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Police sting finds fault in over half of inspected taxis

A surprise surveillance check of 106 taxis in the capital city area discovered numerous shortcomings. Only 43 fulfilled all of the required criteria.

The sting focused on taxis at Helsinki Airport and in the city of Espoo. Image: Mikko Savolainen / Yle

A police sting of taxis carrying customers in the capital city's Uusimaa region Friday found fault with over half of the operators that were pulled over for inspection.

Police inspected 106 vehicles, and only 43 were judged to be in compliance with rules governing the trade in Finland. The sting was concentrated on areas near the Helsinki Airport and the city of Espoo.

The most common shortcoming the police encountered was the absence of visible data on the taxi licensee's information, the driver's name and price information. Finland's new transport services act requires that each vehicle operating as a taxi has this information clearly displayed, where the passenger can easily read it.

Three of the taxis inspected did not have a taxi meter, and two of the drivers were wanted as suspects in crimes. One driver pulled over was suspected of aggravated drink driving.

In most of the cases, road safety issues such as valid driver's licenses and proper vehicle condition were judged to be sufficient. Almost all of the drivers were also in possession of a taxi driver permit, and each of the taxis that were checked had the appropriate operating licenses.

Ten traffic police from Eastern Uusimaa and six from Western Uusimaa took place in the police operation. They were accompanied by one tax inspector from the Tax Administration and representatives of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom.

2,000 new drivers since deregulation

Traficom reported in February that the number of vehicles being used as taxis increased by 25 percent – roughly 2,000 vehicles – since the launch of the taxi services reform in July 2018.

Among other things, the reform opened up pricing to competition, paving the way for more taxi entrepreneurs and the return of ride-share services like Uber. It also did away with former so-called patrol areas, allowing cabs to roam freely as long as their license is up to date.