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Taxi Times International - October 2015 - English

  • Text
  • Drivers
  • Taxis
  • Uber
  • Athens
  • Mobility
  • European
  • Unions
  • Passenger
  • Urata
  • Faber

OUR COMMENT NEWS Wim

OUR COMMENT NEWS Wim Faber (left) and Jürgen Hartmann. HILTON AND LUFTHANSA EXPAND THEIR TRAVEL NETWORKS WITHOUT THE TAXI INDUSTRY View a map of top venues most frequented by Uber riders with ‘Local Scene’ BETTER QUALITY MUST BE MADE MANDATORY European learning software for taxi drivers is available for the first time and has the potential to raise the standard of training. The taxi trade must now urgently find the answer to the next question: Should quality measures be made mandatory? Within the scope of a remarkable global cooperation, the European taxi trade has developed a modularly structured eLearning software (Taxistars) that teaches the main elements of the profession to newcomers to the taxi trade, and can also bring new perspectives to experienced colleagues – or at least refresh some of their basic knowledge. STRONG ALLIES Well-trained taxi drivers not only increase the quality of taxis as a service, but they also instil new confidence in the sector. The driver is the one in direct contact with the customer. The more confident the driver is, the more secure the passenger feels, and the easier it is for him to decide to push the taxi button next time (instead of ‘Uber’). It is therefore a good thing that the unions start to show renewed interest in the taxi trade. Find out more in our in-depth interview with Mac Urata, Section Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). The program is available in seven languages and can be accessed on the computer or via app. Now the national associations are faced with the enormous task of ensuring the widespread and swift distribution of the software and convincing companies, taxi radio circuits, associations and training institutes to integrate this learning content into their (already existing) quality measures. The fact that the software is free, thanks largely to the financial support of the European Union, should make this task easier. The initiator and driver of this project was a Greek company, which is why the symbolic kick-off of Taxistars took place in Athens, a city where nearly 14,000 taxis are only able to earn €60 to €80 in 14-hour shifts and where every single driver struggles each day to secure a living. Some drivers do resort to dishonest measures, and nearly every participant at the Taxistars event knew of cases in which taxi prices were inflated, or knowledge of the streets was sorely lacking – in addition to communication problems, given that few drivers in Athens speak English. During the discussion, the question quickly came up as to whether the learning program and other quality measures should be offered on a voluntary basis or introduced as mandatory. We need to have this debate, however controversial, and pursue it to its final conclusion. It is certainly true that raising the barriers to entry makes it harder to find staff. But if the taxi trade wants to remain a reasonable regional, national and global alternative means of passenger transport in this fast-paced, ever-changing digital world, it must define a significantly higher quality standard in the short term and implement it over the mid term. Implementation should therefore start with newcomers to the taxi trade. Those new to the trade must have the capacity and willingness to perform their job as a taxi driver in a professional manner, which goes far beyond simply knowing their way around the city. Taxi associations and circuits must have the courage to make this a mandatory requirement, whether legally or on their own initiative. Jürgen Hartmann EDITOR Wim Faber EDITOR PHOTO: Gudrun Hartmann PHOTOS: business wire; Wim Faber The international hotel chain Hilton and the major German airline Lufthansa recently announced two noteworthy collaborative ventures. Lufthansa will offer fixed-price limousine shuttle service to passengers flying into and out of Düsseldorf Airport. Rides will be booked and provided through the “myDriver” application, a subsidiary of the international car rental company Sixt. The service, which according to Lufthansa will be available at a price comparable to that of a taxi, offers trained drivers, pickup at the passenger’s home or the airport arrivals area, and a luggage service. In case of flight delays, myDriver automatically takes those into account and waits for the passenger at no extra cost. If the trial run in Düsseldorf proves successful, Lufthansa and myDriver want to offer this service in other European cities. This really bad news for the taxi industry was topped a few days later by another notification: The controversial transportation network company Uber announced a collaboration with the Hilton hotel chain. According to a press release, “Hilton Worldwide and Uber are now partners and want to make a new travel experience available to guests.” A feature allowing customers to order an Uber car was added to the Hilton HHonors-App, which customers could already use to book rooms, check in, and enter their rooms with a digital key. Interestingly, additional features should facilitate the announced travel experience in some American cities. These include a reminder to order cars on time and insiders’ tips about the trendiest spots. The most popular recent destinations of Uber passengers will be shown. jh MIEDEMA: “NS ZONETAXI NEEDS MORE VOLUME” Although the national Dutch NS Zonetaxi system –developed by Dutch railways NS and the taxi association KNV Taxi – now serves more railway stations (138) than the popular shared Traintaxi ever did in its heyday, it’s definitely not as popular as its predecessor. “There is growth, but we need more volume”, conceeds NS Zonetaxi manager Kees Miedema at NS Stations. “Compared to our starting phase there’s quiet a bit of growth. We’re gaining hundreds of users every week. We’re moving in the right direction, but it takes time before a product like this is settled properly.” The systems’s evaluation is planned for 2017-2018. Three years ago NS Zonetaxi started with 24 stations, quickly added another 24 and grew to 138. NS is eager to add another 31 locations to the tally this year. Miedema adds: “We feel that NS Zonetaxi is a well-functioning and qualitative taxi product, which functions impeccably. Regular users are very happy with it.” The next step is a dedicated NS Zonetaxi-app, to be launched in the last quarter of this year. At the moment users have to register and order via the system’s website. Rates start at € 6 for the first zone of two kilometres and € 3 is added for every next zone up to a maximum of 30 kilometres. “That makes it slightly cheaper than ordinary taxis”, adds Miedema. With quite a few taxi companies not being very enthusiastic about the service and using it as a ‘filler’ for ordinary taxi work, the system’s financing has also needed some adapting: the fixed yearly amount is gone. Now there’s an entry fee of € 750 and a percentage per trip. Every cab company respecting the national quality standards can participate. Hence the entry check on quality aspects remains. There is no NS Zonetaxi ‘look’: taxi companies prefer to keep their cabs neutral and not use system stickers. wf Miedema: “NS Zonetaxi needs more time and more volume.” 6 TAXI OCTOBER / 2015 7

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