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Citizen’s opinions of the taxi reforms are mostly positive – transport-as-a-service thinking is on the rise

11/13/18, 8:00 AM

People are familiar with the changes brought to the taxi sector by the Act on Transport Services, and they are for the most part satisfied with service quality – these are the preliminary findings of a questionnaire survey of Finnish citizens relating to the changes to the taxi sector. The price level is considered reasonable, but there is a fear of overpricing. Accessibility and safety are of concern particularly to special groups. The reforms have also brought new transport service packages into the discussion.

The Finnish Transport Safety Agency has carried out a questionnaire survey in order to investigate different groups’ experiences of the changes brought about by the Act on Transport Services. The surveys were carried out after the new act came into force in August-September 2018. The first results now available at the preliminary findings from the responses of citizens as a whole. The opinions of particular groups were investigated in more detail through separate surveys. The Finnish Transport Safety Agency is publishing now the fresh findings from the preliminary survey data, but the complete, analysed results will be ready towards the end of the year and will be published in summary form.

One objective of the Act on Transport Services has been to create customer-orientated transport services, and the survey indicates that new transport service packages, in which the user creates their own combination of, for example, public transport, taxis and shared cars, were familiar to over 40% of respondents nationwide, and 60% of respondents in the capital region. Around one in thirty respondents were already using this kind of service package, and around one in eight had considered using one.

“Familiarity with transport service packages is surprisingly high bearing in mind that these are experimental services that are currently available only in certain areas. The survey showed that interest was particularly high among households that do not own a car – over one third had considered using one of these service packages. Transport as a service is an idea that seems to be finding its way into the consciousness of more and more people”, reports Special Adviser Hanna Strömmer.

Changes to the taxi sector are well-known, satisfaction with service quality is high

According to the preliminary results of the nationwide survey, nearly 90% of respondents were satisfied overall with the quality of taxi services. The changes brought to the taxi sector by the Act on Transport Services were well-known, especially among those that regularly use taxis. Attitudes towards the opening up of the taxi markets were divided evenly among respondents – one third thought it was good thing, one third thought it was not, and one third were neutral on the matter.
Taxi availability was considered to be good by three quarters of respondents.

Price level is considered to be reasonable, but excessive rates affect the reputation of the whole sector

According to the survey, respondents felt that the safety level of taxis was good, and 85% thought that this level had been maintained following the changes to the law. In the capital region, however, one fifth felt that the safety level had dropped, and there were fears on issues such as overpricing.

“The unregulated pricing of taxi journeys requires the passenger to pay closer attention and to compare prices, but we want to especially stress the responsibility of the taxi drivers so that fears of being scammed can be brought under control and overpricing would not take place. The law states that the entrepreneur is responsible for providing clear information about the price before the journey begins”, emphasises Head of Department Kimmo Pylväs.

“According to the survey, taxi rates are generally considered to be reasonable, but individual cases of overpricing are highlighted and they affect the reputation of the whole sector”, Pylväs adds.

Two thirds of survey respondents felt that they had received the needed information and were able to understand the overall cost of the taxi journey before the journey began. The survey results show that three quarters of respondents felt that the price level has remained the same, although in small municipalities it was more commonly felt that prices had risen slightly. A questionnaire survey carried out before the changes to the law indicated that people were expecting the changes to lead to a slight decrease in taxi rates.

The needs of special groups should be taken into consideration at all levels

For special groups requiring taxi services, the reforms have generated discussion, and problems of accessibility and long waiting times are prominent in the preliminary results of the questionnaire survey for special groups. Around half were satisfied with the quality of taxi services as a whole, while the other half were not. Of those that require a disabled-access vehicle, around one third felt that availability was poor and that the situation had deteriorated. This situation was more serious in small municipalities.

From the safety perspective, the most significant risks for special groups that came up in the preliminary data were an increased lack of the required assistance and the insufficient safety of disabled access vehicles. Respondents to the survey particularly raised the problems of the risk of injury caused by poor driving style, wheelchairs not being sufficiently secured, and people not knowing how to use lifts and ramps correctly.

“The survey indicates that the problems faced by special groups mostly relate to the handling of statutory transportation within the framework of tendering by Kela and local municipalities, but of course the consideration of the safety needs of special groups relates to all taxi entrepreneurs and taxi drivers. These problems should indeed be tackled at every level in order to ensure that taxi use is problem free for special groups as well”, says Director General of Road Transport Marko Sillanpää.

The national survey was carried out in August-September 2018 and involved interviews with 800 taxi users. For the survey directed at special groups, an extra 400 citizens were interviewed. The questionnaire survey also involved interviews with taxi, coach and goods transport entrepreneurs, as well as taxi drivers. The Finnish Transport Safety Agency will publish a summary of the results for all groups once the analysis is complete. The survey is part of the monitoring of the impact of the Act on Transport Services and it will be repeated in 2020 and 2022.

Additional information:
www.trafi.fi/taksimatkustajalle
Head of Department Kimmo Pylväs, tel. (reform of Act on Transport Services)
Special Adviser Hanna Strömmer, tel. (research)
Special Adviser Timo Kärkkäinen, tel. +358 29 5345 380, timo.karkkainen (at) trafi.fi (technical requirements for disabled access vehicles)