If Amsterdammers can avoid a taxi-ride, they sure will — usually in favor of the city’s excellent public transportation system. After all, taxis in Amsterdam (as elsewhere in Holland) are notoriously expensive. Worse, most taxi firms (including those that employ just one driver) have a terrible reputation — more often than not, deservedly so.
But if and when an Amsterdam does need a taxi, 9 times out of 10, he’ll select a TCA Taxi. (TCA = Taxi Centrale Amsterdam = Taxi Center Amsterdam).
However, on top of all the taxi problems of recent years — which the government attempted to fix but only made worse — now you can not even be sure that a taxi sporting a TCA roof light is a genuine TCA-affiliated taxi.
According to TCA co-director Richard Olling, in Amsterdam a few hundred taxis carry the TCA sign even though they are not affiliate with Taxi Centrale Amsterdam.
Drivers steal the lights, or buy them on the black market. The reason, Ollings says, is that Amsterdam’s citizens know that TCA stands for good service and dependability.
New roof lights
In the past, TCA had a monopoly in Amsterdam. After the taxi business was liberalised in 2000, Amsterdam was flooded with taxi firms and independent drivers. This did not help quality, nor did it make riding a taxi less expensive. All manner of problems ensued: taxi ranks designed for, say, 10 cabs suddenly were used by 20-50 taxis. Drivers fought amongst each other, blocked each others cars, stole each others customers and refused short rides. The taxi rank at Central Station has become so notorious that locals have come to refer to it as the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the full leadership of TCA itself was forced to resign in 2006 under a cloud of what one newspaper kindly calls, ‘poor management.’
Anyway, in the middle of March, 2008, TCA will start issuing new roof lights to its affiliated drivers. These new lights will be officially copyrighted as trademarks, making it easier to take legal action against those who obtain and use them fraudulently.
The new lights also will include a computer chip, which among other things identifies the rightful owner.
Some 1700 taxi drivers are affiliated with TCA.
A TCA taxi can be ordered at any hotel (specify TCA), or by calling (020) 777 7777 [Amsterdam phone info]
– Source: Information from ANP, as posted in Amsterdam daily Het Parool, was used in this report