Another taxi protest planned

Drivers will block traffic Monday afternoon, possibly at the airport

Prague taxi drivers are planning another round of protests Monday against app-based ride sharing services such as Uber.

This time, they might try to slow traffic headed to Václav Havel Airport Prague, but the destination may change at the last minute so police would be caught off guard. Drivers discussed creating a loop or a blockade.

Drivers will meet at Strahov at 2 pm regardless of the destination, the Association of Taxi Concessionaires (AKT) announced.

Taxi drivers have been complaining about competition from ride-sharing services since late last year. They tried to block access to the airport previously Oct. 2, 2017.

This new attempt follow on two protests last week to slow traffic in the city center.

Taxi drivers claim that services like Uber are operating illegally and creating unfair competition. Ride-sharing drivers often lack the proper license to take passengers and don’t pay all the taxes and fees that taxi drivers are required to pay, according to the protesters.

AKT deputy chairman Karolína Venclová said the drivers want to discuss the situation with the government. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said that the organization has not contacted the government. Venclová said the invitation would be sent on Monday, according to daily Pražský deník.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade last week said it suspected that Uber was operating in the Czech Republic without a valid trade license, and urged the company to rectify the situation. Uber claims it is working in line with European Union rules.

Uber spokeswoman Miroslava Jozová said she wants to meet with the ministry to discuss the issue.

The Ministry of Transportation is also interested in the issue and wants to propose changes to the Road Act that would allow a phone app to be considered equal to a taxi meter. The changes, however, would also make tighter licensing restrictions on who could be an Uber driver.

Public support has not been on the side of taxi drivers who have long had a bad reputation in Prague for overcharging passengers, especially in the city center and for trips to and from the airport.

Investigative reporter Janek Rubeš, who make videos for under the name Honest Guide, has exposed several drivers who routinely overcharge, and while there has been some legal action as a result, other drivers still continue to overcharge.

Taxi representatives dismiss these drivers are a few bad apples who tarnish everyone else’s reputation.

In April 2017, City Hall put up signs 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.

In January 2005 then-mayor Pavel Bém dressed up as an Italian tourist and was charged 500 percent of the official rate for a short trip to Prague Castle. In another cab, he was charged double for paying in euros.

Related articles:

Taxi drivers announce new protest | Prague TV 06.02.2018

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