Bus lane. Photo for illustration.Photo: Pixabay/Markus Marcinek

Taxi drivers in Groningen are being allowed less and less use of the bus lanes by the municipality. In addition, the costs of an exemption, which allows drivers to use certain bus lanes, have also become considerably more expensive. The drivers are concerned and are sounding the alarm. “What am I paying that 112 euro for then?”

Because taxi drivers are allowed to use fewer and fewer bus lanes, they have to make detours more often. “During the day it really saves time if we are allowed to drive on those bus lanes,” explains taxi driver Ajay Ramsoebhag to RTV Noord. The bus lanes at Peizerweg, Westerhaven, Paterswoldseweg and Vrydemalaan are examples of bus lanes that taxi drivers are no longer allowed to use. “During the day it really saves time if we are allowed to drive on those bus lanes.”

Debt Shah, the owner of the Groningen taxi company, confirms this picture. “We are taxi drivers. It is our job to take passengers from A to B in a safe manner. And that in the fastest way,” says Shah. Because drivers are allowed to use fewer bus lanes and therefore have to make detours, journeys become more expensive for customers. “Of course it cannot be the case that a journey of 22 euros suddenly 25 costs euros, because we have to detour.”

“As a result, these passengers will never take a taxi again,” Shah continues his story. “As a result, there is less work, which means we miss out on income. Customers also often get angry. People complain about us and say that we are scamming them, but that is not the case. They see and understand it, but in the end the blame falls on us.”

Increased costs There is also the issue of exemption. Taxi drivers can request this from the municipality for a fee, allowing them to use the bus lanes that are still available. The costs of such an exemption have now more than doubled. “The costs for such an exemption have risen from 112 euros to 25 euros. And that while we are allowed to use fewer bus lanes. Several streets have also been closed for months, so we still have to make detours. What am I still paying that 112 euro for?”

The municipality of Groningen confirms that the annual exemption for cars that run on fossil fuels has been increased to 112 euros. “For fossil fuel taxis, the price for an exemption has indeed risen,” said the spokesperson for traffic alderman Phillip Broeksma to TaxiPro. According to him, this has to do with the municipality’s climate ambitions. “We want to encourage companies and drivers to drive emission-free. An annual exemption is free for emission-free taxis. This fits within the policy of the municipality to be CO2 neutral in .”

Dangerous situations With regard to allowing taxis on various bus lanes, the municipality replies: “We are not scrapping bus lanes, taxi drivers are just no longer allowed to drive everywhere. For example on the Peizerbaan. It is closed to taxis for safety reasons. There was regularly driven too fast, which caused dangerous situations. In the past, our policy was that all taxis were allowed to use the bus lanes. We have now become stricter about this in order to prevent crowds on the bus lanes from groups other than public transport.”

“It may therefore be that taxis have to make detours on some routes, but safety comes first,” the spokesperson continues his story. “To guarantee traffic flow on some routes, taxis are not allowed, unless it is a taxi with an exemption, for example for Wmo transport. This type of transport often transports several travelers at the same time.”

Consultation structure Finally, the taxi drivers denounce the lack of communication from the municipality of Groningen on this issue. For example, they feel that they are insufficiently involved in this problem by the municipality. “There is currently no consultation structure, but we would like to set one up,” says the municipality.

According to the spokesman, one of the reasons why there is no consultation structure yet is because, according to him, the drivers in Groningen are not united. “The taxi drivers often come from out of town to earn their money here at the weekend. Soon we will be sitting around the table with a number of concerned drivers to discuss the taxi policy in Groningen.”

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