Tbilisi City Hall plans to introduce regulations on the taxi service.
The initiative has caused a negative assessment of stakeholders – the private taxi companies and cab drivers try to counter their arguments but they even further confirm the need for regulation of the sector. In particular, representatives of the taxi companies do not agree with the opinion of the mayor’s office about the need to ban a license for the cars produced before 2000. They also believe that the introduction of regulations would lead to an increase in tariffs and the monopolization of the market, etc.
However, if we familiar with the debate on this topic in the social networks, it becomes clear that the majority of consumers consider it necessary to tighten control over the sector, even if it leads to higher prices – the majority believes that in the case of improving the quality of services and security, one can pay for a taxi more than now.
As reported, in 2017 a compulsory registration of taxis will be introduced in Tbilisi. At the initiative of the City Hall a special regulation will be created stipulating the requirements for taxi drivers – standardswill be introduced, without observing which the driver will not be given the right to work. According to the market players, the introduction of new regulations contain potential risk for them, as they may lead to job losses, a sharp reduction in the market, and most importantly, the rise in prices for services.
In the words of Vano Todua, Director of “Omega Taxi” company, the introduction of regulations is generally useful but the mayor’s office has to set the right priorities.
“However, the regulations offered by the Mayor’s Office do not meet the standards, existing in Georgia. Well, for example, it’s wrong to limit the age of the car. Today, Georgia is not a country where it is necessary to introduce such high standards, as the Euro-3. The roads in the country are not suitable even for Euro 1, Euro 3 cars will not be able to ride on them at all. The introduction of this kind of regulationwill primarily harm consumers – taxi services will be unavailable to them. At the moment the taxi business is directly tied to the users and because of the low price is considered to be the most convenient and cheapest way to get around the city. If this regulation is adopted, the situation will get worse in the country,“ – Todua says.
He notes that there are regulations that need to be introduced.
“The current taxi cab requires careful selection. In particular, appropriate behavior, knowledge of the city, the presence of inspection, etc should be required from the taxi drivers. But this will also lead to an increase in tariffs for taxis,” – he adds.
Nika Khoperia, the founder of “200-200” company, partially agrees with the City Hall’s initiative . He believes the technical inspection should be introduced but it cannot be done in the current environment.
“Today, 95% of the taxis run on gas, but there is no body to check these vehicles. On this basis, it is unclear how the government intends to implement this regulation, “- he says.
In his opinion, the licensing of taxis would lead to monopolization of the market, disrupt the balance between supply and demand and a shortage of taxis. He notes that most of the possible regulations will lead to higher prices for taxi services.
“The market is going to die, because few people will be able to pay so dearly for travel in a taxi,” – he notes.
According to the founder of the company “Elite Taxi” Levan Gagunashvili, the introduction of vehicle inspection and licensing is necessary, but within certain limits that will not affect earnings of taxi drivers.
“All these regulations will necessarily lead to higher prices but all cars must be technically sound, – he stresses.