Liberalization of the driving service market: taxi chief warns of bankruptcy wave

These are stormy times for the taxi boss. At the taxi stand in front of Berlin's Friedrichstraße train station, Michael Müller meets drivers for whose future he is fighting. Müller has a taxi company in Göttingen, but he is currently often in the capital. Because it's about a lot. Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) wants to open the market. Essential requirements for new mobility service providers such as Uber are to be deleted. The classic taxi industry sees this as a threat.

Scheuer presented in February key points for a reform of the passenger transport law. Core: The so-called return obligation for rental car companies with drivers – such as Uber – should be abolished. So far, these have to return to the main location after each trip and, unlike taxis, they are not allowed to wait for customers on the road.

For the classic taxi industry, the plans are going in the wrong direction. "We reject a system change," said Müller of the German Press Agency. "We talk about a system that is good, bad, the system has weaknesses, but it has to be about improving the existing system, we are against opening the market completely, and it would break the old regulated market."

The president of the German Taxi and Car Rental Association warned against drastic consequences for the classic taxi industry: "A reform of the passenger transport law would in the worst case lead to many small and medium-sized companies break away." We fear a wave of bankruptcies, "said Müller. "In Berlin, for example, the new illegally operating providers have already led to revenue reductions of 30 to 35 percent for the taxi companies, which is not expected to last much longer." In the US, the advent of Uber actually caused the taxi industry to collapse. "

Many taxi companies in Germany do not have the means to make losses like the new providers over the years. "Our war chest is not as well filled as Uber's."

Liberalization of the driving service market: taxi chief warns of bankruptcy wave

(Picture: dpa, Maurizio Gambarini)

Tens of thousands of taxis are on the road throughout Germany – but only very few drive electrically. The range of the vehicles is still too low, say critics. Also, the charging by cable at a station can be problematic.

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The economic situation of the industry is already difficult. "There are 90,000 vehicles in Germany – taxis and rental cars, they are spread over a little more than 40,000 companies, so the industry is extremely fragmented, the revenue is comparatively low, borderline, and many taxi companies can not and must not pay enough for their retirement plans then drive in old age. "

It is nonsensical to open the market and "cannibalize" each other in urban centers, said Müller. "As a result, the rural area is still underserved." Sharing the market would only lead providers to go where most business is – in inner cities. More vehicles especially in inner city centers are ecologically and economically meaningless. "We have to manage to achieve more mobility with as few vehicles as possible."

Above all in rural areas, intelligent solutions were needed that led to a real increase in the efficiency of public transport. "Legislators need to set clear targets – do we want to tailor the offer or leave it to the free market? That will not work."

The obligation to return must remain, said Müller. "At heart, we care about the obligation to transport – the customer's claim to be promoted must be preserved by law, even if it is only short journeys, plus the obligation to operate: The transport service must be available 24 hours a day These three obligations are inextricably linked and ensure mobility for the population as part of the public services. "

There is also a sufficient offer with the applicable return obligation. Consumer protection is given by the fact that the price for the transport service is not set by the provider, but by the municipality. "If I say now, the new providers offer it all cheaper – then you just have to look at their operating results," said Müller. "With the Ubers of this world and the offers of the automaker money is first sunk, in order to destroy the market and to monopolize afterwards."

In April, protests from taxi drivers in several German cities had significantly disrupted traffic. Are there new actions? Scheuer has set up a "search committee" for the planned reform with representatives of federal states and parliamentary groups, which should meet again in mid-September. Müller: "We will look at this and then consider whether there are more protests, the taxi drivers are certainly very solid."


. (tagsToTranslate) Andreas Scheuer (t) Fahrdienste (t) Fahrdienstvermittler (t) Mobility (t) Taxi (t) Uber