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Proposed taxi sector reform: freer pricing, permits still required

A new government proposal recommends Finland grants taxi permits on a company-wide basis in future and not car-by-car like the current practice. The permit would be administered by the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi.

Anne Berner
Anne Berner Image: Yle

Ministry of Transport Anne Berner presented a new government reform proposal affecting the taxi industry on Monday. The current situation would be altered to administer operator permits to companies and not individual cars.

According to Berner, the proposal also suggests doing away with taxi permit quotas and taxi stand obligations.

“Taxis could be ordered on the fly, as is already the case in several other countries,” the minister said.

The proposal also contains alterations that would make it easier for taxi operators to determine their own prices. Information about the price and how it is determined must however be explained to the customer clearly and understandably before the journey begins.

The transport agency Trafi would also be given the authority to interfere in tariff disputes with regulation, if necessary.

The taxi sector reform proposals are part of a larger transport sector reorganization that Berner outlined on Monday. 

The minister said the government seeks to promote the emergence of new types of services in the transport sector and better respond to user need. Speeding up the incorporation of new forms of digital technology in business-related transport is one of the push’s specific goals.

The proposal now embarks on an obligatory round of comments. The government hopes that the bill will reach Parliament for a vote yet this year.

Opening up the market

In an effort to free up Finland's tightly regulated taxi market, the proposal outlines a more liberalised market moving forward: one in which small-scale passenger and cargo transport operators will no longer require permits. Taxi drivers that take in less than 10,000 euros per year, for example, would be exempt from the permit requirement, although their income would still be subject to income tax.

The government also wants to make it possible for other operators to enter the market.

"We want the transport sector to be a draw for young entrepreneurs, too," Berner said on Monday.

The reform would provide room for independent contractors like those that work for the online ride-sharing service Uber, a source of great debate in many circles in and outside of Finland. Earlier this month, a 23 year-old man who worked as an Uber taxi driver was found guilty by the Helsinki District Court Tuesday of illegally plying the trade.

Edit: More information on the communication of pricing policies to the customer and permit exemptions added at 17.19.

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