A heated meeting took place among taxi drivers in Reykjavík and Suðurnes yesterday evening to discuss a bill on taxi services sponsored by the Ministry of Infrastructure, RÚV reports. This morning, taxi drivers staged a protest outside the Minister’s Residence in Reykjavík.
Protest stopped by the police
Outside the Minister’s Residence in Reykjavík this morning, numerous taxi drivers staged a protest, which was eventually stopped by the police; expressing their strong objecting to a new bill on taxi services, taxi drivers drove down the street and honked their horns in front of the residence.
Drivers were not allowed to enter the government meeting inside the minister’s residence, however, but Daníel O. Einarsson – the Chairman of the Federation of Icelandic Taxi Drivers (Bandalag íslenskra leigubílstjóra) – took the time to read out a special appeal, Fréttablaðið reports. He requested that the processing of the bill be postponed.
“The Federation asks the government to grant working taxi drivers a hearing as regards the bill on taxi services,” Daníel stated. Approval of the bill would open up the door for ride-share services like Uber, which have gained a foothold abroad.
Abolition of designated taxi zones and more licences
The Ministry of Infrastructure posted the bill to the government’s consultation portal (Samráðsgátt) in July. As noted on the website, the draft of the proposed law is similar to former bills that have previously failed to pass through Parliament.
Among other things, the bill proposes the abolition of designated taxi zones and removal of restrictions on the number of work permits. It also removes the obligation for taxis to operate through designated stations and proposes alterations to requirements for those who intend to work as taxi drivers.
Worried that income will be lost in the form of foreign currency
In an interview with RÚV, Guðmundur Börkur Thorarensen, Managing Director of BSR Taxi, stated that the association was dissatisfied with the bill:
“We are concerned that a large part of the drivers’ income, 30%, will leave the country in the form of foreign currency; that it will reduce income among drivers; and make the service that we have been offering, over the past few years, much worse,” Guðmundur remarked.
Guðmundur maintained that BSR had repeatedly pointed out that more work permits were needed: “But the idea that we should just completely open it up and that there would be no filter as far as quality standards are concerned or the number of drivers, that’s never been on the table.”