The transportation department of the City of Moscow is drafting a bill that would fine private drivers for accepting cash from carpooling passengers and block and/or fine carpool aggregators such as BlaBlaCar, BeepCar, and Yandex.Poputka, Kommersant daily reported on August 21 citing the copy of the bill.
Stringent regulation in the largest city in Russia could slow down the growing carpooling segment. Carsharing, car pooling and online taxi booking is an emerging business in Russia, attracting investment and already subject to fierce competition. The total car sharing and taxi market in 2017-2025 will grow 2.5-fold to RUB1.6 trillion ($24bn) by Sberbank CIB.
Reportedly Moscow authorities plan to introduce special accreditation for carpooling platforms, set a ceiling for ride costs, only allow non-cash transactions, only allow drivers with experience of more than 3 years and without a criminal record or driving fines to register on the platforms, as well as introducing a mandatory medical check-up for drivers that accept over 20 carpooling rides per year.
Industry analysts and lawyers surveyed by Kommersant believe that while filling the regulatory vacuum on the carpooling market is common, too stringent regulations will push the drivers back into the “grey zone” where they arrange the rides independently on internet forums, social media, and messengers.
At the same time in other markets carpooling initiatives are welcomed as means to increase passenger-per-car ratios, combat congestion and pollution. Previously Moscow suffered from chronic traffic jams and the taxi services and carpooling have contributed greatly to reducing the number of cars on the road and subsequently made a big difference to improving traffic conditions.
The market leader in the segment French online car pooling service BlaBlaCar this month said it will acquire its rival in Russia BeepCar owned by internet services major Mail.ru Group.
Russia’s most valuable digital major Yandex also launched a car pooling service, with its pilot Yandex.Poputka app launched in the beginning of 2018 in Krasnoyarsk and Rostov-on-Don, which has had about 10,000 downloads in Google Play.