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Fraud and shady constructions are a thorn in the side of the enforcement authorities.

Royal Dutch Transport (KNV) recently organized a webinar in collaboration with the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) and the Social Mobility Fund (SFM). The aim was to give participants insight into the world of digital inspections within the taxi industry. Adeel Mahmood, policy advisor at the KNV and DENK faction leader, led the webinar and gave a detailed explanation of the procedures and legislation involved.

Adeel Mahmood opened the webinar by introducing himself. “We have organized this webinar to take you into the world of digital inspections,” Mahmood began. He explained that the focus of the webinar was on the digital inspections of the On-board Computer Taxi (BCT) and the future Central Taxi Database (CDT). The upcoming transition from the Taxi On-Board Computer (BCT) to the Taxi Central Database (CDT) marks an important change in the taxi market. One of the most remarkable aspects of the CDT is the form-free nature of the data recording. This offers both taxi drivers and supervisors new opportunities and challenges.

The form-free nature of the CDT means that the registration of data is less tightly regulated compared to the current BCT. Where the BCT has a fixed structure and form for recording and storing data, the CDT offers more flexibility. Drivers and entrepreneurs can collaborate with various IT service providers who register and forward the data in a way that best suits their business operations, as long as they meet the legal requirements.

In the new system, taxi operators will collaborate with an ICT service provider that collects the data from the taxis and forwards it to the central database. This data includes driving times, rest times and other relevant information. The CDT collects this data and links it to various registers, such as the Trade Register (KVK) and the National Road Transport Agency (RDW).

inspection

Mahmood then introduced the speakers present from ILT and SFM. These experts would inform participants about the processes and procedures surrounding digital inspections, including regulations and objectives. Reneé Bosch started with a general explanation of the digital inspection processes and the legislation involved. “We want to give you a better idea of ​​how we conduct digital inspections and what we want to achieve with them,” says Bosch.

Martijn Klaassen, team leader for digital and business inspections at the ILT, provided further details about the transition from the BCT to the CDT. He highlighted the benefits of the CDT, such as real-time data collection and the ability for inspectors to work faster and more efficiently. “The CDT gives us the ability to view data immediately after the end of a shift, which means inspections take less time,” Klaassen explained.

Remco Wasser from SFM delved deeper into the practical aspects of digital inspections and the most common errors found during these inspections. He emphasized the importance of accurate registration of working and rest times and explained how entrepreneurs can comply with legal requirements. “It is essential that you observe your daily rest within 24 hours of starting your shift to comply with the legislation,” Wasser said.

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One of the key topics covered during the webinar was the transition from the BCT to the CDT. The CDT, which will be gradually introduced from 2025, provides a standardized and centralized way to collect and analyze taxi data. This change is expected to lead to more efficient supervision and less administrative burden for entrepreneurs.

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Photo: ILT - Alexandra Knipping

The webinar also provided space for interaction and questions from the participants. One of the questions was about how private use of taxis must be registered. Martijn Klaassen clarified that there is a mode in the BCT that allows private trips to be recorded and that it is important to use this option correctly.

At the end of the webinar, Adeel Mahmood thanked all speakers and participants for their time and attention. He emphasized that further questions can always be asked through the usual channels of the KNV. “We hope that you now have a better understanding of the digital inspection processes and what is coming your way,” Mahmood concluded.

Although the webinar was a success and provided participants with valuable insights into the future of digital inspections in the taxi industry, there are also concerns in the taxi sector, especially within the entry-level market. The transition to the CDT will be an important step towards a more efficient and transparent system, which will ultimately contribute to the safety and reliability of taxi transport in the Netherlands.

cat and mouse game

Yet in one recent article in Trouw It is clear that more controls are needed in the taxi market. Inspectors from the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) regularly encounter serious violations during their inspections. According to ILT team leader Martijn Klaassen, supervision is made difficult by the many shady constructions used by taxi companies. “It has become a cat-and-mouse game between the taxi drivers and the inspection services,” says Klaassen. He notes that Telegram, a popular messaging service, plays a role in perpetuating this situation on both sides.

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Photo: © Pitane Blue - Telegram

The liberalization of the taxi market has led to an increase in problems. Inspectors regularly encounter drivers who violate the rules by not taking enough rest, committing fraud and sometimes even using drugs behind the wheel. According to Klaassen, supervising the more than 33.000 taxis and more than 14.500 taxi companies is an enormous challenge for the ILT team, especially because a large part of the 53.000 taxi drivers are self-employed and work for platforms such as Bolt and Uber.

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About 80 percent of the market consists of contract transport, such as the transport of the elderly, people with disabilities and students. The remaining 20 percent are street taxis, a segment where most violations occur. The inspectorate states that approximately three-quarters of the street taxi drivers inspected violate the rules, whether consciously or not. These violations range from failure to comply with mandatory rest periods to the use of drugs while driving.

Fraud and shady constructions are a thorn in the side of the enforcement authorities. A well-known phenomenon are the so-called flop companies: shady companies with a taxi license that recruit people who need money quickly. These people are offered a loan taxi for 500 euros and supposedly become employees of the company, while in practice they operate completely independently. This allows the companies to allow unlimited people to drive on one taxi permit.

Calendar pack

In October last year, the FIOD, in collaboration with the ILT, seized 170 taxis belonging to the same taxi company. As soon as the companies realize that they are being watched, they let the company go bankrupt. “It is difficult for us to find out who is behind it, because the companies work with catchers,” Klaassen explains. Katvangers are paid to register a company in their name, so that the real owners remain out of the picture.

Klaassen's team not only carries out digital inspections by analyzing the working and rest times of taxi drivers, but also regularly visits taxi companies. This often happens if there are suspicions of violations. Inspectors are confronted with various forms of avoidance behavior. For example, taxi drivers use Telegram to warn each other in the 'Taxi Update 24/7' group about physical checks in Amsterdam.

In addition to fraud and drug use, ILT inspectors also see an increase in aggression, intimidation and threats. This problem is not unique to the taxi market. A tour by Trouw of four national inspection services shows that aggression and threats are increasing in several sectors. At the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), the supervisory authority that registers the most cases of aggression, the number of reports increased from 81 in 2020 to 130 in 2022. Last year, 125 reports were registered, which fits in with the broader social picture of hardening and more aggression in sectors such as healthcare and public transport.

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