Taxis to face fiercer competition

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The num­ber of taxis on the streets of Athens and other Greek cities is set to de­crease over the next few years and pri­vate com­pa­nies will be al­lowed to com­pete for pas­sen­gers, ac­cord­ing to plans drawn up by the Trans­port Min­istry.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Dim­itris Rep­pas said that the lib­er­al­iza­tion of the sec­tor is part of an ef­fort to “mod­ern­ize and or­ga­nize the mar­ket along the lines of other ma­jor Euro­pean cities.”

“It is also the first time that an open process is be­ing cre­ated for peo­ple to ob­tain a taxi per­mit and to be­come taxi driv­ers,” he said while set­ting out the scheme, which will soon be in­cor­po­rated in a pres­i­den­tial de­cree.

How­ever, the re­forms will lead to a re­duc­tion in the num­ber of taxis as the award­ing of per­mits will be sub­ject to closer scrutiny. Ac­cord­ing to the would-be law, the num­ber of li­censes that will be is­sued will be cal­cu­lated ev­ery three years based on the pop­u­la­tion of the city but will also take into ac­count ge­o­graph­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions and whether it is a tourist des­ti­na­tion.

The num­ber of taxis in Athens will be lim­ited to 2.5 per 1,000 res­i­dents, while in the rest of Greece, it will be 2 per 1,000. At the mo­ment, there are 4 taxis per 1,000 Athe­ni­ans. The Trans­port Min­istry said that the cur­rent ra­tio is much higher than other Euro­pean cities such as Rome, Ber­lin, Mi­lan, Brus­sels and Stuttgart, where it ranges be­tween 1.3 and 2.1 taxis per thou­sand res­i­dents.

The min­istry said that it would not re­move li- censes from driv­ers in or­der to re­duce the num­ber of taxis but would sim­ply not is­sue new per­mits in cities where the ra­tio is al­ready too high.

The changes to the law will also see a lim­ited num­ber of li­censes be­ing made avail­able to com­pa­nies. Their ve­hi­cles will not be yel­low, like the taxis in Athens, and will be able to have up to nine seats. Pas­sen­gers will be able to book the pri­vate cabs on­line as well as over the phone.

Taxi driv­ers had in the past ve­he­mently op­posed any plans to lib­er­al­ize their sec­tor but the com­bi­na­tion of dwin­dling busi­ness and a wider pro­gram of open­ing up sec­tors of the econ­omy that had been closed to the econ­omy, such as road haulage, means that cab­bies are now of­fer­ing lit­tle re­sis­tance.

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