Full of devotion and without mincing words. This describes the attitude of former taxi entrepreneur and publisher of the cheap workbook for taxi drivers Duco Douwstra. He has achieved a lot with this, including lowering the high fines for taxi drivers and legalizing the roof light with company name and number. He has not yet succeeded in one thing: having the government register driving and rest times centrally and nationally online. Here too he hopes to succeed.

Duco Douwstra was since 64 working in the taxi industry. First as a driver at the former RATAX, which has become the Utrecht Taxi Centrale (UTC). In 1990 he started his own company under the banner of the UTC, which he developed into a company with 35 taxis. In addition, Douwstra was president of the UTC for twenty years. This company already started automation in 1990, namely with the Commodore 35. “From mid-1990 we were able to monitor all taxi drivers efficiently and closely,” says Douwstra. “If a complaint came in, we were able to find out which driver it was within five minutes. That was very preventive. The sanctions were not tender.”

In 1990 It has been suggested from politicians to equip all taxis in the Netherlands with an On-board Computer Taxi (BCT) to monitor driving and rest times. “A working group was set up for this, of which I was also a member. However, a number of experts quickly dropped out. This was partly because the policymaker appointed by the former Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment did not want to know anything about the well-functioning systems that large companies such as the UTC, RTC and TCA had been using for quite some time.”

Alternative to the BCT of the ILT On the other hand, a completely new system had to be developed to check driving and rest times, among other things. “I also saw this as madness, because the existing systems really only had to be rolled out nationally.” Douwstra, however, failed to convince the project manager and the other policymakers of the ministry of this.

Eventually 2005 until 2016 before the current BCT became mandatory. “Against will and thanks, without proper testing. To this day, the system does not work properly. This while it was developed for millions of euros and it also costs entrepreneurs a lot of money.” That is why the ILT is now working on an alternative , which can be found in 2022 must be ready. Taxi operators are given up to 2028 to transfer.

The ILT recently indicated that it currently requires a lot of manual work to extract and process data on working and rest times from the BCTs. For various reasons, reading, uploading and processing the BCT files could also go wrong. In addition to the inspectors, this also costs taxi drivers and entrepreneurs a lot of time. It is known so far about the alternative that no specific app or device will be required to communicate working and rest times, such as the BCT. Taxi operators can instead choose which device or app they choose for this. The way in which and the frequency with which they do this must be established.

Only benefits Douwstra mentions the fact that an alternative is being developed “too ridiculous for words. There is only one way to monitor the taxi industry efficiently, fairly and effectively and that is online via a national server with intelligent software. All taxis must be registered in this and can thus be monitored. All major taxi companies and exchanges already did this before the turn of the century and insurers now also offer this. The ILT should also be able to do this, but then for all drivers in the Netherlands.”

According to Douwstra, why the government has still not intervened has never been properly explained. “An online system only brings benefits, because all violations are revealed much more clearly. For example, it is possible to see who is consistently speeding and warnings can be issued based on this. At least drivers know that they are being watched, which reduces the chance of violations. This should be the starting point. Clear agreements must be made about what should and should not be fined.”

Thinked a hundred times: ‘I’ll stop doing it’ The fact that the BCT became mandatory in all taxis in 2017 does not mean, according to him, that the taxi companies have stopped monitoring their drivers online. “They still do this. In addition, the taxis have an on-board computer, because it is mandatory. But being arrested by the ILT via the BCT is exceptional. Then you are really unlucky, but at the same time that is not fair.”

To this day, Douwstra remains committed to the national online registration of driving and rest times. “I’ve already thought a hundred times: ‘I’ll stop, because it won’t get through to the government anyway’. But every time it bubbles up again.” After much insistence, he was finally invited to the consultation on the alternative about the BCT that will take place shortly. Here he wants to once again put his point of view in the spotlight.

He would also like to talk to the new Secretary of State for Digitization, Alexandra van Huffelen. “She has been the director of the GVB, so she must be familiar with the central online registration and coordination of vehicles. That is why I would like to share my view on the matter with her and ask her why the ILT does not want to digitize. Hopefully she offers the light at the end of a tunnel to a more transparent and better taxi industry.” Read also:

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