Hundreds of taxis have slowed down traffic on the Paseo de Recoletos in Madrid, one of the main arteries of the capital, to demand a rescue of the sector, which is in a “dramatic” situation as a result of the pandemic.
According to the president of the Professional Taxi Federation of Madrid, Julio Sanz, the 25,000 families that make a living from this business in the city have drastically cut their income this year due to the collapse of customers.
The taxi representatives have demanded more financial aid to face the next few months, as well as a new regulation by the Madrid City Council that limits the number of cars in operation to ensure that those who operate have customers .
“We are many for the little work that there is,” says Antonio Benaches, one of the taxi drivers present in the slow march of vehicles. “There are queues to get a client, so we demand a regulation from the City Council. So that, at least, the day we go out we do work ”.
A few years after retiring, this veteran driver assures that in recent months he barely enters six races a day. And that, on a good day: “Before it was 20 or 25, but there are no tourists or nightlife.”
Benaches’ situation is not exceptional. According to data from taxi associations, on average, about five daily services are being carried out in the city for a day of between 12 and 13 hours of work , due to long waits due to excess taxis in service.
To avoid this bottleneck, Julio Sanz has proposed to return to the working day of the first state of alarm —when 40% of normal work was done— or to incorporate an additional day of payment, which would subtract 20% from the volume of taxis in Madrid.
“You are not going to earn more, but you are going to spend less,” said Sanz, as the maintenance costs of the vehicle would be reduced.
The majority of drivers (51%) advocate reducing the hours worked to 40%, according to a survey carried out by the Polytechnic University of Valencia, while a third is committed to freeing one more day.
From the City Council of the capital, the delegate for Environment and Mobility, Borja Carabante, has indicated that the current state of alarm does not allow the City Councils to regulate the offer, as it did in March.
But if it were included in the current decree it would be taken “immediately”. Likewise, he recalled that the new Mobility Ordinance in which they work includes this capacity, but that “in the short and medium term” they do not have these powers.
The president of the Professional Taxi Federation of Madrid has estimated at 2,200 euros on average what the taxi drivers of the city lose each month due to the lack of business.
“If the situation continues like this, it will be unsustainable in three or four months,” Julio Sanz remarked. This is the case of Maribel, another of those present at the Plaza de Colón protest.
“We think we can hold out until the end of the year, but we don’t know what will happen next,” she says from the window of her husband’s taxi. “Right now we are earning about 1,900 euros a month, half that before the pandemic. And only the car fee and the license cost us 1,000 euros per month. In addition to insurance, gasoline, repairs … ”.
The representatives of the sector have requested a real economic rescue for the taxi. Julio Sanz has pointed out that other municipalities have launched direct aid to the sector, but that in Madrid they have received “absolutely nothing.”
While sectors such as the hospitality industry have support in the Municipal Budgets for 2021, “in them the taxi does not appear,” he lamented. The federations calling for the protest have already warned that if their demands are not responded to, they will demonstrate again every Wednesday in December in the same place.