Self-driving car technology can’t deliver on overblown ride-sharing promises

Self-driving car technology can’t deliver on overblown ride-sharing promises

In the battle to go public, Lyft might be winning. The company’s initial public offering — with a target of  more than $20 billion — is expected shortly, ahead of rival Uber. Key to wooing public investors, however, is showing potential for strong returns. That’s a problem because both ride-hailing giants spend more than they earn.

Their biggest expense? Driver salaries. In the first quarter of 2018, Uber raked in $11.3 billion in revenue, more than $8 billion of which was spent on paying drivers. Driverless technology is expected to change this. Sensors and software, after all, don’t demand salaries, which ultimately means wider margins. This explains why Uber and Lyft are investing heavily in self-driving technology. So is Waymo — a Google spinoff — which recently launched its own ‘robocab’ service. That service comes with caveats, however. It’s only available in some American suburbs (four to be exact; all of them in Arizona), not everyone living in those suburbs can freely use the service (Waymo has to preapprove you), and riders who can are greeted by human drivers in the front seat (Waymo added them owing to safety concerns).

Uber and Lyft’s own efforts with self-driving technology have fared no better. Some say this isn’t the let-the-robot-drive, anyone-can-ride experience that self-driving companies have long promised us. Maybe not, but it’s hardly surprising.

For one thing, driverless does not mean humanless. Sensors and software might trim the need for human labor but do not — contrary to what self-driving advocates say — purge that need entirely. Machines are after all, imperfect. They stumble just like humans do. The impact of these blunders is trivial when fruit-picking, drink-pouring and burger-flipping robots break down. But when algorithms charged with our safety and security follow suit, the results can be deadly.

Case in point, the airplane autopilot. First introduced in 1912, the system has since become a staple of the modern cockpit. And rightly so. When engaged, its algorithms can crunch data (think altitude, speed and position information) faster and more reliably than a human pilot ever could. The result? A safer, smoother flying experience. But the autopilot (or its failure to be more precise) has also been implicated in several air crashes. That’s why autopilot use is contingent on human supervision. Regulators know that for its virtues, machines can’t be trusted to get it right all the time, every time (manufacturers know this, too, by the way).

Self-driving technology is no different. Unless these systems are proven faultless (which they aren’t), ceding control of public safety to algorithmic rather than human intuitions is an unlikely prospect at best. There goes the let-the-robot-drive future we were promised.

As for the anyone-can-ride experience, fulfilling that pledge is even less likely. The reason? Cost. In driverless car dialogue, cost is almost an afterthought. Enthusiasts assume that consumers will forgo personal vehicle ownership in favor of using robocabs. Why shouldn’t they? Owning a car — in addition to being  inefficient and  unenjoyable  — is  pricey. Robocabs, on the other hand, will be cheaper because driverless technology cuts out a taxi operator’s single largest expense — the driver. This makes robocabs a better bargain for consumers than owning a car.

Self-driving car promises are on life support

Such reasoning — while intuitively sound — is deeply flawed. For one thing, human involvement in driving can’t (and  won’t) be entirely axed. Even if it were, personal car ownership would still be a better bargain than hailing a robocab. The reason? Driver salaries, although significant, affect fares less than the cab’s utilization rate — the percent of miles it travels with a fare paying passenger. And that’s a problem because in some cities, drivers spend as little as 40 percent of their time earning fares (the rest is spent finding them).

Continue reading Ashley Nunes’ article:

  • Self-driving car technology can’t deliver on overblown ride-sharing promises.
The ‘handoff-problem – Who’s to blame for robo-car deaths?

The ‘handoff-problem – Who’s to blame for robo-car deaths?

An interesting comment on Uber’s Tempe-crash in Intelligent Transport: Arizona prosecutors said Tuesday that they wouldn’t charge Uber with a crime after one of its autonomous cars hit and killed a pedestrian last year. Instead, they said investigators should look into what the safety driver “would or should have seen that night.”

One interesting point about the news was raised by Frank Douma, a researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies:

“It’s a very conventional way of thinking to say we can expect and we should expect people to sit and monitor technology that is otherwise doing all the decision-making.”

The “handoff problem” — that humans are too easily distracted to safely retake control of an autonomous vehicle in an emergency — is well documented. The Uber accident provided a first glimpse of how the law would deal with that issue. It suggests that, for now, the onus remains on the “driver.”

  • ‘Robo-cars’: the onus remains with the driver – for now.
Transport for London to trial on-demand bus service with ViaVan and Go-Ahead

Transport for London to trial on-demand bus service with ViaVan and Go-Ahead

Transport for London (TfL) is to trial on-demand bus service in Sutton with ViaVan and Go-Ahead (Pickmeup). The trial is expected to last a year and will see areas of Sutton which currently do not have access to public transport connected through the scheme.

Transport for London (TfL) launched a four-week consultation on plans to trial an innovative on-demand bus service in Sutton.

The new service will enable passengers to use an app to book seats on a minibus that will stop at more convenient locations, including areas not currently served by public transport. The on-demand service is proposed to run from 06:30 to 21:30, seven days a week and would carry up to 14 passengers.

Passengers would benefit from a guaranteed seat, free Wi-Fi, USB charging points and flexible stops.

The consultation is asking Londoners for their views on the specific area that the Sutton service should cover and suggested stopping points. The trial, which will last for one year, will help TfL gauge the level of interest for an on-demand service and assess how it would work alongside the existing public transport network.

Sutton was chosen because it has a relatively high car dependency, and TfL believes the service could encourage people to switch to a more sustainable way of travelling. In doing so, it will improve London’s air quality, and reduce congestion. The buses will meet Mayor Sadiq Khan‘s ULEZ standards, and also accommodate accessibility for passengers with reduced mobility.

Alongside the app, passengers will be able to book trips over the phone. The cost of using this new type of transport will be slightly higher than a traditional bus to reflect a better experience for customers.

After a competitive bidding process, ViaVan and Go-Ahead have been chosen to operate the trial. TfL will be tapping into the expertise of the successful bidders’ collective knowledge of app development and many years’ experience operating the largest part of the bus network in London. TfL is also exploring the possibility of delivering a second on-demand bus trial to provide further evidence about the initiative’s viability. Drivers for the new innovative service will receive the same pay and conditions as other London bus drivers. This includes the Mayor’s ‘Licence for London’, which guarantees a pay grade equivalent to their level of service and experience.

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  • ViaVan and Go-Ahead’s Pickmeup to run Transport for London’s demand-responsive trial in Sutton.
Eurostar reports record performance in 2018

Eurostar reports record performance in 2018

Eurostar, the high-speed rail link between the UK and mainland Europe, reported record sales revenues and passenger numbers for 2018, underpinned by a buoyant business travel market, strong US traveller numbers and the launch of Eurostar’s new service between London and Amsterdam.

11 million passengers travelled by Eurostar in 2018, representing a 7% increase compared with 2017 and the highest ever number of travellers in a single year (11m 2018: 10.3m 2017). This year marks the celebration of 25 years of Eurostar with over 190 million passengers since services began in 1994.

Sales revenues increased by 12% year-on-year (£989m 2018: £880m 2017) and the company today reports a preliminary unaudited operating profit of £96.6m in 2018.

The business travel market grew by 12% in 2018, testament to the enduring popularity of Eurostar’s Business Premier service which offers travellers complete flexibility, ten-minute check-in and a range of sustainable menu options on board in partnership with Michelin starred chef, Raymond Blanc, OBE.

The number of US travellers incorporating the Eurostar experience in their tour of Europe also increased in 2018. US passenger numbers grew by 9% year-on-year, with travellers continuing to enjoy the ease, speed and convenience of the high-speed rail link between Europe’s most iconic capital cities.

New Amsterdam service attracts over 250,000 travellers
Leisure traffic last year was boosted by the success of Eurostar’s new service between London and Amsterdam. The high-speed rail link between London and the Netherlands, which marks its first anniversary next month, has seen over a quarter of a million passengers travelling since launch in April 2018.

To meet consumer demand, Eurostar has put tickets on sale for a third daily service starting in June this year and committed to introducing additional services as soon as the governments have put border controls in place for the Amsterdam-London leg of the journey.

Mike Cooper, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said:
“Over the last 25 years Eurostar has led the way in cross-Channel travel, cementing the links between the UK and mainland Europe. The popularity of our new service between London and Amsterdam shows the growing appetite among customers for international high-speed rail travel and a sustainable alternative to the airlines.”

• Eurostar reports record performance in 2018.

Airports feared losing revenue to Uber and Lyft. Here’s what happened

Airports feared losing revenue to Uber and Lyft. Here’s what happened

Airport officials were understandably nervous when Uber and Lyft drivers began pulling up at terminals across the country a few years ago.

After all, more fliers using the relatively cheap ride-hailing services could mean that fewer would pay for airport parking and rental car services — two significant sources of airport revenue.

“At the time, all we knew was there was some uncertainty around it,” said Ryan Yakubik, deputy executive director and chief financial officer at Los Angeles International Airport.

But a look at Southern California airport budgets shows that the move to let ride-hailing services pick up and drop off passengers — and pay a fee to do it — was not the financial disaster some had feared. Technology-amped gig-economy start-ups have disrupted many industries in the last decade but most of the airports in the region appear to be either unfazed or bolstered by the changes.

And a good thing, too. Although airports are generally self-supporting, a sharp decline in revenue would probably be resolved by increasing other fees, which could get passed along to travelers.

At Los Angeles International Airport — one of the nation’s busiest airports — ride-hailing service drivers pay a $4 fee for every passenger picked up or dropped off at the airport curb. Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies are charged fees of varying amounts by other local airports. Such fees typically are passed along to passengers as a surcharge.

Ride-hailing fees at LAX generated $44.3 million in fiscal 2018 and $33.7 million in fiscal 2017, up sharply from the $8.9 million in fiscal 2016, when ride-hailing services were prohibited from dropping off and picking up passengers in the same trip.

The hike in ride-hailing money more than made up for the decline in revenue from rental car companies, which dropped to $84.1 million in fiscal 2018 from $87.4 million in fiscal 2017, according to LAX budget records.

LAX parking revenue totaled $96.7 million in fiscal 2018, unchanged from 2017, which LAX officials attribute in part to closure of sections of a parking lot for a $4.9-billion construction project connecting the central terminal with a car rental facility, a ground transportation hub and a station on the Metro Crenshaw Line.

“The fact that people are taking Uber and Lyft in such volume is a good thing,” said Justin Erbacci, LAX chief innovation and technology officer. “It shows people like to use them to get to the airport.”

Most of Southern California’s smaller airports have thrived since the introduction of ride-hailing services. At John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana the financial picture has not been so rosy since ride-hailing companies began serving the airport in 2015. The Orange County airport saw parking revenue drop 7.4%, or $3 million, in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017, compared with the previous year, according to the most recent budget reports available. In that same period, fees charged to ride-hailing services generated $1.2 million. Revenue from rental car businesses at the airport was nearly the same as in the previous year.

Airport officials said ride-hailing revenue is expected to rise because the companies last year began paying a $2.25 fee for each drop-off on top of the fee charged for pickups. The fee increased to $3 on March 1. Airport industry experts say there are no recent studies on the broad airport revenue impact of Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing firms, but they say the experience hasn’t been uniform across the board.

Some large and midsize airports have suffered financially in states such as Oklahoma and Idaho where airports are prohibited by state law from charging ride-hailing services for dropping off or picking up passengers at terminals, industry experts said. “Are they taking a financial hit?” said Carter Morris, executive vice president of the American Assn. of Airport Executives, a trade group that represents executives at 875 airports nationwide. “That’s an airport-by-airport picture.”

Over the last three years or so, ride-hailing services have become ubiquitous in big cities, especially popular among business travelers. Airports initially restricted Uber and Lyft to dropping off passengers at the terminal curbs but eventually reached deals to let them also pick up rides.

In 2018, Uber was — for the second year in a row — the No. 1 expensed brand among business travelers who use Certify, a cloud-based travel and expense report company. Lyft was ranked as the sixth-most expensed brand last year, behind companies including Starbucks and Delta Air Lines, according to Certify, which based the ranking on more than 50 million expenses filed in North America.

The effect of ride-hailing services on airports is difficult to gauge accurately because ride-hailing gained popularity at the same time that demand for air travel surged.

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  • Airports feared losing revenue to Uber and Lyft. Here’s what happened.
How the internet is clogging up city streets

How the internet is clogging up city streets

Traffic in New York is slowing down. Jams are endemic in Manhattan, especially in its business districts. Daytime traffic in the busiest areas now moves almost 20% more slowly than it did five years ago.

It seems a place ripe for wide use of ride-hailing apps that, you might think, would alleviate some of the congestion.

Except, those apps appear to be making things worse as traffic has slowed in line with the growing popularity of apps such as Uber and Lyft, suggests a study by transport expert Bruce Schaller.

Over the four years of the study, the number of cars in Manhattan seeking ride-hailing fares increased by 81%. There are now about 68,000 ride-sharing drivers across New York city. That’s about five times the number of distinctive yellow cabs licensed to operate there, he found. There are so many, his work suggests, that they spend about 45% of their time empty just cruising for fares. That is a lot of unused cars clogging a lot of busy streets.

Simple physics explains why such a glut of ride-sharing vehicles is causing, not curing, congestion, said Jarrett Walker, a public transport policy expert who has advised hundreds of cities about moving people. “Lots and lots of people are deciding that, ‘Oh, public transport is just too much of a hassle this morning,’ or whenever, which causes a shift in patronage from public transport to ride-sharing services,” he told the BBC. “That means moving people from larger vehicles into smaller ones, which means more vehicles to move the same people. Therefore, more traffic.”

What is clear is that the current situation cannot continue, he said, adding that many urban authorities are keen to clear congestion. “I think we are going to continue to see stronger and stronger regulatory interventions to manage the impact of these companies.”

Data gathered about ride-sharing drivers illustrates how they contribute to congestion, said Prof Christo Wilson, a computer scientist at Northeastern University who has studied the services.

“You can look at the traffic pattern for the Uber vehicles and it perfectly matches the peaks for the rush hour and the peak time of day,” he said. “They are out there in force at the worst possible times.” And, he said, the ability to summon a car via a smartphone app has other unforeseen consequences that are also thickening the jams.

“It is increasing the total number of trips and these are discretionary trips that these people would not have taken if not for cheap, available ride-sharing,” said Prof Wilson. “So, that is almost certainly increasing congestion.”

For their part, ride-sharing firms dispute the claim that they are the main cause of clogging the streets in the busiest cities.

“Congestion is a really complicated issue,” said Andrew Salzberg, head of Uber’s transport policy.

He says other factors at play include economic growth, road construction and the policies cities introduce to streamline traffic.

“The number of drivers we have on the road is one of the easiest things to measure and that often becomes the focal point of the conversation,” he said.

And, he pointed out, it’s not just taxis and private-car owners who are frustrated when they are stuck in motionless traffic.

“We don’t win as a company from congested conditions,” he said. “Road conditions that make it impossible for people to get around are not good for our business.”

Mr Salzberg said it was also a mistake to think that Uber and other ride-sharing firms want to replace public transport.

“We have come out many, many times and said, in the core of dense cities, there is no more efficient way to move people around than public transport,” he said.

The patronage of both ride-sharing services and public transport have a huge chance to grow substantially if people can be persuaded to do away with their own cars, said Mr Salzberg.

Encouraging them to use buses, trams and trains as well as ride-hailing firms could ease traffic.

The question is how to do it? For Uber, said Mr Salzberg, road-pricing is one good approach. As with London’s congestion charge this would levy fees on people who drive themselves to an inner-city destination in their own car. Alongside this, he said, would go partnership schemes that pair public transport and ride-sharing. One such example of this was already operating in and around Innisfil in Ontario.

This uses Uber cars to deliver people from their homes to central points where they then catch buses and trams to reach the centre of Toronto. Innisfil’s local authority also subsidises Uber fares to ensure the system is attractive to those sections of the population who typically don’t own a car, he said.

There is a definite need to manage the changes that are rippling through cities as ride-sharing and autonomous cars develop and mature, said Carlo Ratti, a professor of urban technologies at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). In 2014, Prof Ratti demonstrated how smart routing and car-pooling could cut the amount of traffic needed to move people around cities by 80%.

He stands by that prediction today but said work had to be done to soften the impact of those changes. Prof Ratti said studies had shown it would be “disastrous” to simply swap our existing system of high personal car ownership for one in which everyone owns a robot car that follows them around.

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  • The Internet is clogging up city streets.
2getthere partners with NTU Singapore and SMRT

2getthere partners with NTU Singapore and SMRT

2getthere, the Utrecht-based company specializing in autonomous transit systems, Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) and SMRT Services have joined forces to deploy fully automated Group Rapid Transit (GRT) autonomous vehicles (AV) on the NTU Smart Campus by 2019. The three parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), paving the way for the GRT to be integrated into NTU’s transport network.

The 2getthere silent roadster uses magnetic pellets on the road for autonomous navigation and can travel in both directions. It has a top speed of 40 kilometres per hour and can ferry 24 passengers with seating space for eight.

The new GRTs will be tested on NTU’s campus in a few phases, which will start around the last quarter this year. The vehicles are expected to operate a service route that connects NTU’s halls of residences with the main academic areas, serving 200 to 300 passengers daily.

The collaboration will also involve conducting research to improve autonomous vehicle technologies such as increasing the use of artificial intelligence, developing advanced sensors and sensor fusion algorithms, and improving fleet management technologies.

The trial would be gradually expanded campus-wide, running alongside other autonomous vehicles that have already been undergoing tests since 2012. This latest testbedding of autonomous vehicles is part of the university’s Smart Campus initiative to develop rapidly advancing transport technologies to benefit the NTU community and society.

Mr Sjoerd van der Zwaan, Chief Technology Officer of 2getthere, stated, “It is exciting to be able to work together with NTU and SMRT while capitalising on the synergy of an actual AV implementation and investing in research simultaneously. NTU has ample experience with autonomous vehicles and knows exactly what it wants and what it doesn’t want – in terms of availability, reliability, quality, safety and AV features such as comfort and user experience. In combination with SMRT’s operations expertise, all key ingredients are present to ensure a successful implementation of our AVs at NTU. We look forward to our continued cooperation.”

NTU President Professor Subra Suresh, said, “NTU’s campus is not only a living testbed for innovative technologies, but also the first to test driverless vehicles on Singapore roads. Autonomous vehicles are an integral part of the NTU Smart Campus vision, which leverages tech-enabled solutions to create better living and learning experiences. This new collaboration with SMRT and 2getthere highlights our goal of developing cutting-edge transport solutions that will benefit Singapore and beyond.”

Mr Desmond Kuek, President and Group CEO of SMRT, said, “NTU is a leading research institution in AV technology. SMRT is proud to work with NTU and 2getthere to deploy the first operational AV service in Singapore. This MoU marks the commitment of the three parties in leveraging the latest AV technology for our public transport system and redefine the standard for a world-class transport service.”

The GRT had undergone preliminary tests along a 350-metre route between two NTU halls of residences since November last year. During the trials, close to 4,000 passengers were ferried between the two stops.

  • The GRT was introduced to NTU as part of the Mobility-as-a-Service testbed, a collaboration between NTU, JTC and SMRT last September.
Toyota Connected Europe to bring advanced mobility services to the European market

Toyota Connected Europe to bring advanced mobility services to the European market

Toyota Connected (TC) is expanding the global reach of its technology-driven mobility solutions with the launch of Toyota Connected Europe (TCEU). The new start-up company, based in London, will support the growing adoption of new mobility businesses in Europe with products and services tailored to the unique needs of the market. Toyota Connected North America’s CEO, Zack Hicks, will be the Chairman of the new company and Toyota Motor Europe’s Vice President, Connected Car and Mobility, Agustin Martin its CEO.

“The launch of Toyota Connected Europe shows our commitment to transforming how customers around the world experience mobility,” commented Zack Hicks, Toyota Connected North America’s CEO and Chairman of Toyota Connected Europe.

“It is also clear evidence of Toyota’s success in building a platform to support the future of mobility services. Thanks to the strength and flexibility of Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform, and in coordination with Toyota Motor Europe’s extensive capabilities, we look forward to delivering great services and improving the driver and passenger experience across Europe.”

CEO Agustin Martin added: “Toyota Connected Europe is the next step in Toyota’s continued growth as a global mobility company. The adoption of new approaches to mobility is moving very fast in Europe, and we’re excited to develop and scale the power of Toyota’s mobility services technologies for customers across the region.”

Toyota Connected Europe will be based in London to access the area’s high concentration of data scientists, engineers and software developers. Launching with an initial investment of GBP 4.5 million, the new venture is slated to employ between thirty-five and fifty people. TCEU will partner with Toyota Motor Europe, Toyota retailers and distributors in the region to support the launch of new shared mobility and fleet management solutions for consumers, businesses, governments and other stakeholders.

The company will leverage and extend Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform (MSPF), a cloud-based digital ecosystem that provides the tools necessary to bring to market mobility services including ride sharing, car sharing and remote delivery, as well as manage the European operations of the Toyota Big Data Center.

“Toyota Connected Europe will be an important strategic business unit in Europe when it comes to promoting our connected strategy using Toyota’s unique Mobility Service Platform”, said Shigeki Tomoyama, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation and head of Toyota Connected’s global operations, “Moving forward, leveraging our state-of-the-art data analysis technology, we will bring a more diverse and rich mobility experience to our customers in Europe.”

  • Toyota launches multi-mobility unit Toyota Connected Europe.
REPORT: Taxi & Mobility Update 2018: What does tomorrow’s mobility look like?

REPORT: Taxi & Mobility Update 2018: What does tomorrow’s mobility look like?

What’s tomorrow’s mobility going to look like? And what’s the taxi industry’s role in styling that new mobility? Or continuing to work in it? These and other questions were asked by the organisers and participants at the sixth annual international Taxi & Mobility Update conference, held in Brussels on 19 and 20 April.

As always, the conference focused on the current situation in the market between the classic taxi and private hire sector and regular public transport. In this market segment, new technical developments (autonomous vehicles) are encountering new mobility models (microtransit) from completely new market parties (OEM’s, car manufacturers). The justified question of this conference was therefore: ‘Who is in, and who is out of tomorrow’s mobility?’ And what roles do the different actors play?

Some 85 taxi operators, consultants, public transport specialists, mobility experts, government representatives, licensing authorities, technical specialists and other experts from various countries discussed tomorrow’s mobility and followed 20 specialist presentations at this unique, compact and traditionally highly-focused conference.

Taxi & Mobility Update also gave a compact overview of the present state of the rapidly changing mobility market and the resulting challenges for the future. Almost no theme was skipped. Shwetha Surender from mobility consultants Frost & Sullivan gave a good kick-off in her keynote and showed how not only the Uber’s and Lyft’s of this world work and partly control the mobility market, but also OEM’s, the car manufacturers, are getting stronger with taxi-like microtransit systems using small vans pooling passengers. These are systems like ViaVan (Daimler), Chariot (Ford) and MOIA (Volkswagen).

Caroline Cerfontaine of the world public transport organization UITP saw an important guiding and coordinating role for regular public transport in this new mobility world – including for new concepts like Mobility as a Service (MaaS). The theme of ‘combined mobility’ also fitted nicely with the presentations of the new electric ‘London’ TXE taxi by Benelux-importer Green Roads and the electric midi bus Jest presented by Turkish Karsan, a vehicle which would fit both microtransit-systems and MaaS.

How the practice of using e-taxis can be financially and economically viable, was illustrated by Gamis el Bouakili of Amsterdam airport company Schipholtaxi. Use of e-taxis cannot happen without a supporting policy (like promoting the roll-out of charging systems) by local and national government. Running the e-cabs is quite possible without a subsidy, the taxi operator demonstrated.

Remarkably, Professor Lieselot Vanhaverbeke (who is examining the use and effects of autonomous vehicles – soon also in a practical test with taxi company Taxis Verts in Brussels) and advisor Alwin Bakker (Resultancy) argued that the use of completely autonomous vehicles (level 5) is still decades away from us. Bakker’s estimate in particular was considerably less optimistic than last year. However, both speakers envisage the use of ‘simpler’ autonomous transport systems in the shorter term (level 3, 4).

Lawyer Pieter-Jan Aerts briefly explained the effects of the ‘Uber’ judgment of the EU Court of Justice (December 20, 2017) in which the court rules that Uber is a transport company, and discussed the question of whether the EU will actually develop European taxi policy. That’s unlikely, he concluded, unless the EU feels forced to do so (for example, by the recent court case in the European Economic Area focusing on taxi market restrictions in Norway). Lawyer Herwig Kollar illustrated how a classic and according to many ‘old-fashioned’ German taxi legislation offers consumers affordable and good quality taxi services throughout the country. But he also could not deny that with the current political climate in his country and with few allies for the taxi sector deregulation is likely.

The Dutch taxi image did not provide any particularly good examples of this deregulation (in 2000): the excesses that resulted from the deregulation of the taxi market in the big cities and the lack of taxis in many towns outside these cities caused a lot of discussion. It seemed like the Dutch model is not the one to follow.

Adviser Hein Maas illustrated some positive effects of Dutch re-regulation via TTO’s (small self-policing and self-disciplining driver associations) and in particular through quality mark-systems in a number of smaller cities. Karhoo’s Michael Galvin, an old hand in the taxi world, indicated that the transport of people has always been a chaotic business. And that will remain so in the future, according to him. He expects strong consolidation in the taxi sector and advises taxi companies to collaborate more with colleagues and thus jointly shape the future of the taxi sector. The app mytaxi, according to Claudia Breure, which is now active in a large number of European countries, is making a substantial contribution to this cooperation.

Simon Buggey of the Transport for London (TfL) licensing authority admitted that the number of private hire vehicles (mainly Uber) has now become a multiple of the number of taxis (120,000 versus 23,500) and new policies will have to be introduced to balance both systems. Steve McNamara from LTDA, who represents the London taxi operators, does not expect Uber to receive a new permit from TfL in June this year. Presently Uber runs without an operating licence pending the revision of Uber’s London case. That there is a huge gap between regulation in Western Europe and in Russia, was illustrated by Irina Zaripova, who for years has been campaigning for proper taxi regulation in Russia. She illustrated that the Russian regions are moving towards tighter regulation and proper protection of driver and customer.

The seventh Taxi & Mobility Update will be held in Brussels in the Spring of 2019. Presentations and photos can be found on

  • Irina Zaripova is campaigning for proper taxi regulations in Russia and protection for drivers and passengers alike.