For-hire passenger transport services are an essential component of well-functioning metropolitan areas. But the markets for taxis and other for-hire vehicles have historically been subject to imperfections that regulators have tried to correct or at least attenuate. The current regulatory frameworks surrounding forhire transport reflects this history. But the arrival of innovative app-based ride services, generically referred to as Commercial Transport Apps (CTAs), in this report, challenges established rules. The growing popularity of these services has caught authorities off-guard, as CTAs typically do not fall under established regulatory structures. Moreover, the uptake of similar technologies amongst traditional for-hire operators blurs the line between existing regulatory categories, and in some cases obviates it.
In response, regulators have typically sought to block CTAs from entering the market or adapted existing regulations to address the specificities of CTAs – with more or less success and often under the influence of existing service providers. How this regulatory challenge will be met in the face of fast-growing CTAs and strong resistance from traditional for-hire passenger transport providers, is still an open question. In this context, the International Transport Forum convened a workshop on “Principles for the regulation of for-hire road passenger transport services” in October 2015.
This workshop, part of an ITF Corporate Partnership Board project, brought together representatives from the CTA and taxi industries, regulators, academics and other stakeholders to seek points of consensus on regulating for-hire ride services and identify persistent tensions that should be addressed. It also sought to provide public authorities with insights on the regulation of innovation amidst uncertainty.