Taxis in Zagreb Under Siege: First Uber, And Now This?

Total Croatia News

After the introduction of competition from Uber, life for Zagreb’s taxi drivers is not getting any easier.

All taxi drivers in Zagreb have until 1 January to paint their cars white. Of 1,400 taxis in Zagreb, currently only about 400 of them are white, so there is about 1,000 taxi drivers who have a month and a half to either buy new vehicles or paint their taxis white. If they fail to do that, they can expect fines and revocation of their taxi licenses, reports Vecernji List on November 19, 2015.

“Where will I find several thousand kuna to paint my vehicle, which would then also decrease in value”, said Tomislav Miljenović who drives a green Audi. Željko Vujičić, owner of a black Chrysler, added that not all vehicles can even be bought in white colour and that users care more about the level of service, speed and price, and not about colour.

Ivan Pilko, vice president of the Association of Radio Taxi Zagreb which brings together 1,030 drivers, believes it is an unnecessary rule which has no legal basis. “The law stipulates only that the vehicle must be technically in order. Instead of dealing with colour of cars, the City should work more on subsidies to help us buy vehicles which have lower emissions”, Pilko said. He added that it was insane to demand that all vehicles must be white because some passengers require black cars. “Hotel guests often demand elegant black vehicles. A few years ago, when a NATO summit was held in Zagreb, organizers asked us for 150 black vehicles, which we provided”, Pilko explained.

The white colour rule was first formally introduced in 1992, but the idea was immediately dropped. Then again, in 2010, the city tried to introduce white colour with the arrival of Cammeo and Eco-Taxi services, which are white but with numerous advertisements on vehicles. “That decision has been postponed until January 2016. On 21 September, we sent to the mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić a proposal to amend the rule”, Pilko said.

President of the Association Jozo Kovačević explained that the City should give an explanation why it wants the colour to be uniform. “To us, the requirement is incomprehensible, unreasonable and unnecessary. In addition, it is important to emphasize the financial burden it places on us, because in recent years due to the economic crisis, lower prices and unfair competition, our business is on the verge of financial viability”, Kovačević said.

Taxi drivers are hoping that the mayor will accept their arguments and change the decision. Given the fact that it must be approved by the City Council as well, it should be adopted during the meeting which will be held on 2 December. “We have to wait and see whether we will discuss this issue, but if there is a reasonable proposal, there is no reason for councillors not to support it”, one of the city’s councillors said.

Taxi drivers are hoping that the city will change the decision, particularly because it does not apply to vehicles which drive via the Uber app. “They do not have taxi signs, taximeters and do not issue receipts, and our drivers who respect all the rules are now being harassed to change the colour of their vehicles. This is absurd, because white vehicles which are used by Cammeo and Eco-Taxi are no longer white, since more than 50 percent of their vehicles are covered with advertising, which is prohibited by the very same decision”, said one of the outraged taxi-drivers.


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