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Will Tbilisi City Hall’s Initiative Affect on Taxi Service Prices

Taxi drivers will be obliged to take licenses  in Tbilisi. At Tbilisi Government’s meeting, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze noted that the quality of taxi services will be improved and certain standards will be introduced stage by stage.

Tbilisi residents and guests deserve high-quality, safe and comfortable services. Therefore, we will bolster improvement of these services”, Tbilisi Mayor noted.

At this stage, legal grounds are being prepared for issueing taxi service licenses. Registration procedures will become mandatory, Kakha Kaladze said.

Irakli Zarkua, Tbilisi Council majority member, noted that at the first stage, taxis registration procedures will be introduced, while specific regulations will be developed later. This sector will be subjected to regulations. Opposition is trying to dramatize the situation in the society and cultivate nihilism to gain political benefits, he added.

The City Hall’s initiative  will bring order in taxi registration issues and we will know how many taxis work in the capital city, Zarkua said.

«We also plan to determine certain criteria to make transportation safe and comfortable for the capital city residents and guests. This is an widespread method and taxis are to satisfy certain criteria. After improvement of registration issues, we will determine how to organize this field. At this stage this field is in chaos», Irakli Zarkua noted.

For registration, taxi drivers should submit ID card, driving license and a registration certificate (the so-called technical passport) of an automobile, he said.

Regulations in this sector will be introduced later, he added.

“This sector cannot be left without regulations. Regulations mean experience. It is inadmissible that taxi driver, who took a  driving license yesterday, serve the capital city residents. This is risky. Therefore, we try to carry out the policy, which will best fit a major part of our society, whether this is popular or not”, Zarkua said.

David Meskhishvili, president of Transport and Roads Association, talks about wrong transport policy. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze has proposed the initiative timely, however, before taxis, public transport sector should be improved, he noted.

“In this case it is necessary to determine priorities and ensure consecutive working process. For example, taxi regulations will definitely raise service tariffs. Today average tariff makes up 3-4 GEL and it may rise to 7-8 GEL. As a result, the demand will grow for public transport (bus and subway). For example, today about 550 buses serve the capital city and after a growth in taxi tariffs, the capital city will need about 1000 buses to prove normal services. Therefore, we should develop public transport first, create alternative platforms and after this make taxi as a luxury service”, Meskhishvili said.

President of the Association of Transport and Roads appraises the announced general changes positively, including the parking improvement issues, however, he sees problems in this direction too. David Meskhishvili told the Commersant that building permits are issued for high-rise buildings, which do not include parking spaces.

“For example, the territory near Kekelidze, on Nino Zhvania Street, active construction works are being carried out and none of the buildings has parking space. I believe vehicle parking issues should be improved in this direction and issuance of building permits should be tightened”, Meskhishvili said and outlined two important issues regarding changes announced by Kakha Kaladze. Transport policy will be useless without consecutiveness, on the one hand, and structural changes should be carried out at Municipal Office of Transport and Transport Company.

“We back several initiatives  by Kakha Kaladze if they are implemented in right way. However, it is unclear for us that Tbilisi Mayor continues working on the mentioned jointly with Narmania’s people. There are people at Municipal Service of Transport and Transport Company, who have led the situation to chaos. If structural changes take place we are ready for cooperation”, Meskhishvili noted.

What do taxi companies think about the announced changes and what changes are expected on the market?

Ejection of a part of taxi companies from the market,  deficit of automobiles, growing tariffs, development of alternative private services – this is the small list of problems that may arise before taxi companies in the near future.

Nika Khoperia, founder of 200-200 taxi company, explains that the announced changes will make taxi vehicles deficient and raise service tariffs. “I think the mentioned changes are timely. The main thing is that these changes should not be sharp. Supposedly, top age limit will be imposed and parameters will be introduced for automobiles”, Khoperia said.

Tamar Darakhvelidze, representative of AgroTaxi, explains that expected regulations should be analyzed very well. She supposes that taxi drivers will fail to get adapted to the coming changes. Namely, a major part of them may fail to satisfy new criteria and withdraw from the market, she said.

“We welcome the announced changes. We have always tried to improve services. And now responsibility will also grow , naturally. It should be noted that any changes will cause protests. Therefore, the coming regulations should be analyzed very well. Drivers are expected to face difficulties, because a major part of them will not be able to satisfy new criteria. Taxis frequently create traffic jams, pollute environment, while new regulations may bolster a resolution of the mentioned problems”, Darakhvelidze said.

Levan Tavartkiladze, founder of Taxi 5 company, explains that these changes were planned two years before, under the ruling of former Mayor David Narmania. Therefore, working on this direction started long ago. The mentioned regulations may bolster a development of alternative private services, he said.

“We have many similar samples in Europe. For example, online program Uber, which enables taxi drivers to serve clients without plates on the roof”, Tavartkiladze said.

Introduction of regulations may leave many people unemployed. Changes should be applied refer to disordered automobiles, Tavartkiladze noted.

“30% of the employed are pensioners, however, I believe top age limit introduction is also very important”, Tavarktiladze said.