Taxi stand at Frederiksplein in Amsterdam. Photo for illustration.Photo: Shutterstock/Dutchmen Photography

Amsterdam taxi drivers have united themselves and oppose the policy of the municipality of Amsterdam. The drivers feel that they can no longer carry out their work properly and are calling for a policy review. “As an executive branch, we would like to propagate the policy successfully.”

The action group has discussed this with Melanie van der Horst, traffic alderman in Amsterdam. The report of that conversation is in the hands of TaxiPro. The drivers state that the reason for the current problems is a malfunctioning taxi system. “There are also major concerns that future taxi systems will remain inadequate,” says the action group. “The reason for this is that the current policy regarding the taxi system is currently insufficiently aligned with practice. As an executive branch, we would like to propagate the policy successfully.”

According to the action group, taxi drivers in Amsterdam are currently unable to successfully propagate the policy, because they believe that an essential factor is missing: their involvement. “For example, our experience and perspectives from practice are not taken into account, so that the policy does not match the practical implementation. This results in the necessary frustrations for and between all parties involved, including passengers, agents, enforcers, municipalities, governments and residents.”

Fixed taxi ranks Although the action group expressed its dissatisfaction during the conversation with the alderman, they also say that they have put forward potential solutions. For example, the action group wants visible and permanent locations at hotspots, such as Rokin, Damrak, Amstel, Prins Hendrikkade, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Nieuwmarkt, Utrechtsestraat, Rembrandtplein, Blauwbrug and Stadhouderskade. “It is important that the pitches have sufficient capacity for both diesel and electric vehicles.”

According to the taxi drivers, this proposal would lead to fewer empty cars (and therefore less CO2 emissions), less nuisance and less work pressure for enforcers and the police. “They then have to enforce less on taxis that are parked in places where they are not allowed to stand.”

Tramway exemption In addition, the action group wants all tramways to fall under the tramway exemption. As a result, drivers have to make fewer detours, lower rates are created so that customers have to pay less for a ride and taxi traffic is better distributed across the city, according to the action group. “Of course we understand that the more kilometers are driven, the more this will result in taxi-related accidents.”

The drivers cite 2016 as an example, because the business license was abolished at that time. “This was when there was room for incompetence in the market and it was mainly driven from platforms. This is most likely not due to the TTO taxis, as these have actually decreased in numbers. There is, however, a correlation between the applications from 2016 for independent scheduled bus lane exemptions on the one hand and an increase in accidents on the scheduled bus lane on the other.”

New York model In addition to the tramway exemption, the action group wants an exemption from the stopping ban that is currently in force in Amsterdam. They argue for the New York model. “Taxis should always be able to park their taxi on the side of the street in safe places, without hindering other traffic, to drop off or pick up passengers.”

The action group also wants a postponement regarding electric driving to 2030. The taxi drivers claim to have missed two years of income due to the outbreak of the corona virus. They also believe that there is no subsidy to purchase such an electric car and that the revenue model of taxi drivers is at risk due to the rising electricity prices. “The financial-economic situation of the street taxi sector has been included in a study commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management (I&W). The report shows that 20 percent of the total street taxi sector, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, has accrued a debt ranging from 2016 to 87. euro.”

Participation Finally, the drivers want to have a say in every change that takes place within the Amsterdam taxi market. “We are the field workers of the taxi industry,” says the action group. “Ultimately, we are the frame of reference when it comes to the taxi problem and that is why we want a seat at the table. We drivers are fed up with the way things are going now and wish to find a solution together that satisfies all parties involved. It is time that we are taken seriously in our pursuit of better working conditions”, conclude the taxi drivers.

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