Hélène Manceron is the Editor-Publisher of the French taxi magazine ‘100% Taxis’ and the best taxi journalist in France. She interviewed the big boss of the French taxi sector, Nicolas Rousselet of G7 Group Rousselet, just before he invited all his drivers for a motivational get-together last Sunday. He also wrote a book about his view of the taxi and ‘sharing’ business.
“TAXI, A LIFE PROJECT” says NICOLAS ROUSSELET – G7 GROUP ROUSSELET
Anticipating urban developments, this Sunday G7, May 15, G7 presented various innovations to its partners’ taxis and drivers. Committed to the success of the sector, the CEO of Rousselet Group unveils its objectives.
You have just published an essay “Humanizing the sharing economy.” What is your message?
The Rousselet Group is a diversified group with brands including G7, ADA, Homebox, to mention the best known. Its mission is to bring more and more services to citizens taking advantage of great opportunities of the digital world and thus participate in creating the future city.
Taxis are one of the main services to the citizens and they are modernizing daily. But it is necessary that the state, cities, social actors are also changing. We participated in a broad consultation with a parliamentary debate leading to the Thevenoud Act of 1 October 2014. This law is not applied and, without regulation, our cities become urban jungles. We need a state, a city of Paris and a strong police department to enforce the laws. The new digital world does not abolish the fundamental rules that remain. Public regulation does not sterilize competition but frames it for real efficiency that benefits the consumer. My book insists that we should be widely attentive to the way our cities are changing. I say this as an entrepreneur and as an employer.
Why must we regulate the taxi profession?
Some confuse liberalism and libertarian philosophy, considering that nothing must oppose individual freedom, leaving it to settle areas of “non-law”. Taxi and passenger transport should be regulated as it transports people securely, occupies the public domain and avoids price negotiations. We must therefore have a license and diplomas and prices set by public authorities. In Austin (Texas), people just refused the establishment of new intermediaries in order to protect public safety. In New York, the traffic between Wall Street and Central Park is one great bottle-neck. In Paris, about 25% of vehicles on the road today are taxis or VTC! Governments must regulate what is a major traffic flow.
Competition, when it is fair, is not a threat: it pushes us to improve. Thus, we created the international platform eCab bringing together the best of the profession. It now includes 10 countries, 100 cities and 100.000 taxis. In addition to the performance of this digital app, all drivers are reliable professionals: it is the ergonomics of new entrants and reliability of traditional players!
This Sunday you brought together all your partners and drivers. Why ?
We are proud of our profession, to work in the service of people, day and night, weekdays and weekends. The present period is difficult and many taxi drivers could be demoralized. But it is precisely in a situation like this that we must reaffirm our values, our pride, our enthusiasm and modernize our offer. This is the meaning of this event. We know that our job is to constantly innovate because we are not the only ones on the urban transport market. We are confident in our professionalism. The space in the cities is not expandable: in Paris it is even in the process of sharp reduction, and new entrants will lose their apparent profitability with fulfilling their tax and social security under the same conditions as us. We will win the battle together because beyond the technological evolution, it is the driver who is at the heart of the customer relationship. And it can not be sustainably motivated and efficient to have a driver in a model, that of the VTC, where platforms impose commissions ranging from 20% to 30% of the fares; a model where the driver is a precarious worker earning just the minimum wage by working 70 hours a week. We do not wish to invest in the VTC because we are 100% behind taxis to always bring more activity to the G7 drivers.
We must choose sides, I chose mine and I am sure the success of taxis – with a little patience and proper adaptation to the new requirements of our customers, a process already started by the way. Rousselet G7 and the Group is also the image of a profession because our group is emblematic, as taxi drivers, we are proud to be engaged together in a modernization of combat, efficiency and justice.
Hélène Manceron – 100% Taxis (Translated from the French).
“Humanizing the sharing economy,” Rousselet N., Editions Public Debates, 2016. € 18.
• Nicolas Rousselet: ‘We must choose sides’.