Taxi drivers plan another protest against Uber

The drivers are unsatisfied with the solutions offered by the government

Prague taxi drivers are still not satisfied with the response of the city and Transport Ministry to the competition from Uber drivers. The taxi drivers are planning another demonstration within two or three weeks.

“So far we have kept our promise; the protests have always been peaceful. We expected more lenient negotiations and results from the City Council and government. Unfortunately, we did not get it, and so we have come to the conclusion that if they behave like this … we will put the decency aside and protest as much as possible,” Association of Czech Taxi Drivers (SČT) spokesman David Bednář said, according to daily Lidové noviny.

The SČT previously organized a protest on Oct. 2, with columns of taxis driving slowly on several roads to block access to Václav Havel Airport Prague.

The planned protest should have more cars than the one at Václav Havel Airport, and more streets could be blocked, Bednář said.

The taxi drivers claim that Uber drivers provide the same services as taxis but do not have to fulfill all the same legal conditions such as having a taxi license or a meter. The SČT also claims many Uber drivers do not pay taxes on the money they earn.

Uber has countered in similar cases that their service is different, and the drivers are not operating taxis but their own cars.

On Oct. 4 the government experts dealt with the issue. The Transport Ministry is already preparing an amendment to the Road Transport Act, according to which taxis could use mobile applications instead of a classical taximeter.

Bednář objects to the solution, saying that the application doesn't work in tunnels or underground garages.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová says that she does not understand what the taxi drivers want, as there is nothing the city can do about the situation. The law is in the hands of the government. She says that the demands of the taxi drivers are not clear.

After the previous protest, the city increased the inspections of taxis to ensure they met all the rules and were not overcharging passengers.

The taxi drivers now say they no longer want to directly communicate with City Hall.

Taxi drivers have long had a bad reputation in Prague. The issue of taxis overcharging people goes back for decades, and many City Hall administrations have tried to tackle the issue. In April this year signs were put up near popular tourist spots to warn people against taking standing cabs and informing people of the proper rates. One sign warned that taxi drivers often charge more than 10 times the official rate, making it one of the highest in Europe.

In 2015, the Czech News Agency reported that one in three taxi drivers overcharged, based on spot checks made by city inspectors.

Related articles:
City plans to increase inspections of taxis | Prague.TV 03.10.2017
Taxi drivers to block airport | Prague TV 02.10.2017

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