Transport Code, formally the Act on Transport Services, is one of the government’s chief initiatives. The main purpose of this ambitious, open-minded and future-oriented legislation project is to create a growth environment for business digitalisation and to promote transport business by deregulation. The Code unifies legislation governing different transport services and reforms the strict regulation of all transport modes, so that at least the regulation itself will not become an obstacle to digitalisation, automation and new innovations and business models.
The essence of the Code is customer-oriented and digitalised transport services. The crucial thinking behind the Transport Code is based on the concept of “mobility as a service” (MaaS) – which, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, means: “that through technology, information and innovations, transport services will be made a customer-oriented service, in which the boundaries between transport modes disappear and transport chains will be smooth.”
The Code is tailored to enable and promote the seamless and multimodal travel and transportation chains and other combined added value mobility services by opening up the data on traffic systems to be shared between customers, service providers and authorities as openly as possible to promote additional value. Not surprisingly the data protection issues and the GDPR has a big role in legislation process.
Due to the Code’s enormous scope, to cover all transport modes, its preparation has been divided into three stages.
The first stage focuses mainly on road transport harmonising the provisions of the Public Transport Act, Taxi Transport Act and the Act on Transport of Goods on the Road. Unlike other transport modes, the transport of passengers and goods by road was heavily regulated by domestic legislation and one of the purposes of the Code is to bring the legislation closer to that of other modes of transport by simplifying the traffic licence system. Issuing traffic licences will be centralised to the Transport Safety Agency, which also acts as a general supervisory authority.
The inflexible and old-fashioned taxi system meets the biggest change, when the new legislation makes it easier to access the taxi sector by removing limits on the number of taxi licences, enabling new business models and increasing competition. Pricing will be become more flexible, but the Transport Safety Agency will be able to step in and specify a maximum price should prices rise unreasonably.
The Code reduces significantly the regulatory burden of the public transport of passengers and transport of goods. Additional domestic regulations have been removed by implementing EU legislation and mandatory transport provider training for entrepreneurs will be abolished. The transport licence weight requirement will be raised from 2,000 kilograms (kg) to 3,500kg, so that service providers carrying goods weighing over 2,000kg but less than 3,500kg on a vehicle (typically a van) must register with the Transport Safety Agency. Professional qualifications for lorry and bus drivers will be lightened and clarified. Combining passenger and freight transport is possible.
Implementation of the objectives of the Transport Code requires that data must be compatible with all service providers. Therefore, the Code has obligated all mobility service providers and also authorities from 1 January 2018 onwards to open Application Programming interface (API) as specified in the Government Decree 643/2017. Depending on the mode of service such essential data may consist of routes, stops, timetables, prices and fares as well as information on the availability and accessibility of services.
This obligation applies to all mobility service providers and includes according the Finnish Transport Agency passenger transport services (including bus and taxi services, air- or waterborne passenger transport), stations, ports and other terminals, transport mode rentals and services for commercial ridesharing services, general commercial parking services, brokering and dispatch services.
The first stage of the Transport Code entered into force on 1 July 2018. However, the provisions relating to the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) based on Directive 2010/40/EU entered into force already on 1 October 2017 and the above-mentioned provisions on opening essential data on 1 January 2018.
The second stage will unify and deregulate the national legislation of other transport modes (air, sea, rail) and bring them into the Transport Code to be compatible with the provisions on road transport. Different, transport mode-based registers will be consolidated on a one single register which would contain data on service operator permits, transport vehicles and personal licences such as professional qualifications. The second stage of Transport Code will strengthen the role of the Finnish Transport Safety Agency as a licensing and supervisory authority and improve registered persons’ possibilities to use their own data in acquiring mobility services.
The second stage legislation continues to develop digitalisation and data availability of the mobility services further. The aim is to increase and innovate mobility services and to improve the official and service activities of the Finnish Transport Safety Agency. The Finnish Transport Agency would be obligated to open collected data through open interface, anonymously and by taking care of data protection.
To promote customer-oriented development of more and more individualized trip chains and combined services in future there would be a new sort of provision on acting another’s behalf. That would enable all service providers, not only those being in the dominant position to administer data, to act on customer’s behalf to incorporate tickets for all modes of transport and mobility services.
Government proposal of the second stage (having colossal 878 pages) was submitted to Parliament for approval on 19 October 2017 and was approved with some amendments on 21 March 2018. The second stage of the Act entered into force on 1 July 2018 except that the provisions on acting another’s behalf will enter into force on 1 January 2019.
Third stage legislation is under preparation and after public consultation scheduled to be submitted to Parliament in December 2018. Third Stage would cover the remaining provisions to be ensured that objectives with regard to the transport system and digital services are comprehensively covered in the Transport Code.