Legal provisions on transport market will be brought together under one act, the Transport Code. The reform aims to support new service models and better respond to the needs of transport users. The Transport Code will make market access easier and promote the interoperability of the different parts of the transport system.
"The Transport Code will develop the transport system into a genuine service package. This has served as a basis for the reform; we want to make sure that users, people and businesses, have access to high-quality transport services. It is no longer necessary or reasonable to provide specific provisions on each transport mode but to enable services that meet the customers' needs," says Ms Berner, Minister of Transport and Communications.
The Transport Code will cover all transport modes. In the first phase, the focus has been on road transport, where the need for changes is most significant. In the legislative proposal, road transport regulation will become closer to the market regulations in force for other transport modes.
As part of a Government key project, the Transport Code will build a growth environment for digital business. In line with the Government Programme, the transport sector will remove obstacles to the development of new services that utilise digitalisation. The Transport Code will promote the introduction of interoperable digital ticket and payment systems by ensuring open information and payment interfaces. The Code is also part of the Government key project on deregulation. The Transport Code will pave the way for the Mobility as a Service concept.
The proposal supports the Government Programme aim of cutting local government costs and con-tributes to the Programme with the overall reform of passenger, postal and goods transport legislation.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications has sent the draft proposal for the Transport Code out for comments. The Transport Code preparation process has been transparent and taken place in close interaction with stakeholders. Discussions with interest groups will continue during the consultation round. The deadline for comments is 23 May and the aim is to submit a government proposal to Parliament in June 2016.
Taxi licences to become company-specific
Entrepreneurship in taxi transport would be made easier with lighter requirements. A taxi transport licence would still be required but it would be made company-specific, and there would no longer be vehicle or driver-specific licences. Requirements for a taxi driver would be made lighter but passenger safety or protection would not be compromised.
A taxi operator would be more free to develop its operations according to demand. Licence quotas and the obligation concerning the area of operation would be abandoned. This way a taxi could take on "return" passengers. This would make the system more flexible and efficient and make the operations easier particularly in sparsely populated areas.
There would no longer be a maximum price for a taxi trip. Clear and understandable information about the price of the trip and the grounds for its determination must be made available before the trip. However, the service provider could determine the pricing model.
Accessible vehicles and availability of services would be ensured, if necessary, with agreements on the needs of the special groups. In transport services paid by society, the service subscriber could set special terms for them.
Small-scale operations and travel chains possible
The Transport Code would provide a framework for the current and future transport services and clarify the role and obligations of different operators.
The provision of services particularly in the countryside and in sparsely populated areas would improve as small-scale non-professional operations would be allowed more flexibility. A licence would no longer be needed for small-scale passenger and goods transport. This would make transport service experiments and new business models possible. The limit for small-scale operations would be a maximum of EUR 10,000 annual turnover. It would be subject to income taxation.
Entrepreneurship in public transport services would also be made easier. In future, a transport licence would be enough, licences for scheduled routes and on-demand transport services would be abandoned. In goods transport, the limit for services subject to licence would be raised to the minimum EU level of 3.5 tonnes. Tractors with a maximum speed of 40 km/h could in future transport goods without a licence. In passenger and goods transport, the qualification requirement of passing a course in entrepreneurship would be removed.
The regulation would also pay attention to the new types of transport services, including dispatch services. A dispatch service provider would make sure that the responsible operator providing transport services holds a transport licence or that the compensations paid remain below the limit of small-scale operations.
The Transport Code would improve the interoperability of different transport modes. It would create a basis for selling the customer the entire transport chain needed as well as the transport services through one operator. In order to create such a travel chain, interoperable ticket and payment systems that communicate with each other via background systems will be needed.
A strong role for the counties
The Transport Code has been prepared in parallel with the reform of regional and county administration.
The counties will play an important role in arranging transport services in their own regions. In the reform of county government, the responsibility for the planning of the regional transport system and provision of the public transport services has been transferred to the counties. With the Transport Code amendments the competent authorities could tailor the transport service provision to meet the needs of a particular area, including its special characteristics. In future, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency, Trafi, would be responsible for the national licences and supervision.
Preparations for the Transport Code continue
In the second phase of the Transport Code preparations, the regulatory reforms will focus on driver training, professional qualifications and transport registers. The aim is to lay the groundwork for new teaching methods and to examine whether it would be possible to regulate competence instead of training. The second phase will also encompass the market regulation on other transport modes. The proposal is meant to be sent out for comments in summer 2017.
In the third phase of the Code, attention will be paid to other provisions that were not covered earlier. At that stage, it will also be ensured that objectives with regard to the transport system and digital services will have been comprehensively covered. A proposal of the third stage preparations is meant to be sent out for comments in summer 2018.
Ms Laura Eiro, Director of Markets Unit, tel. + 358 40 096 9293
Ms Laura Vilkkonen, Director of Basic Services Unit, tel. +358 40 500 0817
Ms Susanna Metsälampi, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 50 593 1257
Ms Maija Ahokas, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 40 031 6178