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Estonia to regulate Uber and Taxify ride-sharers

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PHOTO: KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

This week, Riigikogu deliberates a bill to regulate the ride-sharing service in use in Estonia for nearly a year (Uber, Taxify, Hopp and Wisemile) by imposing rules of agreed transport.

Riigikogu economic affairs committee member Kalle Palling (Reform) says the bill sees agreed transport as carriage of passengers for fee in cars with up to nine seats.

«Agreed transport is not public transport not taxi service and it will be subject to clear and strict requirements such as the orders to only be electronic,» said Mr Palling.

Agreed transport will enjoy none of public transport benefit such as the bus lanes. The electronic agreed transport system must display to client the app, the name of the driver, and the registration plate of the vehicle.

Mr Palling said these data are vital for client to make an intelligent choice. Also, the system needs to display the method the fee is calculated.

«For the transport, the system needs to display all fees so as to avoid surprises by additional fees. Likewise, the system must display the end price if the end destination is determined as the order is made,» explained Mr Palling.

«By decisively moving forward, Estonia may be among the first countries in the EU – maybe the very first – to regulate ride sharing by law. We want to keep the legal environment such that the new economic segment would maximally benefit the people,» added Mr Palling.

According to PwC, the five main sharing sectors (peer-to-peer financing, web-based staff recruiting, home accommodation, ride sharing and video streaming) have the potential to boost their value from current $15bn to $355bn by 2025. «Definitely, Estonia desires to be among the first to be a partaker of the development of the sector,» said the politician.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian parliament is already proceeding a ride-sharing bill.

Responding to criticism by taxi companies, Mr Palling promised that all players will definitely be involved in the regulation process, including the carriers, the police and agencies like Tax Board who is already in diligent cooperation with the sharing segment.

He said that complementing the bill will be possible between first and second readings.

«Deliberating the topic of ride-sharing as draft legislation makes sense,» commented Taxify co-founder Martin Villig.

Mati Saar, chief of a leading Estonia taxi company Tulika Takso said neither they of the passenger carries union have been included in the preparation of the bill.

Should the legislators decide that passenger carriage in vehicles of up to nine seats is not related to big risk and that control over carriage of people could be substantially loosened, taxi companies would definitely want to have a say noted Mr Saar.

«Whether to do away with activity licence for entrepreneurs, vehicle card requirement for vehicles, the service provider card requirement to enter into force on April 1st, or allow measuring the distance for invoice by a smart device? The taxi sector is ready to support all of that,» said Mr Saar.

He added it would surely be unjust if with provision of the same service, some market players have remarkably heavy obligations laid on it by the state, and for the others mere word of honour is enough.

Last week, Estonian police for the first time clearly voiced that passenger carriage without the licence described in public transport act is violation of law and that punishments were pending.

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