The European Commission has published recommendations for the European Member States regarding taxi services. The aim of this is, among other things, to guarantee adequate and safe local mobility, improve the sustainability of the taxi sector and ensure that everyone active in the sector has appropriate social rights and legal certainty.

The market for passenger transport on demand has changed dramatically in recent years. This is mainly due to technological developments such as the emergence of online ordering a customized ride via an app or website, or ride-hailing. EU Member States face the challenge of developing policies that take into account the industry’s new ways of working, business models and market players.

With the emergence of platform companies such as Uber, they are also becoming confronted with questions about the employment situation and the social rights of drivers. At the same time, the entire transport sector must reduce its emissions and become more sustainable. That is why the European Commission will examine how to make passenger transport on demand more sustainable while keeping the market functioning properly and tackling issues related to working conditions and safety.

The Commission has organized three workshops to better understand the situation in the different Member States, regions and cities, the existing problems, the interests of the economic operators and the positions and approaches of the Member States. The aim was to bring stakeholders together to exchange experiences and best practices. The information gathered during the workshops, the discussions with stakeholders and beyond has been taken into account in the recommendations.

Access to the profession and vehicles To begin with, recommendations have been made regarding access to the profession of taxi driver and operator of taxis. In the case of taxi drivers, the Commission believes that regulations should be simple and not go beyond what is necessary to provide safe and reliable quality passenger transport. They should not be used to limit the number of qualified drivers available. With regard to operators, the Commission states that regulations could relate, for example, to financial capacity, irreproachable behavior and compliance with tax obligations. This is subject to the condition that they are there to achieve a legitimate goal and do not go beyond what is necessary.

For the vehicles used for taxi transport, fleets must become more sustainable and to switch to zero-emission vehicles. The Commission states that this could be done, for example, by linking the application for or renewal of vehicle authorizations to emission requirements, by making additional permits for zero-emission vehicles available or by providing financial support for such vehicles and the associated charging or refueling infrastructure.

As few empty kilometers as possible ) Secondly, recommendations are made for the exercise of the profession. For example, according to the Commission, no return rule should apply. It is stated that as long as drivers are at work, they should not be hindered by the obligation to return to the company. Empty runs are seen as an inefficient use of the vehicle and the driver’s working time and as bad for the environment. To limit this as much as possible, the Commission states that cities can, for example, designate more central places where drivers can wait for the next calls.

Other ways to reduce empty kilometers are by taking of passengers on return journeys from non-licensed areas and encouraging passenger pooling. The latter is understood to mean renting an individual seat instead of the entire vehicle.

Correct working conditions and integration of taxi and public transport The Commission also recommends establishing appropriate working conditions for drivers and operators, which are proportionate to the objectives pursued. It is emphasized that the profession of taxi driver can become more attractive if certain rules for drivers, such as working only full-time, are combined with an appropriate level of job security and predictability. When it comes to platform workers, a proposal has already been made that will allow them to be better paid and protected. This would give more than four million ‘false self-employed’ in Europe the status of employees.

Finally, it is stated that passenger transport on demand should be well integrated with public transport and other active mobility, such as walking and cycling. According to the Commission, it is very important that taxi transport complements public transport and active mobility, and does not replace them. It should facilitate and enhance the use of public transport by transporting passengers during the first or last kilometer around public transport stops, making public transport an attractive and comfortable option and reducing the need for private car use. This is especially important in areas where the public transport network is less dense. For proper integration, the Commission states that on-demand passenger transport should be part of the local sustainable mobility plan. Also Mobility as a Service (MaaS) initiatives should be supported.

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