Israeli Taxi Sharing Reform Takes Effect, but Technology Isn’t Ready Yet

Until now, taxi drivers were not legally allowed to split the bill for a single ride among several passengers. Ride sharing is supposed to reduce the cost of using a taxi by at least 20%.

Nir Keidar

Starting Wednesday, taxis must permit carpools, yet none of Israel’s taxi stations are offering the service on their applications yet.

Ride sharing is supposed to reduce the cost of using a taxi by at least 20%. Fares will be fixed in advance.

In order to enable passengers to use such a service, the Transportation Ministry needs to let taxi-service applications such as Gett, Rider and Uber have access to its algorithm. Once this happens, the companies will need several months in order to develop the technology to offer the service.

Not all the taxi stations are excited by the new service. The stations organized under Rider are objecting to the idea of sharing rides because the fee is to be set in advance, without using a meter.

Taxi association chairman Yehudi Bar Or said that without running a meter, drivers would lose money if they get stuck in traffic. Government sources countered that setting a price in advance was necessary so that drivers would not purposefully extend trips in order to boost fares.

Gett is believed to be interested in offering the new service, and new applications offering taxi shares are also under development.

The Transportation Ministry will offer a price list for these fares on its website once it is set.

Until now, taxi drivers were not legally allowed to split the bill for a single ride among several passengers. Now passengers ordering a cab via an app will be given the option of choosing to split the ride, and the app will look for other users with complementary travel needs. The driver will be permitted to go up to 200 meters out of the way to pick up or drop off passengers.