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Taxi fare to increase to 1,000 MNT per kilometer

The Agency for Fair Competition and Consumer Rights (AFCCR) and Ulaanbaatar Public Transportation Authority (UBPTA) have agreed to increase the taxi fare to 1,000 MNT per km on August 28, although this is not yet in effect. Kh.Amgalanbaatar, the Director of the Confederation of the Mongolian Trade Union (CMTU), views the decision very untimely whereas the Director of AFCCR, O.Magnai, supports the taxi companies on increasing the fare. They were interviewed separately by journalists.  

Kh.Amgalanbaatar: You cannot increase the price before improving the service

-The taxi fare is likely to increase according to some officials. What’s the stance of the Confederation of the Mongolian Trade Union (CMTU) on this matter?

-We have discussed this issue recently. It hasn’t been long since the electricity rate was increased again. The announcement of increasing the taxi fare is the least desired issue as the people are already suffering from inadequate public transportation especially as the new academic year begins soon. This decision undeniably weighs down the burden on the citizens. Thus, we don’t approve of this decision.

-It’s said that the reason for increasing the fare is to improve the taxi companies’ bottomline. But the officials didn’t mention how it would affect people’s livelihood.

-The government must not aid in improving some private companies’ bottomline. The Agency for Fair Competition and Consumer Rights (AFCCR) is especially not obligated to oversee the price of everything. If they participate in setting the price of every single thing, there will be no free market. It’s not appropriate to talk about increasing the price before improving the service.

-According to hearsay, private taxis have already increased the fare.

-This is definitely an untimely decision. The private taxis are not to be affiliated with taxi companies. The number of taxicabs is insufficient, thus, the private taxis are the only means to get to our needed destination especially during night hours. Affiliating them to taxi companies is clearly violating their rights. Also, there are only four taxi stations in Ulaanbaatar. Does that mean that if someone wants to take a taxi from Hailaast (the northernmost part of the city), he has to go to city center to get one? Well, in every sector, there are companies with special interests. The sectors we must limit the price of are electricity, air transportation, railroad, etc., but not the taxi service. It’s not such a big sector for the government to be concerned with.

-What policy will the CMTU pursue on this issue?

-Well, we support the idea of having a safe, convenient taxi service. But the problem is that we don’t know if they can provide us with such a service. They should’ve started the discussion on increasing the price after improving the service. Thus, we have already started learning about the law of competition. Also, many complaints about and requests from private taxi drivers were received here. The decision is not in effect yet. During these 30 days, we’ll exchange ideas with the citizens, consumers, and service providers.

O.Magnai: In order to get safe and qualified taxi service, we have no choice but to increase the fare

-          Can you please explain the reasons for supporting the decision to increase the taxi fare? 

-We at the AFCCR have conducted several surveys on taxi companies regarding their safety standards and bottomline last spring. When the price of gasoline was 900 MNT per liter, the Ulaanbaatar Public Transportation Authority (UBPTA) set the fare of 600 MNT per km six years ago and it is still the same. As a modern capital city, a world-standard taxi service is a must thing to have. The safety of both the driver and passenger must be highly provided. According to a report by the General Police Department, four to five people die every year from taxi-related incidents. Hence, we must improve the conditions surrounding a proper taxi service.

-Is it inevitably necessary to increase the fare to improve the service? Wouldn’t this decision be a burden to the passengers?

 -In any case, increasing the price is not a good thing at all.  But in order to get safe and qualified service, we have no choice but to increase the fare. Just as the taxi service started to be revived during the latter part of the 1990s, the government pegged down the fare so the number of investor companies drastically lessened. Therefore, the AFCCR and UBPTA are suggesting to increase the fare to 1,000 MNT per km. And in 30 days, the taxi companies will start to comply with the requirements issued by the UBPTA.  Two of which are that taxicabs must be painted in the same color and equipped with a certified taximeter in accurate working condition which can be easily read by the passenger. The taxi companies also have to set up taxi stations all over the city within the framework of the “Street” project. A total of 12 taxi stations are to be built at different areas, namely, the State Library, front area of the TBD Trade Center, Tsambagarav, Centerpoint, north area of the Ulaanbaatar Department Store, south part of Capitron Bank, etc. As of now, only three stations are in operation in the areas of Centerpoint, Capitron Bank, and the TBD Trade Center with the capacity to park eight taxicabs at each place.

-Taxicabs are almost only available through calling services. A taxi stopping to get a passenger in a random street is like seeing a star in the sky in midday. Doesn’t this mean that private taxis are going to increase their fare, too?

-Private taxi drivers must get registered with any taxi company and get a certification from the supervisory inspector after meeting certain requirements including installing a taximeter which prevents them from charging passengers more than the usual fare.

-It’s not guaranteed that all the private taxis would get registered. What if they not only not get registered but also increase the fare?

-No business is allowed to conduct its operations without paying taxes. There are very few countries where any random car on the road stops and is allowed to function as a taxi. We are doing everything within our power to get one step closer to becoming a world-class metropolis. If private taxi drivers get caught carrying passengers without being registered, further legal actions will be taken.

-So shouldn’t the number of “real” taxis be increased, too?

-Yes, definitely.

-The current taxi service is severely criticized for its lack of politeness. How is it going to be supervised after applying the new regulations?

-There’s no need to worry on that matter. We will conclude a cooperation agreement with the Traffic Police Department to oversee the taxicab drivers.

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