NMa Allows Cooperation in Small and Medium-Sized Taxi Control Centres
Individual taxi operators, organised within small and medium-sized taxi control centres, may cooperate with each other, according to the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) in its 'Policy Rules for Taxi Control Centres'. Using the policy rules, taxi operators and taxi control centres can determine on the basis of concrete examples how far they can cooperate in accordance with the Competition Act. NMa gave consideration, in particular, to so-called 'prior bookings': transport by taxi which the customer arranges beforehand by telephone.
Although such cooperation restricts competition in some respects, it is permissible up to a market share of at most 30%. A joint venture such as this may result in considerable (cost) advantages. Since a taxi control centre operates under a single name and uses a single telephone number, the answering of calls and the allocation of trips is done efficiently. As a result, the taxi operators have fewer 'empty' kilometres. Furthermore, individual taxi operators can share the considerable investment in the taxi control centre. The customer benefits from this, for instance, due to the shorter waiting periods, more certainty with regard to service and lower rates.
For as long as the market share of a taxi control centre is less than 30%, it is permissible to use minimum rates, for instance in advertising. This ensures that customers are well informed. However, taxi control centres may not impose a single rate on all the affiliated taxi operators. This is prohibited because price competition between the taxi operators (as individual entrepreneurs) would be eliminated as a result, within the taxi control centre. A measure such as this is not necessary to enable customers to benefit from the advantages of a taxi control centre.
Taxi control centres with a market share which exceeds 30% may not enter into agreements with regard to the allocation of trips and minimum rates. The market parties must make their own assessment, for instance with the help of legal advisers, as to whether a taxi control centre with a higher market share may nevertheless enter into such agreements, using the criteria provided in the policy rules. Competitors may compel the taxi control centre to pass on the advantages of cooperation within the control centre to customers.
The 'Policy Rules for Taxi Control Centres' ['Beleidsregels Taxicentrales'] are available as of today from NMa's website.