Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Will Croatian Taxi Drivers Raise Their Prices Ahead of Tourist Season?

June the 7th, 2022 - Have Croatian taxi drivers started raising their prices as the height of the summer tourist season approaches? Many claim to have done so, as ongoing inflation would make it difficult for them to keep going otherwise.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the continuing wave of inflation has also affected taxi carriers and Croatian taxi drivers. Rising fuel prices, which account for the largest share of taxi drivers' costs, have led to higher prices for transport services in general. This immediately led to a drop in demand, but Croatian taxi drivers are pinning their hopes on tourists as we head into the summer season.

Over more recent years, they have often complained about the absurd prices of taxi services in this country. This year, most concessionaires have adjusted their price lists, so there should be no unpleasant surprises, at least for now.

Croatian taxi drivers are monitoring the growth of energy prices and say that they will adjust to them, which means price hikes, reports HRT.

"The market is terribly unpredictable and unreliable, something new happens every day that leads to increased costs, increased prices, inflation, everything. Our main raw material is fuel, and fuel has really skyrocketed and will continue to do so, and therefore we were forced to raise our prices,'' said Ivana Simundic Vulin, head of corporate communications of taxi services.

Back during early April alone, they were forced to increase their prices by 15 percent. Otherwise, they say, they wouldn't have survived in the increasingly difficult and demanding inflation-enfeebled market.

"Before, the average price of a ride in Zagreb was 50 kuna, now it's some 57-58 kuna. We had our customers in mind, of course, as inflation hit us just like it hit everyone and so that increase was minimal so that we could in some way cover our costs, at least to some extent,'' explained Simundic Vulin.

"We're trying to find some kind of balance with some minimal increase in prices that would follow this trend of rising prices in general in the retail sense. We have a steady clientele,'' said taxi driver Davor Stiplosek. Here in the City of Zagreb, they hope that the summer season will be improved by the arrival of foreign tourists, despite the increase in the price of taxi services.

"It's noticeable that there are more tourists in the city, which is again in our favour, so I expect that we'll find some way out of this situation in which we find ourselves," believes Stiplosek.

"The summer season is always strong. Not only in this part of the country, it will be quite strong down on the Adriatic as well. We have a lot of cooperation with hotels and travel agencies down there,'' said Simundic Vulin, also making sure to add that one single summer tourist season cannot save the whole year.

Croatian taxi drivers in Split have also upped their prices

Split taxi drivers are also hoping for a working summer, despite raging energy and fuel prices. Tourists, they say, are their most frequent clients during the summer.

"Specifically, with us, at the start we went three kuna up, and a kilometre costs one kuna, so we thought it was a good balance. Again, to be acceptable to people, but also to try to cover the difference in fuel because we haven't changed our prices for five years since we started working, and now that you 'rewind the film' a little bit - that's equal to about six kuna difference per litre from then until today,'' said Tonci Bratosevic, the head of the call centre of a taxi service.

"Taxi transport is not subsidised by any local self-government unit or by the state, it's all private entrepreneurs and they have to cover their own costs. The current price hasn't changed in the last decade, so there will have to be some kind of slight increase for customers,'' said Milivoj Topic, president of the Split Carrier's Guild.

''For the time being, we aren't really planning to raise the prices of taxi services down in Dubrovnik, but that all depends on future fuel prices. If that continues to rise, then we'll certainly have to, because now the costs have risen by 40 percent,'' said Mise Miloslavic.

"Our prices have been the same since back in 2015, so the price per kilometre is 9 kuna, the starting price is 29 kuna," stated Aljos Brkovic, vice president of the Association of Taxi Carriers of the City of Dubrovnik.

Fuel prices are far from the only problem. Car maintenance is also a big expense for them.

"In general, all products have become more expensive, as have the vehicles themselves that have to be serviced, works have become more expensive in general, repairs, oils in general, spare parts... all this has absolutely shot up. So it's not just a question of fuel, there are other costs involved that have also risen, so price hikes are unfortunately inevitable,'' warned Topic.

While service prices are rising unstoppably across all sectors, Croatian taxi drivers are carefully calculating whether and how much they'll need to raise their prices during the summer season. Although tourists often cannot manage at all without their services, which is a reassurance for them, local consumers, aware of the large increase in fuel prices, will definitely be thinkinf twice before booking or calling a taxi.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Croatian Taxi Market to be Regulated by Constitutional Court

January the 19th, 2022 - The Croatian taxi market is set to be regulated by the Constitutional Court following a considerable amount of time spent in turmoil following a law change made back in 2018.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, after the government managed to appease crises in the dynamic Croatian taxi market with the new Road Traffic Act 2018, the market has been relatively calm recently. However, the coronavirus crisis reduced the so-called market ''cake'', and back in 2020, taxi drivers started with the turmoil and protests once again due to certain provisions of this law, and at the end of last year, the state made a concession to taxi drivers regarding the age of the vehicle fleet and postponed stricter regulations until the year 2023.

Now a new dawn of sorts has arrived where traditional taxi drivers who are members of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK) are asking for a review of the constitutionality of the law which came into force back in 2018. Namely, as was explained by HOK, it is disputable that, although the law provides the cities and municipalities in whose territory this transport takes place to make some rules, decisions can ultimately be made by the relevant ministry.

HOK pointed out that the introduction of paragraph 14 in Article 47 of the Road Transport Act restricts or deprives local self-government and regional self-government units of their rights, which violates one of the highest values ​​of the constitutional order of the Republic of Croatia as is proclaimed in Article 3 of the Constitution.

“The provision of Article 47, paragraph 13 of the Road Transport Act stipulates that the competent administrative body of the local self-government unit, ie the City of Zagreb, is obliged to decide on the application for a car taxi permit and issue that decision within 15 days. With this provision, the legislator gave local self-government units, ie the City of Zagreb, the authority to independently decide on the issuance of licenses for autotaxi transport in accordance with Article 129 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. However, paragraph 14 of the same article stipulates that if the competent body referred to in Article 13 does not decide on the request within the specified period, the Ministry will act on the request and issue an appropriate decision within the next 15 day period.

This provision implies that it restricts the right of local self-government units given to them by the provision of paragraph 13 so that it prescribes the return of authority by transferring it again to the state body or the competent ministry if the local self-government unit doesn't provide a response to the request within the prescribed timeframe,'' said Dragutin Ranogajec of HOK. He added that such a legal expression is a precedent in Croatian legislative practice because its general and wide application would mean derogating from administrative supervision, ie administrative procedure as an instrument of control through a two-stage procedure.

In order to avoid such situations in which local self-government units are stripped of their powers, the Constituent Assembly enacted a provision of Article 130 of the Croatian Constitution which stipulates that local and regional self-government units are independent when it comes to performing tasks within their scope and are subject only to the constitutional and legal review of authorised state bodies. In the case prescribed by paragraph 14, as those affected have duly pointed out, it isn't about the supervision of authorised state bodies over the work of local and regional self-government units, but instead about limiting or depriving them of a right granted to them by law, which violates one of the highest values ​​of the constitutional order proclaimed in Article 3.

"The Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts considers that the goal of the provision of paragraph 14, which presupposes speeding up the procedure for issuing licenses for autotaxi transport, is not a sufficient legitimate reason to limit the rights of local and regional self-government units, thus violating the provisions of Article 130 and Article 3 of the Constitution,'' believes Dragutin Ranogajec, head of the Chamber of Crafts.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Constitutional Court Nixes Age Limit on Taxis

ZAGREB, 20 Nov, 2021 -  The Constitutional Court has upheld several appeals against the rule of permitted maximum age limits on taxi vehicles and on vehicles used for private hire in Croatia, the Večernji List daily reported on Saturday.

The age limit was introduced by the transport ministry only on taxi vehicles and on private hire vehicles with up to 8 seats, whereas other categories in the provision of passenger transport services were exempted from that limit.

The age limit would have been taken effect in 2023, and in the event that it had been confirmed by the constitutional court, taxi vehicles and private hire vehicles, older than seven and five years respectively, could no longer be used in transport of passengers as of 2023.

The applicant appealed against discrimination as the age limit rule was applicable for other categories of vehicles in passenger transport services.

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Monday, 18 October 2021

Uber Drivers Strike in Croatia: ''We Feel Like Digital Slaves''

October 18, 2021 - As part of the Uber drivers strike in Croatia, a press conference was held. They claim: ‘‘We cannot get in touch with the company. We have not received an explanation as to why the money is late and when it will be paid. (...) We feel like digital slaves’’.

This morning, Uber drivers went on strike in Zagreb and its surroundings because their salaries were late, reports Telegram.hr. The salary that was supposed to sit last Tuesday was paid this morning, and Uber claimed over the weekend that the delay was due to an error in the local bank system. Nevertheless, the Uber team continued with the strike organized by the Croatian Digital Platform Workers' Union until 10 am this morning. At 10 am, the secretary of the Trade Union, Iva Filipović, addressed the media.

Filipovic said that they decided to promote an Uber driver strike because they estimated that an immediate response was needed. They appealed to Uber to show solidarity with them. "We are sorry that the application had to be blocked, but we are in such a relationship that we feel like digital slaves," she said in front of Uber's headquarters in Croatia.


Iva Filipović addressed the media this morning during the Uber drivers strike in Zagreb. (Photo: Photo: Matija Habljak/PIXSELL)

She added that Uber constantly emphasizes that their drivers are partners, that they are socially aware and care about the community. “Then how can we not get in touch with them? We have not received an explanation of what is happening, why the money is late and when it will be paid," she said, adding that the money was paid today.

‘‘We can’t talk to any natural person’’

She said they continued the boycott until 10 a.m. to send a message to Uber. “Unfortunately, we can’t talk to any natural person from Uber,” she said, adding that this can happen with any other digital platform, not just Uber. She also said that drivers in Zagreb can, at best, meet with a student who can solve some basic problems in the application. "Drivers from the rest of Croatia can only get an appointment online," she added.

“I’m sorry because no one from Uber showed up, we were hoping someone from the authorities would come out and explain to us what was going on,” she said, saying that says enough about Uber’s claim that their drivers are actually partners. When asked by reporters, she said that the boycott was felt and that users waited twice as long for the ride as well as that the rides were twice as expensive. "It's hard to say, but experience shows that a large number of drivers who would otherwise be on the road were not there today," she said.

Journalists at the Uber drivers strike also asked her how many drivers Uber has in Croatia, to which she replied that only Uber can answer. She also said that they are a new union whose membership is growing, although they are aware that people in Croatia are afraid of union association. She added, however, that some problems like this with salaries can only be solved if they work together.

‘‘If Uber doesn’t pay me, I can’t pay the benefits’’

She also explained that the problem is that she is, for example, as far as the state is concerned, a self-employed person to whom Uber is a partner. “If Uber doesn’t pay me, I can’t pay the benefits to the state I owe,” she said. She said it was important to regulate the area to get workers ’rights.

She also told reporters that they want to solve the problem with Uber through dialogue, adding that roadblocks are not an option as part of the Uber drivers strike. She assures that they do not want to make it difficult for citizens to move. In the end, she added that tomorrow is the day for the payment of funds and that she hopes that there will be no delays.

For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Taxis in Croatia: Ridecar Begins Providing Services in Zagreb

More taxis in Croatia will make the capital city richer for transport possibilities as Ridecar has entered Zagreb's taxi market with 35 of its vehicles, by the end of the year, there will be a hundred of them across Croatia.

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 19th of November, 2018, Zagreb is now richer for another player on its market taxi, which is "Ride2", the Ridecar rent-a-car's brand. The first 35 vehicles, along with a large media campaign in daily newspapers and promotional discounts for first-time users, has started its operations in the Croatian capital, giving users of taxis in Croatia yet more choice. Marijan Babić, the director of the company, said that by spring 2019 there will be a hundred of their vehicles present.

How Ride2 distinguishes itself from the competition is as they say themselves, is that a third of their vehicles, and in the future a larger part than that, will be electric cars. In addition, drivers can choose between five categories of vehicles, from standard, electric, to van and premium van.

"We were afraid that we wouldn't manage to complete all of the IT preparation for ordering and paying for the ride in time, but that's all working perfectly. The last obstacle was the Apple Store, which only included our application in its offer Sunday,'' Babić stated.

He added that their application (app) for ordering rides was downloaded 500 times by the early afternoon yesterday, and in the coming days, that number will likely be multiplied. For now, they have ten electric vehicles in their taxi fleet, mostly Renault ZOE's, and by the end of the year, the Hyundai KONA should arrive and their fleet of electric vehicles should climb at least thirty cars. Babić pointed out that they expect the existing electric renault cars to be able to deal with a whole day taxi service in the city, but with the Hyundai, they will increase their operations even more because those cars boast a 500-kilometre autonomy.

"We've invested almost 150 million kuna in our fleet, and only about 25 million has been poured into the taxi business itself. By the end of the year, electric cars will make up 30 percent of our taxi fleet, and finally, we plan to completely exhaust fossil fuel vehicles. Of course, a small part will have to be kept because some of the premium customers look for specific types of vehicles, which aren't currently made in any electric versions,'' explained Babić.

He mentioned that the company's decision to enter the taxi segment was initially decided on after the changes in the Road Traffic Act which gave them a bit more breathing space, but at the same time it caused issues with one of their more profitable services, which was hiring a vehicle with a driver.

"At the request of our partners, which are mostly British agencies, we had an offer in which you could have a package where you rented a car with a driver. The plan was initially to have about 1,000 orders per season, but last year it went up to 6,000, and it managed to reach an amazing 25,000 this year. This is a service that is being sought, but as Uber drivers had to, it was necessary to bring in regulation and now it's possible to do such a job only by renting a limo, knowing which types of cars can and can't enter this segment, this can only really be done by a hotel or a tourist agency. Everyone else had to enter into the standard taxi framework,'' Babić said.

"Getting the workforce has been a big challenge so far, and I'm afraid it will remain the biggest challenge in the forthcoming period. We've a good image among drivers and the backbone of Ride2 are those we engaged over the summer season,'' Babić concluded.

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Click here for the original article by Darko Bicak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Uber Rolls Out Newer, Marked Vehicles from Today

What's the latest at Uber?