Posted on January 31, 2008 by Matthieu Desiderio
Yesterday (Wednesday January 30, 2008), some 2,500 to 3,000 (police says 700 to 1,000…) taxi drivers were protesting against a decision to liberalize the market. This decision would be a consequence of the proposals contained in the report from the Commission, lead by Jacques Attali, that was in charge of proposing solutions to “unleash French economic growth” (Commission pour la libération de la croissance française).
The “Attali Commission’s” report was publicly released on January 23, 2008 (see references below) and I will publish soon another article detailing all transportation-realted measures that have been proposed and that should (must?) be implemented in the next few weeks/months/years (Who really knows?). Apparently, most of the proposals being controversial (from one point of view or another), couple strikes may follow… France remains France.
What matters to taxi drivers?
As of today, there are around 45,000 taxis in France and 16,000 of them in Paris. A numerus closus imposes a maximum number of taxi licences to be distributed in Paris, upon the “population needs”. It is however sometimes difficult to find a cab available in Paris, an when one shows up, you need to go somewhere he wants to drive you unless you will stay on the curb, waiting again for another one.
What the report proposes is to liberalize totally the taxi operation: then, there would be around 50,000 to 60,000 cabs in Paris and its closest suburbs. What today’s taxi drivers do not want is that the government will provide taxiTaxi drivers say this reform will lower their revenues and do not improve the situation in Paris (today, a taxi driver works an average 70 hours a week and makes around €7.63 per hour). licences for free to drivers that asked for one at the end of 2007, whereas drivers now pay up to €200,000 (and sometimes more) to get one from a retiring colleague (because of the numerus closus)!
Different country, same problem
Being in Washington, DC and attending the Transportation Research Board two weeks ago, I had the chance to ride couple DC cabs since it is definitely the fastest way to go, from A to B, in the United States capital city.
One of them complained (the whole trip!) about the future implementation of meters in DC cabs. The measure, that will being applied starting April 6, 2008, will apparently considerably lower DC cabs fares.
The zonal tariffication will be replaced by a meter:
- the base rate will be $3;
- riders will then pay 25 cents per 1/6 of a mile (the meter will start on the second 1/6 of a mile);
- each minute stopped in traffic or traveling slower than 10 miles per hour will cost the rider an additionnal 25 cents; and
- the additional passenger surcharge will also be eliminated.
What I told this furious driver was: “if it is cheaper, I will ride more often, even on shorter trips” but I do not really think he was convinced: right, a buck is a buck!
- Report: Rapport de la Commission pour la libération de la croissance française, sous la présidence de Jacques Attali, Jan. 2008 : here
- Website: Commission pour la libération de la croissance française: here
- Website: Fédération nationale des artisans du taxi (FNAT, French National Association of Taxi Drivers): here
- Article: Les taxis manifestent contre la déréglementation de leur profession, Le Monde (registration required), Jan. 30, 2008: here
- Article: Fenty to Start Taxi Meter at $3 for All, Washington Post, Jan. 17, 2008: here
- Article: Les taxis paralysent les grandes villes, Le Figaro, Jan. 30, 2008: here