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The discussion surrounding taxis in Amsterdam remains complex and comprehensive.

In Amsterdam there is a complex discussion about the role and regulation of taxis in a city that strives for less car traffic. During the debate 'The Amsterdam taxi war' in De Balie, Melanie van der Horst, Alderman for Traffic, Transport and Air Quality, emphasized that taxis play a crucial role in keeping the city accessible, especially when public transport is not available. She advocates a fair and regulated market, in which traditional taxis and platform taxis, such as Uber, are treated equally.

Van der Horst acknowledged the pain and frustration among taxi drivers, caused by unfair competition with platform taxis that are less strictly regulated. “The market now often feels very unfair because platform taxis have come in large numbers but are not being held to the rules in the same way as regular taxis,” she stated. This problem is not limited to Amsterdam but is recognizable in several cities.

"What really matters is that we have different rules for the different parties in the city. That means that people, including drivers, in the boarding market now really think 'Hello, we have rules and Amsterdam enforces us, but the others do not'."

Van der Horst acknowledged the complaints from Uber drivers about their working conditions and the tendency to blame the municipality for these problems. She said: “Drivers at Uber are angry with Uber about certain working conditions for which they sometimes blame the municipality.” The councilor emphasized that structural changes the help of the national government is needed. “We want to change the market with clear and fairer rules, opportunities to improve quality and, where necessary, limit the number of taxis. We need The Hague for that,” says van der Horst.

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Nevertheless, Amsterdam itself has already taken steps to improve the situation. For example, 48 additional taxi stands have been added in recent months at seven locations in the city, such as Rokin and Prins Hendrikkade. These measures are intended to prevent taxis from driving around in circles looking for passengers. In addition, the municipality is working with the taxi industry to identify and implement further improvements.

A central problem, according to van der Horst, is the different regulations for the different taxi parties in the city. This leads to tensions between drivers of regular taxis and platform taxis. “Drivers in the boarding market feel unfairly treated because they have to adhere to stricter rules, while platform taxis have more freedom. At the same time, Uber drivers are angry about their working conditions and sometimes blame the municipality for this,” van der Horst explained.

Photo: © Pitane Blue - Taxi stand in Amsterdam

Van der Horst also emphasizes the need for cooperation with the national government to implement these changes. She indicates that the city of Amsterdam does not have all the necessary powers to regulate the market independently. That is why support and cooperation from The Hague is crucial to effectively implement the proposed measures.

Walther Ploos van Amstel, Professor in City Logistics at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, calls the new developments a positive step for mobility in the city. Suzanne Egging, Ambassador of the UN Convention on Disability and expert by experience, emphasizes that better regulation is essential for holders of GPK permits (Disabled Parking Card). “These people rely on their vehicle to get around and cannot park for miles,” Egging said.

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In addition, Egging criticizes the exclusion of Valys taxis, which are essential for people from outside Amsterdam. As an example, she mentions Schiphol, where Valys taxis have to load and unload between regular vehicles, which often causes problems for wheelchair buses. “The larger GPK spaces are constantly occupied by motorists who 'just drop someone off'. The other places are too tight, causing the loading platform of the bus to be constantly blocked,” says Egging.

The discussion surrounding taxis in Amsterdam remains complex and comprehensive. The municipality strives for a fairer regulated market in which both traditional taxis and platform taxis have a level playing field. The coming period will reveal how these changes will unfold and what the actual impact will be on both taxi drivers and passengers.

'The taxi war'

During the debate on Wednesday, June 12, journalist and writer of 'The taxi war', Sander 't Sas, crime journalist Paul Vugts, former director of Taxi-Direct, Peter Fonkert, former taxi driver Jan den Hartog, together with KNV chairman Bertho Eckhardt, looked back on the spiral of violence in which the Amsterdam taxi world found itself twenty years ago. 

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