The application instead of a taximeter, and a sticky sign instead of the ‘taxi’ light, will suffice
After a year of preparation, the government will discuss an amendment to the Road Transport Act, which sets new rules for taxi drivers.
Existing legislation has not accounted for the use of mobile applications upon which alternative taxis, such as Uber or Taxify, rely. This is about to change.
“The amendment is intended to legalize the use of applications as another type of taxi service, which will be discussed by the government during February, and we expect it to become effective in the second half of this year,” says Transport Ministry spokesman, Lenka Rezková.
Alternative taxi drivers of today often fail to comply with a number of obligations. In particular, they do not use taximeters and do not have their cars equipped with a ‘taxi’ light. According to the draft of the amendment, the taximeter will no longer be obliged. Drivers are equipped with an application whereby the passenger confirms that they agree to a pre-determined price prior to the commencement of the journey. “The ‘taxi’ light will be a privilege of only those who want to transport passengers outside the application, from the street,” says Rezková. Alternative drivers will have to have a sticker placed on the car, which makes it clear at first glance that they provide taxi services.
All taxi operators will have to have a trade license and have their vehicle registered as a taxi, for which other obligations are attached. Whoever does not follow the rules will face more severe sanctions. Alternative taxis began to increase the demands on their drivers as of last year. “We’ve changed the way we do business, and we only accept drivers with a valid taxi license,” an Uber representative told HN. The same measure was introduced by Taxify this year, which no longer accepts amateur drivers. They require a trade license and their car to be registered as a taxi vehicle. The use of unregistered drivers is one of the main points that was argued by both the authorities and the traditional taxi drivers.
It will be five years this August since the Czech taxi industry began to change significantly. American company Uber entered Prague in August. While the taxi drivers protest at large in Boston, Paris, London, or even Madrid, the Czech drivers were not at all nervous of the entrance of the new competitor in 2014. Later, however, the situation has changed. Uber has taken over a considerable number of clients of traditional taxi drivers. According to the association of Czech taxi drivers, it was more than half of all orders in Prague. The market has changed dramatically. While the main role used to be played by the car, mobile applications became more and more important. In 2015, other players who have built their business on a similar model as Uber have joined the market. First, the Czech entrepreneurs launched the Liftago service, followed by the Estonian Taxify and finally the Slovak Hopin Taxi.
Local taxi drivers soon got into the same situation as the drivers in other world capitals years ago. So they began protesting Prague – once they blocked the roads around the airport, they slow paced through the highway. Uber remained the biggest enemy.
Traditional taxi drivers have complained and are still complaining that alternative taxi drivers are failing to comply with statutory obligations. They do not have to pass the topography examination, they are not registered among the taxi drivers, and it is hard to prove that they pay taxes properly.
It was the question of paying taxes last year to a greater extent with Uber to deal with the Treasury. The American company eventually promised to join the EET pilot program.
All new registered drivers driving for Uber are using electronic revenue records since last October. However, the number of drivers is not specified by the firm. There are roughly 1500 Uber drivers in the Czech Republic. Further, information on the progress of the pilot project has not yet been provided by the state.
“We cannot share concrete information about the agreed cooperation, but we appreciate the positive relationship because it is based on obtaining data for correct tax identification and determination and helping to eliminate the unequal conditions in the competitive struggle of the affected market segment,” says Klára Křehlová.