Prague City Hall and taxi drivers waging war over prices
Ask any tourist about his impressions of Prague and you will get answers like beautiful architecture, beautiful women, great beer, and...expensive taxis. City Hall has been fighting a seemingly endless battle to stop taxi drivers from overcharging. But now the dispute between the drivers and the authorities has reached an entirely new level and one man has even ended up in hospital.
One driver, Zdenek Ponert, broke regulations 33 times and was fined a total of 90,000 crowns. He eventually lost his licence and took to drastic measures to protest - a hunger strike. Eleven days after drinking only hot tea with milk and honey, he was rushed to hospital with stomach cramps. But Zdenek Ponert had no other choice, his colleagues say. Expenses are too high and simply cannot be covered if the City Hall regulations were observed. Since no one is listening, only such a serious form of protest attracts attention.
Vladimir Kuna is based on Prague's Old Town Square and says according to his calculations he should be allowed to charge at least 45-50 crowns/km:
It is hard to tell who is in the right. The taxi drivers argue that those who do not overcharge are breaking other rules - for example by driving more hours per week than permitted. But few people are showing empathy, including this tourist who has fought one too many battles with overcharging taxi drivers:
City Hall is staying firm. No matter how many more drivers go on hunger strike, it will not change its regulations, it says, adding that if taxi drivers feel they are in the right they should take up their case in the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. According to Vladimir Kuna, Prague's taxi drivers are so upset that they most likely will.