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The conundrum of traditional yellow taxis vs private vehicles using smart apps

Oct 30,2021 - Last updated at Oct 30,2021

Yellow taxis, which are licensed to operate, are one of the traditional and recognised means of transporting passengers in return for specific fees that are calculated based on the distance. However, what is surprising is that for about six years, private vehicles using smart applications owned by international companies have also transported passengers for fees, in which this reflected negatively on the licensed transportation sector and led to chaos.

Originally, Article (4/C) of the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Regulation No. (104) of 2008 prohibited private vehicles to operate for a fee. However, and due to the chaotic situation mentioned above, a new regulation was drafted and got into force in 2018; The Regulation of Organising Passengers Transport Through the Use of Smart Applications No. (9) of 2018. At the same year an amended took place under Regulation No. (58) of 2018, in which Article (2) redefined “The Car” so as to include private vehicles in using smart applications to transport passengers for a fee. 

In consequence to the above regulation, currently there are 13,000 private vehicles allowed to transport passengers in Jordan through using smart applications, where pursuant to the above-mentioned regulation, each registered company shall not have more than 6000 registered private vehicles using its smart application. Accordingly, two international companies each have 5750 registered private vehicles using their smart applications, and four local companies each have 375 registered private vehicles using their smart applications. Each of the six companies annually pay JD100,000 as a license fee to the Land Transport Regulatory Commission pursuant to this regulation which requires that each company shall annually pay JD100,000 as a license fee for the first 3,000 registered private vehicles using its smart application, and JD75 for each registered private vehicle above the 3,000 registered private vehicles. In addition, the registered private vehicles owned by Jordanian citizens, each shall annually pay JD400 to the Land Transport Regulatory Commission, and the age of their vehicles should not exceed five years from the date of manufacture.  

It is noteworthy to mention that all of the 13,000 registered private vehicles are free to use three smart applications simultaneously; which means that no real futuristic competition among the above six companies will take place in order to have more or less quantity of registered private vehicles. It is also not evident whether those companies have also other unregistered private vehicles or not! Above and beyond, there are at present approximately 23 unregistered smart applications that are used by unregistered private vehicles.

On the other hand, the traditional yellow taxi is regulated differently. At present, 17,000 yellow taxis are allowed to transport passengers in Jordan. Each of the yellow taxi drivers shall annually pay JD200 to the Land Transport Regulatory Commission, and the age of their vehicles should not exceed twelve years from the date of manufacture. However, they are not monitored in the same way as the registered private vehicles using smart applications, where the latter have strict conditions to be followed, such as no smoking, no eating food, proper grooming, good dealing with passengers and cleanliness of the car, and in case of a violation to such conditions their licenses could be withdrawn. Apparently, such strict conditions raise the level of service provided by the registered private vehicles using smart applications. 

In addition to the abovementioned, there are other types of registered taxis in Jordan, such as Al Mumayaz Taxi in Amman, Arena Taxi in Irbid, and other taxis that are working in various governorates other than the Capital Amman. Those taxis entered into investment contracts and were required to work on a call center system and paid an investment allowance of more than 10 million dinars to the Land Transport Authority and Amman Municipality before the existence of the smart applications companies in Jordan. For example, Al Mumayaz Taxi, who has 400 vehicles, is required to have the age of vehicles not exceeding eight years from the date of manufacture. It used to annually pay JD1,679 to Amman Municipality for each vehicle, and in 2018, the payment was reduced to JD500.

In light of the above and in reality, we find an imbalance in the required conditions and the level of service provided by private vehicles that use smart applications compared to traditional yellow taxis and other taxis. Accordingly, and for the public interest, in order to promote, organise this important sector, and to improve the level of services provided to citizens and guests of our dear country, I suggest the following:

Full control over this sector only by the Ministry of Transport through the Land Transport Regulatory Commission.

The unregistered private vehicles using unregistered smart applications shall be stopped immediately through the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship.

The mechanism of the annual license fee of the smart applications companies shall be changed through reducing the annual fee and to include a charge per trip (for example 20 piasters) which shall be paid electronically and directly to the Land Transport Regulatory Commission. 

Develop a mechanism for the smart applications companies concerning the charges taken from the private vehicles using smart applications.

Develop a mechanism to merge all types of taxis to become yellow taxi.

After merging all types of taxi to become yellow taxi, the Land Transport Regulatory Commission shall create a unified smart application for yellow taxis (Yellow Taxi Application).

Develop a legislation for the yellow taxi to standardise its provisions, including strict conditions for raising the level of service as is the case in registered private vehicles using smart applications.

The legislation shall give a two years grace period for yellow taxis to improve their level of service, where no fees shall be taken from them during the grace period, except the annual fee.

Create an operating room at the Land Transport Regulatory Commission to monitor and control both of yellow taxis and private vehicles using smart applications.

It remains to say: The motivation and purpose of this article is to organise this important sector, to set a guideline to control its matters in all aspects and to advance the level of its services, taking into account the overlapping responsibilities and multiplicity in the authorities concerned with its matters. Above all, is our feeling of responsibility and true partnership in the reform process for the good of the country and the citizen.

The writer is attorney at law and professor of maritime commercial law at the University of Jordan. He contributed the article to The Jordan Times

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