Investigations by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) have found that dispatch centres may have acted in breach of the Competition Act by discriminating in the dispatch of Kela-reimbursed rides to drivers.
During the past year, the FCCA has been contacted by taxi entrepreneurs on over 200 occasions. Most of these have concerned the question of whether dispatch centres should accept new drivers, and the terms for their acceptance. The FCCA has investigated issues in the taxi market by sending out a survey to over 6,000 drivers in autumn 2018. The number of responses received was around 2,300. Based on the survey findings, the FCCA has reason to suspect that several dispatch centres may be acting in breach of the Competition Act.
Dispatch of taxi services reimbursed by Kela must be non-discriminatory and fair
Particularly in sparsely populated areas, rides dispatched by a dispatch centre and reimbursed from public funds form a significant share of the income of individual taxi entrepreneurs. The FCCA has launched an investigation of several companies to assess whether dispatch centres have violated the Competition Act by discriminating in the dispatch of Kela-reimbursed rides to drivers. According to information received by the FCCA, dispatch centres may have, for example, refused to accept new drivers under their dispatch services or imposed discriminating terms on drivers.
As the dispatch centres hold strong market positions within their operating areas, their activities can be assessed from the perspective of potential abuse of a dominant position. Furthermore, as dispatch centres are typically owned by local taxi entrepreneurs, decisions taken within a dispatch centre may also be assessed as a suspected case of a cartel between competing taxi entrepreneurs.
On 1 March 2019, the FCCA issued detailed requests for information on the suspected violations to nearly all centres engaged in dispatching rides reimbursed by Kela. Requests for information were sent to the companies Kainuun Taksivälitys Oy, Keskustaksi Oy, Kokkolan Taksiliikenne Oy, Kuru-Taksi Oy, Kymenlaakson Taksi Oy, Lounais-Suomen Taxidata Oy, Oulun Aluetaksi Oy, Pohjanmaan Taksi Oy, PRO-keskus Oy, Taksi Päijänne Oy, Taksi Saimaa Oy, Tampereen Aluetaksi Oy and Vaasan Ulataksi Oy. The FCCA’s preliminary view is that as problems exist in at least some of the dispatch centres, all centres will now be investigated. In the Uusimaa region, Kela has recently tendered out a new contract for reimbursed rides and the new dispatch centre will begin operations on 1 April 2019. For this reason, the dispatch centre for Kela rides in Uusimaa is not under investigation.
Read more on the results of the taxi market investigation:
FCCA investigation on the functioning of the taxi market – Access of taxi entrepreneurs to Kela rides (in Finnish only)
Valtteri Virtanen, Assistant Director, tel. +358 29 505 3621
Max Jansson, Head of Research, tel. +358 29 505 3688
Tuuli Toivanen, Senior Research Officer, tel. +358 29 505 3172
More on this topic:
Taksimarkkinat uudessa tilanteessa. “Ajankohtaista kilpailusta” blog on 1 February 2019 (in Finnish only).
The FCCA will assess the functioning of the taxi market. FCCA press release, 26 September 2018
The FCCA updated its instructions for the taxi industry. FCCA press release, 1 February 2019
Priorities of competition enforcement on the taxi markets. FCCA website.