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Newspaper: New bill would strip Taxify's ability to rent cars to rideshare drivers

Taxify is an Estonian-developed taxi-hailing and rideshare app that has spread to multiple countries around the world.
Taxify is an Estonian-developed taxi-hailing and rideshare app that has spread to multiple countries around the world. Source: (Eero Vabamägi/Postimees/Scanpix)

While the government has been changed out and changes have been made in Riigikogu committees, the Economic Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu has continued to work on changes to the Public Transport Act, referred to as the Uber bill. An updated version of the bill will include a slew of changes compared to the previous version, one of the most important of which would no longer allow the use of rental cars for ridesharing.

The latest version of the bill has removed the 16,000-euro rideshare turnover cap, as according to committee member Siiim Kiisler (IRL) it would not be practical, reported daily Eesti Päevaleht (link in Estonian).

According to paper's information, the turnover cap has been replaced in the bill by new restrictions, for example that the driver providing the rideshare must possess a B-category driver's license and be the owner or user responsible for the vehicle being driven. That means that if, for example, a spouse wants to use the family car to provide rideshare services but is not listed as the responsible user in the vehicle's paperwork, they may not do so.

Uber Estonia CEO Enn Metsar noted that every restriction must fulfill the public interest, however this particular restriction does not do so. "The requirement that the driver be a vehicle's owner or responsible user limits the availability of the service," said Metsar.

Taxify Estonia director Steve Truumets likewise noted that the restriction was unreasonable as it wouldn't allow for even members of the same family to share a vehicle. "All drivers with the legal basis for driving a car per EU rules should be able to provide rideshare [services]," he found.

Another important change in the bill is would ba the use of rental cars for providing rideshare services. This change would not affect Uber, who does not own any rental cars, however it would affect the Estonian-developed Taxify, part of whose business is based on offering rental cars to those drivers who want to earn extra money driving customers but do not have their own vehicle with which to do so.

Truumets did not comment regarding exactly how the losing of their car rental service would affect business for Taxify. "We'll wait for the new law to be adopted, after which we will find an appropriate legal solution to continue with rental cars either ourselves or with the help of our partners," he noted.

In Tulika Takso board member Mati Saar's opinion, the bill submitted for review in the spring addressed specific principles which would distinguish rideshares from traditional taxi services, however it is unclear what the new version is even regulating anymore.

"Essentially, based on what is written, this is a branch of taxi services to which different requirements from those of taxi services would apply," Saar commented regarding rideshares. "Worthy of note is the highlighted single difference from taxi services: they can be ordered only via IT platform. This claim is not true at all, as an analogous service can be ordered from most taxi companies as well."

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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