Taxi Times International - October 2015 - English

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OCTOBER 2015 6,80€







Mac Urata (ITF):



Intelligent Mobility 3.0 shows



Russian taxi conference:



Simply show the translation

The Taxi Language


Charm offensive – in over 70 languages!

● 21 essential phrases

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● Be able to communicate

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● Simply point and

let the passenger read,

they need only to nod

or shake their head.

This language guide enables a taxi driver to communicate more easily or at least at

all with foreign passengers. The brochure contains all the phrases used in a taxi from

“Please fasten your seat belt” to “Do you wish to pay by credit card?”.

All the important phrases are included, from Japanese to Spanish, from Finnish to

Russian, from Farsi to Urdu. Communicate in 74 languages without having a command

of them.

Simply tap on it (point) and let the passenger read it. To reply, all he needs to do is nod

or shake his head.


One of the main elements in the competition with ‘techapps’

is that taxis are providing an inferior service to these

app-based services. Or, before you bombard us with critical

emails saying we are wrong, that at least the perception

of the taxi’s service is negative. Even when there’s

nothing wrong with the service provided, taxis are often

seen as lacking in certain quality areas.

Apps are also often seen as trendy. A trendiness which

is lacking from the taxi product, which has nothing to do

with the taxi’s quality in itself. Every service provider needs

to be critical of its own service and aware of changes in it.

Not just the taxi industry. That’s why a pan-European

e-learning programme like Taxistars, which provides a

much-needed upgrade of the drivers’ service, is a great idea.

That sits very comfortably with Mac Urata’s demand

(in the main interview) for an improvement in the drivers’

working conditions. Because they, with many other contributing

factors, also influence the level of quality the

customer enjoys.

- the editors -




8–9 Taxistars from Athens: a ‘first’ for the taxi

industry, developing a European e-learning



10–12 ITF-secretary Mac Urata about the

unions’ new activities in the taxi sector


13–14 The Dutch Taxi Expo discussed many

different themes

15–16 Intelligent Mobility 3.0: Are the lines

between mobility providers blurring?

16–18 Russia’s taxi conference wants legal

solutions in the trade


20–21 Greek-European integration:

What role Taxi.eu is playing in the

changing taxi landscape in Athens


22–23 Taxi-Highlights from the IAA car show


25 The European taxi industry demonstrates in





Welcoming International

Guests to your Cab.

The Taxi Driver‘s Phrasebook.

by Gabriele Kröber

Making hospitality

quick and easy!

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COVER PHOTO: Fotolia / Carsten Bachmeyer

Eurocab 2015 fms usergroup meeting

October 14–16, 2015,

Ramada Plaza Antwerp, Belgium


2015 Annual Convention & Trade Show

October 26-30, Ceasars Palace,

Las Vegas, USA


7. Taxitreff 2015

Including Taxi Times workshop

October 29–31, 2015, Mallorca, Spain


Taxiworld Turkey

February, 4-6, 2016, Istanbul, Turkey


Organising an event in the mobility sector?

Please let us know: info@taxi-times.com




06 More quality should be obligatory


4, 7, 19 News

24 Figures and statistics about Greece







Van Beek (r.)

hands over

to Tommel.

On September 1, Head of Communications

Claudio Skubla (53) took over

from Per Juth, who retired, as acting

Federal Director of the Swedish Taxi

Association. Per Juth left the association

“to use the opportunity to move

abroad before retiring. My time at the

Taxi Association has only left me with

positive experiences and memories.”

Claudio Skubla is a marketing

economist and has worked as Head of

Communications of the association

since 2011. “Claudio knows how to

run industry issues and has a good

network of contacts in different organisations

and in government offices. I

look forward to working with him to

further drive the development of the

taxi industry” commented Bo Bylund,

Chairman of the Federation. wf NEW CEO FOR ROTTERDAM’S RMC


Not all taxis in Athens look as good as this one. The recent

extension of the public transport network and the economic

crisis have reduced the role of the taxi as the Athenians’ favourite

means of transport. The locals no longer quickly hop in a

(shared) taxi – not even to go to work, as they used to - but tend

to walk longer distances to take bus and metro instead.

Not only the quality of the vehicles has suffered. The same goes

for the quality of the drivers’ service, which is very hit and

miss. So it was only fitting that Taxistars, the new European

e-learning programme to train and educate taxi drivers, would

be launched here and made Athens the European taxi capital

for a day.

Skubla temporarily takes over

from Juth (r.).

Cees Tommel (49), from railoperator Keyrail,

is the new director of the Rotterdamse

Mobiliteit Centrale (RMC), a joint- venture

created in 2003 between Rotterdam public

transport company RET and the Rotterdam

radio-circuit RTC. RMC is one of

the largest dispatching centres in The

Netherlands, dispatching jobs for RTC but

also for numerous external clients in the

entire country.

Henk van Beek (65), its present CEO

will be leaving in a few months. Through

his rail-background Tommel has built

up a large network of contacts in Rotterdam’s

port and various logistics companies.





Röbi Koller is a journalist, TV host and

book author. In autumn of next year, the

Zurich native intends to publish a new

book about taxis. Aiming for authenticity,

Koller recently acquired the passenger

transportation licence for the city of

Zurich, was hired by the taxi company

Zitrans and will now been working as a

“normal” taxi driver in Zurich for several

months. “In autumn of 2016, I am planning

on publishing a book about my experiences:

stories from passengers or from

other taxi drivers, but also the political,

economic and social developments affecting

the taxi industry,” Röbi Koller writes

in an e-mail to Taxi Times. The very popular

TV host in Switzerland became aware

of our magazine while working for the taxi

company and asked us to send him some

older and future copies.

We are happy to oblige and we are looking

forward to the stories and impressions of

the taxi industry Mr. Koller gains during

his time as a taxi driver. Have a safe drive

in Zurich, Mr. Koller!





IRU appointed Kadri Özen as new IRU

General Delegate in its Istanbul office.

Özen replaces Haydar Özkan, who has

held the position of IRU General Delegate

to the Middle East and Region

since May 2005 and now wishes to continue

his career in the private sector.

Kadri Özen has a proven track record

in the establishment of partnerships,

media relations, and financial and leadership

communications through his

experience in sustainability, advocacy

and stakeholder management. And as

Turkey plays a key role in the IRU’s

expansion at the crossroads between

Europe, Asia, the CIS and the Middle

East, IRU says it is confident that Mr

Özen’s leadership will expedite the

implementation of the IRU’s strategic



PHOTOS: Philippe Rossier, Swedish Taxi Association, Awe Krijger/RMC

PHOTO: Wim Faber




Wim Faber (left) and

Jürgen Hartmann.








View a map of

top venues most

frequented by Uber

riders with ‘Local




European learning software for taxi drivers is available for the first

time and has the potential to raise the standard of training. The taxi

trade must now urgently find the answer to the next question: Should

quality measures be made mandatory?

Within the scope of a remarkable global

cooperation, the European taxi trade has

developed a modularly structured eLearning

software (Taxistars) that teaches the

main elements of the profession to newcomers

to the taxi trade, and can also bring

new perspectives to experienced colleagues

– or at least refresh some of their

basic knowledge.


Well-trained taxi drivers not only

increase the quality of taxis as a

service, but they also instil new

confidence in the sector. The driver

is the one in direct contact with the

customer. The more confident the

driver is, the more secure the passenger

feels, and the easier it is for him

to decide to push the taxi button next

time (instead of ‘Uber’). It is therefore

a good thing that the unions start to

show renewed interest in the taxi trade.

Find out more in our in-depth interview

with Mac Urata, Section Secretary of

the International Transport Workers’

Federation (ITF).

The program is available in seven languages

and can be accessed on the computer or

via app. Now the national associations are

faced with the enormous task of ensuring

the widespread and swift distribution of

the software and convincing companies,

taxi radio circuits, associations and training

institutes to integrate this learning

content into their (already existing) quality

measures. The fact that the software is

free, thanks largely to the financial support

of the European Union, should make this

task easier.

The initiator and driver of this project

was a Greek company, which is why the

symbolic kick-off of Taxistars took place in

Athens, a city where nearly 14,000 taxis

are only able to earn €60 to €80 in 14-hour

shifts and where every single driver struggles

each day to secure a living. Some drivers

do resort to dishonest measures, and

nearly every participant at the Taxistars

event knew of cases in which taxi prices

were inflated, or knowledge of the streets

was sorely lacking – in addition to communication

problems, given that few drivers

in Athens speak English.

During the discussion, the question

quickly came up as to whether the learning

program and other quality measures

should be offered on a voluntary basis or

introduced as mandatory. We need to have

this debate, however controversial, and

pursue it to its final conclusion.

It is certainly true that raising the barriers

to entry makes it harder to find staff.

But if the taxi trade wants to remain a reasonable

regional, national and global alternative

means of passenger transport in

this fast-paced, ever-changing digital

world, it must define a significantly higher

quality standard in the short term and

implement it over the mid term.

Implementation should therefore start

with newcomers to the taxi trade. Those

new to the trade must have the capacity

and willingness to perform their job as a

taxi driver in a professional manner, which

goes far beyond simply knowing their way

around the city. Taxi associations and circuits

must have the courage to make this

a mandatory requirement, whether legally

or on their own initiative.

Jürgen Hartmann


Wim Faber


PHOTO: Gudrun Hartmann

PHOTOS: business wire; Wim Faber

The international hotel chain Hilton and the major German airline

Lufthansa recently announced two noteworthy collaborative ventures.

Lufthansa will offer fixed-price limousine shuttle service

to passengers flying into and out of Düsseldorf Airport. Rides will

be booked and provided through the “myDriver” application, a

subsidiary of the international car rental company Sixt. The service,

which according to Lufthansa will be available at a price

comparable to that of a taxi, offers trained drivers, pickup at the

passenger’s home or the airport arrivals area, and a luggage service.

In case of flight delays, myDriver automatically takes those

into account and waits for the passenger at no extra cost. If the

trial run in Düsseldorf proves successful, Lufthansa and myDriver

want to offer this service in other European cities.

This really bad news for the taxi industry was topped a few

days later by another notification: The controversial transportation

network company

Uber announced a collaboration

with the

Hilton hotel chain.

According to a press

release, “Hilton Worldwide and Uber

are now partners and want to make a new travel

experience available to guests.” A feature allowing customers to

order an Uber car was added to the Hilton HHonors-App, which

customers could already use to book rooms, check in, and enter

their rooms with a digital key. Interestingly, additional features

should facilitate the announced travel experience in some American

cities. These include a reminder to order cars on time and

insiders’ tips about the trendiest spots. The most popular recent

destinations of Uber passengers will be shown.




Although the national Dutch NS Zonetaxi system –developed by

Dutch railways NS and the taxi association KNV Taxi – now serves

more railway stations (138) than the popular shared Traintaxi

ever did in its heyday, it’s definitely not as popular as its


“There is growth, but we need more volume”, conceeds NS

Zonetaxi manager Kees Miedema at NS Stations. “Compared to

our starting phase there’s quiet a bit of growth. We’re gaining

hundreds of users every week. We’re moving in the right direction,

but it takes time before a product like this is settled properly.”

The systems’s evaluation is planned for 2017-2018.

Three years ago NS Zonetaxi started with 24 stations, quickly

added another 24 and grew to 138. NS is eager to add another 31

locations to the tally this year. Miedema adds: “We feel that NS

Zonetaxi is a well-functioning and qualitative taxi product, which

functions impeccably. Regular users are very happy with it.”

The next step is a dedicated NS Zonetaxi-app, to be launched

in the last quarter of this year. At the moment users have to register

and order via the system’s website. Rates start at € 6 for the

first zone of two kilometres and € 3 is

added for every next zone up to a maximum

of 30 kilometres. “That makes it

slightly cheaper than ordinary taxis”,

adds Miedema.

With quite a few taxi companies not

being very enthusiastic about the service

and using it as a ‘filler’ for ordinary

taxi work, the system’s financing has

also needed some adapting: the fixed

yearly amount is gone. Now there’s an

entry fee of € 750 and a percentage per

trip. Every cab company respecting the

national quality standards can participate.

Hence the entry check on quality

aspects remains. There is no NS Zonetaxi

‘look’: taxi companies prefer to

keep their cabs neutral and not use system



Miedema: “NS Zonetaxi

needs more time and

more volume.”








were not only scattered across various geographies, they were

also specialists. The Taxistars consortium consisted of a complementary

mix of professional and institutional partners whose

common denominators lay in the professional training and further

education in the traffic and/or IT sector, all of whom also had indepth

experience in developing EU projects.

The tutorial can be accessed online on any computer or laptop.

An app version was also developed, which can be downloaded free

of charge for both iPhones and Android smartphones. Initial test

runs showed high acceptance among prospective taxi drivers. “It

lets me choose when and where to use the learning software”,

said a Hamburg taxi newcomer. “If I was to rate this programme,

I would give it five stars out of five.” So there really are stars elsewhere

than in the sky.






Various European taxi associations have

developed a joint taxi eLearning programme.

It is modularly structured and can be

accessed online or via app free of charge.

Who says that there are stars only in the sky?” This is

the slogan used in the launch of a project three years

ago under the leadership of the Greek consulting

firm Militos for developing a standardised training concept for

taxi drivers. The European Union covered 75 per cent of the project

costs; the rest was financed by the partners. The goal was to

help make the transport system throughout the EU safer, more

efficient, more competitive, and to increase its quality by improving

training and further education in the taxi sector and, in doing

so, to address the ever-changing demands and working conditions

inherent in the 24-hour job of ‘taxi driver’.

The new star in the taxi world is a friendly, smiling comic strip

character who wears a blue and white checked shirt, a blue tie

and blue trousers with a smart black belt. His eyes are watchful

and his hair is neatly parted on the side. His proportions are

deliberately off, leaving him with a head twice as big as his thin

legs, and his hands lack fingers, as if to indicate that the job of

today’s taxi driver consists of much more than knowing how to

use the pedals and steering wheel correctly. Professional taxi

driving is all in the mind; it is a matter of knowledge. In-depth

knowledge lead to the required professionalism.

So it is not surprising that the learning content, presented by

our comic strip character in eight different modules, covers a

broad range of topics. In addition to standard subjects for profes-

sional drivers such as an ergonomic sitting position, stress management

and defensive driving, the content also includes

passenger-specific subjects such as conflict management, serviceminded

behaviour and dealing with disabled passengers. The

modular structure allows the learning content to be approached

in manageable sections.


The information is presented in a fun, easy format. There are no

long-winded explanations; the information is brief and concise

with a lot of multiple choice questions which engage the learner

proactively. There is of course a lot of general information and

some content that, at first glance, does not appear to apply exclusively

to professional drivers (for example, how caffeine influences

concentration), but due to the global nature of the project,

everyone involved understood from the beginning that national

specificities and regulations could not be taken into account.

Instead, the focus is on the development of a modern communication

basis. The nine project partners from eight countries



… also


as App.

For the presentation of the Taxistars

project, the consortium invited everyone

to Athens, where representatives presented

the background of the project to

the individual project partners and were

available afterwards for a Q&A session.

In the afternoon, speakers from the U.S.

and the Netherlands presented similar

eLearning projects for training taxi drivers

in their respective countries.

During his welcome speech, Thymios

Lymperopoulos, president of the Greek

Taxi Association, announced that his

association would soon join the IRU

taxi section. Hopefully this will provide

support in the fight against Uber.

The information

is presented in an

easy format …

COMPUTER/LAPTOP: www.taxistars.eu,

click on the eLearning platform button,

then set the language preferences.


TaxiTraining in the Apple App Store or

the Google Play Store, download the

Taxistars’ app from Militos Consulting

S.A. in the language of your choice. Data

volume: approx. 120 MB;

ON PAPER: The learning content will

be available as a PDF file (approx. 130

pages) starting at the end of October.










Mac Urata, Section Secretary, Inland

Transport Sections, International Transport

Workers’ Federation, is a busy man

since the start of Uber: suddenly the taxi

trade is back in the union’s spotlight.

Urata’s brief is not only quite wide, it

is also very diverse: at the ITF London

headquarters he covers the two sections

of railways and road transportation. The

latter includes truck, bus and taxi drivers.

Although he nicely sidesteps the question

which group is his preferred, it is

clear to see that the taxi sector takes up

quite a bit of time at the moment.

“The taxi industry is not even a national

industry. It is often city based, unlike

transport by sea and civil aviation for instance.

Ironically Uber made the taxi industry

very global. And it also made us

focus more on the taxi sector.”

TAXI TIMES: But your presence in the

taxi sector is quite patchy.

MAC URATA: “In countries like the US

and in some European countries we were

hit very hard after waves of deregulation.

For example in the US and Sweden

it has been an uphill struggle to organise

and to re-organise taxi workers, particularly

because their employment status

changed to bogus self-employed. These

developments also happened over different

periods. From 1998 onwards we had

some activist people in the US who, particularly

in New York, redeveloped the

taxi unions. By 2003, 2004 they were getting

quite strong.”

» Ironically Uber

made the taxi

industry very global.

And it also made us

focus more on the

taxi sector«

Uber’s come at the right time to galvanise

your unions back into action?

“You were right by saying the union presence

in the taxi industry is quite patchy.

If we take a quick tour around the world,

we see that the taxi unions were quite successful

in Japan and in South Korea. In

Japan too they were hit hard by deregulation,

although there were efforts to organise

taxi workers on a company level making

sure they would at least get a minimum

salary. This unfortunately disappeared by


“In the Philippines, we assisted unions

to organise the Jeepney-workers, and in


we had

s o m e

degrees of

success. In

India it was more

complex with a very

fragmented national

industry and many different

modes. There we helped taxi

workers to promote their own associations

for mutual benefit. In Nepal we managed,

15 years ago, to set up a new union

for taxi drivers. In Australia and New Zealand

we are not well represented like

Japan. Although I noticed there was a good

Uber protest in Perth some weeks ago.”

Urata sums up from memory and clearly

doesn’t need the help of the folder in

front of him, simply marked ‘Uber’ and

stuffed full of copies of articles. From time

to time he takes one out and passes it to

the journalist as background. He has the

world’s union overview in his head: “In

Africa it is difficult to distinguish between

countries”, he continues. “There are taxi

workers unions in South Africa, Nigeria

and Kenya. In Kenya we have an affiliate

that unionised the Maputo-drivers.” In

Buenos Aires and Bogota, the union is

strong, Urata says, but in other countries

of Latin America, the picture is patchy.

PHOTO: Wim Faber

“But everywhere there is protest against

Uber. A very strong protest recently ignited

in Brazil”, Urata remembers.

“Recently the union in New York, the

New York Taxi Workers Alliance, led by

Bhairavi Desai, developed into a national

union and it’s now active in San Francisco,

Philadelphia, Austin and Montgomery,

Maryland. The idea was to form a national

taxi workers alliance, which was accepted

as member by the national movement

AFL/CIO. The first union, the one in New

York, largely represented independent

contractors. In Canada there are a couple

of national unions that represent some taxi

workers in the Provinces.”

And in Europe?


t h e

UK there

are a few strong

transport unions, like

Unite and the GMB which

are also very active in the London

taxi and private hire world. Oh yes, and to

a certain extent the rail workers union


Urata tells the example of Sweden

where before deregulation 45% of the workers

in the taxi trade were members of the

union. Post-deregulation that number

dwindled rapidly and drivers became selfemployed

and lost a fixed income and many

benefits. “Taxi workers used to say: ‘before

deregulation the passenger robbed the

driver, after deregulation the driver robbed

the passenger”, Urata says with a smile.

Other countries, like Belgium where

26% of taxi workers are members of one of

the 3 unions, have a more structured system.

“In many cases these people are company

employees and the unions work well

with the employers.” In Germany the

unions are not doing ‘terribly

well’, according to Urata, similarly

in France where some taxi drivers

are members of the CGT. The Middle

East is a big blind spot for the unions.”

Uber has not only galvanised the

unions into action, but also forced

them to coordinate their efforts?

“We had a strategy meeting in September

last year where 13 countries, including

Europe, the US, Canada and India were

represented. That was the kick-off for the

Uber-campaign. We exchange newspaper

clippings and other email-information

between the various unions and help each

other as much as possible. Following that

meeting there was an ITF ‘action week’

which was held in many countries where

some unions organised an ‘Uber-protest

day’. For instance in the US, Canada, UK,

Belgium, the Phillippines, India and Thailand.

Of course we also used those events

to promote ourselves. The Belgian colleagues,

Frank Moreels and Roberto Parrillo,

introduced us to the International

Road Transport Union in Brussels and we

found that we had much in common.”

Has the ITF ever had contacts with


“No, never”, Urata says. “We see them as

quite anti-union. Uber is the new leader

10 TAXI OCTOBER / 2015




and the most aggressive leader of the pack.

We sometimes call it ‘Walmart on wheels’,

after the bad social conditions for its drivers.

But Uber is not alone. Take the US, Lyft

is a strong competitor and equally important.

We also strongly focus on them.”

Urata remarks on the new type of work:

a collection of part time jobs. At the Annual

Conference of the Transportation

Research Board in Washington, in January

this year, he heard a representative from

Lyft say that most of their drivers only

work 18 hours a week. “For that we would

very much like a different form of regulation.”

“What I find amazing is that Uber, a

large company and reputedly worth 50 billion

dollars, doesn’t even have a Corporate

Social Responsibility statement on its website.

It is nowhere to be found! Obviously

Uber doesn’t care about its social responsibility

to society.”

But should you treat Uber as any normal

taxi company?

“No, it’s clearly an app platform based company.

Not a traditional taxi operator. But

that doesn’t mean it can be exempted from

any regulation. What is most irritating are

the hiked fares when there is a higher

demand. Surge pricing. Fares go up at

Christmas and New Year. Yet, when there

is a transport strike, they could rake it in

and then they offer 50% discount. It’s not

always easy to follow Uber’s company


Urata is also curious why its namesake,

the ‘other’ ITF (International Transport

Forum in Paris), accepted Uber as a member

of its Corporate Partnership Board

(CPB). He heard it has something to do

with the Leipzig ITF-conference getting

bigger and bigger and no more additional

funds coming from governments. “I do not

know what the actual CPB criteria are.”

Is ITF a member of ITF?

“No, I don’t think so. But four or five years

ago we were invited to take part in a panel

discussion in Leipzig.”

» Uber is the new

leader and the

most aggressive

leader of the pack.

We sometimes

call it ›Walmart

on wheels‹, after

the bad social

conditions for its


Aren’t the unions living a bit in the

past with their defence of the status

quo in the taxi world?

Urata reiterates several times that the

unions are not against innovation. “We

would very much like to improve the quality

of the industry. Young kids like apps.

It gives them instant contact. It lets them

track their car. But an improvement in the

industry’s quality can only be achieved

with a level playing field. We are very

much in favour of regulation. Perhaps even

regulating and limiting the size of taxi

fleets in larger cities so that the drivers

don’t have to fight over each ride and

there’s always enough supply. In Japan the

number of vehicles skyrocketed after

deregulation. Income was reduced to such

an extent that it was sometimes better to

go on welfare benefit than to keep working

as a taxi driver. Things have improved in

the meantime, but still…”

Why is the taxi sector such a lone

transport mode?

Urata agrees that the taxi sector can rarely

be found in cooperation with other transport

modes, even though they could very

much benefit from each other. “It is very

much an urban city problem. Yet there are

other transport modes who could benefit

from working with the taxi industry and

vice versa. Think of the paratransit mode,

of transporting people with a mobility

handicap. The elderly, the on-demand

transport. But those services are only available

if there are subsidies.”

Even in the union’s achievements the

picture is patchy as unions are organised

on a national scale. Urata mentions examples

of union activity which lead to

improvements. “Because what we want

first and foremost is the improvement in

the quality of the drivers’ conditions. Regulation

should be aimed at that. That’s why

we feel fleets should also be regulated.

Fleets should be limited and should adhere

to the same rules. And we are fully aware

that technology has changed. So you need

to update the rules and apply them to everyone

including Uber. First and foremost

we need to stabilise the industry.”

How do you feel about the recent California

court case where Uber was told

it should treat its drivers as employees?

“We welcomed that news. We do feel that

the driver must be able to make a choice,

whether to work for a wage or go for his

dream and be an entrepreneur and go for

creating a bigger company. A choice

between being an employee and guaranteed

income and security and being in

independent operator should always exist.

But that should be the drivers’ freedom of

choice, not something that the operator


Interviewer: Wim Faber


The International Transport

Workers’ Federation (ITF)

represents over 4.5 million

transport workers from some

150 countries in its 700 affiliates.

It is one of several Global

Federation Unions allied

with the International Trade

Union Confederation (ITUC).

Founded in 1896, it has its

headquarters in London, with

its regional offices in Nairobi,

New Delhi, Rio de Janeiro,

Amman and Brussels (ETF).

PHOTOS: Wim Faber

InnoTrans was one of the newcomers to Taxi Expo, presenting

a new system to secure wheelchairs in the minibuses.




An old-fashioned Taxi Expo in The Netherlands. In these

difficult times for the Dutch trade the show went back to the

Expo Houten centre where it started.

According to organizers TaxiPro

there were about a 1,000 visitors

and 50 exhibitors. Despite the

worrying economic situation in the industry,

the Expo’s atmosphere was far from

depressing. Especially the contract sector

(75% of annual turnover) is under threat

from government cuts.

The new priorities in the taxi industry

were also reflected in this Expo: no huge

stands for most exhibitors - even main

sponsor Mercedes-Benz had a fairly modest

stand. Gone were the huge stands of

the on-board computer providers. Two of

them had already decided not to exhibit at

the Taxi Expo. There were more relatively

small stands and various (partially new)

providers in the area of employment and

personnel - in addition to the Social Fund

Taxi (trade + unions) and Tax Authoritystands

- plus quite a few IT and app specialists.


The large number of small and large vehicle

manufacturers was striking – and not

all classic taxi suppliers in The Netherlands:

besides Mercedes-Benz, BYD, Audi,

Ford, Volkswagen, Renault, Skoda and Nissan

had turned up. Plus (mini)bus specialists

VDL Bus & Coach, Expo-sponsor Tribus

(with its very notable new Civitas minibus),

Flex-i-Trans and newcomers

InnoTrans (with new wheelchair locking

system) and Auto Cuby from Belgium. BP

and Expo-sponsor OrangeGas were the fuel


Noteworthy was

the large number

of commercial and



Back with a vengeance: Toplight supplier

Barclay (no longer part of Taxitronic Nederland)

and the Sanders family, who incidentally

also saw a Belgian supplier of taxi

rooflights at the Taxi Expo: Voxdale from


Noteworthy was the large number of commercial

and non-commercial workshops in

the beautiful dome in the midst of the Expo

and in the separate workshop area just off the

Barclay Toplights – no longer part of Taxitronic

Nederland – was back with a vengeance.

show floor. The level of contributions varied

widely, but most could count on quite a lot of



For most participants the annual contract

transport conference - except perhaps for

the many representatives of municipalities

and other public authorities (40%) – provided

no new insights. Five speakers were

given ample time and space to make their

point giving a thorough overview of the

current state of affairs. The first part was

about the future of taxi tenders and possible

innovation. The second part looked

to award major contracts in social transportation

in a more innovative fashion.

Unfortunately Dutch KNV Taxi chairman

Bertho Eckhardt was stuck in traffic,

otherwise the conference structure would

have been perfect. Eckhardt said that the

taxi sector finds itself in very heavy weather

and the important area of transport contracts

-now the mainstay of the taxi

industry in the Netherlands- is probably

going to be a niche market within a few

years. The taxi (trade) must, according to

Eckhardt, again be seen as the main part-

12 TAXI OCTOBER / 2015






3.0: LINES

The Contract Transport Congress dealt with

the woes and the opportunities in the social

transportation area.

ner in the transportation sector. Besides

that, the cut-throat competition for contract

work must end and the price for these

services must be the right one – not just

the lowest one.


The city of Rotterdam hired consultant

Jeroen Veenendaal to do the kickoff to an

revamped integrated social transport contract.

He seeks a different approach, different

from contracts ‘just’ awarded on the

basis of winning the tender. He is looking

forward to a dialogue with the market, with

the transport companies. This will require

‘Market Meetings’ with a dialogue on trade

and competitive issues between taxi companies.

His big question: does the organization

and coordination of this work add

something to these types of transport? Far

too often things are made more complicated

than necessary.

Importantly, the fragility of the transported

clients means that small mistakes

can have major consequences. Therefore

the customer should always be centre stage

and the service must be punctual taking

into account the client’s vulnerability. Yes,

this is a completely different taxi market

compared to many other countries.


Marcel Slotema from consultants Forseti,

concluded with the story of the transportation

centre Flevoland. Not a unique thought

by this consultancy, but a practice borrowed

from the Nordic countries. It seems

the flavour of the month, but so far no such

centre has shown it actually operates more

efficiently and saves money. The story

hinges on how the municipalities in this

model are willing to work together and how

reliable firewalls can be built between

operations and dispatching. wf





Not a day passes without

speculation about the future of

passenger transport. And when

taxis will be replaced by

autonomous ones.

Carlos Ghosn, the big boss of Renault-Nissan, sees taxis

disappear within 20 years. Often the taxi driver is completely

overlooked – he or she apparently provides no

added value, for example for people with reduced mobility or caredependent

elderly people.

Yet profound social changes are on the way, concluded the

annual conference Intelligent Mobility 3.0, organized in London

by consultants Frost & Sullivan. About 300 specialists heard how

connectivity (everyone is connected to everyone and everything

Sarwant Singh

(Frost & Sullivan)

each year

presents the new

Mega trends.

PHOTOS: Wim Faber

PHOTOS: Wim Faber

What mobility provider does not have to deal with the new

developments? The panels were full of high-level specialists.

is connected to everything else, the Internet of Things) and urbanization

are some of the megatrends which will shape the agenda

for the next years.


The megatrends, including urbanization -the increasing migration

of the world’s population to urban areas – are both opportunities

and threats to public transport and taxis. These trends have their

effects on both. With the advent of the autonomous car both sectors

will increasingly be intertwined. Transportation professionals

will have to tackle new challenges and opportunities. Sarwant

Singh (Senior Partner Frost & Sullivan): “Megatrends such as

urbanization, connectivity and e-commerce means creating new

opportunities, such as smart parking management, new approaches

for automobile manufacturers and home delivery logistics companies.“

Last year Singh in his book ‘New Megatrends - Implications

for our Future’ took the participants on a journey through the

megatrends that shape today‘s horizon and change the face of

tomorrow‘s mobility. Also for the taxi industry. Singh identified

11 megatrends which affect mobility at the micro level. This year,

he elaborated on these themes.


This world’s resources are tight. Financial, physical and social

resources. The manufacturers who are clever in the design and

manufacture of mobility solutions will be the ones who benefit.

‚Smart‘ is green and efficient, and the seamless response to the

networked society. In today‘s increasingly urbanized cities ‚smart‘

is also a prerequisite for success. Smart urban infrastructure and

planning mean that physical and e-mobility will play an increasingly

important role. Today the demand for mobility is more and

more based on the prevention of congestion and pollution by easy

mobility solutions. Another megatrend is the greater emphasis

on good value for money. And in this society where people are

generally getting older, wellness and wellbeing will be top of the



Singh gave some ‚shifts‘ too, away from traditional models, such

as new business models based on car sharing, peer-to-peer sharing

and corporate sharing - more integrated mobility. There will

also new ridesharing models, like BlaBlaCar (sharing the costs,

not profit). Uber will develop more into a logistics company in

some markets.

The integration of mobility in turn means the development of

integrated platforms in which the customer can order the mobi-

Hailed as a leading example of ultimate

mobility platform: Marcus Spickermann of

Daimler’s Moovel.

lity he needs. These platforms also provide space for innovative

taxi companies, like London’s One Transport has for

years combined various forms of taxi, coach and other mobility

features. Cities themselves will also become customers

for all sorts of integrated mobility, including taxi-mobility.

This especially to meet the needs of the ageing population,

which in some cases will not just need a door-to-door

approach, but also a bed-to-bed solution.

»Business and leisure

mobility are

increasingly happening

at the same time«

Another shift: business and leisure mobility are increasingly

happening at the same time. The number of women

drivers will increase and women are more likely to prefer

Uber over taxis. Aggregators will increasingly combine various

modes of transport in their apps.

The framework Singh had described, was then coloured

in by a series of specialist speakers. More and more companies

turn to ridesharing, while others are hesitant for safety

and security reasons. A huge challenge for reservation

systems like Amadeus and specialist business travel agencies

like Carlsson-Wagonlit. Amadeus is working on a special

department that is purely concerned with new forms of

shared and integrated mobility. The question is what the

commercial side of the business will look like. As ridesharing

doesn’t always fit well in reservation systems. But in

future business travellers may well go to Uber and AirBnb

for lack of alternative.

In the future divisions between B2B, B2C and P2P are

disappearing, just like the lines between modes of mobility

are blurring. Providers of mobility products are moving

closer together.






worst, whilst saying “credit card, credit card”, with a big smile

the driver produced a brand-new Verifone payment terminal from

under his seat. No problem there. But not everything is what it

seems in the Russian Federation’s taxi world.

Many taxi companies

apply very visible

– sometimes garish –

colours and designs

plus roof signs advertising

their own and

other (commercial)



The International Eurasian Taxi Forum is held every year in

August – so far only in St. Petersburg - and attracts about 600

representatives from all over Russia. It is held in a hotel and

includes a trade show – part vehicles and part other equipment

(about 40 exhibitors) - and a lengthy conference part, which easily

stretches into the evening. Some debates were quite fierce

and easily ran over time, but all bore the imprint of good cameraderie

and clearly had the intention to improve the Russian

taxi trade. Most conference attendees were from the taxi industry,

with also quite a few suppliers, politicians and local regulators.

So in that respect it was quite close to a traditional European or

American conference and trade show.

Illegal taxis? Or competition by new (illegal) parties? A rapidly

growing landscape in apps? Insufficient or dated laws? Every

country has its own taxi-problems and solutions. But, as I said,

these days there are many themes which are identical in many

countries. In Russia, like everywhere else, there’s also a strong

demand for ‘a level playing field’ with equal rights and duties for

Above: Many politicians, operators, regulators, suppliers

and drivers from all over the Russian Federation had

flocked to the Forum Taxi.

Below: For a conference with 600 attendees the Trade

Show was rather limited.




About 600 attendees discussed a large variety in taxi-topics

at the two-day International Eurasian Forum Taxi in Sankt Petersburg

(August 6–7). Their main demand: an end to illegal taxis and

proper regulation.

In the beginning of the ‘90’s, when I made my first presentation

to the Annual Meeting of the American taxi-association

TLPA, I claimed that in its basic structures the taxi industry

is the same the world over. My remark was met with (some) laughter

from the disbelieving taxi operators in the audience, but that

could (also) easily have been because in my presentation I showed

a slide of the Mercedes E200 – a luxury car in the US - as Europe’s

main taxi model. It took about ten years before the American

operators were also convinced that there is a great similarity

between taxi operations worldwide. Yet, we can all still learn a lot

from each other.

But after a recent visit to the Russian Federation, I began to

doubt my own words. When I attended the International Eurasian

Taxi Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, August 6 and 7, I saw few

similarities. True, the taxi drivers at the airport arrivals hall, trying

to find customers (an international phenomenon, surely?)

whilst saying ‘Official taxi, official taxi’, wore badges with a slight

variation on the international taxi checker band logo.

Yet, when the pre-ordered taxi driver dropped me at the hotel,

I searched in vain for a taxi meter in his Kia taxicab. There was

a wide array of electronic equipment on his dashboard (including

the ubiquitous dash cam widely used in Russia for insurance

purposes and a number of smartphones for dispatching and communication

plus a navigation system), but no meter. Instead the

driver pointed at one smartphone fixed to the windscreen where

I recognised an amount in ruble. I later learned that the trip length

and fare in Russia are measured with GPS-data in the dispatch

centre and then sent on to the driver’s smartphone. Fearing the

PHOTO: Wim Faber

PHOTO: Wim Faber


A taxi conference is nothing without a

visit to a ‘live’ taxi company or dispatching

centre. St. Petersburg taxi

company ‘Semerochka’, created by

director general Alexei Gusev, provides

a good example. He and his commercial

director Alexandr Olhov, explained to

Taxi Times how every day the drivers

are medically checked in their facility,

which is part of a large Kia dealership.

Small wonder then that all cars are Kia’s

too. But there is a large variety on offer

for the drivers, both large and small Kia

models. Another area where drivers are

checked is in the behaviour on the road

and when it comes to providing service.

In each case there is a ranking and being

on top of the Top 10 of speeding cabbies

is frowned upon. Gusev has not only

developed an app for taxis, but also a

new fleet, ‘Taxi Seven’: he is sure the cab

trade can beat the likes of Yandex, Uber

and Get Taxi. It should also be easier,

using the app, to share trips between the

42 partner companies. The development

programme has taken 2 years and cost

the company 10 million rubles, which it

hopes to recoup in two to three years’ companies participating in the project


TaxiSeven. The company sets its own

Semerochka is a member of the IRU’s rate for that: “As a rule, it is from 5 to

Global Taxi Network and works with 35%” says Gusev.

eCab to promote international taxi travel. Gusev is sure that this is the only way to

The application has been live in St. Petersburg

for two months and, according taxi apps. “If we do not rebuild under

compete with the increasingly popular

to Gusev, the profitability of the taxi has the new format, in a couple of years

increased by 10%. “Our solution makes it the owners of taxis may be left without

possible to unite all taxi companies of St. orders at all”, says Alexei Gusev.

Petersburg, reduce costs, improve

service for passengers

and create healthy competition”

says Gusev. TaxiSeven

includes applications for

client and driver, as well as

an online resource for the

exchange of orders between

taxi companies.

Even competing taxi companies

get work, to ensure that

the app system keeps busy

all the time. Semerochka

gets 10% of the orders given

Gusev (left) and Olhov are convinced their business

to another taxi company.

model is the only way forward for the taxi trade.

Partners may also transfer

trips and clients to other taxi

16 TAXI OCTOBER / 2015






This company – looking for European

expansion – developed a system

of psychological assessment for

employing staff members in aviation,

public transport and taxis.

Everyone knows Uber by now, but

Lyft, another ride hailing service

using non-professional drivers, has

long been established in the U.S. The

company has not yet expanded beyond

the U.S., but has now announced a

noteworthy cooperation. It will be possible

in the future to hail a vehicle in

China with the Lyft app. You then

become a customer of Didi Kuaidi, the

leading taxi app in China, which also

hails at least some taxis. It is supposed

to work the other way around as well:

If you use Didi to hail a ‘taxi’ from

China in the U.S., you get a Lyft driver.

Didi Kuaidi is a merger of the former

biggest taxi and for hire vehicle companies

in China. Like Uber, the company

constantly receives capital from

investors and is now participating in

many applications in the Asian

region including GrabTaxi, which

offers its service in 26 cities in six

different countries in Southeast Asia.

The Chinese also invested 100 million

dollars in Lyft back in March. Not the

least because the media are speculating

as to whether GrabTaxi will soon

join the newly established network.


Lyft: A ridiculous distinguishing feature, but a

competitor to be taken seriously in the passenger

transport market thanks to Chinese support.

There is a large choice in

taxi vehicles (most of them

assembled in St. Petersburg)

with many Nissan and Kiavehicles

in the local streets.

But no taxi meter …

every party offering transport on the taxi market – either by app

or in the more traditional way. The large number of illegal taxi

drivers and illegal providers of taxi services (apps, call-centres)

plus the lack of proper policing of the few rules which exist, clearly

anger the Russian colleagues.

There’s a lot still to do in Russia when it comes to proper taxi

regulation. Not just nationally, but especially regionally and locally.

A large number of politicians and regulators had come to the

Taxi Forum to discuss just that. The largest problem is the continuing

competition of illegal taxi drivers. No real surprise in a

country where sharing the scarce vehicles (for payment) was the

norm for decades. Why do illegal taxis still exist? An official taxi

licence doesn’t cost anything and is easily obtained. Stranger still:

it does not have to be handed in to the authorities when the operator

stops operating his taxi business. So even illegal taxi drivers

have the proper paperwork. There are many more licences in circulation

than actual taxis. And policing of the taxi trade is patchy,

depending on the region.

The many speakers and the audience repeatedly demanded

proper licensing and regular policing of licences, preferably with

a central (regional) database of legal taxi drivers and licences still

in circulation and being operated. Under the heading of ‘illegal

taxis’ come the drivers, but also the many booking centres and

dubious apps. Both booking centres and apps can be started and

closed at will, without any authority knowing about it. Often a

taxi company is not what is seems in Russia.


The list of speakers was impressive. Most areas in the taxi world

were represented. Representatives from various ministries urged

the taxi industry to opt for more regional regulation, as the national

laws with regard to taxi transportation are relatively weak and

sketchy. The detailed legal work has to be done in the region with

the help of the federal framework. Taxi operators from certain

areas pointed out that by strengthening laws and by working

together with the authorities, the number of illegal taxis had been

reduced to nearly 0%. Some specialists in the audience also pointed

at developments in other countries, Russia could learn from.

For every presentation there was a long and protracted, but also

very enthusiastic discussion. A pattern which lasted for two days

and came back in every topic. In Russia, there is a great thirst for

information and technology. Another strongly worded demand:

learning from ‘best practices’, as some other regions have no special

policies to reduce the number of illegal taxis, call-centres and

apps. It doesn’t help that fines for trespassers are ridiculously low.

Having followed the discussion for a while, it is hard not to

think of the Russian taxi industry as the ‘Wild East’: for instance

access to airport ranks is often unregulated and badly organised,

the fare structure is only clear to seasoned users, the licencing

system badly needs an overhaul, taxation is often unclear and

there is a strong need for professional training of taxi drivers. In

that area the IRU Taxi Group promoted its ‘Taxi Stars’-programme,

a few weeks before it was launched officially in Athens on September

25 (see page 8).

One clear difference between ‘our’ taxi industry and the Russian

taxi sector: the large number of women in management and

other leading positions. Most themes dealt with in the conference

were similar to topics here: new forms of payment, credit cards,

development of apps, IT-problems and types of vehicles. Most dealt

with street-hail taxi – contract work seems to be in its infancy in

Russia, paratransit by taxi companies almost non-existent.

This image was reflected in the trade show: there was no taxi

meter to be found anywhere, but there were quite a few IT- and

app stands. Financial solutions and roof signs (with all sorts of

video messages) were also quite popular. Very different: a stand

with medical equipment (some taxi companies give drivers a quick

check-up every day) and a stand with a system of psychological

assessment for employing staff members. Strange: few classic car

brands from the West. Vehicles galore, but rather different ones:

from the Mercedes E220 and Sprinter to many Kia, Nissan, Citroën

and Lada models next to one Chinese brand.


PHOTO: Wim Faber

PHOTOS: flickr/Alfredo Mendez, Fotolia / Konstantin Yolshin Fotolia / william87

Moscow’s taxi market is

estimated at $1 billion.



In 2011 Russia’s Google, the main search engine Yandex, started running a

taxi-app that many now call ‘Russia’s Uber’. Where Uber has its own way in

many markets, it seems to have met its match in Russia. Latest figures suggest

between 15.000 and 20.000 taxis written up for the Yandex platform, whereas

Uber has between 3.000 and 5.000 taxicabs – less than Gett, with 10.000 taxis

in Moscow alone. Yandex is thinking of foreign expansion, starting in former

Russian states and Turkey.

The Yandex taxi app works like an aggregator. It doesn’t care which company

the cab is from, it finds the cab closest to the person needing a ride and

connects them. Some 200 to 300 cab companies have already opted for the


This year Yandex Taxi plans to expand to 25 Russian cities starting from

Moscow and St. Petersburg. Investment sources think this move could bring

total sales for Yandex Taxi to 10 billion rubles (about $ 154 million). Moscow’s

taxi market alone is estimated at $1 billion.





Since Uber expanded its activities to New

York, the local taxi trade has suffered substantial

losses. Many taxis stand vacant

because the previous drivers have now

been hired by the competition. Even more

serious is the fact that the value of a New

York taxi licence (medallion) has fallen

from one million to 500,000 dollars. The

taxi trade is now trying to regain lost territory

by developing the ‘Arro’ app. Unlike

the Uber app, the passenger does not have

to pay a two-dollar hailing fee. The app is

linked directly to the payment terminal in

the taxi, enabling cashless payments. The

passenger can also be sure that price will

not be raised indiscriminately during peak

traffic times (surge pricing). At the

moment, Arro users can ‘only’ hail around

7,000 yellow and green cabs in New York

(where Uber has already deployed 20,000

vehicles), but expansion to other cities in

the U.S. is planned.


Arro: New York taxis now have their own app.

18 TAXI OCTOBER / 2015


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TAXI_1506186_Aff_Metro_Visu_56x77.indd 1 20/08/2015 14:22



Christos Anagnostopoulos of

NextTaxi: a decent balance

between the number of passenger

requests and available








An Athens-based taxi fleet has joined taxi.eu and the GTN network

as a consequence of massive changes in the Athens taxi trade. And it

proves that nothing can stand in the way of integration.

Around 2,9 million people live in

Athens and the Attica region

served by 13,772 taxis. In 1980,

these taxis made around 60 trips a day and

were sometimes double booked on these

trips. Back then, taxis were the most popular

mode of transport. They were cheap, and


other means of public transport were not

developed as well.

But then came the major economic crisis

that forced the entire country under the

protection of the EU and radically transformed

the taxi trade. Since the expansion

of bus lines and the doubling of taxi prices

Hailing a Taxi in Athens

NextTaxi is the premium partner of

taxi-eu in Athens and Greece. Since the

fleet is still quite small, the orders are

taken mainly in the city centre and the

port of Athens for the time being. In a

city where taxis for decades used to be

hailed mainly in the street, customers

need to be gradually won over by the

advantages of a hailing app: dependable

drivers and reliable quality.

To communicate this to the public,

NextTaxi has invested a lot in advertising.

They distribute flyers and go to see

many customers in person. They even

take out front page newspaper ads.

taxi.eu stickers have also been placed

on the taxis. In a country where tourism

is a major revenue source, communicating

the European scope and familiar

name of the app is a key success factor

and highlights its advantage over the

competing app taxibeat.

The company, backed by a great deal

of venture capital, has already been on

the market since 2011 and is estimated

to cover around 80 per cent of the app

orders, but the app only allows taxis to

be hailed in Athens and in some South

American countries.


between the turn of the century and 2010,

many residents have increased their use

of bus and rail transport and now rely less

on taxis.

The taxi trade initially had nothing

against this transformation. For one thing,

the established structures did not change.

Even today there are only a few taxi radio

circuits in Athens – around three quarters

of all taxis operate without them. The permit

holders are mainly buyers and sellers

of vehicles who are only interested in renting

licenced vehicles to taxi drivers for 24

hours. It is then up to the driver as to how

he gets his customers and how much

money he makes.

Finding new ways to get work

Only in the last few years this situation

has changed somewhat. The radio circuits

have increased the number of customers

through targeted advertising and have

been competing for a few years with the

‘taxibeat’ app, which connects passengers

directly with taxi drivers.

Christos Anagnostopoulos, managing

director of NextTaxi in Athens, is also finding

new ways to get work. He is continually

developing his customer base in the

city centre and at the port of Athens

(Piraeus). He receives and distributes

orders mainly via the taxi.eu app. Last year

the decision was made to partner with the

PHOTOS: Taxi Times, Wim Faber

PHOTO: taxi.eu, Taxi G7

European app. Since then, a lot of work has

gone into development. In order to display

the orders in Greek using their alphabet,

the entire software had to be converted to

UTF 8, a coding standard that enables the

use of nearly all international characters.

The hailing system also required additional

individual adjustments to specific

procedures at NextTaxi. The company

provides its customers with mainly viral

channels – you can order online, via Autobooker

or app. The driver and customer

must be able to communicate directly with

each other in order for this to work. This

also happens in more than one language.

“For example, when a passenger in Germany

requests a vehicle in Athens using

the taxi.eu app, he enters his location based

on the German version of Google Maps“,

explains Robert Abel from taxi.eu. “These

data are translated into Greek with geocoding

and reach the driver in his own language.

Now if he wants to tell the customer

that he will arrive five minutes late, he uses

a predefined text message that the passenger

then receives in German.”

This is how the ‘European server’ provided

by taxi.eu operator FMS Systems to its customers

overcomes language barriers and

makes a closer integration with the taxi

trade technically possible – without high

investment costs, since neither the radio

circuit nor the drivers need to buy or

install special hardware devices.

These were the determining factors that

influenced Anagnostopoulos’ decision to

go with taxi.eu. The web and app-based

hailing system has been in use in around

200 vehicles in his fleet since May. Only

200? “We have a long waiting list”, Christos

told the Taxi Times. He says that the plan

is to acquire additional customers before

integrating more vehicles in order to

ensure a decent balance between the number

of passenger requests and available

vehicles. Drivers need to earn a good living,

ideally as they did before the crisis,

back when the Athens taxi trade was totally

different. .


Hermann Waldner, founder of taxi.eu, greeted the new partner in person in Athens.

eCab, one of the founding fathers of

the IRU Global Taxi Network (GTN),

will soon be providing taxi booking

services throughout all 4 downtown

Vancouver fleets: Yellow Cab, Blacktop

& Checker Cabs, Vancouver Taxi

and MacLure‘s Cabs. Users will

experience the best availability in

town along with various options and

value-added services. eCab is integrated

to MTData and DDS, the two

dispatch systems covering the city,

and eCab has built a pre-dispatch

engine to determine the closest taxi.



Since the first of September, the

Paris radio circuit TAXIS G7 is offering

20% discount to young customers

at night. The offer is on every

Thursday, Friday and Saturday

night from 10 pm to 5 am for everyone

aged under 26.

The campaign aims at winning

back the younger segment and to

have more drivers on the road at

night. TAXIS G7 distributes cool

sunglasses and condoms as part of

the promotion carrying the slogan

“Ce soir, vous êtes sûr de choper au

moins un taxi” loosely translated to

“Tonight you will be sure to catch at

least a taxi”.

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les jeudis, vendredis et samedis entre 22 h et 5 h du matin

en commandant votre taxi depuis l’application taxiS G7.

The look of G7’s advertising


20 TAXI OCTOBER / 2015




A pleasurable moment

out of the rain: The Café

Taxi was accessible without

entry to the IAA.

The future of the car: The new Toyota Prius+ for the short-term, the Mirai with fuel cells for the mid-term.



The absence of taxis at the IAA International Motor Show is almost

like a tradition. One of the few noteworthy exceptions were Mercedes

and a taxi-app that will not leave the taxi circuits and associations out

in the cold.

In September of every odd-numbered year, the German Association

of the Automotive Industry (VDA) organises the International

Motor Show (IAA) for cars at the exhibition site in

Frankfurt. This year, the 66th IAA was held with the theme “Mobility

Connects”. Ten years ago, navigation devices were still the most

advanced element in the dashboard. But these days, cars are computers

on wheels.

This was clearly evident in the latest Mercedes models. Daimler

AG was the only automaker with a separate taxi exhibition

that was presented at the trade show – before the IAA, to be precise.

The idea was to get away from the trade show so that anyone

without a ticket could visit the “Taxi” café pavilion. There were

various Mercedes-Benz cars in their special exhibit “The Taxi” in

the outdoor area in front of the west entrance. Mercedes taxis and

private hire vehicles range from compact models to vans, with B,

C, E and S-class models and the more spacious V-class models,

Vito Tourer and Citan. Included in the range are the B and E-class

models with natural gas engines. The new E-class is scheduled

for market launch in spring 2016 and will also be available as a

taxi starting in autumn 2016.

The software and hardware supplier FMS from Graz was also

represented in the taxi pavilion. Mercedes-Benz has developed a

fully integrated hailing system in cooperation with the Austrian

company. “We programmed a link connection with Mercedes that

projects the driver app on the Mercedes display and can be completely

controlled using the Mercedes system”, says Stefan Stipsits

from FMS. The system can be operated via the vehicle controller;

an additional display, cables and holes are no longer necessary.

The application does require the circuit to have an FMS solution

for the operators and that it uses to select the drivers. “The point

is for the apps to be operable using the display in the vehicles”,

says Stipsits. The system will be available starting in January 2016.


Toyota’s redesigned Lexus GS 300h had its European premiere

at the IAA. The hybrid limousine has a consumption of 4.7 litres,

is powered by a 164 kW (223 PS) 2.5-litre petrol engine with a

high-performance electric engine, and is Toyota’s taxi model for

the luxury class. In addition to the GS 300h, the Japanese automaker

also offers the hybrids Auris Touring Sports, Prius and Prius

Plus, and the diesel models Verso and Avensis Touring Sports

with a taxi package. Toyota’s focus is on alternative engines, as

is clear from the selection of taxi models. “We are very pleased

that taxi drivers like the Prius Plus. Every taxi ride is also a test

drive”, says Toyota´s Olga Baumgarten. The electric mode lets

you drive without consuming fuel, without emissions and nearly

silently. Baumgarten says that the “comfort of the Lexus combined

with the fuel economy of the hybrid models” makes it very popular.

“We are surprised and pleased with its success”, says the

Toyota marketing specialist about the car’s success in the sector.

Toyota is taking another step into the future with the Mirai,

which it presented at the IAA. With the Mirai, Japanese automak-

PHOTOS: Florian Osrainik

PHOTOS: Florian Osrainik

Enjoying “undivided” attention: Employees

at the Shäre-a-Taxi trade show booth.

ers are offering the first mass-produced fuel cell saloon and

bypassing the limitations of battery-powered electric cars. The

Mirai, whose name comes from the Japanese word for “future”,

can drive a distance of 500 kilometres after three minutes of

charging time and emits only steam. The supply of hydrogen, the

most promising technology of the future, is virtually endless; it

can be made from waste and many natural base materials and is

easy to store and transport. There will be 50 hydrogen filling stations

in Germany by the end of 2015, and 400 are planned for

2023. Toyota chairman Takechi Uchiyamada believes that, in the

future, “hydrogen will be what petrol was to the automotive industry

during the first hundred years.”

Nothing is impossible: FMS will soon enable a direct data transfer to

the Mercedes-Benz display.


The future of car engines could be hydrogen. But what changes

will the taxi trade be facing? Are there new business areas in

addition to new engine types? We found an answer to this question

on the first floor in hall three. This is where the “New Mobility

World” was located. Shäre-a-Taxi, a Munich-based start-up,

was also taking part. The app was launched on the market in

Munich in January, has been available in Frankfurt since September,

and is cooperating with local taxi circuits. Three to four additional

major cities in Germany will follow until the end of the year

and there are plans to check out major cities elsewhere in Europe

over the next few years – London und Paris in particular.

Unlike apps such as mytaxi or gettaxi, Shäre-a-Taxi does not

require the driver to have an app on his device. The advantage

for the trade is that taxis will be less expensive for the customer,

since the passengers split the cost, while the company and drivers

receive the full price. The price and route are calculated by

the app, so there is no need for discussion between the driver and

the passengers, or among the passengers.

The customers have to enter their destination and order a taxi

for the same time. After the customers (Captain) hail the taxi and

begin the journey, the app calculates whether it is worth it to

share the journey with other requested travel routes. For example,

the app might suggest a detour of three minutes to the customer

that will save €15. If the customer shares the taxi with

another passenger, the latter must be picked up at the agreed

place. If the additional passenger is dropped off along the way or

if both passengers have the same destination, the app calculates

the fair price for each. A cashless payment is charged by the taxi

circuit. This is a successful example of how taxi driving can be

less expensive without resorting to legally disputed discount



22 TAXI OCTOBER / 2015









Left: International

taxi solidarity in the

streets of Brussels.

Middle: The main

target of the demo.

The major economic crisis in

Greece also affected the taxi trade,

particularly in Athens.



50% of the Athens taxis

operate double shifts

Talking tactics:

the colleagues

from Paris.

Right: The EU Commission

was the

final stop of the taxi



Average value of a taxi trip in Athens: €5

Average daily revenue: €60–80

Decline in average earnings of taxi drivers

from 2010 to 2015: 70%


Annual income in euros that

an individual living alone must

earn in order to remain above

the poverty line: €5,910

5.910 €





(as of March 2015)



Number of taxi licences in Greece: 30.000

Number of taxi licences in the greater Athens area: 13.772




Up to 5,000 taxis wait at

night at the Athens airport

to pick up a passenger

for the city during the day

(€38 fixed price).





1980 1990 2000 2015

600% LESS

Average trips made by a taxi in Athens

in 24 hours (t/24h)




National debt (estimated)

in 2014: €317.3 billion



PHOTO: Sven Hoppe / dpa

PHOTO: Wim Faber




On Wednesday September 16 around 500 taxis

from Brussels and other Belgian cities plus

delegations from France, Spain, Portugal and

even London demonstrated against Uber in the

European capital.

For several hours they blocked the

Brussels inner ring and Schuman

Square in front of the European

Commission. Incidentally South Station

and the road to the airport were blocked

as well. Compared to the demonstration of

European farmers, a few days earlier, the

taxi trade demonstrated quite peacefully.

The Sunday before Brussels taxis had

offered their services for 50% of the

metered fare – indicating that this 50% is

the part of the fare Uber doesn’t pay in

social premiums, insurance and tax.


Interestingly, following the demonstration

and a meeting with the communal front of

taxi associations and trade unions, Belgian

minister Tommelein (Fraude) announced

there would be stricter controls on the payment

of social premiums and tax by Uber.

A study which Tommelein commissioned

has just proved that Uber-drivers are independent

operators and not employees. The

Belgian trade unions – following the latest

California Uber judgement – see Uber-drivers

as employees.

Two days later Uber suddenly announced

it would automatically check the VAT-numbers

of its Belgian drivers and work with

the tax office to counter tax fraud. Those

not following the rules would be ‘deactivated’,

according to the app. The ‘technology

firm’ may be more interested in

Driven all the way from

London – a member

of trade union Unite.

working with the authorities because the

Brussels Secretary for Mobility, Smet, is

studying ways of legalising the Uber-services

and the EU has just started a research

project into platforms like Uber and

AirBnB, which could lead to EU-wide regulation.

Just before the demonstration Smet

was seen having lunch with Uber top-brass

Davif Plouffe. Reason why the demonstrators

delivered fresh rolls to Smet’s office.

For the Belgian taxi operators the outcome

of the day was rather meagre. After

over a year of governmental ‘non-action’,

they would liked to have seen some more

decisive action by the authorities – referring

to measures banning UberPOP in Germany

and The Netherlands. wf

24 TAXI OCTOBER / 2015






Whilst cabs are busy in

Bethel, Alaska,

here in Boston (and in

many places in the US)

the largest local cab

companies have trouble

finding drivers to fill

shifts. This photo was

taken at 11.00 in the



PHOTOS: Peter Schenkman


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In the town of Bethel, Alaska, private

cars are prohibitively expensive,

just like petrol. There’s no public

transport – so most of the 6.000 inhabitants

take taxis all the time.

Yes, taxis! Bethel has the highest

number of taxis per capita. A curious

story dug up by The Atlantic tells the

story of a small town with only two shuttle

buses. Ask just about anyone in town

if they’ve ever taken the bus, and they

laugh in your face.

There are no major roads in and out

of Bethel, so bringing in cars makes

them twice as expensive as elsewhere.

Even used cars are expensive. Petrol is

just as expensive as in Europe. And

that’s high. But thankfully there are

about 70 taxi drivers in Bethel, one for

every 85 people, making it the city in

America with the most taxis per capita.

“In one sense, our cabs are our public

transit,” Leif Albertson, the vice-mayor,

told The Atlantic.

But a surfeit of taxis does not mean

that transportation is affordable, either.

A ride in town costs $5 per person ($ 1=

€ 0,88), no matter how short the trip. A

ride to the airport, or to the suburbs,

costs $7. A stop en-route costs $1, plus

$1 per minute after three minutes. That

starts to add up in a town where 23 percent

of the population is below the poverty

line. That’s why many people walk.

Cabs came to Bethel in 1975 – when

two brothers came to town together with

many government jobs. They started a

cab company, Kusko Cab. The cab companies

also diversified Bethel. Looking

for employees who had clean driving

records and the capital to lease a taxi,

companies started to recruit family and

friends from overseas. Kusko is now

known around town as the ‘Albanian’

cab company because it employs mostly

drivers from Albania and Macedonia.

The other three cab companies employ

mostly Koreans.

Driving a cab in Bethel used to be

lucrative. Less so now. Taxi drivers are

rumoured to make $ 100.000 or more.

Asked about that, Joe Yoon, a Korean

taxi driver, scoffed. “Not even close,” he

said. Yoon estimates that he carries

about 80 people a day around Bethel.

Insurance costs $7,000 a year, and he

has to pay the cab company $250 a

week, as well as pay for fuel and maintenance

costs for his cab. The roads in

Bethel, which are all dirt save one, are

pretty unforgiving for cars.

But to earn some extra cash, some

cab drivers have become involved in

Bethel’s notorious bootlegging industry,

a development the local government is

trying to quash. Get into many cabs in

Bethel, and ask for alcohol, and the

driver will take you to a bootlegger.

Other drivers charge a specific amount

to drive people around while they

drink, Mark Springer, a city councilman,

said. Springer recently introduced

a bill that would revoke the license of

drivers who are found to be selling alcohol

from their cabs.



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