The number of taxis is decreasing, how will old taxi drivers earn a living?

The taxi industry in Azerbaijan is undergoing significant changes as new regulations take effect, leading to a decline in the number of taxis on the road. According to the Azerbaijan Land Transport Agency (ANTA), legal entities and individual entrepreneurs wishing to engage in taxi transportation must now operate with appropriate permits. This includes obtaining a graduation certificate and a registration card for vehicles not older than 15 years. After July 1, 2024, only cars less than eight years old will be eligible for registration.

Taxi order operators face fines if they transfer orders to drivers without the specified permissions, per the Code of Administrative Offences. This move aims to streamline the taxi service sector and foster a professional labor market, but it raises concerns about the livelihood of many current taxi drivers, especially those operating older vehicles.

ANTA has addressed concerns about potential fare increases, stating that taxi service prices will continue to be determined by market competition and mutual agreement between parties. The agency asserts that the new rules will enhance the professionalism and quality of the taxi industry.

Transport expert Rauf Agamirzaev discussed these developments in  interview on the program "A Difficult Question." Agamirzaev highlighted the abnormality of the current situation, where an excessive number of inexpensive taxis operate in the capital due to inadequate public transportation and an aging bus fleet. He attributed artificially low taxi prices to the dumping practices of taxi aggregators and the prevalence of older vehicles, which has led to an increase in short-distance trips, contributing to traffic congestion and disruptions.

Addressing the potential job losses resulting from the ban on older cars, Agamirzaev suggested that displaced taxi drivers could find employment in other sectors. There is a notable shortage of public transport drivers in Baku, and those who obtain the necessary licenses could easily transition to driving buses. Additionally, there is a growing demand for truck drivers in the country.

Agamirzaev emphasized that improving public transportation infrastructure is crucial for the normalization of the transport system. This includes ensuring adherence to traffic schedules, creating dedicated lanes for public transport, and implementing a robust system of fines and license revocations to maintain order and efficiency.

For many taxi drivers, the new regulations pose significant challenges. Drivers who have relied on older vehicles for their livelihood must now consider alternatives, such as upgrading their cars, obtaining new certifications, or transitioning to different forms of employment. The government's efforts to professionalize the industry aim to create a more sustainable and efficient transport system, but the success of this transition will depend on the availability of support and opportunities for affected drivers.

As the July 1 deadline approaches, the taxi industry in Azerbaijan stands at a crossroads. The implementation of these regulations marks a shift towards a more regulated and professional market, but the path forward will require careful management to ensure that the needs of both drivers and passengers are met.

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