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When in Rome – Don’t bother trying to get a taxi!

When in Rome – Don’t bother trying to get a taxi!

Every city has something people automatically associate with it, from London’s iconic black cabs to New York’s famous big yellow taxis. So, what do you think of when you think of Rome? Is it The Vatican, Colisseum, pizza or ice cream? Or is it that it is almost impossible to get a taxi?

Anyone who has failed to hail a cab in the Italian capital is not alone – they are among 1.3 million passengers a month who don’t have any joy either.

The Wanted in Rome news website reports that in addition to the capital, Milan is also still suffering from a “chronic shortage of taxis”, even after government intervention.

Milan daily newspaper Corriere della Sera revealed that 1.3 million telephone requests for taxis are unsuccessful each month in Rome, while 500,000 passengers a month don’t fare much better in Milan.

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While the government approved new regulations last summer, the newspaper reports that Italy’s powerful taxi industry refused attempts to increase the number of taxi drivers to help meet demand.

Extra drivers

Under the Asset decree, new regulations would permit larger cities to increase the number of taxi licences by 20 per cent. However, Wanted in Rome reports there was fierce opposition from the city’s taxi drivers, “who regularly threaten to strike in protest at any attempt to enact new measures”.

Corriere della Sera reported that the Italian Competition Authority has “repeatedly called for more taxis to be introduced in Rome and Milan, which have 7,692 taxis and 4,885 taxis respectively”.

The issue has become such a talking point that a government minister joked that queueing for taxis is the first thing tourists see when they reach the ancient capital.

Wanted in Rome said Italian tourism minister Daniela Santanché posted a viral video on social media showing a lengthy queue for taxis at Rome’s Termini station, describing the scene as “a nice business card for tourists arriving in the capital!!”.

Despite the apparent light-hearted criticism, there is a serious point to the soaring demand for taxis, which is only going to increase.

Surge in demand

As more tourists visit Italy, the country is also hosting the Vatican Jubilee next year, as well as the Winter Olympics in 2026.

Both events will see huge influxes of visitors and reliable transport systems will need to be in place in order for to run smoothly.

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As in the UK, taxis play a vital role in allowing people to be flexible with their plans and travel in comfort and convenience. They are particularly important for visitors who do not know where they are going or who do not have hire cars.

It is understandable that taxi drivers are opposed to increasing the number of drivers because it could affect their income or even their livelihoods. We have seen issues in this country where taxi drivers are avoiding late night and weekend shifts because of difficult passengers and concerns about their safety. Simply just throwing extra drivers into the mix doesn’t solve the problem and puts jobs at risk.

But when there is a situation in which hundreds of thousands of visitors are scrambling to book 7,692 cabs, something has to change. That means each driver in Rome is currently turning down 169 fares a month, while in Milan, each driver is turning down 102 fares a month.

Simple sums suggest there is plenty of business to go around and adding extra drivers would improve travelling for tourists, as well as take pressure off existing cabbies.

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.

About The Author

Patons Insurance

Established for over 60 years, we are one of UK's leading Taxi Insurance brokers. We specialise in Public Hire, Private Hire & Taxi Fleet Insurance.

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