Does it have to do with frequent drug or alcohol use or with the poor driving qualities of the average taxi driver in Moscow (who, incidentally, to a large percentage -90%- come from the former Soviet republics)? The fact is that the number of accidents involving taxis in the Russian capital has risen sharply (+ 25%) in the last year. The Russian news (“Russia 24”) even devoted a leading theme to it in a recent broadcast. The unions blame the large number of ‘foreign’ (e.g. non-Russian) drivers and their relative inexperience.
Maxim Liksutov, the vice-mayor of Moscow, said earlier that since the beginning of the year the number of taxi accidents in the capital has risen sharply. According to him, this negative spiral may be due to the fact that taxi drivers “receive and process many orders”. With this he points to the many journeys booked through various apps, such as Yandex.Taxi, Gett and City Mobil. The apps and their low prices have boosted the number of taxi trips in Moscow, but also elsewhere in Russia.
The trade unions have a slightly different opinion: “The reason for the high number of accidents is the dominance of foreign drivers, the lack of professional standards in the taxi sector and the poor labour relations. These aspects all have a negative impact on road safety,” said Andrei Popkov, chairman of the coordinating council of the interregional union of taxi drivers and public transport workers.
He generally thinks taxi drivers work too long. But given the low income of taxi drivers, that is no wonder. He added that the ‘aggregators’ (apps) should introduce minimum wages for a specific working time. That would solve the problem, according to him.
This opinion is shared by the chairman of the Moscow trade union for taxi drivers Nikolai Kodolov. He also pointed to the role of inexperienced drivers in creating emergencies. “We agree that the number of accidents has increased considerably. Often this happens because drivers do not have the experience to carry passengers in a big city and the traffic flow of a metropolis such as Moscow. And of course, because many drivers work hard for more than 12 to 13 hours a day, they live and sleep in their cars,” Kodolov said. The Moscow government would like to see software which can keep drivers awake and alert them if they threaten to fall asleep.
The chief of the traffic police, Mikhail Chernikov, said his service is developing legislation and software to link taxi drivers and vehicles to the use of apps. One aspect that often plays a role in Moscow is that not all taxi drivers have a driver’s license. Or they share one when they look alike.
- There has been a substantial increase in taxi accidents in Moscow.