Amsterdam taxi drivers demonstrated on Dam Square on Saturday night.Photo: ANP/Hollandse Hoogte/NieuwsFoto
Taxi drivers are fed up with the strict regulations in Amsterdam. They say they get fined every now and then if they stop somewhere. The drivers also believe that the municipality does not do enough for them. To make this known, about three hundred drivers held a demonstration on Dam Square on Saturday night.
“There are fewer and fewer taxi ranks, which means that taxis can hardly stand still or have to pay to park,” an Amsterdam Taxi Service dispatcher tells the Parool. “In addition, more and more streets are being blocked for taxis, so that drivers often have to make detours.”
“Taxis have been checked very strictly lately and they get a ticket for the smallest things,” the dispatcher continues his story. “Even if you have your papers in order and drive properly, you will still be caught because your tire is just a bit worn, or the light on your license plate is not working. It seems as if the enforcers have a peck at taxi drivers. That pisses them off.”
No place Ayman Alneaimi confirms the picture that the dispatcher paints. The Amsterdam taxi driver was not present at the demonstration last Saturday night, but fully agrees with the activists. “The biggest problem for taxi drivers at the moment is space,” Alneaimi tells TaxiPro.
“In almost all places that are currently there, only electric vehicles are allowed,” the exasperated taxi driver continues his story. “Those electric cars are very expensive. Not everyone has the money to make such an investment. And that while it has been agreed in the new covenant that in 2023 all taxi transport in Amsterdam must be emission-free. The rules are clear. But the fact that you are no longer allowed to park at taxi ranks if you do not have an electric car is very difficult.”
No ride According to Alneaimi, there are hundreds of taxi drivers who do not have an electric car and who do not earn enough money to pay for it. According to him, this has to do with high costs and fixed costs. “I am part of that myself,” he admits. “This week I had a twelve-hour shift. In that time I did not drive a single ride. That’s because I don’t have a place to stay. And the pitches where I am still allowed to stand hardly provide any work. If you’re lucky, you’ll score a ride every now and then.”
“How can you still work if your work mainly takes place in the car”, the taxi driver wonders aloud with a sigh. “Because we are no longer allowed to stand still anywhere, we are actually forced to constantly drive in circles. That costs so much fuel, the costs only go up.”
Fine If taxi drivers refuse to do so and still decide to stop somewhere, they are often fined by enforcement. The drivers take the risk of a fine for granted. “How else can we still carry out our work? There is no other way, we have no choice. And we don’t want that, because we don’t want to get into trouble with the police or the municipality,” says Alneaimi.
In addition to the fines, exemptions are sometimes even imposed. If this happens to a taxi driver, he must hand in his skylight to the relevant TTO and may no longer transport passengers for a certain period of time. “You are not allowed to work for a week the first time. The second is for one month and the third is for three months.”
Be respected According to the drivers, something must be done in the foreseeable future. “First of all, we want to be respected by the municipality,” says Alneaimi. “We want to be treated well. We want there to be places where we are allowed to stand, until the rule regarding electric taxi transport comes into effect. If we are allowed to stand in more places, we can earn a little more money. And that is also badly needed with all those crises, which we are also affected by. How can you live if you have no money? The drivers are stressed. We hope we are heard.”
In a response, the municipality of Amsterdam has announced that it has taken measures in some parts of the city because of the nuisance caused by cars driving around and to improve the quality of life for residents. “Cars are also not allowed to stop everywhere because that can lead to unsafe traffic situations,” says a spokesperson for alderman Melanie van der Horst (Traffic). “That can be annoying for taxi drivers, but we have to weigh up the interests of residents and taxi drivers. We regularly consult with the taxi companies, we will discuss this with them.”
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