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Cab drivers protest in Bratislava against low rates

Hundreds of taxi drivers joined forces to protest against what they deem to be excessively low prices for their services. They formed a convoy of cars in central Bratislava on the afternoon of March 25, the TASR newswire reported.

Hundreds of taxi drivers joined forces to protest against what they deem to be excessively low prices for their services. They formed a convoy of cars in central Bratislava on the afternoon of March 25, the TASR newswire reported.

Cab drivers from all boroughs of Bratislava began to gather at 14:00 in a car park outside the Aréna Theatre in Petržalka. According to the head of the Union of Taxi Drivers in Bratislava, Ondrej Wenzl, over 500 drivers joined the protest. Three-quarters of an hour later, they set off on a journey across the city's downtown area, with the 'procession' wrapping up in SNP Square at 17:00. The initiative was designed to draw attention to the problems plaguing cab drivers, said Wenzl. He noted that the owner of an unnamed taxi company introduced a 50-percent discount on phone orders back in 1997, which then became commonplace. This pricing approach has remained in effect to this day, but the low price doesn't cover all the costs that taxi drivers face, resulting in lower living standards for drivers, Wenzl claimed.

"Such a price can only be in place for a limited period of time, when you need to assert your position on the market. It can't be long-term. Have you ever met anybody who could apply a 50-percent discount for so many years?" asked Wenzl, as quoted by TASR. He also went on to wonder aloud how it is possible that charges after waving down a taxi are much higher than ordering it via telephone. "We want it to be the other way round – like anywhere else in the world," said Wenzl. As the owners of 26 taxi companies didn't approve of abolishing the discounts based on phone orders, the taxi drivers' union is pushing for talks with state authorities on setting fixed prices. Ministry of Transport, Construction and Regional Development spokesman Martin Kóňa said, however, that it is unrealistic to expect that such a proposal would be approved.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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