Taxi drivers plan a protest for Nov. 15

The drivers are still upset over competition from Uber and similar services

Prague taxi drivers will hold another protest against smartphone-based ride services such as Uber. Drivers are to meet at Strahov at 5 am on Nov. 15. The details of the protest have not been disclosed, but in the past, they have included blocking or slowing traffic.

The Association of Czech Taxi Drivers (SČT) on Monday apologized to people in advance for any complications caused by the protest.

The SČT maintains that Uber services are illegal, while regular taxi drivers are doing business under strict laws. Following the law means increased costs due to paying taxes and insurance, for example.

Prague taxi drivers, though, have a bad reputation. This in part has driven people to seek alternatives. “Only a minimal percentage of us are rogue taxi drivers who create a bad reputation. This percentage is comparable to other professions,” SČT representative Petr Polišenský told the media.

The SČT claims in a statement that app-based drivers for ride-sharing services do not have commercial insurance for the carrying passengers and do not have a taximeter, which is required by law. Often they are not familiar with the city's geography and are not proficient in Czech.

Uber, the largest of the ride-sharing services, maintains that people using the service are not taxi drivers but working in the shared economy.

The issue is currently in Czech courts. The Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) recently disagreed with a Municipal Court ruling in the case of an UberPop driver. The driver sued the city because he disputed a fine from the City Council. The NSS stated that Uber should be considered a classic taxi service. The case now goes back to the Municipal Court, which should follow the higher court's instructions.

Uber service is an alternative to a taxi. People can call an Uber driver via the mobile phone application, and the driver takes them to the desired address. There are several similar services using apps and the shared-economy model.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) previously said that she does not understand what the taxi drivers want, as there is nothing the city can do to ban Uber completely under current legislation. The law is in the hands of the government. She also said that the demands of the taxi drivers are not clear.

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.

The city launched a wave of taxi inspections after the last protest in an effort to catch more taxi drivers who violate the rules. Uber drivers were also monitored.

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