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Taxi law reform sparks competition for fares from Helsinki Airport

Instead of a single queue of taxis offering rides at identical prices, airport customers can now compare fares from various firms.

Vantaan Taksin hinnasto Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasemalla.
During peak rush hours, taxis at Helsinki Airport pick up about 300-400 customers per hour. Image: Berislav Jurišić / Yle

The taxi queue arrangement at Helsinki Airport has changed quite a bit over the weekend. Instead of a single, long line of taxis waiting for customers, there are now four lanes reserved for specific companies, each offering slightly different pricing schemes.

The airport set up the new arrangement before Finland's taxi law reforms went into effect on Sunday and started using it on Monday. The first row of taxis, the one closest to Terminal 2's arrivals doors, belongs to Lähitaksi, while the second row is reserved for Vantaan Taksi.

The third row is devoted to Taksi Helsinki vehicles, while a fourth row was still empty on Monday, one day after the reforms went into effect.

On-screen price lists

The major difference in the new arrangement is that each of the various firms now offers customers different fares, with prices marked on video screens along each row.

Each company's screen shows a starting fare and how much each kilometre costs, as well as fixed-fare deals, and it is up to the customer to decide.

A driver who works for Vantaan Taksi said that, so far, customers do not seem to be taking the price information into consideration very often.

"People don't seem to care about the price signs. They just walk to the first car in the row closest to them," the driver said.

Habits may be slow to change

Indeed, as a large mass of people poured out of the arrivals doors, most passengers searching for taxis did not appear to be looking at the various signs and lanes but instead looked at the length of each queue.

Another Vantaan Taksi driver, Ahti Valkeapää was a bit more hopeful about the situation.

"When customers learn to compare prices they will definitely find the ride which suits them best, and the confusion will end," Valkeapää said.

A Taksi Helsinki driver took a stroll by the taxi screens to see what the competition is charging.

"Why do we have the highest starting price?" he wondered aloud, shaking his head while walking back to his car.

Last week Taksi Helsinki announced the company has decided to .

Fees and other players

The prices between firms vary quite a bit, particularly regarding initial fees.

Depending on which firm is chosen, simply getting into a taxi at the airport costs between 8.50-12 euros, while price-per-kilometre fees range from 1.39-1.55 euros.

Airport customers can also choose flat fares to downtown Helsinki, which ranged between 39-43 euros on Monday.

The empty fourth taxi queue is expected to be filled by taxis from other firms and independent operators.

Another firm, which more than likely played a role in prompting government to change taxi laws, Uber has not yet returned to Finland since it took its drivers off the roads last summer.

Yle News asked Uber Finland and Baltics' senior communications associate Outi Sjöman on Tuesday when the company plans to re-enter the Finnish market.

"We haven't announced the launch date just yet," Sjöman said.

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