Before regulating carpooling, drivers should be offered a choice

23 august 2018 | Govorit Moskva

A draft law regulating carpooling is widely discussed. If it is adopted in its current form, drivers can be imposed fines for the service payments in cash, they will be obliged to meet numerous requirements, equip their vehicles with special devices, etc. Journalists of the Govorit Moskva (Moscow Speaking) radio station asked the Analytical Center expert, Alexey Safronov, what in this case would be the difference between the service and taxis, and how to solve the arising problems.

Aleksey Safronov
Aleksey Safronov
Department for State-Run Programs and Budgeting

"After the law is adopted, carpooling will differ from taxis by the fact that individuals will be involved in it", Mr Safronov said. The expert stressed that at the moment, discussions were related to the draft law, which meant that the document could be adopted in another, modified version.

According to Mr Safronov, the problem arises from the fact that municipal buses, especially the ones on long-distance routes, have been over-regulated to a degree that one seat in a 40 seater bus turns out to be more expensive than a seat in a 4-passenger car. And before either being terrified with the new draft law or supporting it, we should figure out the approaches to solving the problem.  "If buses had lost their competitive ability against the carpooling service, it might be reasonable to reconsider the regulatory burden on the buses, the expert recommended. There are two courses of action: to regulate BlaBlaCar and similar services, or to "let buses go".

The expert believes that the bus companies' competitor is not "a man in the car" but "a man in the van". "Websites don't have any limitations, you can register an 8-seater van and earn money, Mr Safronov said. If we managed to separate people who just drive for their own business and pick up passengers, from those who take a route in fact like a route taxi, we might not need any regulatory, banning and additional accreditation measures." The expert believes that before introducing stringent regulations, it makes sense to understand how the business works from the inside in order "not to kill a good service". ""Shadow" drivers should be given a choice – to get registered as individuals and face fewer requirements or to get registered as drivers, thus accepting the terms of audits, tax payments etc.", he suggested.

The expert finds this approach more balanced compared to the proposals included in the draft law.

Source: Govorit Moskva

Photo from open source