Taxi services, platforms and Article 101 TFEU: Changing the shape of the transport intermediation services industry?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The taxi services market has relied on platforms for many years. Taxis can be hailed at the kerb or by using taxi ranks. Often, consumers rely on intermediaries, such as taxi phone lines. The task of these intermediaries is to despatch a call to a driver, so that the latter can meet consumers’ demand in each case. Today, the use of phone apps reliant on geolocalisation software is among the most common ways in which calls are despatched to taxi service providers. Apps come with significant benefits for both parties. Consumers can track the car they reserved, whereas drivers can deploy their working time more efficiently since they can locate and respond to calls from customers in areas that are within their reach.The entry into the market for taxi despatch services of these novel instruments has not been without consequences, however. Are we witnessing a sea change in the way in which traditional platforms in this market have conducted their business so far? What are the competition law implications of the entry of phone apps in the taxi despatch services’ market? How far is the application of competition rules going to affect the nature of taxi despatch platforms? What are the implications of these decisions for the functioning of other platform-based markets? This article analyses this question based on the practice of national authorities who,in a number of contexts, have ruled on the legality of taxi platforms. It will be argued that the emergence of platform despatchers using geolocalisation technologies may not only “disrupt” those business models that have characterised the taxi despatching market so far. It could also lead to a change in the approach that competition law has adopted in relation to other two-sided markets where intermediation is key to the matching of demand and supply, perhaps by spelling the end of “closed” platforms in favour of open models of intermediation.The article will conclude with some more general reflections on the application of EU competition rules to two-sided markets. It will be submitted that, due to the focus placed on the need to avoid the foreclosure of the market in favour of and by existing incumbents, the ability for users to enter and exit from a platform and, more generally,to rely on a variety of channels for service intermediation, are going to be essential to maintain the openness and competitiveness of these markets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-74
Number of pages34
JournalMarket and competition law review
Volume4
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • competition
  • platforms
  • taxi services
  • Italy
  • national competition authorities

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