I had a part-time job as a taxi driver during my time studying Biology in Leiden. Most of my fellow students worked in bars and restaurants, but I thought driving was a lot more fun. You meet so many different people and you find yourself in the strangest situations, and sometimes you have to think on your feet. This is what makes driving a taxi so special. Not one fare is the same.
Like many students that work in bars who start their own business, I started my own taxi company on 22 June 1990. I had already worked for a taxi company for a while and I thought ‘I can do better than that’. It was an exciting step, because although you might think you know better, you still have to prove yourself. But everything went well. Taxi Wielkens grew from two taxis into a string regional taxi company with a varied fleet of luxury cars, wheelchair taxis and minibuses for groups. We expanded our service provision with, among other things, chauffeured business services, WMO transport and pupil/student transport.
Personal and professional
The basis of our company is our knowledge of people. I can’t say that enough. Anyone with a driving licence can drive a taxi. But there are only a few who can relate to people in such a way that customers keep choosing them. This is what we train our chauffeurs for. As well as the necessary diplomas, they also complete our own internal training. This means my chauffeurs always provide the transport I intended. Personal and professional. This has led to a loyal customer base over the years, and which is still growing every day.
So many stories
A taxi driver must be diplomatic above all. You have to deal with all kinds of people and certain situations may develop. These might be pleasant, but can also be less pleasant. Driving a taxi is one of the most personal jobs around. You are often alone in the car with a customer and you hear all sorts of stories. You become a skilled people person after a while and you see the bigger picture in society. Actually, every politician should be a taxi driver for a while.
Although the taxi sector is a real male-dominated world, we always have around 30% female taxi drivers working for us. After all, a good mix reflects society and encourages courteous behaviour within the team and – even more importantly – towards customers, which in turn has a positive effect on the service we provide.
We have innovated since our existence. For instance, we were one of the first taxi companies in 2003 to drive electric cars. Unfortunately, the time wasn’t right yet, because the action radius of the cars was too limited and the car was not spacious enough for passengers. I think that electric motoring is definitely the future of driving. After this, in 2006, we have opted for LPG (green gas). At this moment all of our cars meet the EURO-6 standard.
Towards the next 25 years
The next years will hold many new challenges for the taxi sector. For instance, regulations involving safety and passenger comfort will be even more strict. Will we drive electrically or with the use of fuel cells? What is happening with self-driving cars? also, the way in which taxis are ordered and the related logistic coordination will change drastically. Will private car ownership even exist in 2040? Whatever happens over the next years, Taxi Wielkens will always at the front of the innovation process.