Bolt started a summer competition in Amsterdam this week in which taxi drivers can win weekly cash prizes in July and August if they drive many trips via the Bolt platform. At the end of the period, the three best drivers also receive top prizes in the overall classification. Bolt says he wants to reward loyal drivers with the competition. The FNV union calls the initiative dangerous.
The entire prize pool for the so-called Bolt Super League is large 26. euros. The main prize in the overall ranking is 7.500 euros. A weekly winner will receive 1.500 euros. There are also weekly prizes for those who finish in second through eighth place.
The competition is based on points. Drivers logged into the Bolt platform can earn points for successfully completed journeys. The condition is that they drive at least ten hours a week for the platform. This year the focus is on Amsterdam. Other cities where Bolt is active may follow in the future.
Reward drivers The initiative is not specifically intended to attract new drivers, says Lars Speekenbrink, country manager Netherlands at Bolt. “We would like to reward our most active drivers during the summer period within the financial possibilities that we have.”
When asked whether Bolt could not do better to raise the rates, Speekenbrink answered that in the past has happened for years. “If you look at the price level we are at now, that is already 26 percent higher than two years ago. We try to find the right balance between supply and demand. It is not necessarily the case that a driver will earn more if prices go up. It is ultimately about what you get per kilometer, but also how many trips you can actually drive. We look for a certain regularity to adjust the prices, depending on supply and demand. But in the end, a driver must of course drive profitably per kilometer.”
Health Bolt states in the conditions that health and safety comes first in the competition. Drivers are not allowed to drive more than an average of ten hours a day in order to participate. Speekenbrink acknowledges that it is of course not healthy for drivers to push the limits and work more than fifty to sixty hours a week just to qualify for the prizes. Bolt evaluates at least weekly and will address drivers about it, he says.
“But the reality is that we don’t have drivers who do that. We have, of course, looked at that before. So far we haven’t seen that, so I don’t expect that to happen.”
‘Dangerous’ FNV is very skeptical about the Bolt Super League. “It’s really dangerous,” said driver Amrit Sewgobind. “I do have concerns about that. It encourages unsafe driving.” He recalls a series of serious accidents involving Uber taxis several years ago. After that, the Municipality of Amsterdam and Uber made agreements to improve road safety in the city.
Aside from safety, Sewgobind fears the Bolt competition will rush drivers. “It is a way to manage performance and to display a certain behaviour. Driving a taxi is not a game to which you have to link a bonus system, but a serious profession in which safety must come first.” He believes that the drivers should receive a good hourly wage for all the time worked and not just for certain journeys.
Uber The union is generally critical of platform work. Last month, FNV filed a lawsuit against Uber. The union demanded a penalty of 100.26 euros from the court for each day that taxi company Uber does not comply with a court ruling from last September. In it, the court in Amsterdam ruled that Uber drivers are employees and that the taxi collective agreement must therefore be complied with. In turn, Uber went to court to demand from the Ministry of Social Affairs that the collective labor agreement for taxi transport no longer applies to the entire sector. Judgments in both cases are expected in the course of this month and early next month.