July 30, 2014

Taxi app uberPOP making its way through Amsterdam

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 12:26 pm

As of today selected Amsterdam clients using taxi app uberPOP can organise taxi-like rides with private persons and pay for them using their smartphone. The company also offers two other services that feature properly licensed drivers and vehicles, but it is uberPOP that remains a thorn in the side of cabbies, as it offer rides up to 50% cheaper than normal cabs.

Besides having much more overhead (insurance, permits to drive over tram rails and bus lanes, etc.), cab drivers in Amsterdam have to write down every trip they take, which I find ridiculous and dangerous as many do it while driving, something an uber driver probably doesn’t have to do.

In London, where the app has been available for some time 12,000 taxi drivers protested last month, although many Londoners are gladly using the app. Earlier this year in Paris riots broke out, with people being hit and cars being smashed. The city of Brussels demanded uber make changes to its app in order to keep it legal, including making drivers obtain certificates of good behaviour.

The main objection to the app is that it takes work away from real taxi drivers, but then the app is legal and the drivers and cars currently meet local rules and regulations. Anyone is free to take a properly licensed taxi if they want, but with the mess that is Amsterdam’s taxi services, switching to uber will probably be a major relief for a lot of people.

In Amsterdam drivers continue to refuse small trips, preferring tourists going from Amsterdam Central Station to Schiphol Airport. They also often refuse animals, sometimes speak poor Dutch and/or poor English, and have one of the highest fares in the world. I personally get good taxi service when I need it because I don’t take taxis from Amsterdam Central Station, which is physically regulated at night by security staff like some Banana republic. Even tourist website ‘I Amsterdam’ says “Amsterdam recently launched a campaign to improve taxi services”, while happily listing uber under ‘special taxi services’. Fancy that.

(Link: www.elsevier.nl, Photo of taxi sign by Ben Fredericson, some rights reserved)

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July 18, 2013

Chinese vase turns family into multimillionaires

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 3:50 pm

In 2003 an anonymous Dutch family inherited a Chinese vase and assessed its worth at 12,500 euro for the tax people. The rare vase of the Han Yuan dynasty then skyrocketed in value between 2003 and 2005 up to 100,000 euro according to the family, due to the many rich Chinese that were interested in buying these vases.

Just 20 months later at an auction at Christie’s in London, the vase went for a whopping 23 million euro. The tax people took the family to court, as they felt cheated and wanted to see a chunk of the megabucks. The family appealed the decision and the court made them settle at 10 million euro.

(Link: www.quotenet.nl, Photo of Chinese vase by epSos.de, some rights reserved)

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November 27, 2012

Hop on an electric scooter during the week instead of a taxi

Filed under: Automobiles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 11:09 am

According to our sources, Amsterdam has just launched an electric scooter taxi service called Hopper, although Hopper’s press release mentioned as of October 1. “For a fixed rate of EUR 2.50 a ride, as long as the final destination is within city limits. The project is a private-public cooperation with the City of Amsterdam, Dutch Railways (NS) and the Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment and helps solve metropolitan transportation problems.”

Hopper apparently took five years of planning, is only available downtown, the Zuidas business district and the RAI exhibition hall area, and runs on weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm. You can order a Hopper by phone or a smartphone but not yet (they don’t say iPhone or Android). The goal is to expand to Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, aka the Randstad conurbation.

Although A+ for effort, the part I have to chip away at is when they state that, “scooters in Amsterdam are limited to a top speed of 25 km/h, which means customers (and their drivers, for that matter) can ride without helmets.” Yes, the helmet bit is true, but the last thing cyclists in Amsterdam need right now is more scooter traffic on bike paths. This year Amsterdam’s parking enforcement officers set the worst possible example by doing dangerous things such as driving over the limit and against cycling traffic. The amount of scooters that go over 25 km/h on bike paths is surely more than half. I’m not saying Hoppers drive too fast, but I’m not convinced they won’t try.

I would consider making use of this service, although in the weekend and surely after 8 pm, but that’s just me. If anyone out there has actually used or even seen one of these, let us know. It’s all nice and green to have electric vehicles on the streets of Amsterdam, but like any other means of transportation they also cause their own set of problems. It would be great to be able to pay so little to get around town regularly, as taxis start at EUR 7,50.

(Link: green.autoblog.com, Photo by Facemepls, some rights reserved)

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November 6, 2007

Pink cab trend hits Tilburg

Filed under: Automobiles,Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 3:24 pm

Women in and around the city of Tilburg, Noord-Brabant will soon be able to travel in special women’s taxis, it was announced today. The new company, which will operate on the same fare structure as regular cabs, has been founded by local businesswoman Tanja Schollen, who heads the cental station taxi company in Tilburg. The company employs only female drivers and caters exclusively to female clients. The taxi company, called the ‘Pink Lady Cab’, will initially operate with two cars, each of which will have pink roofs. They will work during the day and on weekend nights. “Female customers often indicate they feel safer with a female driver,” Schollen told reporters, “we also expect a lot of clients who for religious reasons prefer not to sit in a car with a strange man.” Female taxi companies have proven to be successful in several major cities in Europe and the Middle East, including London and Dubai.

So I guess after two years in London, trying it out in the Netherlands is a safe bet. Too bad no one has the brains or guts to do this in Amsterdam.

Here is more info over London’s Pink Ladies from 2005.

(Link: earthtimes.org, Photo: Pink Ladies, London)

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