The VTC (car transportation with driver), inherits its name from the discount cars, created in the 17th century with the appearance of carriages.
In the 17th century and before the French Revolution (1789) the name of Voiture de Remise (delivery cars) appeared in Paris. As the capital was already facing traffic and parking problems in the narrow streets near the Louvre and Versailles castle, this encouraged the authorities to make garages available to the drivers who were at the service of the King and his court.
At that time two categories coexisted: the “Grande Remise” reserved for high dignitaries and the “Petite Remise”. It was at this time that the first private passenger transport services appeared in Paris. Nicolas Sauvage established his “Remise” and invented the first coach service for hire (per hour or per day) in 1640 on Rue St Martin in Paris. The carriages (“fiacres”) were named after a monk of the Petits-Frères.
Other entrepreneurs quickly followed, such as Charles Villerme and Pierre Hugon, the latter offering services thanks to a monopoly open from seven o’clock in the morning to nine o’clock in the evening. Louis XIV tried in vain to combine the carriage, courier and post office services into a single administration, but the services were given to distinct contractors.
In 1688 carriage stations were determined, this is distinct locations where the carriages could be parked, just like the taxi cabs of today. Universal tariffs were fixed in 1696 and from 1699 on crews were prohibited feeding their horses in the street. The result was the creation of 28 carriage parking spots in 1753, shared by 60 Parisian entrepreneurs with 170 cars each on different routes and services. A 1779 ruling by the King’s State Council restored the landscape of the carriages. Pierre Perreau became the owner of “Privilège des Carrosses”, which extended from the Place de la Ville to the Faubourg de Paris for around 17 million euros at today’s estimated value.
His monopoly ended in 1790, the date of the French Revolution, and he received compensation of far less than its actual worth. Under police control between 1790 and 1817, a freedom of action for both landlords and contractors was established. The Police Prefecture is the only administration that may grant the authorizations for operating a cab business and parking on the assigned spots, with a fixed number being attributed to every cab.
Rare are the discount cars that are rented by the hour or by ride between 1790 and 1822. Just like today’s VTCs (private taxis), in 1830, the cabriolets de régie (red number) appeared which are rental cars that do not park on the public road but on private properties. The estimated amount of cabriolets de régie at that time was around 2000 cars. Cabs still benefit from being able to park on the public roads without reservation as taxis do today.
In 1855 the Universal Exhibition took place in Paris. To deal with the traffic problems, Napoleon III created a company especially for this event: La Compagnie Impérial des Voitures de Paris (The Imperial Company of Cars of Paris). It was designed to have the monopoly and bought all cabs the carriag company owners were willing to sell, in exchange for blocking any new vehicle companies. Almost all numbered cars (cabs) came were controlled by this centralized company in 1858.
In 1955, a decree was released to reactivate the distinction between “Grande Remise” and “Petite Remise”. The Grande Remise being luxury cars driven by its owner or attendant. Since 2015 there has been a new turn for VTC (car transportation with driver): the private taxis. These become part of the Transport Public Particulier de Personnes (Private Public Transport of People). A new stricter regulation is put in place to officially become a VTC in order to stop illegal competition. The UBER service Uberpop is prohibited in France.
A great deal of confusion is being created and several professionals in the VTC sector such as Camille Réchard, president of the CSNERT (Union Chamber for Carriage Companies and Tourism) is very eager to clarify the situation.