Now & Then
The Taxi-Ruf Bremen 14 0 14 of today was founded in 1894 as the "Association of Bremen Hackney Carriage Drivers" - taxis weren't around then; people travelled by horse and carriage. In 1902, the association was incorporated by the senate and to this day has the rare legal form of "Verein kraft senatorischer Verleihung" (Association by act of senatorial conferment). The first motor-powered hackney was put into service as early as 1906. Proof today of the association's long history is "Gesine", an original Ford taxi which used to travel the streets of Bremen in the 30s and still takes part in every Freimarkt parade.
In 1911, the first telephone exchange was put into service, since which day dispatch operations have steadily grown and been modernised. These days our office has 7 dispatchers; office desks can also be included if necessary. We have been changing over to data radio since 1992; a taxi is no longer dispatched by voice radio, but in text form on a display in the vehicle. A powerful computer in the office adds each address automatically with directions and the grid square of the city map. In 2001, we upgraded to the so-called closed (fully automatic) system: the taxis only have to turn into the rank and are retrieved by their features and those of the driver. If the taxi rank is empty, the nearest available taxi is ordered by satellite tracking. Taxi-Ruf thus has one of the most modern offices in Germany.
The association's own building in Jakobistr. 20 was built in 1952 as a low-profile structure with filling station, workshop, washer and telephone exchange and extended in 1962 to four floors. Taxi-Ruf also operates its own claims office for invoicing insurance companies, bill-pay businesses and other cost units. Between the dispatch and office, Taxi-Ruf employs more than 50 people.
With around 480 vehicles in total, Taxi-Ruf accounts for almost 85% of the Bremen taxi industry, making it by far the most important taxi operator in the city. The taxis come from approx. 260 companies, which goes to show that most are small businesses with one or two vehicles. However, there are bigger operations with up to 40 taxis, their own workshops and reserve cars.
The association is managed by four board members, which is appointed by the members - meeting. There is also a supervisory board composed of 7 employers.
According to the constitution, Taxi-Ruf has a disciplinary committee, which currently comprises one representative of the board, the employers and the drivers. It gives colleagues a chance to have their say in the event of misdemeanours towards customers, uncooperative behaviour or public behaviour that could damage the association. If the charge is proven true, a fine may be imposed, or a ban for certain customers or some features of the driver's card may be revoked.
In the future, Taxi-Ruf will intensify its efforts to open up new markets in the service industry. There is practically no limit to the market potential of 470 vehicles , unspecialised employees and an efficient 24-hour call centre.