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Taxi Times International - August 2015 - Deutsch

  • Text
  • Mobility
  • Taxis
  • European
  • Vehicles
  • Transportation
  • Uitp
  • Drivers
  • Elderly
  • Trips
  • Regional


MOBILITY SUPPORT DORMANT BUSINESS MARKET German taxi services for elderly and disabled passengers are mostly limited to poorly paid, medically prescribed patient transport. However, the potential exists for a substantially bigger market. UITP CONGRESS PUBLIC TRANSPORT WRESTLES WITH FUTURE ROLE WHO INTEGRATES ALL FORMS OF MOBILITY IN THE SMART CITY? Since the major healthcare reform in 2004, all taxi operations in rural areas have experienced significant sales losses. Taxi costs related to medical outpatient treatment are no longer covered by the patients’ statutory health insurance providers. Coverage for routine patient transport – for example, to radiotherapy or dialysis sessions – often falls far short of the legal taxi rate. In some regions, taxi or for hire vehicle companies only receive just over 60 cents per kilometre, while the return trip (with no passengers) is included. Taxi prices have taken a particularly serious hit when anonymous statutory health insurance providers invite tenders via the Internet for the routine transport of their patients. The contract is then awarded to the lowest bidder. In such cases, individual taxi and for hire vehicle companies under competitive pressure make false economies that lead to real price dumping. Regional taxi associations were able to break out of this downward price spiral by concluding so-called framework agreements with health insurance providers which specify a set rate of remuneration for taxi rides. This makes the calculation and administration of the transport costs easier for the health insurance providers Taxi rides for leisure activities must be booked two weeks in advance. because they do not have to conclude separate contracts with each company. Many passenger transport services are specialised in transporting wheelchair users. However, these are almost exclusively for hire vehicles rather than taxis. The managing directors of these companies succeeded in negotiating a higher fee with the health insurers or the responsible social insurance agencies – after all, it takes longer for these passengers to get in and out, and the vehicles need to be specially adapted to their needs. Many companies in Germany are specialised in converting vehicles for the purpose of transporting wheelchairs. Such vehicles need to fulfil all requirements, including the rear opening and wheelchair lift, not to mention accessories such as ramps and safety belts. Every two years at the European Taxi Fair in Cologne you can see just how important the taxi market is for these conversion companies: In addition to the taxi models of several vehicle manufacturers, wheelchair accessible vehicles are heavily featured in the exhibition hall. Incidentally, the VW Caddy is the most popular model to be converted. But similar vans from other manufacturers also appear Patient transport contracts are auctioned off online. The business goes to the lowest bidder. Wheelchair transport is part of everyday life in small cities and rural areas. In larger cities, it remains an untapped business area for the taxi trade. in the company’s brochures and advertisements. The advantage of such conversions is the versatility they offer. A wheelchair user can be transported with a minimum of preparation, and most models can seat an additional four non-wheelchair passengers. This allows taxi companies to take on disabled passengers at any time in addition to their regular transport operations. Despite this excellent degree of flexibility, only a few taxi companies have adopted wheelchair accessible vehicles in major cities. The market for the transport of disabled passengers is dominated by a small number of large, specialised firms. This is a sign of how little interest there is in accommodating spontaneous street hails. To get to the cinema or to a concert, wheelchair users must reserve a taxi at least two weeks in advance at a price well above that of a regular taxi ride. This is why an association for the disabled in Munich recently requested the municipal government and the taxi radio circuits to allow wheelchair accessible taxis to be hailed. The scope of the demand for such rides is currently being evaluated. This represents a business opportunity that is currently dormant and should not be disregarded. jh PHOTO: / Andreas Hermsdorf, Taxi Times PHOTO: Wim Faber It’s not only the taxi industry which struggles with new mobility concepts and a variety of new providers. The public transport world is equally unsure of its future role. The first and the last mile in public transport were never discussed so intently as in Milan. Will public transport companies integrate all forms of transportation and individual mobility? Or will all these forms of transport co-exist separately, with dozens of apps, or perhaps masterminded by some aggregators or master-apps? “Public transport and private transport, the car, are no competitors,” UITP secretary-general Alain Flausch stated several times during his organisation’s 61st World Congress and Exhibition held in Milan from June 8 to 10. On several occasions he also added “that taxis are an integral part of public transport.” But the destination is not clear to all. Over 2.000 delegates, 280 exhibitors and almost 300 journalists had found their way to Milan: ‘SMILE in the city’ was the congress theme – Sustainability, Mobility, Innovation, Lifestyle and the Economy. UITP, in recent years trying to be less and less a ‘traditional’ public transport association, sees a clear role for not only taxis and small shared taxi and minibus systems, but also for various innovative forms of shared mobility. ‘DIALOGUE WITH THE CITY’ At the hart of ‘Milan’ was ‘New Mobility’ and finding new forms of mobility for tomorrow’s cities. That city is a Smart City, generating Big Data from all sorts of data streams and using Open Data for new and innovative information systems to serve and support its citizens. And why are these data streams that feed into Big Data so important? “Because we have to find a way to let the city talk to us”, said architect and visionary Carlo Ratti of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “This is how we can create a link with the physical space via digitalization and for the first time track all the processes which happen in a city’s transport 14 TAXI AUGUST / 2015 15

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