The number of taxi drivers in the Czech Republic is lowering each day. Hailing a taxi cab is becoming less common.
For example, in Prague alone, up to 40 percent of taxi licence holders had not resumed work since the introduction of various measures to stop the spread of the pandemic last year.
Even those taxi drivers who have returned to work have reported a significant drop in income levels, with average earnings down more than 60 per cent.
There are several reasons for this change. The biggest challenge is the uncertainty of earnings during a pandemic as well as the increasing popularity of alternative transport services.
Many taxi drivers switched to work with the same competitors they had previously protested against. These companies take smaller percentages per ride and have bigger customer demand.
“The mobile apps offer more rides than we have,” described one of the taxi drivers. Many have left taxi services for other jobs during the height of the pandemic and have not made the switch back since.
“People did not need taxi services. Restaurants, bars and hotels were closed,” said Miroslav Pospíšil from the Pardubice taxi service.
“I applied to a security agency to guard buildings. The shifts are quieter, there’s a reliable income,” added the former taxi driver Luboš Černý.
Today, cheap transport can be ordered in a few minutes via Uber or Bolt. “Young people today do not even know that they can get a taxi in a simpler and faster way – by waving their hand on the street,” said Petr Polišenský from the Association of Czech Taxi Drivers.
However, also Uber and Bolt are lacking drivers. Customers thus noted longer waiting times and higher prices, which can even be twice or thrice as high as original costs
There used to be fifty places in Prague, the so-called ‘ladders’, where one could always find a taxi. But two years ago, the city banned and abolished these sites. “There was no longer any interest and need for those from neither the citizens or the drivers,” explained the spokesman of the Prague City Hall, Vít Hofman.
If you still want to pick up clients on the street, you have to stand in parking lots or blue zones and be on the watch out for fines. “Of course, we also regularly check taxi drivers to make sure they pay for parking,” said Irena Seifertová, a spokeswoman for the Prague Police Department.