The numbers could mean travel guides will finally stop warning against Prague taxi drivers. Last year, inspections revealed only five percent of taxi rides in the capital city were overpriced. Only six years before that, it was over 30%, an analysis for Prague City Hall revealed. However, the data does not mean that this type of overcharging no longer happens in Prague. On the contrary, according to the document, taxi drivers are avoiding the repression with more and more skill.
Tourists even create websites on Prague taxi drivers and share their stories on English websites. They warn, for example, of cars parked in front of the Main Train Station. Prague City Hall is therefore trying to remedy the bad reputation. As of this year, for example, cabs older than eight years, with no air conditioning any other colour besides yellow, cannot stand at places labelled as Fair place. However, there is a snag. And that is the three minutes that drivers have for loading and unloading people. “In case of an inspection, the cabs drive from one place to another, they drive out of a place and immediately drive back and so it is not possible for inspectors to intervene anyhow,” the analysis says.
Moreover, there are 1,000 taxi cars that fulfil the conditions set by the City Hall, representing almost one third of all taxi cars registered in Prague.
Taxi drivers also use various means to avoid fines. Last year, City Hall had to cancel 24 out of 38 administrative proceedings. “It is common now that everyone has their attorney, they appeal to the ministry and then to the court as soon as their card expires or they simply say that someone has stolen their card,” said the head of the taxi service department at the Prague City Hall, Jiří Bureš.
And when the officers manage to confiscate a dishonest taxi driver’s card, they usually apply for another one with a transport authority in a different town. “Some taxi service operators proceed similarly also in the case when their taxi service licence expires,” the document said. Last year, City Hall confiscated cards of 26 drivers; in 2006 there were 40 such confiscations.
The City Hall has biggest problems with taxi drivers at the Old Town Square.
That is where tax drivers working with Euro Taxi stand and who charge CZK 99 per kilometre despite the city regulation that sets the maximum price at CZK 40. The City Hall has already managed to cancel the company’s licence, however, the firm transformed into AAA Taxi, s. r. o. and has a very similar name like one of its competitors.
“We think that the City Hall must not prevent us from running a business. And I don’t believe that all drivers would change for the better. The five percent who are bad, that’s basically only us, because the City Hall pays attention only to us,” said Pavel Jelínek from the company’s management.
Dishonest drivers also use another trick. They fill in receipts for passengers manually. When people complain with the City Hall that they were charged too much they find out that there are false data on the receipt and there is no way they can find the driver.
However, Prague City Hall is not only putting the taxi drivers under pressure. Now the “good” taxi drivers with yellow cars can use a line for public transport at two places in Prague.
They can avoid jams in Holešovičky or at Strakonická street. Another plan of the city councillors that taxi drivers could also drive on tram rails was not passed.
Including the out-of-Prague taxi drivers, there are up to 5,000 cabs driving in Prague. There are five inspectors at the Prague City Council and their number is not going to increase.
Tricks of taxi drivers
They overprice their service and fill in a receipt manually. When a customer complains with the police or the City Hall, the clerks find out that all data is fake.
For one hundred
The company Euro Taxi, whose drivers stand at the Old Town Square, drive passengers for CZK 99 per kilometre. The regulation sets the maximum price at CZK 40.
Also other cabs can stand in places designated for the “honest” yellow cabs. But only for three minutes. However, drivers return to their place at the Fair place stand shortly after they leave it.
Some Prague taxi drivers have two cards. When Prague confiscates one of them for bad practices, they have another one available that was issued by a transport authority in another town.