Thursday June 20, 2024

Helsinki to allow only contracted taxi companies at railway station square

Published : 01 Jun 2024, 03:41

  DF Report
Taxi stand in front of Helsinki Central Railway Station. DF File Photo.

The City of Helsinki is preparing a tendering process to improve the quality and reliability of taxi traffic at Asema-aukio Square, right next to the Central Railway Station, said the city in a press release on Friday.

The aim of the tendering process is to only allow contracted taxi companies to operate from the taxi rank at Asema-aukio Square. The future of other taxi ranks will also be examined.

The current situation of the Asema-aukio Square taxi rank has raised concerns. The operations at the taxi rank are causing a general sense of unease and insecurity.

“The Central Railway Station is also a significant location with regard to tourists, and the current situation causes nuisance not only to Helsinki residents and taxi entrepreneurs but also tourists arriving in the city. Helsinki has previously sought to resolve this problem with traffic arrangements and by enhancing surveillance in cooperation with the police, but these arrangements have proven to be insufficient,” said Head of the Transport System Unit of the City of Helsinki Heikki Palomäki.

Consequently, the City is currently preparing measures intended to improve the quality, reliability and safety of taxi services at the Asema-aukio Square taxi rank from the perspectives of Helsinki residents, tourists and service providers alike.

The current situation causes nuisance due to the large number of taxis and the variation in quality, as well as occasional disturbances and long queues. The Urban Environment Committee will consider the principles of the tender process for the taxi rank in its meeting on June 4, 2024.

In late 2023, the City Council put forward a council initiative regarding this matter, instructing the Urban Environment Division to look into ways to only allow taxi service providers who have received permission to operate from the Central Railway Station’s taxi ranks.

As a solution to the problems, preparations have been launched to conduct a tender process for operations at the Asema-aukio Square taxi rank.

The tender process will assess different operators based on criteria such as a sufficient number of vehicles, various quality factors and the charge paid by the company to the City for use of the taxi rank.

The pricing of taxi services must be clear, and having low-emission and electric vehicles account for a large proportion of the taxi fleet is encouraged.

At the end of the tender process, the City will conclude agreements with the two taxi companies that achieve the highest scores in the comparison of tenders.

In the future, only contracted companies will be allowed to operate from the Asema-aukio Square taxi rank. Similar tender processes have previously been carried out at Helsinki Airport and Helsinki’s passenger harbours. The aim is for the tendered operations at Asema-aukio Square to be launched later this year.

The upcoming arrangements will be based on a solution in which the taxi company that ranks first in the tender process will be allowed to use the taxi lane nearest to the railway station’s entrance, while the taxi company that ranks second will be able to use the second nearest taxi lane.

A separate company will be chosen through a tender process to operate the taxi rank and make sure that it is only used by taxis of the winning taxi companies. The taxi companies chosen based on the tender process will pay a charge to the City of Helsinki for use of the area.

There are a total of around 80 sites reserved solely for taxis in the City of Helsinki’s street areas. The future of the other taxi ranks and the number of taxi ranks needed will be examined as a whole later, once experiences have been gained of operations at Asema-aukio Square.

The Asema-aukio Square tender process will not introduce changes to the other taxi ranks near the Central Railway Station, which will remain available for use by all taxis going forwards.

The City has engaged in market dialogue with various taxi companies and other parties while preparing for the tender process. This dialogue has led to changes in the traffic arrangements planned for Asema-aukio Square, among other things.