Croatians and Traffic Experts Support the New Taxi-Uber Law

Total Croatia News

Taxi drivers and their fans protest, but experts say that the new law will be an improvement.

While the public is more focused on other topics, taxi drivers’ war against Uber continues. The final outcome of this issue, which has been going on for years, should be brought about by the new law on road transportation, which has entered the final phase of the drafting process.

December was the month when citizens and all interested parties could comment on the new law. Among the comments on the government’s e-consultation website, there are many from citizens who support the liberalisation of taxi services and the better regulation of Uber’s operations in Croatia. Most of those who support liberalisation, consider the app-based operations as the biggest advantage of the modern technology. They find it to be a reliable way to control costs easily. The application is not subject to manipulation and is more accurate and simpler than taximeter.

“The new law would encourage the use of mobile apps as a measuring device, in addition to the obsolete taximeter; this is important because the app that uses GPS technology as a metering device is far more precise than a taximeter and is more transparent because it shows the driving cost in advance. At the same time, the app automatically connects you to the nearest user, which means that drivers save time and money because they do not have to drive far to the user’s location. The new proposal of the law would also abolish limitations on the number of taxi licenses, which currently create imbalances in the market, making prices higher than they should be. The abolition of the limitations would ensure equal market conditions for all and eliminate the possibility of giving licenses to privileged drivers.

Taxi transportation as it currently exists is insufficiently developed and reduced to the monopoly of Radio Taxi and other taxi associations, which regularly refuse to provide services to customers needing short-distance rides and to clients from distant areas of the city. Also, customers never know how much it will cost, since taxi drivers exploit passenger’s ignorance of a particular area and choose to drive via long routes in order to charge more. I think it is necessary to abolish the monopoly of taxi services that has been going on for years. Healthy competition is something positive and I think that people have the right to decide whom they are going to use and how much they will pay,” wrote one citizen.

“As a user of taxi services, I think that Uber is the only one which is transparent to both the users and the tax authorities, and I support the liberalisation in every way,” wrote another.

“I support the liberalisation of the taxi market that this law brings, especially the abolition of the limits on the number of licenses (which was the main generator of high prices) and the introduction of modern price calculation technologies (mobile apps and GPS as an alternative to outdated and non-transparent taximeters). Customers now immediately know how much it will cost them to reach the desired destination, which was not the case before when taximeters were used,” said a citizen.

“I support this law because the use of an app is much simpler and more transparent than a taximeter. You know in advance who the driver is and what his reputation is, and the driver also has the same information about you. I often travel and use apps wherever possible. A taximeter is definitely a relic of the past and should be abolished,” wrote one of the supporters of the new law.

Many people cannot forget many instances in which they were cheated by taxi drivers. “I fully support the liberalisation of taxi services. In Croatia, there is not a single person who has not been cheated by a taxi driver, which is evident from many comments,” wrote a citizen.
One of the biggest problems with traditional taxi drivers, according to many citizens, is the fact that they often choose whom to drive, that is, they do not want to take passengers if they consider the ride to be unprofitable. “The new law definitely has to liberalise the market so that citizens can finally exercise their rights. Transportation with Uber is considerably more profitable and reliable than by other carriers in Zagreb,” wrote another.

Among citizens who commented on the law, there are several traffic experts, including Željko Marušić. “I support this legislative proposal because it is in the interest of citizens, and hence the society as a whole, to improve traffic, tourism, economy and environmental protection. The biggest benefit is the ability to use an app in transport because the service becomes completely transparent, manipulation is eliminated and the business risk is shifted to the service provider. What is removed is the absurd situation that traffic jams and interruptions in the traffic can influence the price. This also eliminates all possible misuse of the traffic routes.

Croatia will cease to be a country renowned for the expensive taxi services, which has been a heavy burden for our tourism. Lower taxi fares from airports to tourist destinations will increase the share of tourist arriving by plane, and will improve the structure of our tourists. The greatest benefit is improving road safety, as there will be less drunk and tired drivers. With this law, users will have at their disposal cheaper and more accessible taxi services. This will contribute to reducing traffic jams and increasing the average number of people per vehicle. So, the same number of people will be transported in a smaller number of vehicles.

I welcome this law as a reform step by the government, since it stimulates the development of the economy, increases road safety and aligns Croatian legislation with the recommendations of the EU Commission and the OECD, and especially since it is supported by a large majority of citizens,” wrote Marušić.

Most of the comments that stand on the side of taxi drivers are those from the taxi drivers themselves. Of course, there are people who are not taxi drivers, but think Uber is bad. Among the comments, everything can be found: from some argued comments, copy-paste of unreadable templates, to utterly meaningless and illiterate observations bordering on conspiracy theories.

“You are letting Americans make profits of us, and we are going to be their apprentices,” wrote one commentator who said that Uber is a foreign company that will take money away from Croatia. “I do not support this law because it is beneficial to a foreign company. Uber is illegal, and drivers know that. They do not have a single document, and they are laughing to the state.”

A significant number of people who are against Uber see the app as the main problem since it is not controlled by the state. “The price of transport cannot be determined by an app, because it is not transparent and there is a possibility of manipulation – app as a means of calculating the price for taxi does not exist in Europe. The only legitimate means of calculating the price are taximeters since they are checked by state bodies. Uber’s app has a secret system for spying on users. Apps are bad,” wrote one of Uber opponents.

Interestingly, there is a massive 10-page comment which appears many times on the website. It is clear that this is a copy-paste text which has been posted by taxi drivers themselves to present their arguments why they are against the new law.


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