from the network and from each other’s experience. There is strength in numbers!
We also need to let our voice be heard in those national and European institutions where it matters. That is an area where Taxi.eu could do more. Much more.
Only recently one of our largest competitors in Europe organized a high-level meeting in the European Parliament where most of the European movers and shakers were present.
This is particularly important as the various challenges we face have only increased since last year. Often companies which were our partners only a few months ago, have suddenly turned into our competitors.
Suppliers we once trusted, now seem to play a dubious and adversarial role. And worse: they turn into our direct competitors, thinking – wrongly – that the taxi and private hire sector is something of the past.
Apart from that, new businesses have sprung up, promising jobs from new clients, from ‘new’ business. Not a day passes or one of these mobility platforms – often under the guise of ‘Mobility as a Service (MaaS)’ – calls to invite us to do business. “These new customers will only cost you a small percentage of your takings,” they say.
And what do we see? Suddenly we’re paying a percentage on servicing part of our existing customer base. The amount of real new business these partners provide, is derisory.
It is not that we are against app-based new concepts like MaaS, but that concept only works if the taxi trade is an integral part of such a new partnership of companies.
At the same time, politicians often call upon the taxi and private hire industry to be innovative. Particularly as we are such an important presence in the city centre.
Yes, we are the first to be asked to “clean up our act”, and to opt for cleaner vehicles. Often, without any subsidy. Usually our app-based competitors don’t get the same demands.
We also face regulatory turmoil. A wave of change is sweeping across Europe, fueled by our app-based friends who would very much like to operate under less strict rules. Finland, Norway, Austria, Germany, Flanders… There’s discussion everywhere.
Like most of you, our now 90 year old company Antwerp-Tax, has been confronted by all these trends: unfair competition, strict environmental demands and misguided changes in regulation.
The Flemish government – against much negative advice – just deregulated the taxi and private hire sector. Weeks before the elections. Need we say more?
It introduced two types of taxis: the ones which can rank and the (app-based) ones which can roam freely and should only be ordered by app.
But who will police this new policy when there is large demand? My guess is that app-based taxis will be swarming around, ready to pick up anyone without the relevant licence.
That same government (without giving us any financial incentive) demands we offer clean vehicles for the Low Emission Zone in Antwerp. We have just completed the installation of 18 charging points for our new Mercedes-Benz hybrids.
For all these challenges we need a strong Taxi.eu force in Europe. I’m looking forward to two days of fruitful discussion, exchange of technical and business information and a further strengthening of the business and friendly ties we all profit from in Taxi.eu.
Lets make our Taxi.eu group count everywhere in Europe!”
- Speech by Eurocab-president and CEO of Antwerp-Tax, Koen Van Oorschot at the start of Eurocab 2019, Luxemburg, May 28, 2019.