Taxi drivers in the Rotterdam region sometimes charge extortionate prices to young people who order a taxi at night, often after a night out. That is what local political parties such as Liveable Rotterdam and Local Independent Schiedam say. Both parties have already asked questions about this. Perry van Ham, executive director at the Rotterdamse Taxi Centrale (RTC) recognizes the problem and is very concerned about it. He elaborates on this issue in an extensive conversation with TaxiPro. “Unfortunately, we also have to deal with it ourselves.”
Local political parties are increasingly sounding the alarm about the sometimes extremely high taxi prices charged by taxi drivers at night to passengers. In mid-January, for example, Liveable Rotterdam asked the Municipal Executive (B&W) questions about this subject. According to the party, many young people who go out for a night in the port city are more or less forced to take a taxi, because transport services such as the BOB bus and the night metro are no longer running. “They have de facto acquired a kind of monopoly position in the night hours”, says Liveable Rotterdam about this. According to the party, taxi drivers sometimes ask even more than double the maximum set rates for such a ride.
This development has not gone unnoticed in Schiedam either. According to the local party Local Independent Schiedam (LOS), the municipality is facing the same problem. “Many young people, but also the somewhat older walkers, complain about the enormous prices. It will prevent many young people from going out at all and that is of course not a good thing,” says LOS. The party wanted to know from the Municipal Executive, among other things, whether they could do something to tighten or broaden the policy on pricing. The Schiedam municipal council has indicated that it sees “ no possibilities”.
Great concern This development is of great concern to Perry van Ham, executive director at the Rotterdamse Taxi Centrale (RTC). “We are very sorry to constantly have to hear how things are currently going in the Rotterdam taxi market. It’s a sad thing. Unfortunately, we also have to deal with this ourselves. That’s why I had a hard time talking about this topic at first. But this problem simply needs to be solved, because this kind of practice gives the Rotterdam taxi sector a bad name. That bad image in turn has repercussions on the drivers and damages our name.”
Van Ham says he knows exactly how things are at the taxi ranks during the night hours. “Taxi drivers are waiting in line for passengers. It is customary for the taxi in the front to get the first ride. He then starts asking the price twice. The second does the same or the whole row doesn’t drive. In such a situation it sometimes happens that the fifth will drive, but then three times the price is asked. That is a tactic that such a list is sometimes used. For a ride of 15 euros, suddenly 15 euros are asked. ”
To counter such situations, RTC has developed its own app. “If passengers order a taxi via this app, they can always agree on a fixed price based on the meter price. During off-peak hours they also receive a 15 percent discount. In this way we try to put an end to the practices that customers encounter at the locations.”
Boefjes According to the RTC driver, taxi drivers using such methods are acting against the law. “If you drive for a TTO, you are obliged to drive via the meter. Unless the driver has made a price agreement with the customer in advance, but you must be able to demonstrate this if asked. This can be done, for example, by using such an app or by email.”
That is why Perry van Ham warns all drivers who drive for RTC one last time. “We don’t want to be associated with such issues. I will also write a letter about this and send it to all drivers who drive for us. If it happens to us, we will terminate the cooperation. Zero tolerance on this, because really it’s just a scam. No, deporting a driver is of course never fun. But I think there are also quite a few crooks walking around among all those benevolent drivers, who are still in the majority.”
Van Ham states that this issue mainly concerns the Rotterdam region and has emerged in recent months. “I don’t think it’s an issue at a national level,” he says. “I have not yet heard that this is happening in The Hague, for example. I’ve been hearing more and more about this topic for a few months now. From October last year, approx. So it is a new development. The longer this lasts, the more it develops.”
Action Therefore it is time for action, in Perry van Ham’s opinion. He has put nine points on paper that can serve as possible solutions to suppress this development. These points vary from enforcement within the organization and the use of mystery guests, to a local campaign on RTV Rijnmond to warn and inform young people about this type of practice. He has already submitted these points to the municipality of Rotterdam.
“Enforcement is also present during these talks,” says Van Ham. “They are really benevolent. That also applies to the municipality, but nothing is happening now. Why not? Say it. No money, no time? Perhaps the urgency is not clear enough or they are not aware that this issue is on such a large scale right now. Of course we do our own enforcement, but of course I’m not from the police either. I mean, I can’t ride in the back seat with a driver. No, I just need notifications. This issue is about rules and legislation. That simply has to be checked and enforced by the municipality.”
Visiting card According to the RTC driver in different ways. Van Ham therefore believes that this problem can be solved, provided that this issue is given a more urgent place on the municipal agenda. “For example, I advocate a central complaints reporting center from the municipality, with accompanying instructions on how to submit such a complaint”, Van Ham gives as an example.
“But the most important thing is that we all draw a line. This applies to the TTOs as well as to the municipality and enforcement. Taxis must be the calling card and host of the city. Then you should start from the municipality to put together a budget for this, so that this problem can be stopped? The taxi product really needs to get healthy again, that’s what it’s all about”, concludes Van Ham.
Municipality of Schiedam can do nothing about ‘outrageous’ high taxi prices Liveable Rotterdam wants return BOB -buses because of ‘outrageous’ high taxi prices