40% of taxi drivers in Prague have not returned to work since the start of the pandemic
The number of taxi drivers in the Czech Republic is decreasing every day. Hailing a taxi is becoming less and less common.
For example, in Prague alone, up to 40% of taxi licensees had not returned to work since the introduction of various measures to stop the spread of the pandemic last year.
Even taxi drivers who returned to work reported a significant drop in their income levels, with average incomes falling by more than 60 percent.
There are several reasons for this change. The biggest challenge is the uncertainty of income during a pandemic as well as the growing popularity of alternative transportation services.
Many taxi drivers went to work with the same competitors they had protested against before. These companies take lower percentages per trip and have greater customer demand.
“Mobile apps offer more rides than we have,” one of the taxi drivers described. Many quit taxi services for other jobs during the height of the pandemic and have not been back on the road since.
“People didn’t need taxi services. Restaurants, bars and hotels have been closed, ”said Miroslav Pospíšil of the Pardubice taxi service.
“I applied to a security agency to guard buildings. The shifts are quieter, there is a reliable income, ”added former taxi driver Luboš Černý.
Today, cheap transport can be ordered in minutes via Uber or Bolt. “Young people today don’t even know that they can take a taxi in an easier and faster way – by waving their hand in the street,” said Petr Polišenský of the Association of Czech Taxi Drivers.
However, also Uber and Bolt lack drivers. Customers have seen longer wait times and higher prices, which can even be two or three times higher than the original costs.
There were about fifty places in Prague, the so-called “ladders”, where you could always find a taxi. But two years ago, the city banned and abolished these sites. “There was no longer any interest or need for them on the part of citizens or drivers,” said Prague City Hall spokesman Vít Hofman.
If you still want to pick up customers from the street, you should stand in parking lots or blue areas and watch out for fines. “Of course, we also regularly check taxi drivers to make sure they pay for parking,” said Irena Seifertová, spokesperson for the Prague Police Department.