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

Several taxi drivers intend to hold a large demonstration against the policy of the municipality on Wednesday. Ruud Lagerwaard, chairman of TTO Take a Taxi, informed TaxiPro about this. According to the drivers, the measure is now really full. “A number of drivers were crying on the phone.”

Amsterdam street taxis are fed up with the municipality’s “anti-taxi policy”. This can be read in a flyer, which various drivers will hand out during the demonstration on Wednesday. “The anti-taxi policy of the municipality of Amsterdam makes it impossible for us to survive,” reads the first sentence. “Making the city car-free is a death knell for our industry. Stands are disappearing at a rapid pace, so that a large part of the taxis cannot do their job.”

A number of concrete examples are mentioned. “Enforcement and the police are tirelessly chasing taxi drivers on behalf of the Executive Board with intensive checks and sky-high fines for behavior that is part of our work, such as briefly stopping near hotels to let customers get out.”

Waterbed effect A number of decisions that the municipality of Amsterdam has taken or intends to take are also met with a lot of resistance from taxi drivers. For example, the Weesperstraat will be closed for six weeks as of 03 June. The city council will consider the plan next week. The Ode Bridge at Central Station will also have to do it. This has recently been closed. “This is causing unprecedented chaos,” says Take a Taxi chairman Ruud Lagerwaard. “The municipality is closing crucial thoroughfares to taxi traffic without consultation, making destinations inaccessible. However, this has a waterbed effect, because many diversions and obstacles cause traffic nuisance in other places in the city.”

According to the drivers, the size is more than full. Take a Taxi fully agrees. “The industry is completely broken. I have had a number of drivers really cry on the phone,” says Lagerwaard. The chairman says he is aware that various drivers therefore want to demonstrate on Wednesday. “The drivers will gather at several points in Amsterdam, after which they will drive to the Stopera. The flame is really in the pan, Wednesday at 16.00 hours the city is flat.”

Hard demands It is said that harsh demands will be made during the demonstration. One of the demands is to open all tram and bus lanes for taxis. Ruud Lagerwaard thinks that peace can return to the Amsterdam taxi market when the municipality decides to open all tram tracks. And it doesn’t even have to cost them much. If the municipality does not move, the chaos will continue,” Lagerwaard thinks.

In February, taxi drivers already had a conversation with the municipality of Amsterdam about the current taxi policy. Traffic alderman Melanie van der Horst was also present. Among other things, the regulations regarding tramway exemptions were discussed during that conversation. At the end of last month, Van der Horst indicated by letter that the municipality’s taxi team will investigate why certain scheduled bus lanes have been closed to taxis in recent years. There should be more clarity about this before the summer recess.”

Different interests The municipality of Amsterdam has informed TaxiPro that it is not aware of the demonstration. “Last week a letter was sent to drivers, in which these kinds of topics are discussed,” says a spokesman for the municipality. “The concerns that the drivers have are also exactly the reason why we started talking to them. In the letter we also indicated that we certainly want to review a number of matters. So that’s what we’re going to do,” said the spokesperson.

In addition, the municipality indicates that it has to deal with different interests. “For example, from local residents and other road users. As a municipality, we must weigh everyone’s important carefully. We want to talk about this with various interest groups and stakeholders, so that we can find a good middle ground. We will see how we can do that in the best way.”

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