The taxi industry is one of the most dynamically developing: hundreds of thousands of drivers are employed in it, and the demand for services from citizens continues to grow. Today, taxi services are used by about 30 million citizens across the country. At the same time, the market operates according to the law, which was adopted in 2010 and no longer meets modern realities. However, progress is already being made: the Ministry of Transport presented a new law on taxis in the fall, and on February 17, at a meeting of the HRC, it announced that the bill would soon be finally submitted to the government. Details – in the material “Izvestia”.
Industry on afterburner
The need for a branch law has been discussed in the professional community for a long time. The last changes to the relevant legislative acts were made 10 years ago. However, since then, significant changes have taken place in this area, primarily related to the entry into the market of taxi aggregators. And now the regulation of the industry needs to be reformed.
Over the past years, three convocations of the State Duma have discussed changes in sectoral legislation. However, in the end, the new law was never adopted: one of the drafts reached the second reading in 2018 and was rejected because the legislative initiative could not keep up with the rapid changes in the industry.
Harness long, go fast
Disputes around the professional level of drivers, especially migrant drivers, pricing and transportation safety are regularly conducted in the media and social networks. A paradoxical situation has developed on the taxi market: large aggregators have become the main market players, but at the same time they do not bear any legal responsibility for the actions of drivers working on their behalf – they are simply not taken into account in the current legislation.
“First of all, it is now necessary to regulate the activities of the so-called aggregators, which are called “taxi ordering service” in the law. At the moment, these companies are actually engaged in organizing transportation activities on a turnkey basis, but at the same time they deny their belonging to the transport industry, ”says Elena Grashchenkova, a human rights activist in the field of passenger taxis from the regional public organization Road Safety Union.
Meanwhile, drivers have their own problems. In particular, self-employed drivers are completely outside the law and are forced to use complex legal schemes in order to be able to work legally.
“The key problem of the industry is the lack of a balance of interests and responsibilities of market participants. The taxi industry is probably the only one in the country that has not been systematically and long-term regulated. The imbalance leads to an increase in social tension and a deterioration in the situation with the safety of transportation. It is necessary to ensure the safety of passengers by increasing the requirements for drivers and aggregators. Aggregators now do not bear the proper level of responsibility to passengers and drivers – first of all, this concerns compensation for damage in case of an accident. In addition, the activities of foreign companies in this market need additional regulation,” said State Duma deputy Alexander Tolmachev.
On February 17, at a meeting of the HRC, a representative of the Ministry of Transport announced that the taxi bill would be finally submitted to the government within the next month. Perhaps it will be the solution to the problems of the industry, since, according to the developers themselves, it is a compromise and takes into account the interests of all market participants, including taxi drivers, aggregators and passengers.
The draft law, prepared by the Ministry of Transport, introduces the concept of a “passenger taxi ordering service” – not only telephone dispatchers, but also aggregators fall under it – and also clearly describes their obligations. The service for ordering a passenger taxi must have a representative office in the Russian Federation, and its organizers – both legal entities and individuals – must be located on the territory of the Russian Federation. In those regions where aggregators have a lot of orders, branches and representative offices of these companies will be opened. Large-scale digitalization of the industry is expected, information about aggregators and their status should be open, but most importantly, the taxi order service should be entered in the regional register of carriers.
The bill also clearly defines the rights of drivers and carriers. In particular, at a meeting of the HRC, a representative of the Ministry of Economic Development noted that the bill allows the self-employed to obtain permission to carry out activities in the field of taxi transportation. Since individuals have fewer opportunities to comply with the requirements of transport legislation, part of their responsibilities will be assigned to aggregators. According to the speaker, the active use of self-employment in the taxi industry provides more earning opportunities for citizens. To date, 4 million self-employed people have been registered, according to the Ministry of Labor, their number will grow and amount to 10-11 million self-employed, and, according to the Federal Tax Service, every fifth self-employed person works in the taxi industry.
The bill provides for the responsibility of the main market participants for the quality and safety of the services provided. In particular, the responsibility of the taxi ordering service in the event of an accident is established. As a result, taxi ordering services, including the aggregator, will be interested in monitoring the professionalism of drivers.
“Ensuring safety during the transportation of passengers, including in a taxi, is certainly a very important task, the state should pay great attention to this topic. As soon as the relevant bill is submitted for consideration by the State Duma, we will carefully study it in the relevant committee, with the involvement of specialists and experts. I think that, first of all, we should talk about increasing responsibility and strengthening control over the activities of everyone who is somehow connected with passenger transportation. Continuing the topic, let me remind you that the State Duma is already considering a bill to ban persons with an outstanding criminal record from working as drivers in taxis and in passenger transport,” said State Duma deputy Oleg Garin.
The law is expected to come into force on September 1, 2022.
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