Prague City Hall wants to allow taxi drivers to charge higher prices for the first time in 13 years. The highest possible price per kilometer should be increased by eight crowns to 36 crowns, the boarding rate of 20 crowns to 60 crowns, and a minute of waiting from a single crown to seven crowns. The draft regulation, which is currently in the consultation process, also foresees a change in the conditions for hotel taxis and luxury carriers as well as alternative taxi operators.
“Prices have not been accounted for in about 13 years and we have had the prices recalculated by the Price and Fee Department to define the price of taxis we ought to have.”
The municipality’s increase was calculated on the basis of the annual cost of operating one taxi and the money a driver can earn. According to these calculations, the average driver of the Škoda Octavia would earn almost CZK 30,000 a month. He could only get about 17,000 a month so far, says the explanatory memorandum.
Taxi representatives welcome the increase. “Generally, it corresponds to the fact that the price did not move for 13 years, and the increase corresponds to inflation,” responds AAA Radiotaxi owner Jiří Kvasnička. According to him, new prices correspond to the European average.
Bolt (formerly Taxify) is in contact with the municipality, according to Roman Sysl, its regional manager for Central Europe. “We believe that in the preparation, the negative effects of this draft regulation for all Prague residents and visitors to the capital were overlooked and this proposal will be modified,” says Sysel, since according to him, the upcoming issue is against the forthcoming government amendment.
“The maximum boarding, mileage and minute rates justify taking a ride where the price for the ride is not clear. The passenger can roughly calculate the maximum amount they would pay for the ride, which provides him/her with some form of protection. Despite this, there are so many well-known cases of tourist scams and Prague’s taxi service enjoys a poor reputation all around the world. A pre-determined price provides full protection for the passenger,” explained Bolt’s representative.
However, Prague explicitly names the Estonian company as well as American Uber in the document. Some of their fares exceed the set rates per kilometer; on the other hand, the customer approves the exact price in the mobile application before boarding the car. In addition, the Mayor’s Deputy Minister for Transportation, Scheinherr, rejects the exemption for alternative carriers to protect their drivers from using a flashlight and taximeter.
The metropolitan leadership simply considers the shared service provider a taxi service. “However, these entities do not have any added value compared to the classic taxi service, which would entitle these operators to increase prices compared to the classic taxi service and to exceed the city’s maximum prices,” argues Prague in the explanatory memorandum.
The forthcoming regulation also foresees a change in the conditions for hotel taxis. Now, by way of exception, carriers (most often from the airport) can travel at a higher price if agreed upon in advance by contract. “Especially for luxury service companies, this regulation would be essentially filing a bankruptcy,” says Sysel’s manager at Bolt, saying that changing taxi fares could impact the entire market.
According to the City Hall, there are 9800 taxi drivers in Prague; another nearly 3000 drivers drive for Uber and Bolt alternative carriers. Taxis in Prague have been facing a number of problems for a long time. These include, for example, overpriced rides and drivers without proper licenses. There is also a dispute between ordinary taxi drivers and alternative service drivers, who are, according to them, doing the business illegally. Traditional taxi drivers often hold numerous demonstrations in Prague.