The municipal police of Tallinn deem it unacceptable that companies providing an app-based service, such as the transportation platform Bolt, do not check whether or not their drivers have a vehicle card certifying their right to provide taxi services.
Aivar Toompere, head of the Tallinn municipal police: "Postimees on Tuesday listed 42 app-based taxis operating under Bolt without a vehicle card, which are actually but the tip of the iceberg, or the problem. There are many of those providing the service without a vehicle card. There is no clear picture how many of them there are exactly. What we know is that four to five applications for vehicle card cancellation are submitted daily. There are now mass cancellations." He adding that app-based taxis are checked daily and hardly a day goes by without any violations detected.
"The municipal police penalized altogether 567 drivers last year, 307 of them providers of ride-hailing services," he said.
The reason why many vehicle cards are cancelled is that they significantly increase insurance payments for the vehicle compared to a regular passenger car.
Toompere said the biggest problems relating to app-based taxi services is that the employer has shifted all responsibility onto the driver and does not check whether or not the latter holds a vehicle card. If a driver is caught by the municipal police providing the service without the certification required, they will be the one penalized, not the company.
"That's where the problem currently lies - pursuant to the law, we can only hold the carrier responsible, not the mediator of the service," Toompere said, adding that the long-term objective of the municipal police is that the platforms should shoulder the responsibility of checking whether or not their drivers have the required documents.
"Presently, what we have ended up with is this gray area where a large number of drivers are breaking the law, and local governments need to spend their resources to catch them," he said.
The head of the Tallinn municipal police said that the app-based transport service provider Uber, however, diligently checks its drivers' vehicle cards.
"They also immediately react to our notifications when we have caught anyone violating the law. The situation has also somewhat improved with [the Russian transport platform] Yandex taxis, but Bolt unprecedentedly has the highest number of violations," Toompere said.
Editor: Helen Wright