The Slovak mobile application Hopin, with which people can call a taxi in Bratislava and Košice, is preparing a big change after four years of existence. It wants to function on a similar principle to the controversial taxi service Uber. Customers will be able to order any registered driver through this app - not just taxi licence holders - who will then take them to a chosen destination, the Sme daily reported.
Up to now, Hopin only used drivers with a valid taxi licence. Now it wants to open the service to all drivers, including ordinary people who do not have the taxi licence but want to earn some extra money on the side.
“We decided to switch to a system of platform economy in the style of Uber as neither the state nor the city appears to have a problem with it,” said Martin Baran, executive director of Hopin, in an interview with the Trend economic weekly.
Normally, in order for drivers to work as taxi drivers, they need to fulfil several conditions. They need to have a taxi meter in the car and pass psychological tests.
If the planned changes go ahead, the drivers of Hopin would need neither a taxi license nor a taxi meter.
The way the drivers are paid will change too. Currently there is a fixed fee for each fare that the driver pays to Hopin, after the change it would be a share from the payment for the ride.
“The assumption is that sales will increase by 30 percent while the drivers should earn more and the customers pay less,” said Baran.
Hopin is changing the way it operates at a time when the pressure from alternative taxi services to ease the rules has been increasing. Uber has been operating in Bratislava for more than two years and Taxify, working on a similar platform, for more than one year.
The Transport Ministry is analysing the situation and pondering possible measures.
“The question of security on the roads must not be underrated and thus it is necessary to negotiate and prepare,” responded the ministry, while it did not specify when changes may be proposed.
Senior members of the coalition ruling Smer party, Finance Minister Peter Kažimír and Vice Prime Minister for Investments Peter Pellegrini, admitted to easing the regulations for taxi driversin the past.