Prague has an old and long-standing problem, which seriously damages its worldwide reputation: Cheating taxi drivers. There are about a hundred of them, mostly standing in Pařížská Street and Karlova Street, around the Old Town Square and next to the Central Railway Station. They steal, cheating their customers.
Nothing has changed. Like a year ago or five years ago, they do the same as their fathers, and in some cases, grandfathers. They choose confused foreigners and charge them many times the normal price. They refuse Czechs unless they are drunk. The Magistrate and the Prague City Police deploy special teams against them, conducting inspections and using agents – some 30 people in total. Yet the cheaters are still there.
An Internet television reporter from stream.cz, Janek Rubeš, ventured boldly to fight them. In his documentary film Prague vs Money, he documented so much incredible audacity among these taxi drivers that it has several sequels already.
And the result? During the week he and his cameraman documented 50 taxi journeys in the city centre. Whenever the taxi driver dropped him – always foreign – customers at their destination, the reporter asked them about the price. Nine out of ten journeys ended up with a robbed tourist. Once a journey from Pařížská Street to the airport cost one foreigner a whole two thousand crowns.
Inspections by the Magistrate and the City Police
A special taxi team of the Prague Magistrate also conducts inspections. What are their results? “In 2014, we carried out a total of 1346 inspections, during which we found 59 cases of overpricing. The largest overcharge was roughly equal to four times the proper price,” the spokesperson of the Prague Magistrate Petra Hrubá told the Pravo Daily. There are six inspectors.
The City Police has its taxi team too. Last year its 24 members were a little more successful. “Policemen from the Taxi Team conducted more than 13,000 inspections of taxi drivers in 2014. During these inspections, they uncovered 2062 cases of infringements,” said the spokesperson of the Prague City Police, Irena Seifertová.
How many times a customer was robbed remains unclear. It should also be noted that these figures relate to all taxi drivers. There are nearly 5700 registered taxi drivers in Prague.
They Stand There
Despite all the determined mayors, city councillors and special teams, there remain one hundred cheating taxi drivers in Prague.
“It’s not easy to identify them. Perhaps only by the fact that they keep standing. Always on the corner of Pařížská and Karlova Street, near the Magistrate, on the Wenceslas Square. They differ from the other regular taxis by the fact that they stand there. While a normal driver makes four journeys per hour for two hundred crowns, these keep waiting and then go just once, but for one thousand at least. They park in places where a normal citizen of Prague would have his car towed within two minutes. City police cannot do anything against them or, as we managed to document on film, they do not even try,” reporter Janek Rubeš told Právo.
Greetings and Lack of Interest
In the last episode, the footage from cameras shows how the city police at the corner of Pařížská Street greet these cheating taxi drivers and go away.
Then the policemen fine cars parked in the blue zone but ignore the four taxis standing on parking places reserved for the disabled or road maintenance services (TSK). Yet their colleagues from special taxi teams force the taxis out of here whenever they go to the square.
Recently the Mayor of Prague Spoke About the Cheating Taxis
“Me personally, as well as supervisory authorities of the capital, we are very well aware of this situation and are doing our best to improve it, as far as the law permits. I am well informed about it even without seeing Stream TV reports, which do not always present the situations that actually happened. Unlike reporters of Stream TV, we must prove the unlawful activities of the taxi drivers in a lawful manner,” wrote Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) on the website of the Prague Magistrate.