Posted on 27 July 2008 by joost
Taxis are a sufficiently global phenomenon that I won’t go in detail here. You get in, state your destination, pay and get out: simple enough. But there are some twists in .nl. We have regulations you see. Or no, we don’t. Wait, yes, yes we do.
You might be shocked to hear that almost every taxi in Nederland is clean, a Mercedes Benz and has a very capable driver. In 2000, the taxi system was liberated. No permit to ride a taxi was nessesary and prices were “free, but regulated” (maximum set by the governement). This quickly turned out to be a disaster.
Since no permit was required, anybody with a driver’s licence could call himself a cabbie, and many did. This led to market saturation, traffic jams in city centers, incapable drivers but strangely not to lower prices. The gov’ment adopted a laissez-faire attitude and things got ugly real quick. Especially in the bigger cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, where there would simply be too many taxis, drivers would fight to get a ride, jam up the street and take longer routes than needed.
Who knew that deregulation would lead to chaos? Still every few years, attempts are made in the public sector. Invariably they fail. Hmmm…
So after a while local governement got sufficiently fed up with the ‘deregulated taxi market’ that they invented a couple of rules of their own. You might call these rules ‘regulations’ but strictly speaking it’s something completely different you see.
A permit is no longer required, but a ‘token of good behaviour’ has taken its place. This token is not required to operate a taxi service, but as a driver, you need it in order to stand in one of the municipal taxi queues. See how that works? When the token gets revoked, you can still drive a taxi, just not pick up customers easily. Well, duh.
Hailing a cab
In cities, your best bet is always one of the large companies with easy to remember phone numbers. In Amsterdam it’s TCA, in Rotterdam RTC. Get ready for a sticker shock as the initial rate is now €7,50. This (admittedly steep) amount should last you the first 2 kilometers. Reputable drivers are allowed to drive on tram tracks, so that should speed up your journey (watch for a permit with traffic signs on the dashboard).
At your destination, pay cash. Taxis love cash. Cash is king. Did I mention you should pay in cash? (Some cabbies will allow credit cards though).
Outside the city
In smaller cities it’s more common to order a cab by phone. Dial the company, state your address and your desire to book a taxi. Other than that, it works the same as in cities. There’s taxis at Schiphol airport too, right outside the arrivals hall. Don’t pick the first one in line, but choose a branded one. You should expect to pay around €40 euros to get into Amsterdam. There’s also airport taxis that do the trip for a fixed fee. But when you arrive at Schiphol, you should really take a train. It costs next to nothing and gets you at your destination quicker. It’s a shorter walk from the terminal, even.